Weird Terms You’ll Hear At Spin Class

9 Spin Bike Terms You May Not Know

Everyone of us feels a bit intimidated doing a new activity, particularly one that is done in public where sweating is involved. If you are planning to join a spin class for the first time, you may feel a bit more at ease knowing what some of the spin class jargon you’ll hear really means.

If you prefer to do your workout at home, check out our Exercise Bike buyers guide here.


Cadence is basically the pace you are turning the wheel of your bike around.  This term has the same meaning as Revolutions Per Minute (RPM).  

According to a good Cadence (RPM) is 80-110 for flat roads, and 60-80 on simulated hills. 



Revolutions per minute.  Also known as cadence, and can be used interchangeably.  Keeping an eye on your RPMs and setting a goal can help you see how you are progressing.  


There are a few types of resistance methods available in home exercise and spin bikes.  You may see Air, Magnetic, or Direct Contact Resistance options.  

Generally magnetic resistance is considered the best option.  These are the quietest type of resistance, although can be more expensive.  

Air resistance bikes will usually have handlebars that you must push/pull along with the typical pedaling action of the other bikes.

Direct Contact resistance uses brake pads to control the resistance level, and are more likely to make noise and wear out sooner than the other options.



That big metal wheel on the front of your spin bike is called the flywheel.  These wheels come in different weights, which impact how similarly the bike will feel like riding an outdoor bike.  

The heavier the flywheel, the more energy is stored as you pedal which increases the momentum of the wheel.  Getting a heavy flywheel going is similar to getting a normal road bike going, as more energy is needed to start (and stop) than a lightweight flywheel.

Flywheels are often in the 35-50 lb range.


Watts or wattage measures the energy output from an activity like cycling.  Looking at wattage output in addition to other measurements, like calories burned, or distance travelled can help you understand your level of activity.  

If you improve your wattage output in your workouts, you will know you are improving.  

Instructors will sometimes use wattage divided by kilograms of body weight to have a more fair comparison of the performance of their students.


Spin Bike Saddle

Simply the name for your bike seat.  

A good tip for the saddle position is to put the saddle at the level of your hips.


When talking about Spin class, the positions are often numbered 1-3.  

Position 1 is sitting in the saddle with your hands in front of you.  Consider this your home base or starting point  

Position 2 is with your butt out of the seat but with your hands in the same location as position 1.

Position 3 is the most aggressive and often used for simulating uphill climbs.  Your butt will be out of the seat, and your hands will be higher on the handlebars than positions 1 and 2.  


A tap back move is done from Position 3 and involves touching your butt to the seat and popping back up.  This should be a smooth move and not a big jerky motion.  

You will engage your lower ab muscles and curl your hips back, while lowering your chest towards the floor.  Once you “tap” the seat, release your ab muscles and you will pop back up to position 3.  


The up-stroke is a part of the full pedal sequence (video below) that is encouraged to get the most out of your spin bike session.  To do this properly, you need a pedal cage, strap, or clip-on bike shoes.  

When looking at the pedal motion you can think of it like the face of a clock.  Different segments will engage different muscle groups.  

The Up-Stroke is done from 9 o’clock to 12 o’clock on this imaginary clock face, where you should be pulling your knees up towards the handlebars to complete the full circle.

Full pedal sequence:

Imagine the movement as a clock face, we’ll describe the cycle for one leg:

Phase one takes place from 12 o’clock to 5 o’clock. Here you are pushing down, using your hamstrings to extend your foot downwards. Allow your heel to drop as you go past 12 o’clock.

From 5 o’clock to 7 o’clock, you prepare to pull back up. Engage your calf muscles, and slightly point your toe downwards, as though scraping mud off your shoe.

From 7 o’clock to 9 o’clock, your other leg is on the down-stroke. Letting the pulling leg go limp means it needs to work harder – so, think about keeping it moving – don’t switch all your focus to the pushing leg.

From 9 o’clock, through to 12 o’clock, you’re pulling up – imagine pulling your knee towards the handlebars, as you complete the full circle.

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