I work with several clients who have bad knees and use peloton. This means I had to go thru hundreds of classes to be able to recommend with confidence the ones that are pain-free. In this article, I will walk you thru my best options from peloton rides and help you clarify is peloton good for bad knees?
In general, a peloton is good for people with bad knees because it helps to train while minimizing the pressure on the kneecap. People who have knee problems and cannot do certain exercises (e.g. running) can use cycling as an alternative training method.
But not all of the classes are created equal. In addition to reading the list below, please refer to the safety measures at the end where I remind you of how to set up the bike properly.
Best Peloton Classes For Bad Knees
Best peloton classes for bad knees will include all the classes that keep you predominately in your seat. Knee pain doesn’t;t mean you cannot add some resistance and intensity. It means you have to be mindful of how you put the pressure on the leg.
When you’re seated, you have the most optimal biomechanics where you minimize the pressure of the knees and utilize supporting muscles, as long as you have your seat set up correctly (more on that later).
#1: Pro Cyclist Ride (30 minutes)
Pro cyclist ride is a series of classes led by Christian Vande Velde, the Tour de France champion.
You can find this class when you go to the “filter” and scroll down. Pro Cyclist Rides comes with 45 and 30-minute duration. I recommend you go for 30 minutes.
Not because the 45 minutes is too long, but because 30-minute rides don’t have much standing off the saddle.
This class is perfect for people with knee pain because you can still push the intensity, without moving around and adding pressure on your knee.
#2: HIIT Ride (20 minutes)
HIIT Ride classes are usually mixed up with standing and saddle positions. However, Christine D’ercole has a 20 minute HIIT Ride where she introduces high-intensity components without standing off the saddle.
This class is perfect because it allows you to focus on the work, and forgetting about the knee issue. The duration is 20 minutes so it can be done either as your main workout or in combination with other classes.
To find Christine HIIT Ride simply go to the “filter” tab and search for “Intervals”, then add an additional filter from the “duration” tab for 20 minutes.
#3: Low Impact Ride (45 minutes)
Low impact ride is another great class from the peloton library for knee pain. This class offers an easy pace where you gradually build up the resistance while staying in the saddle.
I recommend choosing 45 minutes, however, feel free to adjust the duration to fit your fitness level.
What I like about this class is it helps to get you “started” and build up muscle strength before you move on to more challenging sessions.
But it doesn’t mean it is an easy class. You can still ramp up the resistance and cadence when you feel like it.
To find the low impact rides you simply go to the “filer” tab and choose Lo Impact at the top of the list. Then you can filter further by the duration, music, your favorite instructor, and more.
#4: Power Zone Endurance Ride (60 minutes)
Power Zone Endurance Ride is another great option for people with bad knees because it offers intermediate to advance intensity while keeping you seated throughout the class.
Class duration ranges from 15 up to 90 minutes and is all designed to work on a certain heart rate level.
This is a great option to train your muscle endurance and stamina because it makes you work just between your aerobic and anaerobic threshold. It is also one of the best fat-burning classes.
I won’t list here the best peloton rides that burn the most calories. I’ve already done that in “best peloton classes for weight loss“, which I recommend you read.
#5: Climb Ride (20 minutes)
Climb ride is a series of classes where you don’t go super fast. You add more resistance. Which is excellent, especially to build muscle in your legs to strengthen your knees.
The class I like to recommend is by Jenn Sherman and you can filter it when you go for Climb Rides and then 20 minutes.
I love this class because Jenn stays low all the time, but she really cranks up the resistance. Cadence is low and music is extremely good. If you like to sweat, you will love this class. By all means, this is not a beginner class.
Does Peloton Hurt Your Knees?
In general, a peloton doesn’t hurt your knees, as long as you set up your seat and pedals correctly. Setting up the seat will place you in the position where you put minimum pressure on the knees. Also, choosing the low-impact classes helps to redistribute pressure evenly on the muscles.
In other words, the peloton bike allows training muscle groups at higher intensity while controlling the stresses to the knee ligaments.
The most important factor is seat height and pedal position. When the seat is adjusted correctly, the knee ligaments can be relieved from the pressure.
On the other hand, when the seat is placed too low, too close, or too far away from the pedals, the pressure is applied to the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), the capsular ligaments, and the posterior structures of the knee joint.
Why do my knees hurt on the peloton? In general, your knees hurt on the peloton because of inappropriate seat position or wrong placement of the Delta cleats on your shoes. Having a low seat creates medial and posterior knee pain, where having the seat too high can lead to hyperextension of the knee.
Learn more: Click here to learn more about “does peloton have elliptical?“
Knee Pain After Peloton
Some people have experience sore knees and knee problems after they did few peloton rides. There can be several reasons why your knees hurt.
If the pain is acute, and you didn’t have it before, most likely it is due to bike setup. Back of knee pain after peloton ride can indicate your seat is too low, where lower knee pain can indicate seat is too high.
Can peloton cause knee pain? In general, using a peloton without adjusting the seat can cause knee pain. Riding the peloton bike requires using the Delta cleats that place your foot in a fixed position. If the seat isn’t adjusted correctly, this creates pressure on the knee and ankle.
Normally, if you ride the Peloton bike with toe clips, you have some degree of flexibility in your foot and ankle. However, the moment you clip in your shoes to the pedals, you have to make sure you’re in the biomechanically efficient position.
Delta cleats help to generate higher output not only when you press the leg forward, but also when you pull the leg back. This helps to do the harder work easier, but when you have bad knees you must ensure the setup is done right.
Learn more: Check out my article “best peloton classes for beginners” to learn more about the best peloton classes to get you started
How to Adjust Peloton For Knee Pain
Here are the basic guidelines for adjusting the peloton bike seat to avoid excessive pressure on the knee.
#1: Seat height
- Stand next to the bike to adjust the seat.
- Your seat height should be around your hip bone level. This will allow you to extend your knee with around 15-20 degree.
- This will also help to engage glutes and reduce pressure on the knee cap.
- Hop on the bike and do some revolutions to assess how it feels.
- Once you find the right heigh, mark it down for future reference.
#2: Seat distance
- Bend your arm in your elbow in 90 degree and position your elbow in front of your seat.
- Keep your palm open with your fingers pionting forward
- You hand should be able to reach comfortably to the handlebar.
- If the handlebar is too close, this will make your knees go over the pedals as you cycle and put the pressure on the posterior knee.
- If the handlebar is too far, it will create pressure on the anterior knee.
- The seat distance should be right in the middle where your knee doesn’t go over the pedals and you cycle.
#3: Delta Cleats
- Adjust the position of the cleats to be in line with the balls of your foot.
- This will position your balls of the foot directly above the pedal spindle of your bike.
Click here to learn more about using “peloton classes for family” check out my article.
Peloton bike is great exercise equipment that can help you get active even with knee problems. The most important factors are choosing the right class and making sure your bike is set up correctly.