We are all aware of the bike-sharing trend in Singapore recently. Bicycles right and left, but is such convenience well-utilised by us? You would be riding them everywhere after reading about all these amazing benefits cycling will bring you!
Cycling is a fantastic exercise, benefiting both your overall health and fitness. As an endurance sport, cycling can be exceptionally good for cardiovascular fitness while also helping with weight loss.
The truth is, cycling is an excellent alternative to the gym.
Read on to learn more about how cycling helps tone muscles, improve physique, and boost body image. Cycling can help to improve muscle tone in the areas of your legs, butt, and stomach.
Which Muscles Does Cycling Work?
We all know that cycling is a fantastic workout for our muscles, but which muscles do we exercise (and tone) while we’re riding a bike?
Leg muscles used while cycling:
- Quadraceps muscles (front of thighs)
- Hamstrings (rear of thigh)
- Calf muscles
- Hip flexors
- Gluteus Maximus (your butt)
- Plantarflexors of the foot
- Dorsiflexors of the foot
Together all of these muscles contract in a sequence that creates the pedaling motion.
Upper body muscles used while cycling are mainly for support and stabilisation, but this is still a great workout:
- Abdominal muscles (internal and external)
- Arm muscles
- Chest and shoulders
- Muscles of the back
How Does Cycling Tone the Quadricep Muscles (Thighs)?
If the circular motion of pedaling a bike were a clock, the thigh muscles, or quads, engage at the 9 o’clock position, in the pull-upstroke phase. It’s specifically one of the quadriceps muscle group that is involved: the rectus femoris.
The cycle begins when the hip and knee press down on the pedal. This action is helped by the glute and quad muscles and, later, by the hamstrings and calf muscles.
How Do Cycling Exercises Tone Your Butt (Glutes)?
Cycling is an exceptionally good activity to tone your gluteal muscles.
Your gluteus maximus is responsible for the initiation of the downward phase of the cycling pedal stroke and are therefore worked whenever you’re pedaling.
- You can help to improve your muscle tone by heading for the hills. Steep hills force you to work harder to start each pedal stroke. Riding uphill is hard work and will place large amounts of stress on both your glutes and thigh muscles, giving them a hard workout and stimulating muscle fiber damage. This damage is what you want. It leads to improvement in strength and muscle tone once your muscles recover.
Can You Get a Flat Stomach From Cycling?
Many of us have a layer of adipose tissue (fat) around our mid-sections, right where a nice, flat stomach should be. How does cycling, which doesn’t use your abdominal muscles as a prime mover, help tone your abs?
- Cycling gets your heart rate up, which burns calories and can lead to weight loss (if you eat sensibly).
- While cycling, you activate your abs to keep stable as you pedal. Your abdominal muscles form part of the body’s core muscle unit, which provides a stable platform for riding and allows you to use your upper body for support and smooth steering.
- Your abdominal muscles (and the posterior muscles of the abdomen) contract isometrically to provide stability. These constant contractions in your core help to tone the abdominal muscles. They also improve abdominal muscle strength and endurance.
How to correctly activate your abdominal muscles for cycling:
To ensure correct form while you cycle, tense your stomach muscles to pull your navel inwards.
Pull your stomach in tightly and downwards slightly, towards your pubic bone.
Try to maintain this throughout your cycling workout and after a short time, it will become your natural cycling posture.
How to Train Your Body to Get the Most Out of Cycling
Follow these tips to get the most out of your cycling exercise.
- Make sure your seat height is set for comfort. Your knee should be bent slightly at the base of the pedal stroke when the foot is at a right angle to the floor
- Always build up cycling volume slowly, to avoid injury.
- Try to maintain a pace of 90-120 rpm, as this will put minimal stress on your joints.
- If you don’t feel comfortable riding outside, use a stationary bike at the gym.
- Make sure you dress right for the weather. There’s no logic in cycling if you can’t keep warm or feel uncomfortable.
- Hills are your friend in your attempt to improve fitness, strength, and muscle tone. Don’t be afraid to challenge and conquer each one! At your own pace.
- Make sure your saddle (seat) is comfortable. If not, consider this cheap and easy comfort fix. A gel saddle cover can enhance comfort and you can easily move it from bike to bike.
So go out there right now, scan and ride a bike! You’ll see significant results on your body after regular cycling over a period of time. Stronger legs, slimmer physique and you’ll also feel much more energetic.