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Although rides seem complex when you first start indoor cycling, each ride can be broken down into a sequence of simple movements. In this article, we describe and demonstrate the most common indoor cycling movements. Understanding these movements provides a solid foundation for any rider. 


Table of Contents (click to jump to each section)
Pedaling in the saddle
Crunches
Break aways
Pedaling out of the saddle
Dips/Drops
Pushups
Tap Backs
Back 4s/Back 2s
Isolations
Runs
Jumps
Sprints

Pedaling in the saddle

The most basic movement in indoor cycling is pedaling while seated in the saddle. It’s just like riding a bike, pun intended. Pedaling in the saddle is home base and a great movement to use if modification is needed at any time during a ride. For music-driven rides, the beat of the music guides our pedaling. There are two common strategies for finding the beat in the saddle. The first is to find and focus on the down beat (the main beat). For this strategy, you select a lead foot, either your right or left foot, whichever feels more natural. That selected lead foot should hit the bottom of the pedal motion on the down beat. So each count is when your lead foot hits the bottom of the pedal motion and you do not count when the non-lead foot hits the bottom of the pedal motion. The second strategy is to find and focus on the down and up beats (the main and half beats). For this strategy, you count twice as fast compared to the first strategy. Each count corresponds with a foot hitting the bottom of the pedal motion. Sometimes, people think “right, left, right, left, etc.” or “1, 2, 1, 2, etc.” when using this strategy.

[Video Tutorial Coming Soon]

Crunches

When pedaling in the saddle, the instructor will at times layer in crunches. Like most movements, crunches are executed to the beat. To perform a crunch, drop both elbow straight down while pedaling in the saddle. To maintain control of the movement, make sure to engage your core during the motion. The instructor may layer in variations to the crunches such as one crunch with the right arm and then one crunch with the left arm.

[Video Tutorial Coming Soon]

Break aways

Break aways are used by the instructor to transition from quick, low-resistance pedaling in the saddle to slower, high-resistance pedaling standing up out of the saddle. This is normally done with a countdown from either 8 or 4. To slow the pedal speed, you should turn the resistance knob to the right progressively during the countdown. At the end of the countdown, rise up out of the saddle (standing). Your resistance should be high enough to slow down your pedaling to half the speed when compared to the beginning of the break away.

[Video Tutorial Coming Soon]

Pedaling out of the saddle

The second simplest indoor cycling movement is pedaling out of the saddle. The only more simple movement is pedaling in the saddle. Pedaling out of the saddle is pedaling while standing up on the bike. For our music-driven cycling, we aim to pedal to the beat. There are two common strategies for finding the beat which are discussed in the above ‘pedaling in the saddle’ section. Form is an important consideration when pedaling out of the saddle. You want to avoid pulling your hips forward as this can place addition stress on your joints and muscles. The ideal position is for your hips to be pulled back hovering over the front of the saddle. This position provides the most comfort for riders over time.

[Video Tutorial Coming Soon]

Dips/Drops

When riding out of the saddle, a common movement is dips (known as drops as well). Dips involve dropping both your elbows straight down simultaneously. Drops can be executed with hands forward on the handlebars or hands on the back of the handlebars. For both variations, the elbows are dropped straight down on the beat to the point where your forearms are perpendicular to the ground. Similar to crunch variations, the instructor may layer in variations to the dips such as one dip with the right arm and then one dip with the left arm. If you need a modification for dipping out of the saddle, doing crunches in the saddle is a perfect alternative.

[Video Tutorial Coming Soon]

Pushups

When riding out of the saddle, pushups are sometimes used by instructors. Pushups are a close relative to dips. Like dips, pushups happen out of the saddle to the beat and involve bending the arms. Unlike dips, the hands are positioned at the center of both handles and the elbows flare out to the sides as you bend the arms. Each rider has a different range of motion for pushups. Bend your arms to a point where you feel stable and safe. If you need a modification for pushups out of the saddle, doing dips out of the saddle or doing crunches in the saddle are good alternatives.

[Video Tutorial Coming Soon]

Tap Backs

While riding out of the saddle, tap backs are a frequently used movement. Rather than initiating this motion with the arms or core, you initiate a tap back with your hips. From the neutral out of the saddle riding position discussed above, shift the hips further back until they tap the wide part of the saddle. Then shift forward to the neutral sometimes called center position. This motion is repeated with the saddle taps corresponding to the beat of the music. Be mindful to not slam into the saddle during a tap back. The motion should be subtle, controlled, and include a light tap of your gluts on the saddle.

[Video Tutorial Coming Soon]

Back 4s/Back 2s

While riding out of the saddle, back 4s and other variations of this movement may be used. Common variations of this movement include back 8, back 4, and back 2. As indicated by the name, back [insert #]s involve shifting hips back and holding for the indicated count of beats. When back, your hips should hover over the wide part of the saddle. After the count indicated is reached, you shift forward to the neutral out of the saddle riding position (center position) for that same count. Repeat this pattern until the instructor cues the end of the movement. Often times back 8s, back 4s, and back 2s used one right after another in a movement sequence.

[Video Tutorial Coming Soon]

Isolations

For isolations, riders try to isolate their upper bodies while continuing to pedal to the beat with their legs. This is sometimes referred to as “cutting the bounce” because your upper body’s minimal movement eliminates the up and down bouncing as you ride. This isolation eliminates most of your momentum requiring more leg strength and effort to stay on the beat. To modify an isolation, isolate the upper body and allow yourself to pedal slower than the beat.

[Video Tutorial Coming Soon]

Runs

Unlike all the other movements, runs are not executed to the beat. Runs are actually executed faster than the beat of the music. This movement is used by instructors when there is a sense of urgency or intensity in the music. For a specific period of time (typically 30 seconds), riders are asked to “run” and pedal faster than the beat. Runs can be conducted both in and out of the saddle.

[Video Tutorial Coming Soon]

Jumps

One of our favorite moments is jumps. When executing a jump, the rider starts in the saddle pedaling to the beat. The instructor will designate a count for the jumps (typically 8, 4, or 2). When cued the riders will stand up and pedal out of the saddle for the designated count, return to the saddle to pedal for the count, and then stand up again repeating this sequence until given another direction. Often instructors, will transition from one jump count to another such as 8-count jumps to 4-count jumps. It can be difficult to stay on the beat throughout jumps. To modify jumps, feel free to mirror the instructor standing up and sitting down without worrying about staying on the beat.

[Video Tutorial Coming Soon]

Sprints

Almost every final song in a ride features sprints. Before a sprint you are in the saddle pedaling to the beat. When cued the you rise up out of the saddle for the sprint. If possible, you continue to pedal to the beat out of the saddle. If maintaining the beat is not possible, you are encouraged to pedal as fast as possible out of the saddle. You remain out of the saddle for the duration of the sprint. Most commonly sprints are 30 seconds but can be 15 seconds or 45 seconds as well. Sprints are designed to be the most challenging of the movements and are meant to challenge all riders. So don’t be discouraged if you are having difficulty executing a sprint. A great sprint modification is to do 4-count jumps or 8-count jumps instead. Jumps align well with the sprint and can help you build up to being out of the saddle for the full sprint duration.

[Video Tutorial Coming Soon]

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