So you want to lose weight, reduce stress, improve your fitness and enjoy the wide variety of benefits cycling provides. Cycling is an excellent cardio workout, but it also helps build core, leg and gluteal muscles. The low-impact exercise is easier on your joints than other exercises, such as running, so it’s an effective exercise for virtually all ages and fitness levels -- even people who have joint conditions.
Cycling is an effective exercise for women who want to tone their butt and thighs. When cycling, the quadriceps, hamstrings, calves and gluteal muscles are activated to do most of the work. The quadriceps and hamstrings make up the thigh muscles. The calves are located on the lower back half of your leg. The gluteal muscles stretch from the hipbone to the top of the thigh bone. Core muscles, which are muscles in your pelvis, lower back, hips and abdomen, are also activated while cycling.
Hills and Flat Roads
Climbing hills and sprinting will increase the intensity of your workout to build stronger muscles. Cycling up hills provides resistance that makes your muscles work harder. Incorporate hills, sprinting and long-distance bike rides to get the most out of your cycling experience. To build your thigh, calf and glute muscles, stay in the saddle more often – even when climbing hills. When standing, your body weight is used to your advantage. Staying in the saddle makes your muscles work harder – especially your glute muscles.
Pedals and Shoes
Consider using clip-in pedals and cycling shoes when riding your bike. Shoes designed specifically for cycling clip into the pedals to improve your cycling technique. Using the correct form when cycling further activates your leg and gluteal muscles for a better workout. By clipping into the pedals, the muscles in your legs are used to pull up the pedals on the upstroke and push down on the downstroke.
Considerations and Warnings
Consult your physician before beginning any new fitness program. Purchase a sturdy bike and wear a helmet at all times when riding. Cyclists are expected to follow the same traffic rules as motorists, so familiarize yourself with traffic laws. Start out slowly and build up to longer rides with more challenging hills and sprints. Have food and water with you to reenergize and stay hydrated -- especially on long rides. To build up your leg and glute muscles, ride your bike three or more times per week.
Ann Daniels has been a professional writer for more than 10 years. Her work has been published in many national health and wellness publications. Daniels holds a Master of Arts in communications from the University of Colorado at Boulder.