What Muscles Do Riding A Bike Work? (Explained)

Riding a bicycle improves the general function of the lower body and builds up the leg muscles without stressing your joints. It focuses on your calves, hamstring, glutes, and quad. 

Its low-impact aerobic nature is among the many benefits of riding a bike. The intensity of the workout varies, as it builds muscular structure while targeting cardiovascular endurance.

Many muscles in the body are toned and worked by cycling. Although the lower body muscles are the primary ones targeted, the arm and core muscles also benefit.

Many riders might focus on metabolic capabilities while forgetting that the muscles power every other aspect of the fitness process in the leg.

In this article, we’re going to look at the muscles a rider uses when riding.

What Muscles Do Riding A Bike Work?

The primary muscles used when riding a bike are the hamstring and the calf muscles, also known as calves. These muscles are activated when you push down or pull up on the bike pedal. 

What Muscles Do Riding a Bike Work

As you might have figured by now, the muscles worked during riding include your quadhamstringglutes, and calf muscles

When done properly, each pedaling action consists of a push (when your knee extends) and a pull (when your knee bends upward) motion. 

As you pedal down, you’re engaging your quad muscles and calves, which immediately feel the effect. As you pull the pedal back up, your hamstring, glutes, and shin muscles feel the effect.

You will feel more impact on these muscles depending on your riding surface. When you’re moving up a hill, your calves and quad muscles will demand more effort from you.

When you’re going down, your muscles are a bit relaxed because they’re not demanding any pressure, so momentum usually moves the bike in that position. 

Now let’s see the list of muscles riding a bike work : 

Calf Muscles

When you’re riding a bike, the rider will build the two main muscles in the calf, the gastrocnemius, and the soleus. The soleus lifts the rider’s heel while they

Pedal and gastrocnemius help the rider push forward. 

Thigh Muscles

The thigh muscles target the hamstring and the quad. 

The hamstring ensures that the knee can bend to pump the bike pedal. Riding a bike regularly would help build your hamstring strength and improve them for cycling. 

The quadricep does the most work while riding and is essential to the rider staying firm on the bike. While riding a bike, the quadriceps develop more and grow stronger, aiding the rider to increase their pedaling speed.

Buttocks Muscles

The three muscles in the gluteal region are also targeted. These muscles are the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus, and they make up the buttocks. 

The gluteus maximus is the main part needed for riding, but all three muscles work in unison with the hips to move the thighs when the body is in motion. 

When you ride mostly on routes with steep climbs and push through your heels to target the gluteus, you’re working the gluteus muscles to get bigger, which gives you a bigger butt. 

These are the main muscles put to work in the lower part of the body while riding. However, additional areas, including the stomach and the back, are also worked on. 

What Are The Other Benefits of Riding A Bike? 

Other benefits of riding a bike include decreased stress levels, stronger bones, improved joint mobility, reduced body fat, reduced depression and anxiety, and improved coordination and posture.

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Aside from building lower body muscles, riding a bike has other benefits. It helps you become physically active, which in turn helps you to be healthy and fit.

When you perform physical activity regularly, you’re building your body against serious illnesses like diabetes, obesity, arthritis, cancer, and heart diseases.

Riding a bicycle is one of those physical activities you can perform to reduce your risk of having health issues related to an inactive lifestyle

If you have no time to ride your bicycle, you can ride to work, as that is one way to combine your daily routine with your regular exercise. 

Fitness And Health Benefits of Riding A Bike

Observing your fitness improvement requires about two to four hours of cycling a week. 

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The benefits you will notice include the following: 

  • Fewer injuries and strain to the body’s muscles 
  • Muscle buildup due to the use of all muscle groups in pedaling
  • Growth in stamina and strength and also an improved aerobic fitness endurance
  • Replaces inactivity and forces the body to be active as a way of having fun and building endurance for Physical activities

Health Benefits of Riding a Bike

Since riding a bike is aerobic, your blood vessels, heart, and lungs are all involved in the workout. 

You will experience deep breathing, increased body temperature, and sweat. All these actions result in the following;

Improved Cardiovascular Fitness 

Regular bike riding reduces your chances of developing cardiovascular diseases somewhat. It improves and stimulates your heartbeat, lungs, and blood circulation.

Improved Joint Mobility 

Riding a bike gives strength, coordination, and balance to your joints. It prevents the joints and bones from losing balance and fracturing. 

If you have arthritis, riding a bike is the best exercise as it places little stress on your joints. 

Reduces Chances of Cancer and Diabetes

Research has shown that riding a bicycle reduces the chances of suffering colon, breast, and bowel cancer.  

You also experience a reduced chance of developing diabetes. According to research in Finland, cycling for more than 30 mins a day reduces your chances of developing cancer or diabetes.

Improved Mental Health

Regular bike riding reduces mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. Riding exercises can calm the nerves and reduce stress because of the bike’s fun. 

The rider feels themselves and gets lost in the activity. 

What Are The Best Cross-Training Workouts For Biking?

The best cross-training workouts for biking are activities that touch one biking training limitation, such as cross-country skiing, yoga, hiking, swimming, running, and Pilates. 

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As a bicycle rider, the benefits you’ll get from cross-training will vary based on your chosen workout activity. But you’ll benefit most from activities that bother your abilities that cycling doesn’t. 

Best Cross-Training Workouts 

One of the best things you can do for yourself as a rider is to build your core strength. The strength of your torso helps you become more powerful, efficient, and resistant to injury.

However, mere cycling isn’t going to help you build that core. You need more activity than cycling to help you build core strength for control on the bike. 

These activities include yoga, strength training, and cross-country skiing. Participating in these activities will help you grow functional strength in underutilized muscles. 

How Cross-Training Workouts Help

While you’re cycling, some muscles are not touched. This creates an imbalance in those muscles, leading to pain, discomfort, and injury. The stronger you become, the more muscle imbalance grows. 

Taking part in cross-training workouts that stretch and strengthens the muscle will touch all untouched muscles and build them to gain strength for stability and control on the bike. 

Aside from strength and mobility, cross-training workouts can help with bone-building density. Athletes who suffer from joint-based injuries need these high-impact activities to fortify their bones.

If you can not complete a high-impact exercise, your bones will not be fortified, and in the event of a crash, you can suffer more severe injuries. 

So you need to conclude some form of high-impact activities as your bones will be fortified against future serious injury. 


If you can develop time to ride a bicycle or perform a high-impact activity, you can improve your lower region muscles.  

You can also improve the performance of your organs and build core strength to control your bike with comfort and stability. 

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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.