Is Biking Aerobic or Anaerobic? (Explained)

Biking is an aerobic exercise that causes the involved individual to move their body, increase their blood flow, and breathe fast. It causes your muscles to have the needed oxygen to provide the energy you need to ride.

Many people need help answering this question. The many ideas about biking cause people to have different answers to this question. 

Some people describe biking as anaerobic activity, especially if you ride faster than 10 mph.

Others say it is an exclusively aerobic activity since it increases your breathing and heart rate. But what is the right answer?

In this article, we’ll provide an answer to this question and show why biking is considered an aerobic activity. Before we classify biking, let us define these exercises.

What Is Aerobic Exercise?

Aerobic exercises, also known as endurance or cardiovascular exercises, are those exercises that rhythmically move your body muscles for a specific period.

They are called aerobic exercises because they need oxygen to develop the energy for the exercise. These performances cause your heart rate and breathing to increase.

This is because your body is working to supply more oxygen to your muscles. They are not the same as anaerobic exercises. 

What Is Anaerobic Exercise?

Anaerobic Exercises are those exercises that do not increase the transportation or absorption of oxygen in your body. 

These workouts focus on the glucose stored by the body by breaking them down and increasing lactic acid around your body’s muscles. 

While these workout performances look different, they have similarities which we will consider in the next section. 

Aerobic vs Anaerobic

Let us look at the differences and similarities between aerobic and anaerobic exercise. 


Before we break this down, the first difference between these exercises lies in their definition. 

Aerobic exercises require movement in a coordinated manner. Anaerobic exercise involves short bursts of high-intensity activities. 

Aerobic ExerciseAnaerobic Exercises
Increases breathing and heart rate rapidly to supply oxygen to your musclesBreaks down stored glucose without requiring oxygen to acquire energy
Aerobic exercises requires long rhythmic movement that consumes energy Anaerobic exercises requires high intensity activity in short periods
Gasses are exchanged in form of respirationNo gas exchange in any form
Recommended for individuals new to exerciseRecommended for individuals that have been exercising a long time and want to lose weight


Contrary to popular belief, these exercises share some similarities. According to new research, these similarities arise from health gains. 

Some of the similarities include the following:

(i) Weight Management

Both workout programs help speed up metabolism. With a high metabolism, you can burn calories, resulting in weight loss.

(ii) Increased Metabolism

An increased metabolism provides your body with the energy to perform body functions like respiration, blood circulation, body temperature control, muscle contraction, digestion and nerve function.

(iii) Heart Muscle Strengthening 

Performing both exercises will strengthen your heart muscles. The stronger your heart muscles, the better your body pumps blood. This improves the flow of blood around the body.

(iv) Low Risk of Diseases

These exercises help boost cholesterol or high-density lipoprotein. With an increase in cholesterol, you stand a low chance of falling sick to certain diseases like cancer, high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. 

(v) Boost Circulation 

Both exercises can improve blood circulation as your blood flow increases. 

While performing any activity that falls under these exercises, your heart will pump blood around your body faster, boosting circulation.

(vi) Improve Mood

You can improve your mood by performing activities under these exercises. You will feel better by performing these exercises, increasing your confidence, mood and self-esteem.

How Important Is Anaerobic Energy In Cycling?

Anaerobic energy is very important in cycling because the greater your energy, the higher your output. All your energy capabilities can be improved with anaerobic energy. 

The aerobic system has been cyclists’ most sustainable energy source as they focus on building their aerobic base. 

However, no matter how you build your aerobic base, you still need anaerobic energy. 

Your anaerobic energy is the reason why your anaerobic system can build, and you can perform while cycling.

Riders with high anaerobic energy can ride faster and initiate attacks while closing gaps. They can also climb hills and cut corners to leave the competition behind. 

These efforts are important in all cycling disciplines. Fortunately, you can build anaerobic energy with training, and the right workouts can help you develop these workout skills.

How Many Calories Do You Burn Biking?

An average individual will burn between 500 to 800 calories per hour. The number of calories an individual burn depends on the time spent biking, weight, and speed. 

Best Gravel Bikes for Commuting

When you start biking, you use your muscles which convert fats, sugar, and protein into adenosine troposphere using the oxygen you breathe. 

Depending on how intense and long your workout is, you will make and need ATP in different ways. You can build this ATP using anaerobic metabolism to convert Carbohydrates.

When you perform a longer, less intense workout, your body can build ATP from aerobic metabolism, where most of your energy comes from carbohydrates.

Which Muscles Do Biking Target?

Biking targets most of your muscles, including your core, leg muscles, and glutes. 

(i) The Core

Target your core muscles through biking. Biking engages these muscles throughout your session and strengthens them to help improve your stability and balance. You can also prevent lower back injury.

(ii) Leg Muscles

Pedalling in cycling involves the use of your legs. Therefore biking is essential to these muscles as it works your hamstring and quads.

(iii) Glutes

Do you want to train your glutes and hips? Then try biking. Work your hips and glutes with biking and tone those areas to your satisfaction.

We have another article >> What Muscles Do Riding A Bike Work? (Explained)

Final Thoughts on Is Biking Aerobic or Anaerobic

Both aerobic and anaerobic exercises provide your body with the necessary energy to cycle. The only thing that separates them is time, fuel, and oxygen. 

Aerobic exercise uses glucose, oxygen, and fat to produce energy slowly, but it will do this for a long time. The anaerobic exercise will produce energy faster from glucose but only for a short period. 

Even though both exercises are different, the anaerobic energy system is really dependent on the aerobic. Doing both pieces of training will cause improved performance and fitness.

5/5 - (2 votes)

I’ve been riding (bicycles) my entire life and am passionate about everything that comes along with it. I wouldn’t call myself a true “roadie”. I’m just a guy that loves riding because of the pure joy it brings.

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