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5 Things You Need to Know About Indoor Cycling

5 Things You Need to Know About Indoor Cycling

Cycling is one of the best workouts you can do, but few people are willing to get out with their bikes under cold rain or hot sun. Luckily, we have establishments where stationary spinning bikes await for us to exercise on any weather, while listening to the coach and some pumping tune.

Indoor cycling or spinning (which is in fact a trademark term) was invented in the 1990s and now it’s a worldwide phenomenon, which helps women like you and me lose pounds and build up some muscles. Indoor cycling is very effective, as it’s a low impact workout, compared to running, for example, yet it provides you with an intense cardio session. Depending on your fitness level, you decide how intense your cycling session will be, but you can be sure your lungs will be working, your heart will be pumping, and your glutes, hamstrings, quads, core, and calves are going to scream.

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Despite this indoor cycling is a very popular thing, there are many secrets you don’t know about it. For a beginner, even the lingo can get intimidating, so here are all the things you need to know about indoor cycling.

1. Pay attention when you pick your seat.

Newbies are going to run to the last row of the bikes, but this is not a great way to tackle indoor cycling. You should be reserving a bike in the first row, where you can see your instructor. This way, he can advise if you are not moving right and you can get more motivation from his pace.

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However, if you don’t manage to find a seat in the front row, check if the studio has a tiered seating, which can offer a 360 degree perspective for those sitting in the back row.

2. Learn the lingo of indoor cycling.

There are couple of differences between the indoor bikes and the outdoor bikes, the most noticeable being the lack of gears for the first ones. Instead of gears, indoor bikes have resistance knobs, which control your RPM. Then, there is the Q factor, which helps the biker make sure the rotation is correct – yes, there is such thing as a wrong rotation during cycling. And there are many more things to consider. So, first, inform yourself on what each thing means and then head to the gym.

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For example, the RPM should be seen as a road: the higher the RPM, the road is uphill, the lower, the road is downhill. As you see, make correlations with daily things in order to remember all the lingo.

3. Get used with the clip in and clip out.

When you are cycling, clipping in helps you focus more on the pull, because your feet stay in place as you cycle. When you are wearing regular shoes, to clip in, just place the ball of the foot in the cage of the pedal. If you are wearing special cycling shoes, just clip one foot at a time, by putting the toes in a downward angle on the pedal, then pushing the foot until you hear the shoe is locked in, just like you would do with your sky equipment.

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To unclip, turn your show away from the bike, forcing it out. You might not manage to do it from the first time, but don’t panic, just repeat until you manage to unclip.

4. Work more on pulling up your feet.

Most cyclists focus on pushing the pedal, but the real work is done when you are pulling up, because this is when you are building momentum and increase your RPM. Concentrate on the upstroke, for a more effective cycling session.

5. It’s all about yourself.

The best thing about cycling classes is it’s all about yourself. As soon as the lights dim and the music turns on, you are alone with your bike. Focus on yourself and allow your mind to empty, as you follow the rhythm of the music. You can even close your eyes and pedal, listening to the instructor and the music.

Featured photo credit: Global Panorama/Flickr via flickr.com

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Last Updated on November 27, 2020

12 Stretching Exercises to Increase Your Flexibility

12 Stretching Exercises to Increase Your Flexibility

When thinking about stretching and learning how to become flexible, consider you are doing more than just elongating and strengthening your muscles. You are, in fact, improving circulation of the blood (lymphatic system), and optimizing the depth of your breath, which further enhances circulation[1].

Stretching and yoga aren’t just trends; they are practices that have been utilized by humans arguably for hundreds of thousands of years or more. In many cases, modern humans have simply forgotten much of their ancestry, and stretching/yoga is certainly an integral part.

The following stretching routines, if practiced consistently (every day, or a few times a week), will improve your physical and mental well-being, so let’s get into them!

Here’s a breakdown of all the exercises I’ve covered in the video:

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1. Standing Hamstring Stretch

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    • Stand straight and tall with your feet hip-width apart, knees just slightly bent, and arms by your sides.
    • Exhale as you bend forward (think of a door hinge movement at the hips), lowering your head toward the floor (imagine the top of your head being parallel with the floor), while keeping your head, neck, and shoulders relaxed (do not tense up).
    • Wrap your arms around the backs of your legs, or simply grab and hold the back of your legs; holding anywhere from 45 seconds to two minutes.
    • Bend your knees and slowly “roll up” back to the standing position when you’re done.

    2. Downward Dog

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      • Start standing with your feet hip-width apart.
      • While exhaling, hinge at the hips and lower your head toward the floor.
      • Place your hands/palms on the ground.
      • Step back with your feet while keeping a neutral back/spine and with your head/neck in-line with your shoulders and arms.

      3. Deep Lunge and Twist

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        • Start standing with your feet together hip width apart.
        • Take a large step forward with your right foot.
        • Bend your right knee and drop into a lunge, keeping your left leg as straight as you can behind you with your toes on the ground, so you feel a stretch at the front of your left thigh.
        • Place your right hand on the floor or in a pray position, and twist your upper body to the right as you extend your right arm toward the ceiling (for a deeper stretch).
        • Hold for 30 seconds to 2 minutes while taking slow and steady breaths.
        • Repeat on the other side.

        4. Piriformis Stretch

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        See the source image

           

          • Sit on the floor with both legs extended in front of you to start.
          • Cross your left leg over your right, and place your left foot flat on the floor.
          • Place your left hand on the floor behind your body.
          • Place your right hand on your left quad or your right elbow on your left knee (as shown), and press your left leg to the right as you twist your torso to the left.
          • If the spinal rotation causes back discomfort, remove the twist and simply use your right hand to pull your left quad in and to the right.

          5. Figure Four Stretch

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            • Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor.
            • Cross your left foot over your right quad.
            • Lift your right leg off the floor. Grab onto the back of your right leg and gently pull it toward your chest.
            • When you feel a comfortable stretch, hold there.
            • Hold for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
            • Switch sides and repeat.

            6. 90/90 Stretch

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              • Sit with your right knee bent at 90-degrees in front of you, calf perpendicular to your body and the sole of your foot facing to the left. Keep your left foot flexed.
              • Let your leg rest flat on the floor.
              • Place your left knee to the left of your body, and bend the knee so that your foot faces behind you. Keep your left foot flexed.
              • Keep your right butt cheek on the floor. Try to move the left cheek as close to the floor as possible. It may not be possible if your hips are tight.
              • Hold for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
              • Repeat on the other side.

              7. Frog Stretch

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              See the source image

                 

                • Start on all fours.
                • Slide your knees wider than shoulder-width apart.
                • Turn your toes out and rest the inner edges of your feet flat on the floor.
                • Ensure your legs are maintaining approximately a 90-degree angle (squared off).
                • Shift your hips back toward your heels.
                • Move from your hands down to your forearms to get a deeper stretch, if possible.
                • Hold for for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.

                8. Butterfly Stretch

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                  • Sit tall on the floor with the soles of your feet together, knees bent out to the sides.
                  • Hold onto your feet (or ankles), engage your abs slightly to keep an upright posture with steady breathing, and slowly lower your body toward your feet as far as you can while pressing your knees toward the floor. Keep a neutral spine during this stretch.
                  • If you cannot lower your torso, then simply hold the stretch and aim to lower your knees closer to the ground gradually.
                  • Hold this stretch for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.

                  9. Tricep Stretch

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                    • Kneel, sit, or stand tall with feet hip-width apart, arms extended overhead.
                    • Bend your right elbow and reach your right hand to touch the top middle of your back.
                    • Reach your left hand overhead and grasp just below your right elbow.
                    • Gently pull your right elbow down and toward your head.
                    • Switch arms and repeat.

                    10. Extended Puppy Pose

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                      • Start on all fours.
                      • Move your arms forward a few inches.
                      • Push your hips up and back halfway toward your heels, or until you feel a deep stretch.
                      • Push through the palms of your hands to keep your arms straight and engaged.
                      • Hold for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.

                      11. Neck Stretch and Release

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                        • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, or sit down with your back straight and chest lifted.
                        • Drop your right ear to your right shoulder.
                        • To deepen the stretch, gently press down on your head with your right hand.
                        • Hold for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.

                        12. Standing Quad Stretch

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                          • Stand with your feet together.
                          • Bend your left knee and use your left hand to pull your left foot toward your butt. Keep your knees together.
                          • If you need to, put one hand on a wall for balance.
                          • Squeeze your glutes to increase the stretch in the front of your legs.
                          • Hold for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
                          • Repeat on the other leg.

                          Conclusion

                          The key take away here is that consistency with your stretching routine, followed by good quality sleep and lots of hydration, will instantly begin to improve your quality of life. Find which stretches feel the best in your body and add them to a daily routine you can enjoy.

                          More on How to Become Flexible

                          Featured photo credit: Scott Broome via unsplash.com

                          Reference

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