*UPDATE* Psychological Effects of Heart Rate Monitor Use Study

12/21/2010: Preliminary results were reported at Indoor Cycle Instructor in October 2010. Manuscript in preparation. Once published, results will be made available on this site and at ICI.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

How's Your Form? A Checklist for Fine-Tuning

With 22 classes this week, I will be spending the majority of my time coaching OFF the bike -- the perfect opportunity to help you perfect your form. Don't worry -- this is a GOOD thing! When I do form checks, I'll never embarrass you; I'll just quietly (with my mic muted, of course) make suggestions on how to smooth things out so that you are getting the most out of your ride -- so that you are toning and working the proper muscles, and so that you can avoid injury.

With this in mind, here are some things to keep in mind about your riding form:

1. Step 1 - standing next to the bike on the floor, adjust seat height to hip level. Check by lifting your knee so leg is 90 degrees from the floor (like a sideways "L"). Leg should be seat height.
2. Step 2 - climb onto the bike, properly align your feet. Knee should have 30 degree bend (almost fully extended but not quite) in downward-most position. If your knee is locked out (fully straight leg), slide the seat forward to increase the bend in the knee. If too much bend, slide backwards.
3. Step 3 - handlebar height is your call. If you're new or have lower back problems, I suggest riding with the handlebar pretty high. It doesn't matter - it's just a matter of your comfort.

(for detailed tips on the "Perfect Pedal Stroke," check out the aptly named category to the left)
1. Ball of the foot over the center of the pedal; not scrunched all the way forward.
2. Heels down, toes slightly up
3. Scrape/wipe your foot backwards (horizontally) before you curl the leg UPWARDS, leading with your heel

1. Hips square toward your front
2. Knees track parallel to one another, going out NO wider than the hips. Lift the knees straight up towards the chest, top and center.
(Note: if your knees are bowing out to the side, your seat is probably too low!!!)
3. Sit on the widest part of the seat (NOT towards the front of the seat), sitting on your "sit bones"
4. Seat should be far back enough that you are hinged forward at the HIP (not the waist or back). You are not sitting straight upward. If you are, that seat has to go further back.
5. When out of the saddle, hips far back enough to feel the tip/nose of the saddle graze against your butt -- on Runs, on Standing Climbs, on Jumps... all of that, the hips stay exactly the same.
6. As you ride, your hips stay square and level (on a horizontal plane). If your hips move up and down, vertically -- you do not have enough resistance on the flywheel. If you feel any momentum shifted upwards towards your hips, add resistance. If you don't add resistance and you continue to let yourself bop and bounce about, you are going to blow out your knees and hips. You cannot get big legs or a big butt on a stationary bike, so there is absolutely no reason not to add resistance! (See the "Resistance" link to the left for my musings on the scientific evidence that you can't possibly bulk up from Spinning!)

1. Super-light touch on the handbars. In Hand Position 1 (narrow grip -- optional, used for warm-up) and Hand Position 2 (wide grip, used for everything except Standing Climbs and "Jumps on a Hill"... the latter of which I call "breakaways" in class), be sure to be resting on the meaty parts of your hands. Thumbs lined up with wrists to make sure you're not leaning on the handlebars.
2. Elbows IN, bent softly downwards towards the floor.
3. Shoulders down and rolled backwards
4. Head floating on your spine -- smooth slope connecting your head, down your neck, down your spine. Chin is OFF your chest.

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