Is It Possible To Build Muscles By Cycling?


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Strong leg muscles enable cyclists to pedal harder and faster. This is important for increasing speed and successfully cycling through the difficult sections of the course.

The popularity of cycling is steadily increasing. Numerous cyclists have asked if muscles can be built by cycling. The answer is yes. Cycling can be used to effectively build leg muscles. The two main muscles targeted are the hamstrings and quadriceps.

When riding a bicycle, the hamstrings and quadriceps perform most of the work while pedaling. The soleus and gastrocnemius muscles in the calf are also impacted. There are specific techniques for building muscle while cycling.

Cycling Techniques for Building Muscle

Cyclists can increase the rate at which muscle is built by using a variety of different techniques. Some of the best and most frequently used techniques are defined below.

Standing While Riding

Cyclists who sit while riding will not build a lot of muscle. Sitting not offer enough resistance while pedaling. The most common result is increasing endurance, toning up and strengthening the muscles.

In order to really build muscle, one of the best techniques is standing while cycling as opposed to sitting. The weight of the body increases the level of resistance to provide a great workout, especially for the calf muscles.

The best option is beginning with a slow ride, staying in the standing position and gradually raising up the heels. This will apply extra weight on the down-stroke, while creating additional resistance for the upstroke.

The added tension and weight will help the cyclist build muscle. Starting slowly is important to help ensure the cyclist does not become imbalanced, leading to a potential fall.

Monitoring Cadence

When cycling, cadence is the rate at which the cyclist is turning the pedals or the number of times the crank is turned per minute. Cadence is extremely important for the development of leg muscles.

Once the cyclist determines their peak cadence, cycling can be adjusted to ensure peak power levels are achieved. The cyclist needs to begin by determining their natural cadence in accordance with their level of fitness.

This simply means the cadence the cyclist achieves when cycling smoothly at peak power levels. For the majority of cyclists, this is between 90 to 100 RPMs.

Riding Uphill

Building muscles cycling on flat surfaces is difficult because there is not enough resistance. The best option is cycling uphill as much as possible. Gravity will force the body to use the leg muscles a lot more.

Once the muscles are no longer in a comfort zone, cycling against the added resistance will result in muscle growth. Cycling uphill forces the body and bike to fight the resistance. This is an excellent way to build both hamstrings and quadriceps.

Cycling uphill on a regular basis will build up leg muscles quickly. The individual will have a lot more power when cycling on a flat surface.

Benefits of Cycling

Cycling is classified as an aerobic activity. The lungs, blood vessels and heart all receive a good workout. Cyclists have to breathe deeper, the body temperature increases and perspiration occurs.

The result is an improved level of overall fitness. The health benefits of cycling on a regular basis include:

• Reduces stress levels
• Increased flexibility and muscle strength
• Strengthens bones
• Manages or prevents numerous diseases
• Increased cardiovascular fitness
• Improves coordination and posture
• Decreases depression and anxiety
• Improves joint mobility
• Reduces levels of body fat

How Do I Build Big Leg Muscles?

Cycling using different techniques offers a variety of benefits. Short, hard efforts and constantly sprinting will substantially increase the size of the leg muscles. Endurance cycling will result in stronger legs with the muscle less apparent.

Individuals interested in especially large leg muscles generally need to combine visits to the gym with cycling. The best way to increase the size of the leg muscles is through low reps and high weight.

It is important for cyclists to understand building up the leg muscles beyond a certain point will be detrimental for certain types of cycling. Excess muscle will decrease speed for longer rides.

The best option is to combine endurance rides such as a 40 km with sprinting and weight training. The cyclist will increase muscle mass, without enough excess muscle to substantially decrease speed.

Building Strength and Power on the Bike

Force is generally defined as the ability to get past resistance. For cyclists, force is the ability of the muscles to move the cycle forward by turning the cranks. Speed drills and cadence offer cyclists the ability to increase velocity.

Increased velocity helps the cyclist apply additional force to the petals to help increase both power and strength. The result is an improvement in both speed and power output.

Increasing Resistance

The best way to improve force is to increase the cyclist’s resistance on the bike. There are several different ways to accomplish this. The most popular is by using the force of gravity.

Another option is cycling directly into a headwind. If neither of these options is available, resistance can be increased by using either an inside trainer or extremely large gears.

Working the Core

Every cyclist needs to understand the critical importance of a strong core. No matter how well developed the calves, hamstrings, quads and extensors, a strong core is essential.

The only way to optimize the full potential of a cyclist for the best possible force on the petals is by strengthening the core. The core encompasses all the muscles both surrounding and in the abdomen and lower back.

There are good workouts to increase the strength of the core while on a stationary bicycle. The cyclist starts by riding in an aero position. The hands must be placed on a parallel with the ground. This is referred to as on the hoods or in the drops.

The cyclist must keep the torso in this position, then remove the hands from the bars. The hands are then clasped behind the back. The upper body needs to be kept as still as possible. During this exercise, the individual must continue cycling.

As the cyclist uses this technique, the importance of the core should become apparent. The core is responsible for transferring power from the body to the bike. There are options for increasing the amount of time the technique is performed.

The technique can be performed at different cadences or by using different gears. The recommendation is beginning with five-minute sessions. The cyclist should gradually increase the length of each session to a minimum of 15 minutes.

A helpful tip is elevating the front wheel of the bicycle. This is a good way to simulate an elevation in terrain.

Cycling FAQ

Can I Improve My Health by Cycling?

Cycling generally improves both mental and physical health. Cyclists also decrease the risks of numerous health issues. Regular cycling can lessen the effect of several mental health issues such as anxiety, stress and depression.

The effects are due to the pleasure of cycling combined with the impact of exercising on a regular basis. Cycling enhances, coordination, balance and strength. Cycling can additionally help prevent fractures and falls.

For individuals with osteoarthritis, cycling is ideal. The exercise places extremely little pressure on the joints and is classified as low-impact. Cycling decreases blood fat levels and strengthens the muscles of the heart.

According to research, individuals who ride a bike to work decrease their exposure to pollution two to three times as opposed to individuals driving cars, This improves the lung function.

Will Cycling Give Me Big Legs?

Although this is a common concern of many new cyclists, the answer is no. One of the most frequently performed Google searches is whether or not cycling will result in big legs.

Unfortunately, there is an old myth that cycling results in big legs. This has prevented many women from enjoying cycling. This is just a myth and not true. The myth has resulted in a lot of women associating incorrect body images with cycling.

Cycling will improve the leg muscles, increase leg strength and can even help with weight loss. Since cycling is an aerobic exercise, endurance muscle fibers are worked to increase resistance while cycling and help decrease fatigue.

Legs will not bulk up due to cycling alone. There are individuals desiring more bulk and power than achievable through cycling. Additional training using weights is required on a regular basis to achieve this effect.

Any cyclist with a large thigh circumference has most likely spent numerous hours cycling in addition to working out at a gym on a regular schedule. Women cyclists much work a lot harder than men to increase muscle mass.

The majority of women have approximately 15 percent less testosterone and 10 percent more body fat than the typical man. Men can build muscle more easily due to the higher percentage of testosterone in their bodies.

If a man and a woman both cycled on the same course length and difficulty level for an identical period of time, the man would build more muscle than the woman, especially in the quads.

See Also:
Can Cycling Give You Ripped Abs? Read this First!
Folding Clincher or Wire Bead? Choose the Best for Your Bike!
Do Mountain Bikes Need Shocks?
How To Store A Bike Outside Without Rusting It


Cycling is my source of liberation. The love affair started more than a decade ago when I started cycling for fitness and soon it turned into a passion. The adrenalin rush you feel when you grab the handlebars, put on the helmet, and feel the speed in your nerves is unique in itself.

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