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

When some folks 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 an entire host of unwanted side effects. We’re speaking about truly biking as in, driving a motorcycle.

Numerous types of biking are gaining recognition, both outside in the true world or on a stationary bike within the fitness center, so why not experiment with biking your technique 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 method to see how, or if, you may pedal your method towards thicker legs.

Does Biking Construct Muscle

Biking For Muscle

Basically, biking is a type of cardio. It taxes your endurance and it doesn’t have the normal advantages of power coaching workouts like squats and lunges. Biking additionally doesn’t have coordinated “lifting and reducing” phases of motion (i.e. the concerned muscle mass don’t endure a contraction section towards resistance adopted by a muscle-lengthening section towards resistance).

Nevertheless, the pedaling required to cycle forces a number of concentric muscle contractions — working towards resistance — alongside many main leg muscle mass. There may be hip flexion, knee extension, and a few knee flexion occurring with every stroke of the pedal, so it’s legitimate to marvel if muscle progress can happen. That is all a flowery method of claiming that, when biking, your muscle mass nonetheless produce pressure to contract, basically just like power coaching.

Muscular Contractions and Rigidity

Technically talking, all you want for muscle progress is mechanical rigidity. (1) That is lively 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, typically, 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 depend 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 progress in case your muscle mass are sufficiently challenged.

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

Low Depth vs. Excessive Depth Cardio

Just like power coaching, cardio will be carried out at numerous intensities. For simplicity’s sakes, let’s give attention to 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 assist you perceive the important thing variations.

You may maintain comparatively decrease depth cardio for longer durations of time, therefore the “regular state” designation. Examples embody strolling, jogging, slowly swimming laps, informal biking, or something carried out at a comparatively sustainable tempo.

Increased depth cardio is usually damaged up into intervals of labor alternated with durations of decrease depth cardio or full relaxation. (2) You may’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 enhancing your resting coronary heart price and VO2 max (the quantity of oxygen your physique makes use of throughout train), excessive depth interval coaching can probably stimulate some muscle progress. HIIT requires you to carry out for durations and intensities nearer to conventional power coaching.

Due to this fact, if the purpose is utilizing biking to build muscle, you might want to crank up the bike’s resistance. In the event 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” quite a bit. Equally, in case you have been to curl three-pound dumbbells for 20 minutes with out stopping, positive that will really feel the burn, however it’s not environment friendly or efficient at constructing muscle.

Does Cardio Eat Muscle?

In the event you’ve heard tales about cardio dwindling your muscle away, there’s some reality to this, however it’s not what you assume.

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. Exterior 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. If you raise heavy weights and attempt to get stronger, you’re telling your physique it ought to develop muscle to raise heavier weights. However whenever you cycle or run, you’re telling your physique to get extra environment friendly at transferring longer distances, and one technique to be extra environment friendly is to stop constructing vital muscular physique weight.

Because of this endurance athletes, like marathon runners, are usually slimmer and power athletes, like powerlifters, are reliably extra muscular. If you attempt to give attention to 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 may possibly compromise the variations and optimistic outcomes made on each ends — muscle progress and constructing endurance — except you are taking care to design the plan with very focused programming.

So whereas we established that biking can construct muscle beneath sure circumstances, you received’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 variations in your physique.

The right way to Cycle For Muscle Progress

In the event 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 can be higher than getting outside on a highway bike. This may allow you to extra simply observe, monitor, and modify nearly all of variables.

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

In the event you insist on biking out within the wild, attempt to precisely observe variables by deciding on the identical distance route with the identical elevation modifications, and monitoring your pedal output, together with cadence and complete 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 give attention to conventional power coaching, which can develop essentially the most muscle.

Doing all of your biking the day after will 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 received’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 progress. 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’ll want to cycle with depth. For biking to construct muscle, it can’t be preformed at a leisurely, steady-state tempo. It would should be intense sufficient to just about resemble a set of power coaching.

Intervals of 20-60 seconds of labor towards a excessive resistance is an effective purpose. Purpose for eight to 10 units, which ought to be lots if you’re 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 coated. To make sure muscle progress and supply progressive resistance every week, you might want to enhance 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, preserve pushing for extra complete distance with the identical resistance and time per set. When you get to a cushty distance, enhance the resistance barely and begin throughout.

In the event you’re biking out in nature, your finest 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 to discover a steeper or longer hill to extend the problem.


Constructing muscle with cardio is, in some methods, just like constructing muscle with power coaching. Positive, one technique is much more practical for this purpose, however the identical common rules apply. Basically, you apply mechanical rigidity and you retain persistently apply extra so the physique adapts.

In the event you can’t apply extra, which can inevitably occur, you might want to plan a deload. That is extraordinarily essential as a result of biking at excessive intensities will be fairly fatiguing, particularly when carried out along with your regular power coaching exercises.

You may run right into a plateau or a drop in efficiency inside a couple of weeks relying in your total plan and your common conditioning. A plateau doesn’t imply you might want to push more durable, it means you might want to take a deload week the place whole coaching is considerably lighter and comparatively decrease resistance.

In power coaching, this may 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 accrued fatigue to dissipate, so you may 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 may now be questioning if it’s OK to solely cycle to construct their decrease physique muscle mass. Technically, you possibly can, however it’s fairly inefficient, particularly in case you’re extra superior in your total health. However, you may 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. In the event 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 bit nearer to thicker thighs.


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

Featured Picture: Alfredo Lopez / Shutterstock

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