If you read this blog or know me, you know I’m a cycle purist. No need for bells and whistles in my class, just a high-energy instructor and hard work.
I came across this article which does a great job of describing why some of these “trendy” moves should not be done.
Here’s the link to the full article as I’ve only included the highlights. http://www.merlinfitness.com/fitness-instructor-makes-terrible-mistake/
Press-ups on the handlebars – get off the bike and onto the floor as you may actually be doing a useful exercise! Last time I checked press-ups were a chest exercise, so what it the point if you are in a seat and supporting 95% of your weight? Worse still, let your hands slip and see what the handlebars can do for your front teeth or face.
Riding out of the seat with no hands to prove how wonderful your balance is – hopefully you will find out that it is not as good as you thought and put your hands back where they belong on the bars before you make contact with the floor!
Drawing in of the abdominals whilst riding – is this a core workout or cardiovascular exercise? Drawing in of the abdominals simply acts to restrict the breathing and prevent proper oxygen uptake when riding. Do you imagine for one second that Tour De France riders suck in their abs when riding….I think not!
‘Popcorn’ jumps, with transitions in and out of the seat at the speed of a deranged grasshopper on a pogo stick. The first question has to be why! It certainly doesn’t build strength, inevitably involves poor technique, and only causes a rise in metabolic demand which could have been more safely achieved by turning the resistance up and doing a controlled movement.
Hovers or movement isolations where the body is ‘frozen’ in a lowered position whilst the legs continue to move. This is a great way to wreck your knees, or at least put so much un-natural stress on them that you are asking for injury. The forces through the knee joint are huge if the natural flexion and extension of the leg is not allowed to occur (another reason for checking that you have the correct seat height before you begin riding). Hovers certainly cause the leg muscles to burn, but in this case it doesn’t mean you are getting a more effective workout, just that you are being highly inefficient.
Riding in the ‘aero position’ or staying in the seat with elbows on the handlebars or hands on the bar ends. This is not a time-trial bike and the geometry is completely wrong. Reaching the hands towards the end of the bars whilst in the seat inevitably causes rounding of the lumbar spine with the associated risks of disk herniation. It also forces the knees outwards to allow for the extreme spinal flexion, potentially causing issues here as well. Reach the hands forwards in the seat whilst maintaining a neutral spine…oh you can’t unless you are a pretzel!
Pedalling backwards – Yet another way to damage your knees. The knee joint was not designed to be loaded by the heavy flywheel whilst going backwards. Build any speed, and your leg will be pulled into hyper-extension (think that horrible moment when your knee locks out backwards when you are standing up) and you can see why this is not a good idea. Don’t do it.
Unloading the resistance to sprint – this is one of my personal favourites for dumbest move! With a 20-35kg flywheel on the front of most bikes, why on earth would you want to take off the resistance before you sprint? A true sprint lasts only around 20 seconds (often less) and takes an incredible amount of strength and power to overcome very high resistance and literally accelerate the bike forwards. Have insufficient resistance on the bike to allow you to push the cadence above about 110rpm and you are asking for trouble, and is only possible because indoor cycling bikes are a fixed gear with no free-wheel. Some highly experienced road cyclists may be able to cycle at higher cadences and maintain proper form, but there is no benefit to higher cadence work with inadequate resistance. If your body starts to rock and roll as you build cadence you are likely torqueing up your low back and doing yourself no favours.