Does Biking Construct Muscle? The Information About Rising on the Bike

When some individuals need to construct muscle, they begin biking. No, we’re not speaking about utilizing efficiency enhancing medication — these construct an excellent little bit of muscle with a complete host of unwanted effects. We’re speaking about truly biking as in, driving a motorcycle.

Numerous types of biking are gaining reputation, both open air in the actual world or on a stationary bike within the health club, so why not experiment with biking your strategy to extra muscular legs?

Credit score: Vladimir Sukhachev / Shutterstock

Spin instructors have good legs and the muscle burn you’re feeling from biking might be comparable, or much more intense, than some conventional strength-training leg workouts. So let’s breakdown this unconventional method to see how, or if, you’ll be able to pedal your method towards thicker legs.

Does Biking Construct Muscle

Biking For Muscle

Essentially, biking is a type of cardio. It taxes your endurance and it doesn’t have the standard advantages of energy coaching workouts like squats and lunges. Biking additionally doesn’t have coordinated “lifting and reducing” phases of motion (i.e. the concerned muscle tissue don’t bear a contraction section in opposition to resistance adopted by a muscle-lengthening section in opposition to resistance).

Nevertheless, the pedaling required to cycle forces a number of concentric muscle contractions — working in opposition to resistance — alongside many main leg muscle tissue. There’s hip flexion, knee extension, and a few knee flexion occurring with every stroke of the pedal, so it’s legitimate to surprise if muscle development can happen. That is all a elaborate method of claiming that, when biking, your muscle tissue nonetheless produce pressure to contract, essentially much like energy coaching.

Muscular Contractions and Rigidity

Technically talking, all you want for muscle development is mechanical stress. (1) That is energetic pressure alongside muscle fibers till they attain involuntarily gradual contraction speeds. It’s why the previous couple of reps of a set of squats are the toughest and, usually, the slowest transferring.

It’s additionally why coaching near, as much as, or beyond failure builds muscle. These closing, extremely difficult reps are what triggers hypertrophy.

Person in gym on spin bike
Credit score: Vladimir Sukhachev / Shutterstock

So whilst you don’t calculate coaching quantity or rely reps on a motorcycle the identical as with a weight coaching train — no person jumps on a motorcycle for “650 pedals” — mechanically talking, there is potential for biking to set off development in case your muscle tissue are sufficiently challenged.

We’ll speak extra about optimizing this later, however let’s go over some cardio myths first. Biking is, in any case, nonetheless primarily an endurance-based train which generally is a battle of curiosity for getting jacked.

Low Depth vs. Excessive Depth Cardio

Much like energy coaching, cardio might be carried out at numerous intensities. For simplicity’s sakes, let’s concentrate on low depth, steady-state cardio (LISS) and high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Whereas there are different cardio coaching strategies, evaluating these ends of the spectrum will enable you perceive the important thing variations.

You’ll be able to maintain comparatively decrease depth cardio for longer intervals of time, therefore the “regular state” designation. Examples embody strolling, jogging, slowly swimming laps, informal biking, or something completed at a comparatively sustainable tempo.

Greater depth cardio is usually damaged up into intervals of labor alternated with intervals of decrease depth cardio or full relaxation. (2) You’ll be able to’t maintain a near-maximum sprinting pace for too lengthy, or else it wouldn’t actually be a dash.

The Proper Cardio for Muscle Progress

Whereas each strategies have cardiovascular parts like bettering your resting coronary heart price and VO2 max (the quantity of oxygen your physique makes use of throughout train), excessive depth interval coaching can doubtlessly stimulate some muscle development. HIIT requires you to carry out for durations and intensities nearer to conventional energy coaching.

Due to this fact, if the aim is utilizing biking to build muscle, you have to crank up the bike’s resistance. In case you’re biking for 20 minutes or extra, the resistance is probably going too low to realize a real muscle-building stimulus even when your legs “burn” lots. Equally, in case you had been to curl three-pound dumbbells for 20 minutes with out stopping, certain that might really feel the burn, nevertheless it’s not environment friendly or efficient at constructing muscle.

Does Cardio Eat Muscle?

In case you’ve heard tales about cardio dwindling your muscle away, there’s some fact to this, nevertheless it’s not what you suppose.

Person in gym using seated bike machine
Credit score: Adulwit Natheetavesak / Shutterstock

Cardio, whether or not LISS or HIIT, is offering your physique a stimulus to adapt to. Outdoors of undereating and never exercising in any respect, your physique doesn’t “lose muscle.” Nevertheless, whereas cardio doesn’t eat away your valuable glutes and biceps, the stimulus that you’re imposing is a bit conflicted.

Give it some thought. While you raise heavy weights and attempt to get stronger, you’re telling your physique it ought to develop muscle to raise heavier weights. However while you cycle or run, you’re telling your physique to get extra environment friendly at transferring longer distances, and one strategy to be extra environment friendly is to forestall constructing vital muscular physique weight.

This is the reason endurance athletes, like marathon runners, are usually slimmer and energy athletes, like powerlifters, are reliably extra muscular. While you attempt to concentrate on excelling in each throughout a coaching routine, there’s a compromise known as the interference impact. (3)

The interference impact doesn’t essentially trigger muscle loss, however it will probably compromise the variations and constructive outcomes made on each ends — muscle development and constructing endurance — until you’re taking care to design the plan with very focused programming.

So whereas we established that biking can construct muscle below sure situations, you received’t construct as a lot as somebody who prioritizes their coaching and restoration towards typical leg exercises like squats and deadlifts. That is the precept of specificity — particular actions will set off particular variations in your physique.

Methods to Cycle For Muscle Progress

In case you’re planning to hop on the spin bike simply since you get pleasure from it, and also you’re nonetheless hoping to construct some muscle, no worries. That’s a suitable trade-off and right here’s how you’ll go about it.

The pedaling approach is fairly easy. So long as you’re pedaling together with your foot secured, you’ll be coaching your quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings. Since constructing muscle requires progressive overload — a constantly elevated problem from exercise to exercise — an in-gym stationary bike will likely be higher than getting open air on a street bike. This may allow you to extra simply monitor, monitor, and modify nearly all of variables.

Long-haired person in gym using stationary bike
Credit score: Maridav / Shutterstock

In case you insist on biking out within the wild, attempt to precisely monitor variables by deciding on the identical distance route with the identical elevation modifications, and monitoring your pedal output, together with cadence and whole time.

Switching routes consistently is like switching between dumbbells, kettlebells, and cables each week. You’re consistently altering issues, however precise progressive overload won’t be occurring.

Biking Frequency

Subsequent is the position of your biking session. Schedule it on the finish of a leg exercise or on the training day after working your legs. This ensures that your legs are contemporary sufficient to concentrate on conventional energy coaching, which is able to develop probably the most muscle.

Doing all your biking the day after may even enable your legs to be barely pre-fatigued, which may also help you get comparatively extra stimulus with comparatively much less work. After a tough leg session, your legs received’t want as excessive a level of biking depth to succeed in fatigue.

In any case, by no means place your biking session proper earlier than your leg exercise. Your leg exercise will negatively affected and you’ll not find yourself triggering a lot muscle development. Keep in mind, biking to construct muscle is already a compromised method. Don’t compromise it additional by ruining your common leg exercises.

Biking Depth

You have to cycle with depth. For biking to construct muscle, it can’t be preformed at a leisurely, steady-state tempo. It’ll have to be intense sufficient to almost resemble a set of energy coaching.

Intervals of 20-60 seconds of labor in opposition to a excessive resistance is an effective aim. Purpose for eight to 10 units, which must be loads in case you are doing this hypertrophy-focused biking session a few times per week.

Purpose for a constant resistance setting and time for every set. On the finish of your exercise, test to see how a lot distance you lined. To make sure muscle development and supply progressive resistance every week, you have to improve that distance in the identical timeframe utilizing the identical resistance.

Muscular person in gym using spin bike
Credit score: alejandro piorun / Shutterstock

Because the weeks go on, hold pushing for extra whole distance with the identical resistance and time per set. When you get to a cushty distance, improve the resistance barely and begin throughout.

In case you’re biking out in nature, your greatest method is to discover a hill and experience up for 10 units. Use the experience down as a part of your relaxation between every set. However you’ll nonetheless have to progressively overload this routine. This might imply biking uphill whereas carrying a weighted vest or backpack, or looking out to discover a steeper or longer hill to extend the problem.


Constructing muscle with cardio is, in some methods, much like constructing muscle with energy coaching. Certain, one methodology is way more practical for this aim, however the identical basic ideas apply. Primarily, you apply mechanical stress and you retain constantly apply extra so the physique adapts.

In case you can’t apply extra, which is able to inevitably occur, you have to plan a deload. That is extraordinarily necessary as a result of biking at excessive intensities might be fairly fatiguing, particularly when carried out along with your regular energy coaching exercises.

You may run right into a plateau or a drop in efficiency inside just a few weeks relying in your general plan and your basic conditioning. A plateau doesn’t imply you have to push tougher, it means you have to take a deload week the place whole coaching is considerably lighter and comparatively decrease resistance.

In energy coaching, this might imply utilizing lighter weights and/or doing fewer reps per set. On the bike, it means dialing again the resistance and taking some comparatively simpler rides. This permits any gathered fatigue to dissipate, so you’ll be able to comeback in per week or so to push for extra PRs and construct extra muscle within the long-term.

Skip Leg Day, Add Bike Day?

Some individuals may now be questioning if it’s OK to completely cycle to construct their decrease physique muscle tissue. Technically, you might, nevertheless it’s fairly inefficient, particularly in case you’re extra superior in your general health. However, you’ll be able to actually do what you need and practice nonetheless you’d like. And it’s nonetheless higher than not giving your legs any sort of coaching stimulus. In case you’re prepared so as to add biking to your leg-building plans, save this information as a reference for one of the best ways to pedal a little bit nearer to thicker thighs.


  1. Schoenfeld B. J. (2010). The mechanisms of muscle hypertrophy and their software to resistance coaching. Journal of energy and conditioning analysis24(10), 2857–2872.
  2. Atakan, M. M., Li, Y., Koşar, Ş. N., Turnagöl, H. H., & Yan, X. (2021). Proof-Primarily based Results of Excessive-Depth Interval Coaching on Train Capability and Well being: A Evaluation with Historic Perspective. Worldwide journal of environmental analysis and public well being18(13), 7201.
  3. Methenitis S. (2018). A Transient Evaluation on Concurrent Coaching: From Laboratory to the Area. Sports activities (Basel, Switzerland)6(4), 127.

Featured Picture: Alfredo Lopez / Shutterstock

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