The Big Mistake You're Probably Making When Indoor Cycling

Whether you're riding a stationary bike at an indoor cycling studio or in the comfort of your own home, you've likely experienced a moment of discomfort. That's because most of us are setting our bikes up wrong. But the good news is that a few small adjustments to your saddle height and handlebars can make your spin class much more efficient while eliminating issues like knee pain and even chafing on your thighs (and other more sensitive areas). 

Adjust your seat height: A too-low seat might seem less precarious and more comfortable at first, but sitting too low can cause knee problems and inefficient pedaling. "If the saddle is not high enough, and you're riding too low, you'll put undue pressure on the knee joint and can experience knee pain," Jessica King, a coach with Peloton Cycle, told Daily Burn. Make sure that your seat is high enough that when you're sitting on it with your feet on the pedals and one pedal is at the bottom of the pedal stroke, that leg is almost completely straightened. This might feel harder to climb onto, but once you're pedaling, you'll notice a big difference in comfort and the ability to pedal hard. 

Other spin bike fit adjustments to make

Back your saddle up: Another common problem spin bike setups have is when the handlebars and the saddle are positioned too close together, causing you and your knees to be crunched forward. A quick way to set up is to move the center of the handlebar forward or backward from the nose of the saddle so it measures the same as the space from your elbow down to your fingertips (via Shape).

Stop gripping so tightly: When you grip your handlebars tightly, you're stressing and tensing muscles that don't need to be tightened and potentially causing back or neck pain. Spin instructor Karla Walsh told Shape that when she first started attending spin classes, she would grip the handlebars of the bike tightly anytime she was trying to generate power. "I was putting my neck, wrists, and lower back at major risk, not to mention making every movement during my ride far less effective," she adds.

And fix your handlebars: Your handlebars should be at the same height as your saddle, SoulCycle instructor Tina Davis told Daily Burn. If they aren't, you're likely putting more pressure on your back and neck than necessary.