How to speak indoor cycling: Your guide to mastering spin class lingo

How to speak indoor cycling: Your guide to mastering spin class lingo

Indoor cycling classes like SoulCycle and Peloton have become hugely popular workouts. The high energy instructors and music create an exciting atmosphere, but the unique lingo used in these spin classes can be intimidating for newcomers.

This beginner’s guide breaks down common indoor cycling terms, so you can walk into your first cycling class with confidence.

The indoor bike

Indoor cycles used in spinning classes are stationary bikes specially designed for studio cycling. The bikes have weighted flywheels for added resistance and adjustable seats and handlebars to fit your body.


Your cadence refers to the revolutions per minute (RPM) that you are pedaling. Instructors will call out target cadences to hit during class. For beginners, a reasonable cadence is between 60-80 RPM.


Resistance controls how difficult it is to pedal the indoor cycle. To increase resistance, turn the resistance knob clockwise. This adds more tension to the flywheel, making it harder to pedal. Beginners should keep resistance lower as you build cycling strength.


A climbing interval simulates cycling uphill by increasing your resistance and standing up out of the saddle. Be sure to engage your core during climbs to protect your lower back.


A jog cues you to stay seated with light resistance at a quicker cadence between 100-120 RPM. Jogs increase your heart rate and warm up your legs.


Sprints are intense, short bursts of max effort pedaling around 120 RPM or faster. Sprints are done at high resistance and recruit fast-twitch muscle fibers.


What clothes should I wear for indoor cycling?

Wear moisture-wicking clothes that allow your skin to breathe. Cycling shorts help prevent chafing. Clip-in cycling shoes increase pedaling efficiency but are not required for beginners.

Will I burn calories in a spin class?

Yes! A 45 minute cycling class can burn around 400-600 calories. The more resistance and faster your cadence, the more calories burned.

What muscles does indoor cycling work?

Cycling primarily targets your glutes, quads, hamstrings and calf muscles. Your core and upper body are also engaged during climbs and push-ups off the handlebars.

Is indoor cycling hard on your knees?

Cycling is considered a low-impact exercise if done properly. Adjust your seat height correctly and don’t force heavy resistance that causes pain. This protects knee joints from injury.

How often should a beginner do spin class?

For beginners, aim for 1-2 spin classes per week. Allow your body to rest and recover between sessions as your fitness builds. Increase frequency gradually as your conditioning improves.