Using Dumbbells While Riding an Indoor Cycling Bike
Should you use dumbbells while on an indoor cycling bike? While the short answer is “maybe,” there is more to the topic. We want you to have all the information, so we’ve got a Q&A with some subject-matter experts. Mimi is a Studio SWEAT onDemand trainer who lives in Utah. She’s been a Spin instructor for 15 years, and has a degree in Exercise and Sports Science with a specialty in athletic training. She joins Cat Kom, Founder of Studio SWEAT onDemand, an online fitness app best known for Spinning and other total body workouts. We do have some workouts in our library where instructors use dumbbells on the bike, so let’s dive into the burning questions.
Question: Can you use dumbbells on an indoor cycling bike? Yes or no?
Mimi: I love them. It’s a fun way to mix it up.
Cat: I don’t like to. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. I don’t have a negative opinion, it’s just not my jam.
Question: What are the benefits of using dumbbells?
Mimi: I like to use them to break up a long cycling workout. It makes it easier to mentally get through a long class by incorporating blocks that vary. I don’t use them for the whole class, just for a change. And anything I do with weights on the bike could also be done off the bike.
Cat: If the instructor is using weights, but that’s not comfortable for you, you can always hop off and do the weighted moves on the floor.
Question: What kind of tension should you have on the flywheel when you’re using weights? (Weighted moves are for the upper body while your lower body is pedaling or stationary.)
Mimi: First, you do have the option to stop your feet completely. I like to use medium tension for stability and core engagement. I probably keep tension at a 6 out of 10.
Cat: When I do take someone else’s class with weights, I like light to medium resistance. That’s what helps me focus on movement.
Question: What are some exercises that you do using weights on a bike?
Mimi: This is a good way to hit your rotator cuff – anterior, posterior, and mid-delts. Biceps are also super easy to do. For triceps, depending on how, this is an area you can make mistakes. Mid-back is the same. If you have any back issues, stay away from these movements when you’re on a bike.
Cat: Skip back moves unless they’re being led by someone like Mimi, who really knows her stuff. Just like Mimi said, mid-back and overhead triceps are risky if you’re pedaling or stationary with one foot in front of the other. Your spine can get out of alignment.
Question: Is indoor cycling with weights for everyone?
Mimi: No. Even if a class is using them, if you hate that, just keep Spinning. In my classes, I tell people to climb to the beat if they aren’t doing the weighted moves.
Question: Are there any special populations that should avoid this?
Mimi: If you have balance issues, or can’t sit with your spine upright, skip this.
Cat: Anyone with back sensitivities should skip these. Basically listen to your body.
Question: Is there a particular position you should be in the saddle?
Mimi: Sit back in the saddle for stability, where it’s wider. Sit upright, engaging your core.
Question: What about exercises that go across multiple planes or diagonal movement, where your legs might be uneven?
Mimi: The only moves I may do would be uppercuts on the diagonal. The rotation with this exercise is in the shoulder, with no core rotation.
P.S. Instructors, did you hear that?
Question: Any other thoughts?
Mimi: Weighted bike workouts are typically shoulder focused, so skip these if you do have shoulder issues. Also, I’m not a fan of adding choreography of legs and arms at the same time. Approach those classes with caution, making sure your alignment and core are on point. Finally, be sure your whole body is in the proper position before transitioning to the next movement.
As always, please listen to your own body. And for great classes with Mimi, Cat, and tons of other great instructors, check out a Free Trial over on Studio SWEAT onDemand! Download the app, or if you happen to live in southern California, visit us in our San Diego studio.