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

When some folks wish to construct muscle, they begin biking. No, we’re not speaking about utilizing efficiency enhancing medication — these construct a great little bit of muscle with a complete host of negative effects. We’re speaking about really biking as in, driving a motorcycle.

Varied types of biking are gaining reputation, both outdoor in the true world or on a stationary bike within the gymnasium, so why not experiment with biking your solution to extra muscular legs?

Credit score: Vladimir Sukhachev / Shutterstock

Spin instructors have good legs and the muscle burn you are feeling from biking will be comparable, or much more intense, than some conventional strength-training leg workouts. So let’s breakdown this unconventional strategy to see how, or if, you possibly can pedal your means 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 workout routines like squats and lunges. Biking additionally doesn’t have coordinated “lifting and reducing” phases of motion (i.e. the concerned muscle groups don’t bear a contraction part in opposition to resistance adopted by a muscle-lengthening part in opposition to resistance).

Nonetheless, the pedaling required to cycle forces a number of concentric muscle contractions — working in opposition to resistance — alongside many main leg muscle groups. There may be 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 means of claiming that, when biking, your muscle groups nonetheless produce pressure to contract, basically much like energy coaching.

Muscular Contractions and Pressure

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

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 depend reps on a motorcycle the identical as with a weight coaching train — no one jumps on a motorcycle for “650 pedals” — mechanically talking, there is potential for biking to set off development in case your muscle groups are sufficiently challenged.

We’ll discuss 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 could be a battle of curiosity for getting jacked.

Low Depth vs. Excessive Depth Cardio

Much like energy coaching, cardio will 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 allow you to 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 accomplished at a comparatively sustainable tempo.

Larger 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 velocity for too lengthy, or else it wouldn’t actually be a dash.

The Proper Cardio for Muscle Development

Whereas each strategies have cardiovascular elements like enhancing your resting coronary heart charge and VO2 max (the quantity of oxygen your physique makes use of throughout train), excessive depth interval coaching can probably 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 objective is utilizing biking to build muscle, it’s essential crank up the bike’s resistance. When you’re biking for 20 minutes or extra, the resistance is probably going too low to attain 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, positive that may really feel the burn, but it surely’s not environment friendly or efficient at constructing muscle.

Does Cardio Eat Muscle?

When you’ve heard tales about cardio dwindling your muscle away, there’s some fact to this, but it surely’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.” Nonetheless, whereas cardio doesn’t eat away your treasured glutes and biceps, the stimulus that you’re imposing is a bit conflicted.

Give it some thought. Once 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 shifting longer distances, and one solution to be extra environment friendly is to forestall constructing important muscular physique weight.

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

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

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

Easy methods to Cycle For Muscle Development

When you’re planning to hop on the spin bike simply since you take pleasure in 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 method is fairly easy. So long as you’re pedaling along with your foot secured, you’ll be coaching your quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings. Since constructing muscle requires progressive overload — a persistently elevated problem from exercise to exercise — an in-gym stationary bike will probably be higher than getting outdoor on a street bike. This can allow you to extra simply monitor, monitor, and modify the vast majority of variables.

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

When you insist on biking out within the wild, attempt to precisely monitor variables by deciding on the identical distance route with the identical elevation adjustments, 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 may not be occurring.

Biking Frequency

Subsequent is the location 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 recent sufficient to concentrate on conventional energy coaching, which is able to develop probably the most muscle.

Doing all of your biking the day after may even permit your legs to be barely pre-fatigued, which can assist you get comparatively extra stimulus with comparatively much less work. After a tough leg session, your legs gained’t want as excessive a level of biking depth to achieve 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. Bear in mind, biking to construct muscle is already a compromised strategy. Don’t compromise it additional by ruining your common leg exercises.

Biking Depth

You could cycle with depth. For biking to construct muscle, it can’t be preformed at a leisurely, steady-state tempo. It would 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 objective. Purpose for eight to 10 units, which ought to be a lot in case you are doing this hypertrophy-focused biking session a couple of times per week.

Purpose for a constant resistance setting and time for every set. On the finish of your exercise, examine to see how a lot distance you coated. To make sure muscle development and supply progressive resistance every week, it’s essential 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.

When you’re biking out in nature, your greatest strategy is to discover a hill and trip up for 10 units. Use the trip 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 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 much simpler for this objective, however the identical normal ideas apply. Basically, you apply mechanical rigidity and you retain persistently apply extra so the physique adapts.

When you can’t apply extra, which is able to inevitably occur, it’s essential plan a deload. That is extraordinarily vital as a result of biking at excessive intensities will be fairly fatiguing, particularly when carried out along with your regular energy coaching exercises.

You would possibly run right into a plateau or a drop in efficiency inside a couple of weeks relying in your general plan and your normal conditioning. A plateau doesn’t imply it’s essential push tougher, it means it’s essential take a deload week the place whole coaching is considerably lighter and comparatively decrease resistance.

In energy coaching, this is able to 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 amassed fatigue to dissipate, so you possibly can 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 folks would possibly now be questioning if it’s OK to solely cycle to construct their decrease physique muscle groups. Technically, you might, but it surely’s fairly inefficient, particularly in case you’re extra superior in your general health. However, you possibly can definitely 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. When 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 slightly nearer to thicker thighs.


  1. Schoenfeld B. J. (2010). The mechanisms of muscle hypertrophy and their utility 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 Overview with Historic Perspective. Worldwide journal of environmental analysis and public well being18(13), 7201.
  3. Methenitis S. (2018). A Temporary Overview on Concurrent Coaching: From Laboratory to the Area. Sports activities (Basel, Switzerland)6(4), 127.

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