What Muscles Do Cycling Work? Risks That You Can’t Expect

What Muscles Do Cycling Work

The rhythmic movements between legs and arms when cycling brings many benefits to human health. But do you know exactly: what muscles do cycling work? Click on.

Cycling is a useful and versatile sport that improves health and positively affects tendon groups. Everyone might think it impacts a lot on only leg muscles. Yet, that is not the right thinking.

So, what muscles do cycling work? What are the risks of it, and how to ride safely? Join me to find answers to these questions through the article below.

What Muscles Do Cycling Work?

Gluteus Maximus

Gluteus plays an extremely important role in people’s physical development and strength. It directly affects motor abilities such as running, jumping, accelerating, decelerating, or balancing. 

In addition, it also has a role in maintaining correct posture when moving, reducing pressure on the lumbar region, and creating stability for the whole lower body.

Gluteus is a complex of 3 nerve groups, including maximus, medius, and minimus. In which gluteus maximus is the main group responsible for human activities. It plays a key role in extending the hip joint, creating the force to propel the body forward horizontally.

While gluteus minimus gluteus medius helps stabilize hip and knee joints, maintain correct posture, and create efficiency in movement. In addition, when activated together, all three will play a role in absorbing force and reducing the pressure load on the lower back.

Because this group plays many roles, some people mistakenly believe this exercise can make the butt bigger. However, that’s not true. It can help your glutes grow stronger and toned, but it doesn’t build bigger muscles.

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The hamstrings are a special tendon group that connects the femur with the lower leg bones. Three individual hamstrings form the hamstring and insert into the upper part of the shin bone.


The main function of the hamstring nerve is to bend the knee forcefully actively. They also act as a long lever for hip extension. It plays an extremely important role in physical activities where the knee is semi-flexed, especially in this sport.

When the knee is bent, the hamstring muscles, at mid-length, are their strongest position. Here, they can activate, protect and create the best force through the knee joint.

Any reduction in their length reduces the function of the hamstring muscles; they weaken and become ataxia, potentially causing injury to the lower leg

A hamstring injury results from sudden acceleration, deceleration, or physical exertion. Prolonging it can also cause mild tendon strain affecting the hamstring tendon joint.

Quadricep Band

Quadricep Band

It is a group of tendons in the front of your thighs. As you can guess from the name, it consists of four distinct muscles, which are:

  • Vastus lateralis
  • Rectus femoris
  • Vastus medialis
  • Vastus intermedius

They work to extend the knee and flex the hip, which helps keep the kneecap in the proper position within the end of your thigh bone. One of the four quadriceps also passes through the hip joint and supports hip flexion.

The hamstrings and quadriceps work together to create power for the pedals. The quadriceps provide most of the effort to push the pedal down, and the hamstrings pull the pedal up. 

These are the two main thews groups responsible for this exercise, and they are also the two most prone to injury when cycling.

Calf Band

This is the largest and strongest group of the entire human body. They have such size because it has to lift the body’s entire weight and has to move it.

Their functions require strength, coordination, and even flexibility in certain movements. The two bands in the calves together sit at the height of the hip joint and keep the thigh joint stable.

On the other hand, these long and strong parts are responsible for locomotion, enter the bony structures, from the pelvis to the tibia, and function to mobilize the legs. Specifically, it supports movements of the lower extremities, such as bending, stretching, etc.

People divide this nerve group into different types depending on its shape or anatomical location.

Shin’s Tendon

Shin's Tendon

This is the next group I want to talk about: what muscles do cycling work. In this sport, you and the bike only move when there is movement from the pedal, and it can only move when there is force from the foot. 

In particular, if you are riding on steep or rough terrain, it also requires more work. This is why shin pain is such a big deal in athletes. While it doesn’t happen too often with cyclists, it can happen if you increase your cadence without proper training.

Other Tendon Groups

Upper and lower abdominal muscles: Compared to the glutes, thighs, or calves, the lower abs will be affected when you cycle through curves or use a sports exercise bike. The pedaling force will help you contract the lower abs and bring firmness to the abdominal muscles.

Arms biceps and shoulder muscles: When practicing, your hands control the handlebars, impacting this tendon area. In addition, there are exercise bikes designed with a flexible handle that also helps users exercise this nerve area.

Butt muscles: Every time you stand up and cycle, your glutes help strengthen the movement. Increase the intensity – either by cycling indoors or riding up hills outdoors – and you’ll gain an edge for your backside.

What Muscles Do Cycling Work: Indoor Cycling And Outdoor Cycling

According to a study by the University of Nebraska at Omaha of 20 people, the movement of two forms is not the same. The cyclists in the test left their perception ratings on a pre-set scale, the test sample being 40 km.

The results showed that the cyclists used more energy when riding outdoors and had a higher heart rate than when they used the exercise bike at home. While both use the same nerve groups, each has a different level of impact.

With a natural outdoor form, you’ll need more thews and upper body movement to keep your balance. Parts like chest muscles, shoulder muscles, upper back have to work harder. 

They act as a protective belt to stabilize the body when riding a bike. Meanwhile, indoor training requires a lot of additional movement of the biceps and leg muscles.

Each of these options has its characteristics, and it gives the practitioner its unique benefits and feelings. Thus, you can make a reasonable choice based on the tendon group to improve, personal preferences, and other conditions.

What Are The Other Benefits Of Cycling?

This method is an exercise that benefits people, especially those who have to sit a lot like office workers, students, and students.

What Are The Other Benefits Of Cycling

Helps Strengthen Tendon

It helps activate most of the body’s muscles, such as the abdomen, shoulders, arms, calves, etc., while toning the waist and abdomen muscles. This strengthens the muscular system and helps it work more efficiently.

Help Lose Weight

It burns more calories, especially when you have faster exercise. It also helps balance cholesterol in the body, reducing weight and protecting the body from bad cholesterol.

According to British Medical Association research, this exercise helps burn about 300 calories per hour. If you ride a bike regularly every day for 30 minutes, you will lose 11kg within a year. Not only that, but it also helps you increase your metabolic rate after each trip.

Improve Heart Health

It is good for your heart. When combined with other forms of exercise, it can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.

According to the British Medical Association, riding 20km/week can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by 50%. It also helps reduce the chance of stroke in people with high blood pressure.

Increase Bone Strength And Coordination Skills

Regular ones help increase bone density and help protect and increase the strength of the skeletal system. Not only that, the posture when this sport will stimulate the thews in the lower back. This reduces your risk of back pain and other problems. 

Besides, using both feet and hands to keep the bike balanced with your body weight while riding is really good practice for your coordination skills.

Good For The Immune System

It has been linked to strengthening your immune system. Regular exercise with a bike has been shown to reduce cancer risk and is good for the lungs.

Good For Longevity And Mental Health

It is a great way to add a few years to your life. Outdoor exercise is also a good way to “make friends” with nature and enjoy the fresh air, dispelling all your daily sadness and stress.

Muscles Injury Risks When Cycling

Muscles Injury Risks When Cycling

Neck Pain

Pain and tenderness in the neck, which may spread to the mid-back. Turning and bowing can be difficult, leaving you feeling ‘blocked’. Excessive spinal strain leads to painful band spasms.

Hand Pain

The pain may be accompanied by a prickling sensation in your ring and little fingers. Holding the handlebars in one position for too long affects the forearm band and wrist joints.

Forearm Pain

It is the arch-enemy of every cyclist. Tension in the biceps band leads to severe pain in the arm.

Low Back Pain

Pain or soreness in the lower back, buttocks, and thighs is common in about 60% of all cyclists. It results from maintaining the posture for too long and not stretching often.

Knee Hurts

You may feel deep pain or tenderness around the kneecap, feeling stiff when you first get up from a sitting position.

Ankle Pain

Pain in the ankle and heel results from overuse of the tendon that runs from the calf nerve to the instep of the foot. Usually, the result of training too quickly.

Foot Numbness

A common symptom is a loss of feeling in the feet (especially the underlying surface) after practice for a short time.

Sores On The Saddle

Frictional bouts of friction between the buttocks and the saddle can also reach you.

Affects Fertility

If you sit in the saddle for a long time and do not have the correct posture, it will put pressure on the genitals. This condition can lead to erectile dysfunction and impotence in men or decreased sexual pleasure in women.

However, this is not a common case for everyone. If you exercise with a moderate frequency and cycle correctly, it has extremely good effects on the practitioner’s health.

Best Cross-Training Workouts For Biking To Improve Muscles Strength

Best Cross-Training Workouts For Biking To Improve Muscles Strength

Cross-training is a training regimen that combines sports other than regular sports. The goal is to improve overall performance. Cross-training is an effective way to fill in the weak points in a training method. Here are some suggested exercises for you:


Swimming is a familiar sport and one of the best cross-training exercises for people participating. It works to help you build strength and perfect nerve of the body. Especially the biceps muscles.

Regular swimming can help improve blood circulation, providing oxygen to the organs. Swimming after riding also works to relax the nerves and reduce body pain. It aids relaxation of neck or back tendon and other muscular pain. 

Backstroke swimming can help you build strength in your back while at the same time reducing the stress that is building in this area after cycling. It is an effective remedy for pain relief.


The main benefit of yoga is improving balance, but yoga also improves your flexibility and body awareness. If you’ve never done yoga before, start by signing up for a beginner’s class, then work with your instructor to tweak poses and riding techniques.

Stair Climbing

Stair climbing is an intense physical activity that burns more calories per minute than jogging. 

When you climb stairs, all the nerves of the legs and abs, along with the movement of the arms, not to mention the back band work together, making the musculoskeletal system stronger. Additionally, improving overall musculoskeletal health can help reduce pain from arthritis.

Strength Training Exercises

Strength training exercises such as push-ups, pull-ups, squats, lunges, sit-ups or planks, etc., will all be great for the overall strength development of cyclists. When combined with practice, these exercises can help improve your speed and tendon groups very well.

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Above is information on the topic: what muscles do cycling work? Knowing this knowledge helps you know how to adjust the intensity of your exercise so that it is most appropriate to get a toned and balanced body.

Moreover, you can consider some cross-training workout to improve effectiveness on your muscles. I hope you have better and safer cycling exercises. Thanks for reading.

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Jame K. Thomas

Jame K. Thomas

Hey guys, I am an avid cyclist who have raced competitively in the amateur ranks until my mid 30s. I love cycling because it offers both physical and mental challenges, as well as the sense of freedom that comes with riding outdoors. I have devoted myself to the communities and shared all that I know about this supper-duper lovely cycling. Hope that my experience in this blog could give you help.

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