When you stop in at the gym on the way home from work and see the entire row of exercise bikes occupied, it's a sign of the value of this type of workout. But everyone who's pedaling away while watching the evening news isn't necessarily doing so for the same reasons. One of the perks of using the exercise bike is its dual fitness benefits -- in addition to helping you slim your overall body, it's also an effective way to build muscle.
Pedaling an exercise bike is an efficient way to burn calories to lose body fat in several parts of your body, including your legs. If you carry a significant amount of fat on your legs, riding the exercise bike consistently will help you develop slimmer legs. HealthStatus reports someone who weighs 175 pounds will burn 451 calories in just half an hour of an up-tempo exercise bike workout. Repeated dedication to this exercise can lead to the caloric deficit needed to experience fat loss.
Overall Body Fat
An exercise bike workout isn't just a way to burn your excess leg fat; through dedication to this exercise, you can burn fat across your entire body. Fat burning doesn't solely occur in the areas around the muscles you work, which is contrary to the myth of spot reduction. As such, a pedaling workout can cause just as much fat loss from your arms and belly as it does from your legs, making it a suitable way to work toward or maintain a healthy body.
In addition to helping you burn fat, a cycling workout also helps you build your lower-body muscles. When you pedal an exercise bike, the muscles that generate your pedaling motion are your quadriceps, located at the front of your thigh, your hamstrings, located at the rear of your thigh, and the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles of your calf, located at the rear of your lower leg. Although you'll use your core muscles to stabilize your upper body as you ride the bike, it's your leg muscles that you'll primarily build during this workout. The exercise's ability to help you bulk up depends on your definition of what constitutes bulk -- if you drastically increase the resistance on your exercise bike, you'll also boost the exercise's ability to build muscle. Through prolonged use of this exercise, you can burn calories and build bulky leg muscles.
Exercise Bike Benefits
Whether your goal of riding the exercise bike is to burn fat or build your muscles, you can't escape the fact that you're burning calories and promoting muscle growth every time you pedal the bike. This workout has a multitude of fitness benefits beyond burning fat and building muscle; the workout strengthens your cardiovascular health, reduces the risk of illness, improves the flexibility of your joints and lowers your stress level. Riding an exercise bike creates a minor impact for your joints, making it ideal for people with joint soreness.
- HealthStatus: Calories Burned Calculator
- Hussman Fitness: Caloric Deficits and Fat Loss
- American Council on Exercise: Why is the Concept of Spot Reduction Considered a Myth?
- The Exploratorium's Science of Cycling: Human Power
- Better Health Channel: Cycling -- Health Benefits
- Spine-Health: Low-Impact Aerobic Exercise
Toronto-based journalist William McCoy has been writing since 1997, specializing in topics such as sports, nutrition and health. He serves as the Studio's sports and recreation section expert. McCoy is a journalism graduate of Ryerson University.