I'm no newbie to an indoor bike. I've been a regular at a local boutique studio, and as of this year, I'm a proud owner of an indoor bike myself. And although there are a number of online videos or streaming services available, there have been times when nothing feels quite right for my mood or workout.
But as much as I want to just do my own thing, tossing on my UA Meridian Bike Shorts ($60), hopping on the bike, and spinning endlessly without any real plan doesn't work for me. So I decided I wanted to take matters into my own hands and learn the key elements of a good indoor cycling workout, straight from a pro.
I talked to Maddy Ciccone, master instructor at SoulCycle, to get her best tips for bikers like me looking to mix things up and create their own at-home workout.
The first two things to think about for your workout, Ciccone explained, are the music and varying tempos. This will help you play with different paces and tracking your heart rate.
"If you're brand new to any at-home bike, I highly suggest just trying to work on different rhythms and paces with your favorite songs," she explained. "Music to me is the key component." There's a reason instructors spend so much time selecting the right tunes for class. Ciccone suggested a great place to start is to pick music you like to dance to.
"Personally, when I ride my own bike at home (and this is a very rare thing because I teach a boatload of classes), I like to stream my favorite DJ sets on my TV and just free ride," she added. "It's a fun game to play with paces and beat matching because you don't necessarily know what they're going to drop, and it keeps things interesting. It makes it kind of a guessing game!"
Now, when it comes to actually planning out your workout, think about the "meat" of your ride as well as the warmup and cooldown. Depending on how long you want to cycle for, aim for between 35-50 minutes of riding if you're looking to program a class that's 45-60 minutes long.
She also suggested leaving anywhere from three to five minutes of warming up and cooling down to bookend your workout. Ciccone herself said you can never take too long to cool down, recover, stretch, or foam roll. "I'm a big advocate for recovery and really don't think you can ever overdo it."
And of course, don't forget the resistance. According to Ciccone, a common mistake she sees is riders who think in order to go fast, you need little to no resistance on the wheel. "That is a far cry from the truth," she said. "In fact, I would argue the more you have on, the better. It's like insurance in a fast car — better to have more than less."
Ciccone explained that putting on resistance gives you something to actually stand on that will help you hit the faster paces and propel you up out of the saddle so you can do any runs, jumps, or choreography you may feel like.
With these tips in mind, I've taken a few playlists and made rides based around my favorite songs. I sprint during the bridge, am up out of the saddle during the chorus, and increase my resistance anytime my favorite lyric comes on. The point is: creating your own cycling workout can be easy and fun if you know where to start.