How to Cycle and Tone Using Weights

Lizz Backler

Calling all Indoor Cycling Enthusiasts!


Riders, soon to be riders and want to be riders,

There are many of you out there who are still skeptical of the power, safety, and effectiveness of upper body toning in an indoor cycle class. I don’t blame you. For years I felt the exact same way.

How are you supposed to focus on your upper body, while pedaling with resistance, and stay on the bike? It’s a lot to take in. With only 2 or 3 pound weights you can actually create a change in your muscle tone with the right workouts! It is important for all indoor cycle enthusiasts to know the do’s and the don’ts of weight workouts on a bike.


Use these simple tricks and small hints to determine if what you are doing is not only effective, but safe.


Do you feel the burn?

If you are not feeling any muscle burn within the first 2 minutes of that arm workout, your weights aren’t heavy enough and you should consider grabbing the next set up for your next ride. On the flip side if you are feeling major burn 30 seconds in, you probably have to grab the set down for the next ride. While the burn is key, if it happens too early you could be compromising the correct and safe form to offset the muscle burn.


Know the difference between a muscle burn and actual pain.

This is weight lifting 101, but also comes in handy for a Cycle & Tone class. Recognize how your body feels when it’s in pain versus when you are pushing those muscles to the max. This should be a burning sensation rather than an actual ache or pain.


Check your form.

Your body form is key to safe toning. The core/tummy is tight, you’re sitting up tall, booty is all the way back on the largest part of the saddle, and chin is off your chest. These key body positions will help you get the most out of the weight workout on the bike.

Don’t forget about the form of the body parts you are actually supposed to be working. If your elbows are supposed to be high, but they are sagging, or if your shoulders are supposed to be squeezed and they are slumping, put down the weights and just use your arms. This can be equally as effective and it will prevent injuries commonly caused from compromising on form to use weights the whole workout. (Hint – you will NOT look like a wimp, no one is looking at you, and everyone is feeling the same burn!)


Do you have resistance on?

In order to really focus on that upper body, you need to remove the thought of working your legs. If you’re bouncing around in that saddle, you aren’t going to get the most out of the workout or hold a safe cycling form. By adding a flat road resistance to your gear, you can easily pedal, while maintaining stability in the saddle.


How is the beat? 

This is SO important! If you are struggling with weight movements or coordination, get lost in the song! The most overlooked puzzle piece to a tone ride on the bike is the music. If you feel like your arms are moving faster or slower than the beat of the song, feel free to do your own thing and find the beat.  Don’t worry about the people around you and what they are doing, instead focus on the music and engaging the muscle groups that are supposed to be working.


Here is a playlist of some of my all-time favorite toning songs! Enjoy!

Did you know some of The Inner Cycle themed classes provide Juicery refreshments to help quench your thirst and revive your muscles?!


Saturday, March 24th 9-11am – Inner Cycle, Amesbury

 Cycle, Sip & Stretch with Melanie Rubino, The Juicery, Proform Physical Therapy & Newman Chiropractic

Monday, March 26th 7-8pm – Inner Cycle, North Reading

 EBIC 30/30 – 30 minutes of Barre, 30 minutes of Cycle, with Katelyn Silva

Monday, April 2nd 6-6:50pm – Inner Cycle, North Reading

50/50/50 Cycle – 50 minutes cardio, 50 minutes upper body strength, 50 minutes

Thursday, April 5th 9-10am – Inner Cycle, Beverly

 Thursday Theme Ride: The Best of the 90’s

Saturday, April 7th 8-8:50am – Inner Cycle, Amesbury

 Tabata & Tone

Thursday, April 12th 6:30-7:30pm – Inner Cycle, Amesbury

Thursday Theme Ride: The Best of the 90’s

Catch one of my regularly scheduled classes along the North Shore!
Find the schedule here


Lizz Backler

Lizz is an indoor cycling instructor at The Inner Cycle Studios in Amesbury, North Reading, and Beverly. She graduated from the University of New England in Biddeford, Maine with a BS in Psychobiology Behavioral Neuroscience. She currently works part time in sales in Newburyport in addition to cycling.



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