What Muscles are used when Cycling?

When someone is keen to start exercise they tend to look straight to joining a gym and forget about their bike that is shoved in their garage. Cycling is a great way of exercising. With cycling, all you need is a helmet and a bike and you are good to ride. If you exercise by cycling you can enjoy the weather, the views, the fresh air and more. With cycling, you can work the majority of muscles you would work in the gym.

Cycling works your:-

  • Quadriceps

  • Hamstrings

  • Calf muscles

  • Hip flexors

  • Gluteus Maximus

  • Abdominal muscles

  • Arm muscles

  • Shoulders

The Quadriceps are attached to the kneecap. They are often used heavily when in an intense cycling session due to being tensed the majority of the time. After riding you usually feel tightness in the quad area, so is essential to stretch afterwards.

The Hamstrings are a major thigh muscle group. They are behind and above the knee and attach to the femur bone. These muscles allow the knee to bend allowing you to pedal the bike.

There are two main muscles in the calf. There is the Gastrocnemius which attaches at the back of the knee and is responsible for helping to lift your heel off the ground, allowing you to walk and of course, ride a bike.

Then there is the Soleus, which is also responsible for helping to lift the heel. The Soleus is not quite as visible, but just as important as the Gastrocnemius. When you bend your knee during exercises like cycling, you are using the soleus muscle.

A hip flexor is a group of muscles that allow you to lift your knees and bend at the waist. It is found deep in the abdominal cavity and is some of the strongest muscles in the body. When you ride your hip flexors will be used to allow you to raise your knees to pedal.

The Gluteus Maximus is the largest butt muscle. The gluteus maximus causes are used in cycling as it allows your hips to extend and therefore gives you the power to press down during each pedal stroke. Also, a lot of riders suffer from pain in their Gluteus Maximus from sitting on the seat. A couple of tips to help this, firstly buy some padded shorts allowing a little bit more comfort. Secondly, stand up every now and then allowing a constant blood flow and making sure your butt muscles don’t get too tight.

If someone mentions cycling to you, you often think it's all about using your legs. However, when a cyclist ridings standing up there upper body have to tense up and work hard. This means you will be using your core strength working your abs to hold your upper body over the bike.

When riding a bike, you support your upper body by gripping the handlebars. Gripping the bars and operating the brake levers for extended periods of time will strengthen your forearms.

After you have ridden for a long duration your upper body will start to feel sore as well as your leg as it will be holding you up on the bike. After a while of holding the grips, the pain will go from your arms up to your shoulders.

Warm up and cool down

Warming up is necessary to prepare your body and mind to perform at its very best, especially when you are facing a hard effort such as a race or an interval session. Not doing so will normally impact on your performance.

After the warm up and your session, you should always cool down as a cool down helps return your body to its pre-exercise state and will aid recovery and adaptation processes. It should be viewed as the first step to preparing your body for your next training session, race or event.

As part of your cool down, you should stretch. Some of the stretches you should do are calves, quadriceps, IT band, hamstrings, gluteus, neck, shoulders and core.

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