How to Build Leg Strength Riding a Bicycle

Cycle hills to increase your leg strength.

Cycle hills to increase your leg strength.

Bicycling, although usually used for cardiovascular endurance training, is one of those exercises that can also be used to build strength. It's as easy as a change of terrain and a change of tension to increase the strength in your legs while cycling. You'll enjoy this low-impact exercise on your knees while at the same time increasing the strength of your legs. Cycling requires leg strength and builds leg strength, so if your goals are to ride longer or to tone your legs, you'll be pleasantly surprised at the gentle, yet effective results of a challenging ride.


Begin your outdoor or indoor cycle with a low-speed warm-up of five minutes. Select a flat road for your course.

Increase the tension or gear of your bike to a level that feels difficult. Try to maintain your speed and pedal for approximately 100 yards, or one minute.

Decrease the tension or the gear and pedal until you feel recovered. Notice your breathing settling into a normal pattern and the burning sensation in your legs lessening.

Increase the tension or the gear and pedal for 100 yards, or as long as possible.

Continue your work and rest intervals for 20 to 30 minutes. Add the intervals into your workouts two or three times a week.

Cool down with five minutes of low-intensity cycling. Stretch your legs.


Select a route that contains hills to improve the strength in your legs. Begin on a flat road with a low-intensity ride for approximately five minutes to warm your legs.

Increase your gear as you approach the hill, or increase the tension on your stationary bike. Pedal uphill at a high tension for one to three minutes. Relax your upper body and push down strongly with each leg. Maintain your speed all the way up the hill.

Turn around and cycle downhill, or reduce the tension and pedal a flat road for an equal amount of time as you spent on the hill.

Repeat Step 2 and Step 3 for 20 to 30 minutes, or for less time if your legs need a break. Add five to 10 minutes each week until you are able to do 20 to 30 minutes of climbs.

Include hills into your workouts two or three times a week, and on opposite days of your high-gear intervals.

Cool down with five minutes of flat-road cycling. Stretch your legs.


  • If you are new to cycling, you may want to begin your training on a stationary bicycle.


  • Be aware of your surroundings and ride in well-lit, well-traveled areas if you cycle outdoors. Also, wear a helmet for safety especially on the various hill terrain. Wear proper shoes such as athletic shoes or biking shoes to protect your feet. Drink water as you cycle to remain hydrated for your workout. Always check with your physician regarding the safety of exercise for your body.

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About the Author

A mother of two and passionate fitness presenter, Lisa M. Wolfe had her first fitness article published in 2001. She is the author of six fitness books and holds an Associate of Arts in exercise science from Oakland Community College. When not writing, Wolfe is hula-hooping, kayaking, walking or cycling.

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