Want to learn how to hover in your indoor cycling class? Well then just Google it and learn how!
Wouldn’t you ask an expert?
Ah, but people don’t know how to distinguish true “experts” any more.
I was floored when I discovered this “How-to” guide for doing a “hover” in an indoor cycling class in an online article by an “eHow Sports and Fitness Editor”. There is no reference to the author’s name, or any certification that the author might have. We have no idea if they have any knowledge about teaching indoor cycling classes.
This is one thing that is so frustrating in this world of “instant knowledge gratification” using Internet searches. If someone were searching the Internet for how to do certain things in an indoor cycling or Spinning® class, because their instructor teaches those moves, and they came across this article, the unititiated and ignorant individual would think that it is a valid instruction.
That is a sad state of affairs in the fitness world.
eHow and aticles.com are two of these sites that generate many thousands of unproven, un-cited, and invalid articles from so-called “experts” (not sure how an anonymous contributor can be considered an expert), but the general public doesn’t know the difference. That’s not to say that there aren’t some good articles on these sites…I know a few intelligent and knowledgable people who submit “real” content to these sites because it creates good PR and SEO for them and their websites.
Here is the text of the “How to Hover” article, followed by my own comment that I put on the eHow website:
Thanks to Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong, cycling has become a popular American sport. When the weather is not ideal, many cyclists practice the sport indoors on stationary bikes, usually referred to as Spin bikes. Once you get the hang of Spinning, you’ll definitely want to include hovering in your workouts.
- Keep your legs moving at a steady cadence. Establish a 60 percent to 70 percent effort. Move at a quick pace, but don’t sprint.
- Crouch down into the hover position. Your back should be as flat as possible. Try to make it parallel to the floor.
- Move your hands toward the front of the handlebars. Cycling requires your hands to move up and down the bike, depending on where your body is placing the most pressure. Since you are crouched low, extend the hands to the front to stretch the body and release upper arm pressure.
- Adjust your backside so it is just above the saddle (“saddle” is cycling speak for a bike seat). If your backside is way in front of the saddle or way behind it, adjust your grasp on the handlebars to position you backside correctly.
- Check to make sure your elbows are in. Bike riders have a tendency to let their arms move outward in a hover. Keep the elbows in and the arms tight to maintain proper cycling form.
- Face the front and focus. Make sure your head stays up in a hover. Don’t lower it to look at the handlebars or crane your neck to look from side to side. Spinning is a simulation of being outdoors. You might hear an instructor say, “Keep your eyes on the road.” This is especially important in a hover.
Tips & Warnings
- Remember–even in a hover, you should still be able to wiggle your fingers on the bike’s handlebars. The pressure should be in your lower body; the hands are just there for support.
- Hovering works the backside muscles, the quads, calves and hamstrings. If you aren’t feeling the pressure in these areas, your form is probably off. Keep adjusting until you feel the burn.
- Avoid the Spin bike “bounce” while in a hover. Pay attention to your hip movement. If your hips are moving around a lot, squeeze your legs and backside to keep your lower body in place.
Never one to be silent when faced with such misinformation in the fitness and indoor cycling fields, here is my series of comments I posted. UPDATE: I posted those comments in 2011, but in August 2015, I looked at this article, which is still up on the eHow website, but all comments were removed. Note that in my cut and pasted comment below, I was responding to someone else’s comment (someone called @ricepuertorico) who stated that hovers are done outside to minimize wind impact, and suggested that you should hold the abs in to ‘protect the back’).
Not only is it contraindicated to the Spinning® program (i.e. just don’t do it), it is an ineffective move in ANY indoor cycling program, and even more silly outside. This is not how a cyclist rides a bike. Yes, a mountain biker on a steep descent will push her butt back over the saddle and lower the torso so as not to fly over the handlebars….but guess what? She’s not pedaling when she does so! (spoken from experience!).
Pushing the butt back into a “hover” places the knees and back under a lot of stress. The knee is behind the proper position it needs to be to push on the pedal. Do that over and over at 70, 80, 90 times a minute (or more) and you can see how strain can build up in the joints. Cyclists outside get knee pain when their saddle is too far back (or forward), so why would you purposely try to get yourself into that position that causes pain? Also, the low back is hyperextended—doing this while pedaling creates instability (and potential pain/injury) in the spine.
@ricopuertorico No cyclist would do this while pedaling—and to minimize wind impact, the cyclist would sit down on the saddle and grab the drops of the handlebars, not stand up and do this. The lowered position as if in the drops even while seated is not advisable for some IC students because of inflexibility in the hamstrings and glutes and its tendency to force the knees out, impinge breathing and cause discomfort in the neck and shoulders.
Also, @ricepuertorico, you should not consciously hold in the abs… you won’t stress your back if you ride correctly, and engaging the abdomen only serves to hinder breathing and limit O2 intake. Not something you want to do when it’s the O2 that feeds your aerobic engine. Real cyclists let their bellies hand out—Buddha style!
There is no appreciable additional benefit to the hamstrings or glutes by pushing your butt back while pedaling—this doesn’t help your cycling and it doesn’t help non-cyclists either since it’s not applicable to anything you do off the bike. You want to work the backside while cycling? Do a properly performed seated climb with a good amount of resistance at 60–70 rpm. You want even more for the backside? Get thee into the gym and do deadlifts, squats and lunges… it’s not to be done on the bike!
By the way, I should add that “Spinning” is a brand and in the Spinning® certification program, they not only do not teach or condone hovers but they denounce them as ineffective and potentially injurious. So this article violates the Spinning® brand by calling this “How to hover on a Spinning bike”. (I taught the certifications for 12 years, but you can contact Spinning directly if you have doubts).
This is the problem with sites like eHow. It produces crap content like this that isn’t cited, substantiated, researched, or as in this case of this particular article, there is no author’s name given. It says “by an eHow contributor.” Who the heck is that? What kind of certification does he/she have, what type of experience, knowledge of physiology or biomechanics of cycling, coaching, does s/he have, etc? Therefore, there is no proof that this person knows what he or she is talking about. I do hope that brings up doubts in the minds of anyone reading this.
Interestingly enough, when I cut and pasted this article, the following text showed up in my cut and paste (though it’s not visible in the article itself):
eHow Sports & Fitness Editor
This article was created by a professional writer and edited by experienced copy editors, both qualified members of the Demand Media Studios community. All articles go through an editorial process that includes subject matter guidelines, plagiarism review, fact-checking, and other steps in an effort to provide reliable information.
There certainly was no “fact-checking” on this article. I even gave them the link to Spinning.com and indoorcyclingassociation.com if they wanted to check facts and to learn the science behind why hovers are contraindicated.
And now all these people (participants and instructors alike) who read this article are misinformed and contributing to the masses of people we need to educate. I wonder if your student read this eHow article, or one like it? If you think so, print this out and give it to your students, or send them this link to this post.
Instructors: we have our work cut out for us, but that doesn’t daunt me!
If you’re with me, I’ll lead the way.
I guarantee you, we WILL prevail with proper and safe training, and I WILL get the right information into the mainstream media as soon as I can.
I am working on it.
Copyright 2011 Indoor Cycling Association. This article is a free article on the ICA website and may be freely printed out, distributed or shared. Please include the reference to Jennifer Sage and Indoor Cycling Association at www.indoorcyclingassociation.com.