by Jarrod Charbonneau
:1. Build your distance: Do not make the mistake of going for a long ride for your first few rides, you should build it up. Try 1 week of riding 5 miles a day, if this is too easy try 10 miles a day. At this point don’t even worry about adding hills yet because you are developing your “cycling/spinning muscles” which brings me to tip #2
2. Proper fit to your bike: There are several reasons to be properly fitted to a bike whether it is a spin bike or your road/mountain bike at home. (1) You will reduce injury and (2) you will gain more power with each pedal stroke. If you take a few spin classes a week without fitting yourself to your bike you will not feel the pain right away but it will wear on you and you are not riding to your fullest potential. Any spin instructor worth anything should be able to safely fit you to a spin bike (if they can’t do this they should not be teaching) and most bike shops will fit you to your personal bike for $50-$100 which may seem like a lot but it is worth it for your health and performance.
3. Take care of your bottom: When you first start riding/spinning you will feel as if it is torture to ride your bike too often but that is because you aren’t used to sitting in the saddle(who is?). There are a few things you can do to help your bottom on the way to cycling glory.(1) Avoid underwear with texture to it, try wearing spandex or none at all while riding because the small fibers with 2/3 of your body weight on them for an extended period of time will feel like sand paper. (2) Apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly to the area that will be in direct contact with the seat to avoid something called saddle sores.
4. Concentrate on the details: Maintaining perfect form while you are riding is not the easiest thing to do but there are a few quick checks you can do with minimal effort while riding to ensure you have the best possible form. (1) Relax your upper body, a quick way to check this is to take a deep breath and let it out concentrating on the breath and not your legs for a second. Another way of checking if your upper body is relaxed is when you hit a bump (which should happen every minute or so) feel your lower lip jiggle. These are both key indicators that your upper body is relaxed. (2) Engage your inner thighs, while pedaling look down at your knees and thighs and they should be going straight up and down and not bowlegged. This is extremely bad for your knees and you will lose all of your street cred as a cyclist or spinner. (3) (My personal favorite) make sure you are pushing and pulling on your pedals while riding. Think of it this way, if you are only pushing you are only utilizing half of your leg muscles if that. By pulling on your pedals you will incorporate your glutes AND quads into the ride thus working your whole leg and will cycle to optimal performance.
5. Be sure to stretch… A LOT: When you first start cycling chances are you have barely used those same muscles at all even if you are a runner so be sure to stretch before and after every workout.
Beginner Workout:2 days a week riding for one hour (hills or flats)
***Be sure to check back soon for follow up blogs on Intermediate and Advanced Cycling***
Jarrod Charbonneau is a spin instructor at Beacon Hill Athletic Clubs. He is also an avid road cyclist and has completed several rides in the New England area including the Pan Mass Challenge, Harpoon B2B and Point to Point. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.