Can Cycling Build Thigh Muscles?

Can Cycling Build Thigh Muscles

Is cycling effective in building thigh muscles? That is one question that everyone is dying to know the answer to. If you are one of those people who are looking for ways on how to build your thigh muscles, you have come to the right place. This article is designed to help you to determine whether or not cycling is the type of exercise that you need to achieve your leg goals.

Why Build Thigh Muscles?

You may be wondering why would people want to get muscular legs. Aren’t most people dying to have that thigh gap that many of the models in the runway have? For your information, having bigger thigh muscles and getting muscular legs come with a few benefits.

For one, getting bigger thighs means having more leg strength. This would definitely come handy for athletes and players who needs leg power the most. Second, having bigger thighs is also important for people who are really thin and self-conscious. Bigger thighs will greatly improve their body figure and eventually, it will help boost their self-esteem.

Does Cycling Build Leg Muscles?

If you wish to build your thigh muscles, one of the activities that you will definitely consider is cycling. For sure, you have many questions in mind. For one, can you lose weight riding a bike? If yes, how can cycling be effective in building leg muscles?

Cycling is a cardiovascular exercise so yes, it can help you lose weight but when it comes on how to build thigh muscles, this activity is highly recommended too. Different types of cycling can give you different results. If your aim is to get muscular legs, the type of cycling that you should do is riding short hard efforts and sprinting.

What Are the Types of Leg Muscles Does Cycling Build?

This is because you actually utilize two types of large leg muscles when cycling—hamstrings and quadriceps. Since these muscles contract every time you pedal, cycling for a long period of time will eventually make these muscles not only larger but stronger as well. After the quads and your hamstrings, the next type of muscle that will benefit the most during cycling is your calf muscle, specifically your soleus and gastrocnemius muscle.

Tips on How to Get Muscular Legs with Cycling

For sure, you would want to know how to get muscular legs with cycling. You might be surprised to find out that building muscular legs will not rely on the amount of time you spend cycling. To build leg muscles, it is important that you introduce resistance during cycling. You can do this by doing the following:

1. Ride uphill

Sometimes, the amount of resistance from your body weight is not enough to grow your leg muscles. That is why it is recommended that you also add gravity to the mix. The incline will force your legs to push harder, helping to build muscles a lot faster. In running, you can do this by putting your treadmill in an incline. For cycling, you can do this by riding uphill. When you do, you have to use your leg muscles to push your body and bike weight, making the muscles stronger and bigger.

2. Stand while pedaling

During a seated pedal, you are predominantly using your hamstrings, glutes, and quadriceps. When you raise your heels while pedaling, your body will be required to use your calf muscles. When you do this, you will also be adding more weight and resistance on your legs.

If you are still not used to standing while pedaling, do this at a slow pace first then build speed once you are already used to doing it.

3. Shift to a higher gear

If you are afraid to ride uphill and you would rather bike on level surfaces, there is still another way on how you can add resistance to your muscles. You can do this by shifting a higher gear so the chains will require more effort from your legs. This means more stress to your muscle tissue which will require recovery and repair. Eventually, this will lead to muscle growth.

4. Pedal slower

When you pedal slower, your legs will be doing more work. When it recovers, you will get the muscle growth that you need. Keep in mind that slow pedaling is recommended only for an even grade surface. Avoid doing this on a steep hill as it will cause you to be exhausted a lot sooner.

5. Sprint

To build muscles, go for a sprint for at least thirty seconds. To make this move more effective, you can add resistance by doing some of the tips that we have mentioned above—shifting to a higher gear or riding uphill. But before you do that, make sure that your bike has all the gears needed for you to maintain at least thirty seconds of sprint with enough resistance.


So can cycling help build thigh muscles? The answer is yes but you should perform the right type of cycling in order to do that. To build your leg muscles, including quadriceps, hamstrings and calf muscles, you should do sprinting and riding short hard efforts. In addition to that, you should also introduce some resistance to your cycling by doing the tips that we have mentioned above. For this purpose, the use of a recumbent bike with varying magnetic tension levels is highly recommended.

We hope that you were able to help you determine how to achieve stronger and bigger legs with cycling. If you have comments, suggestions or questions, feel free to share them with us in the comments section. We would love to hear from you!

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Dr. Jade Marie Tomaszewski is a pathologist-in-training at McGill University, where she also did her degree in MSc Pathology. She obtained her medical degree (MD) from the University of the Philippines, after completing a BSc in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology. In her (little) spare time, she enjoys spending time with family, curling up with a book and a large mug of tea, and trying out new recipes in the kitchen. You can follow her on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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