What Muscles Does Cycling Work? A Complete Breakdown Of It (2024)

Are you also trying to build muscles with the help of cycling? Or are you simply here to educate yourself because you are trying to take your cycling to the next level? In either case, you are in the right place.

Cycling works muscles in the legs, buttocks, and core primarily, but it also engages your upper body muscles in some cases. This brief guide will help you understand how these affect muscles. Moreover, we will also share different styles of cycling and their effects on your muscles.

Reading this article will provide you with in-depth information about cycling and its effect on your muscles. Moreover, we have also shared some pro tips at the end if you are trying to build your muscles with this exercise. Let’s quickly get into details without waiting any further.

Muscles Affected By Cycling

Cycling affects several muscles in your body. It is almost a complete-body workout. Although it primarily affects your lower body, it affects several other muscles as well. Let’s take a look at the details of these muscles.

Lower Body

Your lower body muscles are mostly engaged when you are cycling. The most affected lower body muscles while cycling are the quads and glutes. Moreover, it also affects several other lower body muscles as well. These include calf muscles, shins, hip flexors, hamstrings, and anterior tibialis.


Your core is also engaged when you are cycling. You may have heard the recommendation of cycling for weight loss. It especially affects your core muscles when you are out of the saddle. Moreover, the engagement of the core also depends on the style of your cycling as well.

Upper Body

Although cycling may not look like an upper-body exercise, it definitely affects your upper-body muscles as well. Although your upper body is not engaged much in indoor cycling, when you’re outdoors and you are declining, your body’s muscles are fully engaged. These include the rhomboids, trapezius, and pectoral muscles.

Different Riding Styles And How They Affect Muscles

Your cycling or riding location and style also affect the muscles you are engaging. Here are some of the popular cycling and riding types and their effects on muscles.

Road Cycling

The first and most common type we are going to look at is road cycling. Your glutes and the quads are the first ones to be affected during speedy and short intervals while pedal cycling on roads. Your calf and hamstring muscles are engaged more during lower torques.

Mountain Biking

The next one is mountain biking. It is one of the most difficult types of cycling, and your whole body is engaged in it. You are tire-side down during it instead of in a static position. It increases your muscle mass and can also help with core stabilization.

Gravel Riding

The next type of cycling we are going to discuss is gravel riding. It requires controlled pedaling to ride sagely. Quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteal muscles, and calves are more engaged in this type of cycling as compared to other muscles.

Track Cycling

The last one is track cycling. It helps in improving your speed and building power. It is a high-intensity exercise that mostly engages your hamstrings, quadriceps, and gluteal muscles.

How Long Does It Take To Build Muscle By Cycling?

There is no precise time estimate for building muscles with the help of cycling. It is because it depends on several factors. These factors include your fitness level, diet, hydration, recovery, age, and even gender.

Some studies have even shown similar muscle gain in bodybuilders who cycled along with other exercises and those who completely focused on other exercises. Moreover, it also showed positive results for increasing stamina.

Tips For Building Your Muscles Through Cycling

These are some practical and very effective tips if you are trying to build muscles through cycling. Let’s take a look at them.

  • Incorporate interval training into your cycling routine to alternate between high-intensity bursts and recovery periods.
  • Add resistance by cycling uphill or using a higher gear to challenge your muscles more.
  • Include sprint intervals in your workouts to engage fast-twitch muscle fibers and promote muscle growth.
  • Pay attention to proper cycling technique, engaging your core, and pushing evenly on the pedals.
  • Cross-train with strength exercises like squats and lunges to target different muscle groups.
  • Ensure adequate protein intake in your diet to support muscle repair and growth.
  • Allow for rest and recovery between intense cycling sessions to prevent overtraining.
  • Continuously challenge your muscles by gradually increasing the intensity or duration of your cycling workouts.

Final Words

Cycling generally helps in building your lower body muscles, but it also affects your core and upper body as well. It is very helpful if you are trying to gain muscle mass in your legs. It can be helpful in getting your legs bigger. Moreover, it can also help in building strength and stamina.

Another key benefit of cycling is that it can also help you with weight loss. It shows that it is a complete body workout. Someone even said it was equal to a great cardio workout. Overall, it is a great hobby to have because it can keep you healthy and fit.

What Muscles Does Cycling Work? A Complete Breakdown Of It (2024)


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