Anyone looking for a low-impact workout that tones multiple muscle groups should consider cycling. Along with the obvious benefits to leg muscles, cycling can tone many other parts of your body, including arms, shoulders and abdomen. The best women’s bike will help work your core while boosting cardiovascular and muscle endurance and burning calories. Putting in the miles can also boost your mood as you concentrate on the scenery, whether urban, suburban or rural scenes unfold. Here’s a look at which muscles can benefit from riding your bike.
Upper Legs: Quads and Hamstrings
Although you use the entire leg while cycling, the upper leg muscles are what power your ride. Upper leg muscles include:
- Quads (front leg muscles)
- Hamstrings (back leg muscles)
- Hip muscles (hip flexors)
Quads stretch from knee to pelvis and perform much of the work by pushing down on the pedal, while the hamstrings are engaged in pulling it back up. Hip muscles are exercised with a full-pedal stroke, meaning using full movements to push and pull the pedal through its range of motion. If you like riding on different terrains, consider getting a women’s hybrid bike or men’s hybrid to take you everywhere you want to go.
Lower Legs: Calves
The calf muscles help pedal, which in turn tones and strengthens them. This is important because strong calves can endure longer periods of cycling and also help you avoid shin splints and other injuries. To target upper and lower leg muscle groups, work the pedal in a circular motion, stretching fully to use the toe with each movement.
Cycling engages your core muscles, or abdomen, to help you power through turns and maintain balance. A stationary bike does not give you this benefit, however. To better tone your tummy, focus on keeping your stomach muscles tight while riding.
Back and Arm Muscles
Even your arms and upper back get into the act when you’re cycling, helping to support your upper body. When you use the brake levers, push, pull and grip the handlebars, you are also toning your forearm muscles. By supporting your body weight during these periods, you simulating an isometric pushup that works the shoulder and upper arm muscles.
By lifting and standing on your bike, you engage the glute muscles. Whether you bike in the country or the city, you can target this muscle group by biking up a hill, which requires you to lift your core and lean forward. To get a good glute workout, make sure the seat of your city bike or hybrid is slightly higher, which allows the hip to move through a wider range of motion and use more of this muscle group.
Reap the Benefits of Cycling
Cycling offers a healthy option for getting to and from work or school, or for running errands around town. It’s easy on joints while providing a low-impact, aerobic workout and it helps build muscle in all major muscle groups. In addition, cycling benefits your cardiovascular system while lowering stress levels and improving bone health, joint movement and posture. Find the best women’s bike or men’s bike for you and reap the benefits of cycling.