#IndoorCycling vs. Outdoor Cycling: Calorie Output Comparison

Indoor cycling and outdoor cycling caloric output ranges are very close. Based on a study conducted by NutriStrategy*, when similar activities were monitored, indoor cycling generates a slightly higher caloric output. I prepared some charts to summarize the data in the table below (calories burned based on weight, duration, intensity and mode):

Activity (1 hour) 130 lb 155 lb 180 lb 205 lb
Cycling, mountain bike, bmx 502 598 695 791
Cycling, <10 mph, leisure bicycling 236 281 327 372
Cycling, >20 mph, racing 944 1126 1308 1489
Cycling, 10-11.9 mph, light 354 422 490 558
Cycling, 12-13.9 mph, moderate 472 563 654 745
Cycling, 14-15.9 mph, vigorous 590 704 817 931
Cycling, 16-19 mph, very fast, racing 708 844 981 1117
Unicycling 295 352 409 465
Stationary cycling, very light 177 211 245 279
Stationary cycling, light 325 387 449 512
Stationary cycling, moderate 413 493 572 651
Stationary cycling, vigorous 620 739 858 977
Stationary cycling, very vigorous 738 880 1022 1163

Notice the similarities between caloric output for cycling (vigorous and very fast, green) and for stationary cycling (vigorous and very vigorous, red). Indoor cycling generates more output, albeit by a small margin. The charts below reflect the narrow margin (click to enlarge).



Both forms of exercise have unique settings and demands. Their benefits are numerous. When weather conditions or other factors prevent you from riding outdoors, an indoor cycling class is as beneficial.


Ride on.




*NutriStrategy data: http://www.nutristrategy.com/caloriesburnedcycling.htm





Flexion & Extension of the Foot: Better Range of Motion & Improved Ankle Strength

Dorsiflexion and plantar flexion refer to extension or flexion of the foot at the ankle. These terms refer to flexion between the foot and the body’s dorsal surface, considered the front of the leg, and flexion between the foot and the body’s plantar surface, considered the back of the leg.  Specifically:Dorsiflexion_Plantarflexion

  1. Dorsiflexion: where the toes are brought closer to the shin. This decreases the angle between the dorsum of the foot and the leg. For example, when walking on the heels the ankle is in dorsiflexion.
  2. Plantar Flexion: is the movement which decreases the angle between the sole of the foot and the back of the leg. For example, the movement when depressing a car pedal or standing on the tiptoes can be described as plantar flexion.

For indoor cycling instructors as well as participants, it is important to pay careful attention to the ankle joint and ensure a better range of motion using the following techniques (click to enlarge the quick reference guide below):



Be well.





Patellofemoral Knee Pain Syndrome & Remedies for Indoor Cycling Instructors

One of my fellow indoor cycling instructors has been teaching for over 10 years. Recently she was invited to speak at a local certification workshop, specifically about injury prevention, proper bike setup and posture. While these topics have been discussed at length, one particular issue regarding knee health has not received enough attention. The following post is dedicated to the instructors who teach several classes a week and who may have suffered from patellofemoral pain syndrome.


The Knee Joint: An Intricate Design knee_anatomy

The knee is a hinge type joint connecting three bones: the thigh bone (the femur), patella (kneecap) and shinbone (the tibia). The knee joint joins the thigh with the leg and consists of two articulations: one between the femur and tibia, and one between the femur and patella. It is the largest joint in the human body. The knee joint permits flexion and extension as well as a slight internal and external rotation. The knee joint is susceptible to both injury and the development of osteoarthritis.


Knee Ligaments

Ligaments are connective tissues connecting bones to other bones. There are four major ligaments in the knee:

  1. The medial collateral ligament (MCL) provides stability to the inside of the knee
  2. The lateral collateral ligament (LCL) provides stability to the outside of the knee
  3. The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) limits forward movement of the tibia
  4. The posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) limits backward movement of the tibia


Knee Joint Cartilage

There are two types of cartilage within the knee joint: fibrocartilage and articular cartilage. The meniscus acts as a shock absorber and dissipates friction between the femur and tibia.


Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS)

The Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome is not a well defined subject. The consensus seems to be that the pain can be described as “discomfort originating from the contact of the posterior surface of the patella (back of the kneecap) with the femur (thigh bone)”. It is sometimes caused by wearing down of the cartilage under the kneecap. I’ve also heard of the PFPS being called as “runner’s knee”.

The main reasons for PFPS in indoor cycling instructors is overuse, injury, improper bike fit or a condition called “patellar tracking disorder” caused by a kneecap that is not properly aligned. The pain is most pronounced when teaching long endurance/strength rides, riding outdoors in the cold for prolonged periods, squatting with heavy weights, or when using the stairs. Sometimes you may feel a grinding sensation (or a pop) when moving your knees or walking.

Additionally, if you encounter pain that you can’t pinpoint, it’s likely bursitis. Bursitis often occurs from knee joint overuse. (fluid in the bursa helps articulate the knee smoothly).


Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome Treatments

PFPS can be relieved by avoiding activities that make symptoms worse – that is, taking a break from teaching. As an indoor cycling instructor, I can imagine that some of you would rather continue teaching than taking a break. In fact, some of you would rather live through the pain than be subbed (am I being too harsh?…read this about the benefits of subbing). But, we can all find a happy medium. Here are some suggestions to alleviate PFPS:

  1. Adjust your bike so that the resistance is not too heavy and the seat is at the proper height (I know…sounds obvious).
  2. Avoid bent-knee workouts for a while. These include squats with heavy weights, prolonged rides or kneeling in the bent-knee position for long periods of time.
  3. Ice the affected area, rest and use a nonprescription anti-inflammatory (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or naproxen, to mitigate swelling and pain.
  4. Schedule a wellness massage with a therapists who is experienced in sports massage.
  5. Use a brace to stabilize the kneecap if necessary.


Remember, you may be superhuman 🙂 but you still need to take care of yourself first. Commit to your health by listening to your body.

Be well.



Tensor Fasciae Latae Muscle Stretches For Indoor Cycling Instructors & Participants

A while ago, I explained how to deal with pain resulting from the IT Band Syndrome (http://wp.me/p4XQfx-5i). In today’s post, I will discuss another trouble spot that deals with Tensor Fasciae Latae muscle and how to overcome the pain and achieve relief with targeted stretches.

What is the TFL Muscle?

The tensor fasciae latae is a muscle of the thigh. It is inserted between the two layers of the iliotibial band of the fascia lata about the junction of the middle and upper thirds of the thigh. The tensor fasciae latae tautens the iliotibial band and braces the knee, especially when the opposite foot is lifted.  how-to-check-itb-tightness

Basic Functions & ITB Relationship

The tensor fasciae latae muscle, located on the side of your pelvis, helps to stabilize your hip. Stretching a chronically contracted tensor fasciaeitbs latae can help improve the range of motion of your hips. For indoor cycling instructors, this along with the ITB, are important muscles to maintain, especially if you teach several classes per week and you start to exhibit pains in that area when not teaching. The basic functional movement of tensor fasciae latae is walking. The tensor fasciae latae is heavily utilized in horse riding, cycling, hurdling and water skiing. Some problems that arise when this muscle is tight or shortened are pelvic imbalances that lead to pain in hips, as well as pain in the lower back and lateral area of knees.



“Tensor fasciae latae” translates from Latin to English as “stretcher of the wide band”. “Tensor” is a noun that comes from Latin verb “tendere”, meaning “to stretch”. “Fasciae” is the Latin term for “of the band”. “Latae” comes form the Latin adjective “latus” meaning “wide”.


Helpful Stretches

The quick reference guide below explains basic stretching techniques that will alleviate pain and aid in rapid recovery (click for full size image).


Be well.



Efficient Indoor Cycling Power & Recovery Pedal Stroke

According to Master Spin Instructor Sabrina Fairchild: “The pedal stroke has two phases: the power phase and the recovery phase, which can be broken up into four quadrants. Quadrant one of the power phase is where the foot is parallel to the floor and the rider pushes the foot forward. Quadrant two of the power phase is where the rider pushes the heel downward. What may be misunderstood about the power phase is that it is not a constant vertical push because the foot is traveling in a circle. The power phase is traveling forward at the same time it is traveling downward, and the most powerful point of that is at 90 degrees.

Quadrant three of the recovery phase is where the foot is parallel to the floor again and the rider is drawing the heel straight back. Quadrant four of the recovery phase is when the heel lifts slightly. This fourth segment is the least understood as many instructors cue the hamstrings to draw the leg up, but it is actually done via the hip flexors, so the hamstrings are the antagonist. At the back of the pedal stroke the foot should feel “unweighted” while the opposite foot is doing the work in its power phase. A lot of people make the mistake of focusing on pulling up on the back side of the pedal stroke all the time, but the only time the recovery phase has any pulling up is during climbing and sprinting due to the amount of resistance on the flywheel.”