Last year there were around 66.5 million cyclists in America, each with their own reason for getting on a bike. For some it's simply a case of getting from one place to another, while others just enjoy exploring their neighborhoods on two wheels. But there are a growing number of people who are getting on their bikes to improve their fitness and strength, while building muscle.
Different types of riding, will affect which muscles you use more. For example, if the ground is hilly, the quadriceps will be working the hardest to power you up hills. Speed cycling, or cycling against the wind, will involve all of the leg muscles much more. And if you keep track of your fitness when you cycle, you can monitor your pace and distance as you ride. This will give you a valuable insight into your performance and technique and help you improve each time you get in the saddle.
Which Muscles Does Cycling Benefit?
Arms and Neck
While your legs provide power to your pedal strokes, your arms help stabilize your body and allow you to steer your bike. Biceps help to flex your arm at the elbow and act with your forearm muscles to rotate your arm. Your triceps help to straighten your arm and can help keep your body stable. While the neck muscles tend to be extended throughout the duration of your rides, so strengthening them to withstand this stress is important.
The quadriceps have four muscles in the thigh. These muscles work together to extend your leg at the knee joint and to flex your leg at the hip joint. These actions occur each time you pedal.
Your hamstrings are three muscles on the back of your upper leg, running from your pelvis to your knee joint. They bend your knee and extend your leg at the hip, acting to counter the movements of your quadriceps.
Cycling can help to strengthen your calves. Your calf muscles assist in flexing your feet from the ankle, providing extra power to your pedal strokes. These muscles can be strengthened with either standing or seated calf raises.
You might be sitting on your glutes when you cycle, but you are still using them. All three of your glute muscles are involved in cycling and help move your legs laterally and rotate your legs at the hip joint. They also provide you with the necessary downward power for your leg strokes.
While the power for your pedal strokes comes from your leg muscles, the muscles in your abdomen keep your body stable, insulating your upper body from the movement of your lower body. Your core gets a workout by preventing the motion of our lower body from causing your upper body to sway back and forth with each pedal stroke.
Making Each Ride Work Harder for You
You can make sure you are getting the most out of each cycle ride by checking that your seat is at the right level. Your knee needs to be slightly bent at the base of the pedal stroke when your foot is at a right angle to the floor. To avoid any injuries, always try to build up your speed slowly. And don’t be afraid to embrace hills if you want to improve your fitness, muscle tone and strength.
Get Back in the Saddle and Get Fit
There are many physical benefits to regular cycling. Going for a bike ride is good for your heart and muscles, and it may improve how you walk, balance, and even just climb the stairs. As well as burning calories and improving heart and lung functions, your muscles will get stronger and give you a leaner and fitter body that has more stamina.
As proponents of wellness through cycling, LifeCycle aims to bring you the health benefits of cycling more regularly. Have any personal noted improvements related to cycling? Please share below!