Cycling Lingo and Proper Form


Reserve Your Bike at the Next Torque 101 HERE!


Terminology You’ll Hear In Class:

  • Saddle: This is just another word for your bike seat, just like a saddle that you sit on while riding a horse.
  • RPM: “Revolutions per minute” This is another phrase for cadence, speed, or how fast your legs are moving.
  • Gear: This is how much resistance is on the bike, or how hard it is to pedal. At low gears it should feel very easy to make the pedals move, however, when you are at a high gear it should be more difficult to make the pedals move. Our bikes have gears 1-24.
  • Flat road: Flat road is the gear at which you feel like you are biking on a flat road, not going uphill and not going downhill. You should feel some resistance on the bike but it should not be hard to pedal at all. It is usually between gears 6-11. Your flat road can change as your get stronger and can even change on a day-to-day basis depending on how you are feeling.
  • Watts: This is a measure of power output and is calculated using your speed and your gear at a given time.
  • “Clip-in” or “clip-out”: This is referring to people wearing cycle shoes who will need to clip their shoes into their bike or unclip from the bike to get off.

Hand Positions:

  1. Closest position to you
  2. At the curve of the handle bars
  3. Farthest point away from you
  4. Inward toward the computer screen.

keiser-screenComputer Screen:

  1. Top number is RPMs: “Revolutions per minute” This is how fast your legs are moving, or your speed.
  2. Second number down flashes between Watts and Kilocalories. Watts is your power output, which is calculated using both your RPMs and gear. Kilocalories are the same thing as normal calories that you burn when working out.
  3. Third number down is your heart rate (which will show up if you are wearing a polar heart rate monitor). If you see a number there and you are not wearing a heart rate monitor it is probably picking up your neighbor’s heart rate monitor.
  4. The forth number down is the time that you have been on your bike.
  5. Bottom left corner of your screen is what gear you are at, or what level of resistance there is on the pedals. Bigger numbers make it harder to move the pedals and smaller numbers make it easier to pedal. These are adjusted with the red lever in front of you on the bike.
  6. Bottom right corner is your total trip distance, so the total amount of miles that you have ridden since getting on your bike.


Proper Form:


  • Chest up and look straight ahead so that your airway is open
  • Slight bend in your elbows
  • Keep your belly (also called your CORE) tight. This helps protect your spine.
  • Spine straight; again, this protects your spine.
  • Feel the full circle of the pedals, meaning don’t just feel the pressing down of your foot like if you were on a stair-stepper, you want to be pulling up in the back as well as pushing down in the front.
  • Keep your feet flat and your knees forward


  • Chest up and look straight ahead so that your airway is open
  • Minimal weight in your hands. Do not lean onto the handlebars. Your hands are really only there for balance and you want to be engaging your leg and core muscles to stand up.
  • Belly/core tight to protect your spine
  • Weight should be centered above your pedals. Try not to lean too far forward or backwards (unless your instructor specifically tells you too)


  • This position works: BUTT AND BACK OF LEGS
  • How to do it:
    • Butt as far back as you can. It should be about 1 inch off of the seat and should be bouncing on it as you pedal
    • Work to get your chest parallel to the ground. This will help isolate the specific muscles we are trying to use rather than recruiting back muscles.
    • Hand position will depend on the instructor, but remember to keep the weight off of your hands…they are only there for balance.


  • This position works: TOPS OF LEGS (QUADS), BUTT, AND CORE
  • How to do it:
    • Everything from your hips/pelvis and up should be completely still. There should be no bounce in your hips at all. You should never have all of your weight in one leg while doing isolations – this is what causes the bounce. Only your feet and legs move.
    • Your speed will slow down and usually be between 30-50 RPMs. It is important to keep moving here! Sometimes we get so caught up in keeping everything still that we forget to keep our lower half moving.
    • Again, keep the weight out of your hands. Try only having your fingertips on the bike during isolations. This will help truly isolate the parts of the body we are trying to work.

Modified “Push Ups”:

  • This position works: ARMS
  • These are not your normal push-ups. We use modified “push-ups” to help engage the upper body during cycling class.
  • How to do it: There are many ways to do these modified push ups and how you do these in class will depend on what your instructor wants, however, here are some general tips.
    • These can be done with your upper body coming down toward the handlebars and then back up to stand (“up/down push ups”) or they can be done by rocking your body backwards toward the seat and then forwards toward the handlebars (“forward/back push ups”). Either way your arms will bend to move your upper body. The key to actually feeling your upper body muscles working is to FOCUS YOUR MIND on them. Actively try to use your arms to push your body away or pull it toward the bike.



Reserve Your Bike at the Next Torque 101 HERE!