The Pros and Cons of Indoor Cycling – What to Know in Advance
Indoor cycling or spinning is a highly beneficial fitness activity that is popular amongst fitness devotees and enthusiasts. It is loved for its versatility, effectiveness, and convenience. But there is more to indoor cycling than what meets the eye. In other words, it has its pros and cons. But do its benefits outweigh its drawbacks? There is only one way to find out; Read on!
The Pros of Indoor Cycling
It is Relatively Easy on Your Joints
Indoor cycling is a low-impact exercise; never mind that it is pegged as a high-intensity exercise. Because it is a low-impact exercise, it exerts minimal strain on your joints and other impact-prone body parts, especially those magnetic resistance spin bikes with lighter flywheel and ergonomic design. This also means that it is excellent for recovery training and perfect for individuals with injuries. So if you’ve been avoiding exercise because of a restrictive injury, you should give indoor cycling a shot. But, make sure you get a nod of approval from your doctor before attempting this rewarding exercise.
Burns Calories Fast
If you are sick and tired of calories and want to get rid of them fast, you should start spinning indoors. With spinning exercise, you can burn up to 600 calories within 60 minutes. However, you have to put in the work to reap the benefit. It is a no-brainer that the harder you cycle, the higher your performance output and the more calories you burn. So don’t expect to burn a ton of calories if your spinning workout sessions are far from regular and intense.
Keeps you Healthy and Toned
Indoor cycling is more than just an intense and fun-filled activity that builds your muscles. Indoor cycling also provides a slew of health benefits that include weight loss, improved heart function, joint flexibility, and toned abs, legs, and bum. It can also minimize your risk of diabetes. Intense cycling sessions lead to a significant amount of calorie burn, which helps shed unhealthy weight. One study revealed that cycling helps strengthen aerobic capacity and heart health. The study showed a significant increase in aerobic capacity and HDL and a notable decrease in blood pressure and LDL.
Lastly, it helps relieve stress and anxiety by decreasing adrenaline and cortisol levels (the infamous stress hormones) while triggering the release of feel-good endorphins like dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. Indoor cycling is synonymous with overall good health and good vibes!
Strengthens the Lower Body
Using a spin bike, you can easily alternate resistance to simulate a flat terrain and an uphill ride. By so doing, the muscles in your lower body will gain some flexibility and strength. Resistance combined with proper riding posture helps engage your glutes, quadriceps, and hamstrings. Don’t hesitate to apply as much resistance as needed because your lower body and body posture stand to benefit immensely with a simple turn of a resistance knob or click on a button.
Compatible with all competency levels
Indoor cycling welcomes individuals of all skill and competency levels. Yes, you do not need to be a seasoned athlete to practice indoor cycling workouts or participate in group studio cycling sessions. All it takes is a bit of grit, determination, and the willingness to explore. As long as you are genuinely passionate about spinning workout, you will look forward to every ride and session with enthusiasm and excitement. Plus, most high-end spin bikes are equipped to accommodate the needs of beginners, intermediate and advanced users. So you have exercise options that suit your competency level. Super cool, right!
No Two Rides are Exactly the Same
If versatile were an activity, it would be indoor cycling! With so many workout options and resistance levels, the probability of getting bored or stuck with a monotonous exercise routine is relatively low. You can switch resistance and cadence to feel different workout intensities, terrains, and uphill motions. Also, many technology-savvy spin bikes are equipped with high-end monitors and fitness apps that present broad workout options, training videos, and tracking specs; that make each session productive, immersive, and fun-filled. You can monitor your progress with tracking apps to gauge and improve your performance. You can also customize some of the options to suit your preference.
Cycle on Your Own Terms
Another juicy benefit of indoor cycling is its practicality. You can choose to cycle privately in your home or join a spin class. At-home indoor cycling means you can simultaneously binge-watch your favorite series, keep an eye on the kids, and do other activities while on the bike. And if you tend to shy away from crowds or love your space, indoor cycling within the four walls of your home is just perfect! It is also time-saving and secure.
With indoor cycling, you don’t have to spend hours on the great outdoors when you can simply wake up and hop on your bike at half the time it will take to dress up and cycle from and to your home. Safety is also assured; unlike the great outdoors, you can blissfully avoid reckless cars, drivers, and unforgiving weather conditions while cycling within the secure walls of an enclosed space.
And if you are more motivated or stimulated when you exercise in a team, then spin classes in a gym or studio are an excellent fit for you. It will boost your enthusiasm and propel you to work harder. You also get the same safety and weather-proof benefits as cycling from your home. The bottom line is, indoor cycling allows you to cycle on your terms with plenty of perks and benefits!
The Cons of Indoor Cycling
With all that many glowing benefits, one would think that indoor cycling is flawless and faultless. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. Like everything else, it has its good and bad sides. Let’s take a look at the bad.
For users with minimal space in their homes, housing a spin bike can pose a problem. Though spin bikes are not as enormous as some other exercise machines, users with limited space will have a hard time finding a spot for a spin bike in their homes. The good news is, some spin bikes are specially designed for such circumstances.
Some sport a folding design, so you can fold and tuck them away after use, while some are constructed with minimal-as-possible footprints so they can fit into a small corner and spare some moving space. However, these space-friendly exercise bikes may not have your target specifications, or they may be farther from your budget. So the “con” remains! Otherwise, you are good to go.
Missing Out on Nature and Some Vitamin D
Let’s face it; traditional outdoor cycling is a beautiful way to connect with nature, get in some much-needed vitamin D and uplift our mood. However, indoor cycling conveniently eliminates these perks. Well, you can’t have it all, can you?. But, be that as it may, If you have a patio or garden, you can mimic these benefits.
Saddle Soreness and Back Pain
This isn’t exactly a con, but it is an all-too-common indoor cycling complaint. Admittedly, spinning isn’t the most comfortable exercise, but most of its discomfort stems from user mistakes and a lack of know-how. You can minimize saddle sore and back pain or even get rid of them entirely by setting up your bike correctly, using a comfortable saddle cover, maintaining the correct posture, and wearing the proper clothing.
Mainly Lower Body Workout
Indoor cycling is a great cardio workout but unfortunately, unlike rowing exercise or treadmills it only targets the lower body muscles. So, you can get a proper fully body exercise from indoor cycling exercise. With that said, you do have the option to mix weight exercise and improve your upper body muscles but that often requires you to mount and dismount the bike.
Body Becomes Restricted
This sounds a little odd, but it’s pretty common. With indoor cycling, you find you spend a lot of time in the same central position. Even though you feel you are moving around standing up for climbs, you are actually in that same central position.
When we cycle outdoors, we lean a lot into corners, we can pull the bike from side to side, and we can use the momentum. Indoors we just don’t get this. For good bike handling skills, we need to be on an outdoor ride often.
Muscles Works in a Different Way
When you’re outdoor riding your bike, you typically go up and downhills. This makes you use the same muscles as you do cycling indoors, but you apply different force to them than you would if you were on a turbo trainer or indoor bike, as indoor the stationary bike stays flat.
This is because on a steep hill, for example, your body’s position has changed as the bike is no longer level anymore. You need to lean into it, which changes the power distribution on the muscles. Having a good stretching routine before a cycling session can help avoid having this issue.
Not For Everyone
Spin bike is not the easiest exercise bike to use. It requires good balance and the ability to mount and dismount the bike which is not an easy task for senior users. Plus, spin bike flywheels are often heavy (unless you decide to buy a Keiser M3i or a similar bike with light flywheel) and require extra effort to get them moving and keep them turning. These facts bring a limitation on who can ride the bikes so you may want to consider other exercise bikes such as recumbent or upright bikes. Those are much easier and more comfortable to use than spin bikes.
All things considered, the numerous benefits of indoor cycling outweigh the few disadvantages. That being said, it is an activity that is worth considering and practicing. From health benefits to practicality perks, indoor cycling or spinning combines the best features to deliver a satisfactory and fulfilling workout experience. If you can overcome space restrictions, saddle sore/back pain, and find other means to connect with nature and get some vitamin D — Indoor cycling will be the best decision you ever made!