It’s one of the facts of fitness, that spinning bikes can be very uncomfortable, so much so that you can find you’re not getting the best results from your workout. One reason is down to the design of the bikes – those thin saddles don’t really make for a comfy ride; but it’s also true that if you don’t set up your spin bike correctly, or aren’t sure about how to sit on a spin bike – or, what do once you start pedalling to release that burny lactic acid feeling, your muscles will start to tire, and ache earlier than they should.
So, how can you make spinning more comfortable? I decided to ask for some advice from some top spinning instructors on how to make spin class less uncomfortable and prevent ‘sore bum after spinning class syndrome.’ And here’s what they told me.
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How To Make Spinning More Comfortable
1: Work on Your Spin Bike Set Up
If it’s not in the right position nothing will feel right. If you don’t know how to set up a spin bike properly, Sunshine Coast physiotherapist and spin instructor Sarah Korzeba suggests checking the following.
- Sit on the seat, and place one heel on the upside down pedal. In this position, the knee should be straight. The reason being that when you cycle, you bend the knee, and have your toes and midfoot resting on the pedal- thereby creating a slight bend in the knee which is at the appropriate angle for that person. Too much knee flexion can result in other problems, especially overuse syndromes of the kneecap, and too little in overstretching to reach the peddle.
- Have the handlebars up as high as possible to accommodate a stiff lumbar spine. I don’t think you need to be too fussy here except adapt according to your own comfort
- The length from the front of the seat to your handlebars should be approximately the length of your elbow to your middle finger (once again- adapt from there according to comfort).
2: How to Make a Spin Bike Seat More Comfortable
Spin bike seats are designed to keep you in a position that keeps your upper body and hips more stable meaning you focus more of your energy into moving your legs, but their thin design can also make them uncomfortable. There is a very easy solution though…
‘Our seats are actually cushioned with foam so we get very few complaints about them, but, if that’s not the case where you spin get a gel seat,” says Michaela Fellner from spinning studio Bodhi + Ride in Melbourne. ‘These are heaven. We really like the Bioflex-Gel Flo Anatomic Saddle Seat ‘
If you want to give that a try, then you can buy it…
In Australia from cycling specialists Wiggle – here’s the direct link to the page to save you searching for it.
If you’re in the UK it’s available on amazon – you’ll find that here.
In the US, you can find it at Condor Cycles which will ship to you (they also ship to many other countries too).
If that’s not available where you’re from though, there’s are heap of other padded seats to choose from.
Choose one that suits the size and shape of your bike saddle to reduce the risk of it slipping and sliding as you ride. Most spinning bikes actually have a thin saddle as this reduces risk of chafing and limits the amount you sway from side to side as you pedal – this stops you getting tired as quickly. Although we do admit it makes them feel like instruments of torture!
If you’re going to spinning classes rather than using a bike at home having a seat cushion that you have to fit before you ride might not be that convenient in that case, you can also look at padded bike shorts. These are great for spinning, but also help make any exercise bike seat more comfortable.
The range at Terry’s Bike Shorts come very highly recommended by cyclists – particularly their Bella Short. Have a look here to see the whole range. Or, if you’re short and time and just want to give the Bella a go, then you’ll find those here.
Terry’s do ship internationally but the shipping is quite pricey, so, if you’re in the UK have a look at the DHB Range at Wiggle. Here’s the best UK link
And don’t worry Australian folks, they’re also stocked on the Aussie site to, you’ll find the basic ones here.
3: How to Properly Sit on a Spin Bike
Getting your spin bike seat position correct is important, but if you then don’t sit on the spin bike correctly, you’re still going to run into problems.
‘Incorrect posture will put pressure on the wrong places as you move making your spin class less comfortable – and less effective. ‘There are different postures depending on what you’re doing,’ says Michaela. ‘When you are sprinting you need to have your hips slightly tipped down for example, however generally, this is what you’re aiming for…
- take your chin up
- lift and open your chest
- pull your shoulders back
- squeeze your core
- tip from the hips
- elbows slightly bent
- make sure arms are not stretched out too far
- make sure your handlebar position is correct, otherwise you will get lower back pain
4: Stretch Out Your Back
A more comfortable spinning class is not just about your legs; ‘Every now and again it’s good to sit upright, and draw your arms together behind your back to align your spine and open your chest and shoulders a little. They’re hunched forwards for more of the time when spinning so this will counteract that,’ says Sarah
5: Move Around
A good spinning class will see you pedalling in a number of different positions to help work different muscles in the legs, but changing position regularly also helps make you more comfortable.
‘Whenever you start to feel uncomfortable change something about the way you are sitting. If you sit at a desk all day, for example, you might find you can’t spend long periods on your elbows and so may need to move more to avoid this,’ says Sarah.
6: Tighten your Tummy
The more your upper body moves on the bike the more pressure you put on your back and hips. You want your upper body to try and stay as stable as possible ‘Make sure your core is engaged so you don’t flop around from side to side,’ says Michaela.
Doing core work when you’re off the bike will help create this extra stability. Look at moves like the plank that develop the deep core muscles more effectively than sit ups do.
If you can’t hold a plank for that long, there’s actually a really simple fix for that the just involves shifting your foot position slightly. Find out all about it on this post which contains 5 tips that can help improve your plank.
7. And Check Your Knees
If they’re flaring outwards you’re going to be putting more pressure through them and smaller muscles are the side of your legs, and your quads and glutes that should be doing most of the work won’t be targeted quite as effectively. Keep them inline by thinking about engaging your inner thighs as you push downwards.
8: Make Sure Your Resistance is High Enough
It’ll give you a better workout and makes your upper body more stable. ‘Resistance is not the enemy,’ says Sarah. ‘When you’re riding on the road there’s a fair degree of resistance coming up to meet you so you should simulate that. It’s particularly important when standing as you need the pedals to be able to take your body weight.’
9: Wear Proper Shoes
Most dedicated spin studios will give you proper shoes that clip into the pedals but more general gyms or smaller classes may not have these. ‘But just wearing trainers in the cages on the pedals can really hurt the arch of the foot,’ says Michaela.
Cleated shoes also make it easier to drive your foot through the whole pedal as you can pull up as effectively as you push down which gives more power to each stroke.
If your studio doesn’t have special spin shoes – or you’re spinning at home, you can find spin shoes at sports shops, or have a look here.
10: Get Off if You Need To
Sometimes the only way to stop your butt aching during spinning class is to get off and walk around for a bit, says Sarah.
If you don’t feel comfortable doing that, she says standing up in the pedals for short intervals, even if it’s not a specific standing part of the workout will also help reduce sore bum syndrome.
11: Keep Practising
If all of the above is in place then it’s just a matter of getting your body used to spinning – which will only happen with practice.
Again, classes will help keep you motivated here – depending where you live good names to look out for would be Soul Cycle (in the US and coming to the UK soon), RPM and Virtual Ride at Virgin Active and Spin Glow at Fitness First or my absolute favourite, Psycle. In Australia, try Scenic Cycle, Vicious Cycle, Bodhi + Ride or any of the big gyms.
If you’re working out at home, you can find spinning work outs online or go old school and try spinning workout DVDs. One benefit of these is that you’re not trying to balance your phone on your handlebars while pedalling at a rate of knots.
Johnny G is actually the man who invented spinning so anything with his name on it is going to be good.
I also like the idea of The Ambient Collection Virtual Cycle Rides which see you pedalling along to pretty landscapes on your TV
And that, my friends, is the tip I need to take on most….so, best I go hit the gym then!
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