Indoor Cycling class warm up routines are the the first step to a successful ride profile. Spinning® is an incredible exercise format that can help you manage stress, lose and maintain weight and improve your overall cardiovascular endurance, strength and stamina. Indoor bike workouts are probably the most convenient and time efficient way to boost cycling fitness. I live in the city which is dangerous to ride in. On top of that the type of training I want to do just isn't safe on these busy roads. Going to the cycling studio allows me to focus on my workout goals without dangerous distractions, such as traffic and bad weather conditions.
Another benefit is that I am able to control critical objective fitness performance variables like heart rate, cadence, gearing, and power output. By managing and controlling these variables enables us to set precise workloads and measure objectively the effectiveness of our program.
A good warm-up routine from the perspective of an instructor or solo ride on the trainer of stationary bike is essentially the same. The first step to ensure you have the proper bike setup. I include this because I attend far too many classes where I see rider in all sorts of weird bike setups. So lets address that. Second is to have a warm up drill and a definite goal in mind for the warm up that reflects the overall ride duration and profile. And lastly and importantly are the spin class warm up tunes and songs you will choose as a "soundscape" to ride on and guide the warm up drills.
An indoor cycling warm-up begins before you even get onto the bike. Most modern stationary cycles that are designed for indoor classes are adjustable to suit your proportions. If you are new or unsure it is best to check with a qualified instructor or trainer to help setup a proper bike fit. I have written detailed instruction here. Also, come to class hydrated and have a water bottle to sip on and keep a towel on the bike. You will sweat! and, of course if you're cycling on your own, have you drills written out and get your music player rocking!
Lets face it - indoor cycling instructors often get lazy about the warm up. And solo riders too can neglect this important step. It’s to darn easy to just jump on a bike and start riding. However, with a little creativity and focus, you can start to engage participants from the start. If you are an instructor the first goal is connection. I'll repeat that. The first goal is connection! In our attention shattered society riders will often slip into auto pilot mode so lets have a plan to connect with riders and add a little ingenuity.
Always begin with a warm welcome and a short introduction, make sure the class understands generally what their precious time will be used for. What is your lingo? Will you use an index such as rate of perceived exertion (RPE), will the power meter play a roll?, RPM's, Zones?, what is a surge vs a sprint. I have plenty of ideas on these concepts but overall if you teach you need to have a crisp introduction that get to the heart of it without burning through 20 minutes of time (yes! I have been to those monologue classes)
So be literal but not two wordy. Write out your script! Say things like "we will use 4 zones..or this is a 40 min active ride with a 10 min warm up and 10 min cool down or "During the 40 min working set we will climb a small, big and medium hill/mountain with fast flats in between.. intervals..." etc but make sure it is understood and then ride into one of the following warm-ups.
During the first three to five minutes of the warm-up the main physical focus is on pedal stroke and speed and establishing a brisk, comfortable cadence with a "base resistance." When working out early in the morning, I find that we need to extend the warm-up time by five to 10 minutes because most riders bodies body temperature are naturally lower in the morning. In general the our primary goal in the first few minutes is to raise the riders body temperature, which helps you deliver oxygen more efficiently to working muscles and loosens up muscles.
These first minutes are also a good time to establish proper form. Think about lengthening your spine, relaxing your shoulders and focusing our pedal in a smooth, circular rhythm that both pushes and pulls. To learn more about developing a smooth as butter stroke see here.
For me this is a very important thing. If you are a new rider you often have no idea what you are able to do (or try to much). And if you are a seasoned vet this can be a head issue. I am hardcore here. I am constantly looking to increase my base watts (power production) at 90~100 RPM. That means more resistance. We want to quickly get to a stroke that does not feel laboured but is not easy. What the heck does the word easy mean? Well - its subjective - but only to a degree.
In general if you have a bike with numbered gears or a bike with a power meter try to put a floor on your work output - and seek over months to increase these baselines. If you have a power meter say to yourself - I'm a "185 Watt base and no lower" today with a resting cadence of 90 RPM. Don't get hung up on the numbers. It should change week to week and profile to profile -depending on your fitness, fatigue etc. But as a principle have baselines really helps. It gives you a framework to ride against. For example, if you are "baseline" is 185 watts @ 90 RPM and you find yourself "climbing" at 160 watts... you might ask yourself what gives! Or if running intervals you do not exceed that baseline again... what gives. And of course as you tire in class that can and should happen if you are really working it!
Your first song is always a warm-up tune with little resistance on the bike, pedaling at a moderate speed. That does not mean "no resistance." Cue about having relaxed shoulders, with elbows bent towards the earth, hands in a relaxed position, spine straight, head up, eyes forward, abs sucked in a bit - BIG SMILES.
But here is my big goal. I want to discover the resistance that firmly plants my ass in the seat with no bouncing. There is a curve here. Initially a rider will feel a resistance as hard that in a minute with warming is easy. So cue this up. My favourite way to do this are spin up drills
Second song should usually be a seated climb. Cue to keep increasing resistance on a climbing drill until riders legs are on the beat of the music, working the 360 circle. Take your Riders onto a standing climb (hand position three, upper body hinged forward) by the end of the second song or definitely no later than the third song.