What Cycling Does to Your Legs – Leg Muscles In Cycling

There are many benefits to cycling and what cycling does to your legs over time.

Cycling is an effective way to stay fit and is well known as a low impact way to stay healthy. Generally, most people see an increase in their endurance and strength while also decreasing their body fat.

As cycling mainly uses the leg muscles you can see a greater improvement of leg strength and an increase in leg endurance. Not only that but it also improves your coordination as cycling requires your legs to work in sync, thus allowing you to maintain balance.

Leg strength, endurance, and coordination are just a few of the benefits cycling provides for your legs. But also it helps to define muscle groups in the legs.

But there is a common myth with cycling that needs to be answered.

Will Cycling make my legs big?

Will Cycling Make My Legs Big?

It’s often asked “will Cycling make my legs big? ” between new cyclists. The short answer is no.

Cycling helps to decrease fat mass and shape your muscles. The training you do off the bike, what you eat and your hormonal makeup play the largest role in what size your legs become.

While men are more muscular than women because of their increased levels of testosterone. They will naturally have larger legs, not because of cycling alone. But remember the better your body is a synthesizing protein the larger your leg muscles will become.

Cycling in generally will help tone your legs and strengthen your calves. Riding a bike burns calories, thus helping you to loose weight rather than increase size. While some body types tend to increase muscles size more than others, riding your bike regularly is more likely to make your legs thinner and more defined than larger.

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But there is a common myth with cycling that needs to be answered.

Leg Muscles Used in Cycling

Muscles used in cycling are defined by a set of muscles that power the pedal stroke. Every sport has a set group of muscles that play the largest part of the motion needed for that sport.
During cycling, these muscles are called upon to help increase your speed and force of the pedal stroke.

With road cycling the bulk of the power located between the 12 o’clock and 5 o’clock position when in a seated position. This means that the primary movement used is hip and knee extension and hip flexion.
During the 6 and 12 o’clock position of the stroke, knee flexion helps the pedal travel back to the 12 o’clock position but helping this movement is the downward force being applied through the opposite leg.

This means the lower body (legs) is the force behind generating the power and the upper body provides stability. This is why many people think your legs will get bigger, because your legs are doing the majority of the work.

So what leg muscles does cycling work? The main muscles used in cycling are the quadriceps and hamstrings and the gastrocnemius and soleus. Dependent if you are sitting or standing while pedaling plays a role in the muscles used. Below is a list of muscles used when cycling seated.

Biceps Femoris

Vastus Medialis
Rectus Femoris
Vastus Lateralis

Gastrocnemius Medialis
Gastrocnemius Lateralis

Tibialis Interior

So next time someone asks “does you legs become bigger from cycling” take it with a grain of salt. There are a magnitude of things cycling does to your legs over time and increasing leg size greatly is not one of them.

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