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Picture Proof: spinning does not make your legs big and bulky

April 29th, 2013 3 Comments

Mary Rambin Legs 2013

I’ve been spinning NON-STOP for three weeks now in SoulCycle bootcamp, do my legs look big and bulky? Not so much. What I want to drill into you is that spinning is an exercise with this fundamental principle:

Repetition = Definition

Need more proof because I was “born with lean legs?” Here are some of the other girls in my SoulCycle training group.

SoulCycle spinning legs


Good lookin’ wheels, right?!

The resistance of the wheel is not as “heavy” as you perceive it to be. If it was, you wouldn’t be able to spin the wheel a million times over. You’d get about 20 revolutions and hop off. The key to not bulking up your legs while spinning actually has less to do with the resistance on the wheel and more to do with the height of your seat. When setting up your bike, raise the saddle up to a little above your pelvic bone. Then hop on and see how much your knee bends. You need to make sure your leg is only slightly bent, not creating any less than 170 degree angle when fully extended. I find it helpful when someone can tell you what your leg looks like because it’s hard to tell from sitting in the saddle. Do you know if you can tell the difference? I’ve demonstrated here so you can see the set up.

Mary Rambin SoulCycle spinning wrong legs

Here, the seat is too low so I’m riding what I call “stubby.” The leg is not even close to extended. If you ride this way, your quads will get bigger because you’re relying too much on them to push.

Mary Rambin SoulCycle spinning legs


This is how I usually set up my beginning riders. A little lower saddle allows them to feel balanced. However, it’s not ideal for advanced riders.


Mary Rambin SoulCycle spinning legs

Now my leg is almost fully extended at the bottom of the revolution. I can use all of the muscles in my legs, not just my quads. Instead of focusing on just pushing down, I can use my core to think about pulling up as well as pushing down to make a full circle.  When I raise up and down out of the saddle, I’ll only do so a couple of inches.

Finally notice how my elbows are slightly bent (I’m not reaching for the handle bars), my back is flat instead of rounded, and my chest is high (because my core is engaged).  Most people would pull the saddle back even further, but I choose to ride a little closer to the handle bars to support my lower back.

You need to be COMFORTABLE in your set up. Over the course of 10 years of spinning, I’ve changed my set up several times. Keep tweaking the position of your saddle and see what feels best.

Need more guidance?


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  • Love this post Mary, great instruction! And your legs are looking good girl!

  • C

    Im very beginner of spinning ,thank for the sharing and instruction .