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Cycle your way to a strong, fit body.
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If you've ever marveled at the chiseled legs of a cyclist, just know that you, too, have those same muscle groups, which are just waiting to be shaped. Cycling is one of the best exercises for toning the lower half of your body, while giving you a great aerobic workout at the same time.
While cycling primarily works the butt and leg muscles, it also strengthens your core and arms.
Pedal Your Way to Strong Leg Muscles
Every time you push down on your pedals, you're activating several muscle groups in your legs, namely your:
- Quadriceps in the front of your thighs
- Hamstrings in the back of your thighs
- Your calf muscles, chiefly the gastrocnemius in the back
Your quads do the lion's share of the work when you're cycling, bearing down on your pedals to propel you forward. Your hamstrings provide critical support for your quads on the final part of the pedal push downward, giving you the strength to complete the pedal stroke before you set up for another round.
But it's a cyclist's calves that really stand out in a crowd. This much smaller muscle basically transfers the power coming from your quads into your pedals, which is why they tone up the way they do with regular cycling.
Build the Back End
Moving up from your legs, your gluteal muscles are also hard at work when you're cycling, providing the foundational strength for your quads. This is especially true when you need that extra push to get up hills. Your primary pedal push originates in your glutes, travels down through your thigh muscles and into your calves and feet. All together, these muscles help you log mile after mile on your bike.
Contract Your Core
While your leg muscles stand to benefit the most from cycling, you also rely on several core and upper body muscle groups for stability and steering. This includes your hip flexors, your abdomen, your shoulders and your arms. While you shouldn't count on cycling to tone these muscle groups, they are doing their part while you cycle and getting a workout all the same.
Don't Forget the Feet
Believe it or not, the muscles in your feet and ankles are getting as much of a workout as the muscles in your legs, just on a much smaller scale. Your plantar flexors and dorsiflexors, especially, play important roles in pushing your pedals. While few people set out to tone their feet and ankles, cycling does benefit these muscle groups.
If your goal is to tone the muscle groups in the lower half of your body, cycling is the way to go for great results from your glutes down to your feet.