Differences Between Spinning and Cycling: Are There Any?

Did you know that there are significant differences between spinning and indoor cycling? Don’t worry if you didn’t. Most people are startled to hear that indoor cycling and spinning are not the same things. Most of the time the name of these two cycling activities are used interchangeably. However, that does not necessarily mean that they are the same. Although they may share a few similarities, they also have differences starting from the type of bike used to the exercising methods. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Before we get down to the differences, let us take a look at what exactly indoor cycling and spinning is.

What is Spinning?


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Spinning was introduced to our world by an American athlete named John Goldberg in the year 1991. He realized that he needed to find a new way to practice cycling during the winter season as it was too cold to ride outside. And that realization gave birth to spin bikes. Spinning is a particular type of indoor cycling where the objective is to replicate road biking combined with interval and strength exercises. This type of training is known to enhance your stamina and fitness. The primary focus in spinning is the lower part of the body and so it does not include any type of upper body exercises. However, you can slightly work your upper body if you stand and pedal on your spin bike. Spin bikes are found in a wide range of prices. Some are really costly and some are moderately priced. If you want the best spin bikes in the market without hurting your wallet, here are some budget spin bike choices for you. If the spin bike comes with a magnetic resistance system, it can cost a little bit higher, but spin bikes with magnetic resistance mechanism provide greater flexibility (wide range of resistance levels, more durable machine) in exercise sessions.

What is Indoor Cycling?

Indoor Cycling

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Indoor cycling is a demanding and highly intensive cardio workout that is carried out on stationary bicycles. Indoor cycling improves your heart rate and leg muscles. The goal of indoor cycling is to simulate cycling through terrains such as hills, time trials, flats & interval training. Most indoor cycling enthusiasts exercise while listening to lively music tracks. This allows them to exercise to the rhythm which makes the cycling session more motivating and productive. Depending on your exercise methods or the gym you go to, indoor cycling can be combined with upper body exercises or the use of hand weights.

Similarities between Spinning and Indoor Cycling

Now that you know a bit more about spinning and indoor cycling, let us take a look at their differences, advantages, and disadvantages.

1. Purpose

Indoor cycling is generally popular among people who want to try out regular health & fitness training and to get their bodies in good shape. People who buy a stationary bike to perform indoor cycling tend to do so to get into the habit of exercising and enjoy benefits such as improved cardiovascular levels, weight loss, and better muscle strength. Most indoor exercise bikes wider seats and are also more comfortable when compared to spin bikes.

On the other hand, spinning is generally performed in groups in various spinning classes. This form of indoor cycling is more popular among people who are involved in sports cycling. Spin bikes are an indoor version of actual road bikes. Therefore they duplicate the sitting position of outdoor biking. As a result, the handlebar is positioned a bit lower than the seat and so you have to hunch over while riding just as you would on a regular road bike. However, it is not made just for sports cyclists. If you want you can perform your preferred fitness programs by spinning and still get all the benefits.

2. Performance

Both of these cycling activities provide a great workout experience. Also, both of the cycling styles work out almost the same type of muscles. When you perform indoor cycling or spinning you usually work out the muscles on the lower part of your body which includes the hamstrings, calves, and quads. However, spin bikes allow riders to stand up and pedal. This gives spinning an extra advantage over indoor cycling. That is when you pedal standing up on a spin bike, you work out both the lower and upper parts of your body. Therefore, spinning while standing up puts more pressure on your calves while also working out your shoulders, biceps, triceps, and back muscles.

It is the same case if you measure the calories burned when indoor cycling and spinning. There isn’t a significant difference in calories burned if you perform both of these exercises in a seated position. However, if you stand up and pedal on your spin bike, you will burn more calories. This is because you are working more muscles while standing up and also because the flywheel is heavier on spin bikes and so it will require more effort.

3. Resistance

The resistance system and levels are quite alike for both types of cycling. You can go as fast or slow as you want on both the spin bike and stationary bike. Both spin bikes and regular indoor cycling bicycles allow you to adjust the resistance level lower or higher as per your exercise requirements and stamina. Increasing the resistance level on your exercise bike will put more pressure on the muscles and also allows you to build to reach your health and fitness goals. The harder your muscles work against the resistance created by the bike, the better the workout. This also enhances your cardiovascular levels. The only place where spinning and indoor cycling differs in terms of resistance is the flywheel. Since the flywheel is heavier on spin bikes, the muscles will require more effort to pedal. Also, as mentioned before, if you stand up and pedal during your spinning sessions, you will increase the resistance level.

4. Risk of Injury

We have to consider two different scenarios here. If we are considering riding a spin bike and a stationary indoor bike in a sitting position, then a spin bike is safer and has less chance of causing injury. This is because the flywheel on the spin bike is much smoother and it keeps the bike in continuous motion which means that there is less of an effect on the joints. However, you may suffer from a little back pain if you perform spinning regularly and intensely. Now, if you are standing and spinning on your spin bike then the risk of injury drastically increases. So as you can see, the risk of injury depends completely on how you are exercising on your exercise bike.

➥ If you fall in the group of individuals who has weak knees, then, we suggest you have a look at the list of stationary exercise bikes for the rehabilitation of bad knees.

5. Community

This is where spinning has an advantage over regular indoor cycling. Most people who prefer indoor cycling, usually have a stationary bike at home that they use to exercise. Some people may prefer the gym over working out at home, however, that is also done individually. On the other hand, there is a huge community full of spinning enthusiasts. Most people who are interested in spinning, join spin classes and this has many benefits. You will feel more motivated to exercise and improve yourself as you will be doing so with other people who are all focused on the same goal. Even if you are not affiliated with the person biking next to you, there is a natural bond formed with everyone in a spin class. And if you continue going to the same spin class, you may form great friendships that may last you a lifetime.

➥ The home gym needs spin bikes that save space. Here are some spin bike options for home users.

6. Display Features

You must take into account the fact that most spin bikes do not come with a display or console that shows how much time and distance you have covered, how many calories you have burned, how fast you are spinning, and other valuable information. If these features are important to you then you should definitely consider indoor cycling as most stationary bikes come with these fantastic features. Such features will help you keep track of your exercising sessions and show you where you should put more effort to improve your overall performance.

We have provided a small chart down below so that you can take a look at everything we have discussed in this article. This chart will give you a quick overview of the differences between spinning and indoor cycling.

➥ Now, if the consoles within the exercise bikes happen to be a very important feature for you, we suggest, you go through the selections of exercise bikes with a screen.

FeaturesSpinningIndoor Cycling
Best ForExercising, Fitness, Weight Loss, Practicing for road biking or races during winterExercising, Fitness, Weight loss
Muscles AffectedQuadriceps, Hamstrings, Glutes, Calves
If performed standing up -
Shoulders, Biceps, Triceps and Back
Quadriceps, Hamstrings, Glutes, Calves
You can add hand weights to perform a full body workout
Calories BurnedHighModerate
Resistance System of Exercise BikeOffers adjustable speed, resistanceOffers adjustable speed, resistance
Risk of InjuryModerateLow

F. A. Q.s

Q1. What should I expect from a spinning class?

Ans.: Spin classes are held with a lot of people, however, the environment is not competitive at all. You will find it to be quite friendly and adaptable to your goals. Let your instructor know what you want, adjust your bike according to your needs, and just start spinning!

Q2. Can I join a spinning class if I am not in good shape?

Ans.: Spinning classes are open for everyone. You can join anytime and start exercising at your own pace by adjusting the resistance level on your bike. Spinning classes will help you get in better shape in no time.

Q3. Do I need bike shoes for indoor cycling?

Ans.: It completely depends on your exercise bike. If your bike is compatible with normal sneakers, you do not need one. However, with that being said, we recommend that you buy bike shoes for indoor cycling as it will help you enhance your performance.

Q4. What should I wear to spin class?

Ans.: Be ready to sweat a lot at your spin class. We suggest you wear your workout clothes which means short-sleeved or sleeveless t-shirts, shorts, and leggings.


We conducted extensive and thorough research so that we could provide you with the most trustworthy and accurate information in this article. We hope that you acquired more knowledge about spinning and indoor cycling after reading this article. If you were wondering whether to pursue spinning and indoor cycling before reading this article, we hope that our insights and details have made a positive impact on your final decision. Now that you know the differences, pros, cons, and various attributes of spinning and indoor cycling, you can choose the best option that matches your own personal interests and targets. No matter which type of cycling exercise you choose to pursue, we hope that you work hard and reach your fitness goals. Good luck with your cycling endeavors and ride safely!

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Dion Lewis

My name is Dion Lewis. I’ve been cycling since my childhood. When I was in high school, I started racing in our local competitions. In my college life, I took a part-time job in a bicycle shop and I learned how to repair and maintain bicycles professionally. Though I love racing, mountain biking is another thing I do frequently. My friends, neighbors, and colleagues treat me as an avid rider and take my suggestions while they plan for a new bike or bike gear.

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