6 Benefits of an Indoor Cycling Class
Hopping on a bike for a cycling session is not only a great cardio workout but also a healthy way to clear your head and relieve the stress of the day.
But heading outside for a bike ride isn’t always feasible — sometime the weather, the traffic, or your gear just won’t cooperate.
Luckily, the benefits of spin class are similar to the benefits of cycling: Sweating it out on an indoor bike can boost physical and mental health, and even give you a sense of being part of a community.
Here are a few great reasons to go for an indoor ride.
What Are the Benefits of Spin Class?
Spin class can help you achieve different fitness goals and manage stress.
1. Heart health
Whether you do a steady-state, endurance, or HIIT cycling class, spin is a cardio-based workout that can challenge your entire cardiorespiratory system, explains Miriam Alicea, MS, a MYX trainer and NASM-certified personal trainer and corrective exercise specialist.
With time, cardio exercise can help improve your resting heart rate and exercise response. “Your body will adapt to certain levels of intensity that may have previously shot your heart rate way up, so you’ll be able to work out longer and/or use more resistance,” Alicea explains.
Along with the potential cardiovascular benefits, spin class can help increase strength.
“It’s not the same as a strength-training routine with squats and deadlifts, but if you crank up the resistance, you will see gains in lower-body strength because those muscles power through the pedal stroke,” Alicea explains.
If you live in a high-traffic area, or if it’s been a while since you’ve been on a bike, you may not feel comfortable riding on the street. An indoor spin class gives you a chance to get comfortable on a bike and push yourself without worrying about cars, potholes, and pedestrians.
4. Mental health
As with any exercise, spin class can help your body learn to adapt to stress off the bike, Alicea says. Exercise releases mood-boosting endorphins and can help to improve your confidence and your sense of wellbeing, she adds.
5. Weight loss
Spin class can be a key part of a successful weight loss plan.
“Weight loss comes down to energy balance,” Alicea says, adding that the goal is to create a daily calorie deficit, meaning that you burn more than you consume. “Assuming you also have a well-rounded and healthy diet, locking down a regular exercise routine that includes something like cycling classes — which have a high energy output — is a good way to lead to weight loss.”
Whether you take a virtual spin class or sign up at a studio, you’ll get the accountability of sticking to a regular schedule and the support and encouragement of your trainer and fellow classmates.
What Muscles Are Worked During a Spin Class?
Your leg muscles work together to provide the power behind each pedal stroke. Your glutes and quads are your main source of power when you first push down on the pedal.
Your hamstrings and calves then help to pull the pedal through the bottom of the stroke and return it back to the top. From there, your quads take over again, helping to move your foot and knee into position for the next downstroke.
You’ll also engage your core for stabilization and your upper body for support, especially when you come up out of the saddle. But ultimately, spin class targets the leg muscles.
Keep in mind if your goal is to optimize muscle development, you’ll want to use a higher resistance during your indoor cycling class.
Can You Do Spin With an Injury?
Because spin class is low-impact, it tends to be gentler on the joints than a higher-impact workout such as running.
“Cycling is often a staple in rehab settings for joint issues,” Alicea explains. “It can decrease stiffness and increase range of motion and mobility.”
Of course, it’s important to get clearance from your doctor before you do cycling classes with any injury, Alicea says. And always listen to your body — if anything doesn’t feel right, scale back or stop.
What Are the Benefits of a Virtual Spin Class vs. a Studio Class?
Good news for anyone who invested in a home bike: Virtual classes can be just as beneficial as studio classes, if not better. Below are a few of the main benefits of taking spin class at home.
1. It’s accessible.
“The number one benefit of doing a virtual spin class is accessibility,” Alicea says. “Cycling at home removes barriers that can hinder a regular workout routine, like traveling to and from a studio, and class time availability.”
2. It may feel less intimidating.
“Some people are not comfortable in a big fitness setting,” Alicea says. If you’re one of them, you may feel more comfortable trying a spin class in a safe and familiar space, like your own living room. A group fitness class may feel less daunting when you know you can turn your camera on or off.
3. You can adapt it to your schedule.
Say you plan to take a 45-minute spin class in a studio — then life gets in the way, and you find yourself running late. At a studio, you would likely have to skip class altogether. But with a virtual cycling class, you can simply start later or join a shorter class — no worries.
4. You can find an online fitness community.
As a MYX trainer, Alicea discovered that you don’t need a studio to achieve a sense of community. Many virtual spin classes have Facebook groups or other ways for participants to interact with each other, lending support and encouragement.
5. You can compete.
Got a competitive streak? Some virtual cycling classes have leaderboards to keep you driven. For those that don’t, you can use your heart rate monitor or fitness tracker to compete with yourself each class, Alicea says. Either way, it can be an excellent motivator to push yourself.