There is no doubt that cycling is a physical activity with many health benefits. For example, it is a great fat burner and excellent for improving your aerobic fitness. Cycling also uses pretty much all the muscle groups in your body, including your abs.
But does cycling tone your legs?
Of course, during a ride, your legs are working pretty much non-stop, but why do some cyclists have massive thighs and others have slim legs?
In this article, we will investigate:
- Does Cycling Tone Your Legs?
- Does Cycling Give You Massive Thighs?
- How Long Does It Take To Tone Your Legs Cycling?
- How Your Gender Affects Your Gains
- Is Biking Good For Your Butt?
- Who Has More Toned legs, Road Cyclists Or Mountain Bikers?
Ready to learn all about the workout your legs get from cycling?
Let’s get started!
Does Cycling Tone Your Legs?
Cycling has many disciplines; some require short bursts of effort, while others focus more on endurance. Therefore, your leg shape will be determined by which one you choose.
Let’s take a look at road cyclists’ legs. They are very toned but slim; this comes from riding at the right intensity and resistance for calorie burning. As a cyclist burns fat while developing those leg muscles, their legs will become more toned.
If slimmer legs are your goal, you can ride at an increased pace to see results faster. You can burn around 600 calories per hour depending on your weight, age, fitness, and gender.
Another way to burn fat while riding your bike is to ride more challenging routes. If you go hunting for steep hills to climb, you will need to put in more effort to continue your ride.
If you don’t live in a hilly area, ride in a lower gear than you normally would. This will have a similar effect to riding up hills. After doing this for a few weeks, you will notice that your leg muscles will become bigger, making them look more toned.
Does Cycling Give You Massive Thighs?
The short answer is no.
So why do track cyclists like Chris Hoy have thighs the size of tree trunks?
Track cyclists don’t just pedal around the velodrome to build their legs. They spend lots of time in the gym to ensure that they have incredible top-end power to cover short distances as fast as possible.
There is only so much aerobic exercise can do when it comes to building muscle. Cycling engages your endurance muscle fibers which become resistant to fatigue when training, but they don’t become bulky.
To bulk up your legs, you need to regularly do lots of heavy lifting in the gym. You also need to take in lots of extra calories and high-quality protein to fuel the reparation of your muscles after intense workouts.
How Long Does It Take To Tone Your Legs Cycling?
The good news is that after riding regularly for two to four weeks, you will start to see small results. You will also notice that your stamina will have increased and your leg muscles will become a little more defined.
But you will need to put in consistent effort for three to four months before you see a considerable difference in how toned your legs are.
If you cannot get out on your bike for whatever reason, you may want to try a stationary bike. These are great for toning your legs as you can focus on your goal much more easily.
One of the advantages of building muscle is that it is much harder for your body to store fat. Once you start seeing gains, the extra muscle raises your body’s resting metabolic rate, meaning you’ll burn extra calories even when you are sitting at your desk.
Ten pounds of extra muscle will make your body burn 50 more calories a day when you are resting. The same weight in fat burns just 20.
So effectively, the extra muscle will act as a furnace for calories. So, you’re unlikely to be gaining more fat if you’re packing on the muscle, which will go a long way to help tone your legs.
How Your Gender Affects Your Gains
On average, men have about 15% more testosterone than women, and around 10% lower body fat.
Testosterone helps with building muscle, so men typically have a natural head start when trying to tone their legs by cycling.
Women who do strength or resistance training will also develop their muscles, but the lower average testosterone level often means women need to train harder and wait longer to achieve similar results.
Is Biking Good For Your Butt?
If you’re looking for a workout for your bum, the main muscle you want to pay attention to is the gluteus maximus (or glutes). So the question here is, does biking work glutes?
Riding a bike is excellent for working your glutes. This is because your gluteus maximus is the muscle responsible for initiating the downward part of your cycling pedal stroke. Therefore, your glutes are engaged whenever you are pedaling.
You can build your glute muscles while cycling by riding uphill and standing up on the pedals. Steep hills require you to work much harder, especially at the beginning of each pedal stroke.
Riding your bike uphill is hard work, as it puts lots of pressure on your glutes and thighs. The extra pressure promotes muscle tissue stimulation, which is what you need to make gains.
Muscle fiber stimulation comes in the form of micro-tears. When these tears repair and recover, your muscles become bigger and stronger. This is what will make your legs more toned.
You will find that having strong glutes will help you with your riding. Your glutes help you stay stable on the bike, support your back and help you push your pedals. Therefore, strong glutes are vital for good balance and overall strength.
Who Has More Toned legs, Road Cyclists Or Mountain Bikers?
For example, if you like to ride your mountain bike on hilly singletrack trails, you will build muscle pretty quickly and burn lots of calories. This will cause your legs to appear toned reasonably quickly.
However, if you ride flat routes that don’t take as much effort, your leg muscles will take longer to develop and will plateau unless you include strength training into your workout routine or find some hills to ride up.
The longer you ride for, the more toned your leg muscles will become, as long as you increase intensity and resistance. The calories you burn will offset having bulky legs; this is why Tour de France racers are so slim.
But as a whole, mountain bikers tend to have more defined leg muscles. The rapidly changing terrain requires short bursts of effort, often while standing on the pedals. Therefore, mountain bikers experience what is akin to resistance training in the gym.
Does Cycling Tone Your Legs? – Answered!
If you want toned legs, cycling is a great way to do it!
However, if you want or need very muscular legs (especially your thighs), you need to focus on increasing the resistance and hit the gym with some strength training.
If your goal is to get slim legs, riding for long periods and long distances will tone your leg muscles and burn fat. But you need to bear in mind that you cannot target the areas on your body you want to slim down.
The fat you burn will disappear from all over your body while cycling, not just your legs, which is excellent news for anyone who spends lots of time on their bike!