Is Indoor Cycling Bad For You?

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Click here for the full written transcript of this podcast episode.

I used to be an indoor cycling instructor. I absolutely loved it. It was really part of my identity. People called me the “Spin Nazi” and everybody knew if you wanted to really get your butt kicked, you should show up to Ben Greenfield's evening spin class. 

It was pure joy for me to put together a 60 minute killer soundtrack, strap on the wireless microphone and lead my cycling troops into battle for a solid hour. I must admit – teaching that spin class three times per week for 3 years gave me mutant-like lungs and rock-solid legs.

And whether you want to become a better cyclist or triathlete, or you just want the beautiful legs and toned butt that you see in many cyclists, there's no denying that indoor cycling (AKA “spinning”) can be a potent way to cross-train, to get better lungs and to develop impressive glutes.

But there are many, many things that happen during indoor spinning classes that people simply should not be doing – indoor cycling moves that can be very dangerous for knees and backs, spinning styles that can be ineffective for weight loss and fitness, and a general lack of good knowledge among certified spinning or fitness instructors about how to actually teach the spinning or indoor cycling class.

So in today's audio episode, I have indoor cycling expert Jennifer Sage to tell you exactly how to make sure your indoor cycling class isn't destroying your body or wasting your time. Jennifer was previously a guest on the BenGreenfieldFitness episodes:

-“10 Ways To Get More Out Of Your Indoor Cycling.

-“A Spinning & Indoor Cycling Instructor Gets A Bit Hot Under the Collar.


Today Jennifer is back, and she’s on a mission to clean up spinning and indoor cycling around the world.

Jennifer is the mastermind behind the Indoor Cycling Association, an online educational resource for indoor cycling instructors. She is also the author of the excellent Indoor Cycling book “Keep it Real” – which is chock full of practical tips, workouts and sage advice for beginner, intermediate, and advanced indoor cyclists.

-What kind of spin classes are a complete waste of your time…

-Specific moves that you must avoid if you're going to do indoor cycling…

-How much you should stand up vs. sit down when you're riding indoors…

-When cycling at an extremely high RPM is OK, and when it becomes dangerous…

-What kind of education it takes to become an indoor cycling instructor…

-3 things you should do when you walk into a spin class to ensure your bike is ready…

Whether you should ride in an “aero” position on a spin bike…

-Why Ben's favorite way to get an indoor cycling workout is with “Sufferfest” videos…

Do you have questions about whether your indoor cycling class is bad for you? Leave your feedback below and Jennifer or I will reply!

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11 thoughts on “Is Indoor Cycling Bad For You?

  1. Jennifer, You are awesome…!

    Keep it up Buddy,

    See you again.

  2. Michelle says:

    I teach a 60 min cycle sculpt class twice a week its a great work out… 30 min on the bike 30 off. i can’t believe how many people including

    Jennifer is awesome… She is the voice of reason

  3. Caleb says:

    I deal with lots of cyclists and bike fits.

    Fit is super important! If people aren’t in the correct position it over loads muscles way to much. Seat height, seat fore/aft, foot position and reach are commonly wrong in people I see. There are ideal angles etc but if people don’t have the flexibility to be in them they will get more problems.

    Spin classes are great…but make sure your bike is set up right every class as you may not be on the same bike and others may have ridden them since you rode it Nd it may have been adjusted.

    On too of this too many people push too big a gear for too long putting too much strain on knees and lower back. Cadence is very important when cycling.

    Happy riding all.

  4. aviva1107gg says:

    Every activity can be dangerous if you don't pay attention to it. I think indoor exercise bike is more safe than soccer, basketball and many activities. Isn't it?

    1. Depends who you are playing with ;)

  5. Michael says:

    Jennifer recommends against riding in aero on spin bikes. One reason she gives is the difference in geometry and body position between a tri bike and road and spin bikes. Does the same thing apply to a road bike with add on aero bars? Should that be avoided?

    1. Strap-on aerobars are ok as long as the bike has been fitted (or re-fitted) to accommodate them.

  6. Sean says:

    Not sure why you guys keep fighting the Sou Cycle tidal wave lost ..enough. You are a great at what you do just be happy people are on bikes..what belongs to you will come to you..otherwise you look like a very sore loser

  7. Teri says:

    Thank you for this! I took jumps, hovers, on the bike push-ups, etc out of my class over 10 years ago and some understand it some think it’s boring since they want the circus, despite what I tell them of safety. This is refreshing to hear!

    1. Teri, good for you!
      The class shouldn’t be boring if it’s missing those elements, it’s up to the coach to keep it interesting and motivational.
      I wrote an article for ICA called “IF They’re Bored, You’re Boring!” There’s a lot more to teaching an indoor cycling class than yelling up, down, up, down…it takes coaching skills!

      Sounds like you’ve been teaching for a long time Teri! =)

  8. Buddy says:

    Good podcast. I've seen many participants being made to do obviously bad things by their indoor cycling trainers.

    Sage advice from Jennifer!

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