You are taking the time to hop on the bike and exercise, so let’s make sure you are getting the most out of your ride! Follow these 3 Tips to Improve Your Cycling Class.

1. Proper Bike Set-Up

Seat Height

  • Stand next to your bike and adjust it to hip level (in line with your hip bone). This gives an effective starting point, although personal preference and comfort may require more adjusting
  • Once on the bike, you want to make sure your knee extends almost all the way (about 30°) on your down pedal but does not lock out. Also look for a 90° angle when the sole of your foot is parallel to the floor
  • Adjust your seat height (it may be too high or too low) if you are experiencing pain in your low back, in the back of the knee or kneecap, or early fatigue in your quadriceps (front part of the thigh)

Start the seat height inline with your hip and adjust as needed

Seat Fore / Aft Position (Knee Over Pedal)

  • General guidelines recommend that your knee is above the pedal axle when the crank-arms (attached to the foot pedal) are horizontal
  • In this horizontal position, your front knee should be behind your toes
  • Don’t be afraid to adjust from time to time to find your most efficient pedal stroke

Foot Pedals

  • If you are using a pedal cage:
    • Position the ball of your foot over the pedal spindle
    • Make sure the straps are tight to hold your foot in place but not too tight
  • If you are clipping in with cycling shoes:
    • Ensure proper fit so that your foot is angled in its natural position
    • Make sure your knees are pointing the same direction as your toes
    • Most bike shops are able to adjust your cycling shoes. Improper alignment is a common cause of knee pain!

Proper foot placement reduces knee pain

Handlebar Height

  • Dependent on experience level and comfort, as well as flexibility of the spine, hamstrings and arm length
  • Choose a height that enhances your riding form, comfort and allows your upper body to stay in alignment (neutral neck, shoulders and spine)

Handlebar height should feel natural

2. Four Pedaling Phases

As you are pedaling, think about going through each of the four phases for the most effective pedal stroke.

  • Downstroke
    • Push the foot forward and down, moving from 12 o’clock to 6 o’clock (0 to 180°)
  • Backstroke
    • Think about trying to scrape something off the bottom of your shoe
  • Upstroke
    • Think about pulling your knees up to the handlebars
  • Overstroke
    • Last small movement transitioning to your next Downstroke

3. Gain Your Cycling Legs

Ever heard the expression walk before you run? Well the same is true for cycling. In order to maximize your cardiovascular and muscular training, you want to build your endurance first. A more fun way to look at this is to build your cycling legs. Endurance training (the ability to maintain a level of work for a longer period of time) is the foundation of fitness. Building endurance will allow you to build stamina to train harder and more often. Once you have a base level of endurance you will be able to add higher intensities and continue to improve your endurance.

So how will you know you’ve got your cycling legs? Focus on your progressions. Through each class. Maybe you started your sprint intervals at 90 RPMs but 2 weeks later you are holding 100. Maybe in the first few classes there was no way you were going to a Level 9 resistance at the top of a hill, but then BOOM you can!


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