Cycling is a great all-around exercise because it improves both your heart health and your skeletal muscles. To make power to move the pedals, you have to use a lot of different muscle groups in a coordinated way. When riding, the lower body muscles, especially the quadriceps and glutes, are the ones that get the most work. To keep your balance and stability, you use a wide range of core and upper body muscles, according to the European Journal of Applied Physiology. This article will help you know which muscles are used during cycling. 

What stages you encounter in cycling

Bicycling can be broken down into two main stages and two in-between phases. The power phase is the first important phase. During this phase, your buttocks, thighs, and calves do most of the work by pressing down on the pedal. During the recovery time, you’ll work on getting your hamstrings and hip flexors stronger.

A rough idea: which muscles are used during cycling

Here is a brief account of which muscles are used during cycling.During cycling, the muscles in the upper leg, the calves, and the glutes work the hardest. Stretching before a bike ride may make you more flexible and increase your range of motion, giving your muscles the best chance to work.

Cycling brings your quads, hamstrings, and calf muscles into use

The quadriceps are the large muscles that run across the front of the thighs. They are also sometimes called “quads.” When you push down on the bike pedal, this group of muscles gets worked, which helps you move. If you don’t use your quads, it’s hard to move forward and make power on a bike.


Related: Advantages of Cycling / Bikes


In July 2016, the European Journal of Applied Physiology published a study that looked at how eight different thigh muscles worked while cycling. Your quads and hamstrings work together when you pedal. Your hamstrings are a group of muscles and tendons at the back of your thighs.

The study shows that cycling uses many layers of muscles, from the most superficial to the most deep. Deeper muscles include the vastus medius (Vint), which is part of the quadriceps, and the biceps femoris short head (BFS), which is part of the hamstrings. These are the lower back muscles.

When you pedal, your calf muscles don’t work as hard as your hamstrings and quadriceps, but they still work with those two groups of muscles. The gastrocnemius and soleus muscles work together to keep your ankle and leg steady when you push.

Cyclists have toned glutes

Your buttocks are likely to get a good workout from the steep bike rides, just like your thighs and calves. Glutes are one of the muscle groups that get maximum work during cycling. The three muscles that make up the glutes are the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus. The work of these three muscles shapes your buttocks.The biggest of the gluteal muscles is the gluteus maximus, which is also the most important when riding. Because of this, you can get your glutes very strong and toned.

Okay fine! But what about my legs? 

The tibialis anterior is the largest of four muscles in the anterior compartment of the leg. It’s one of the “important muscles” used in cycling, according to the report. A study published in the Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy says that this muscle is one of the “essential muscles” used in cycling. It runs down the back of your shin like a waterfall.


The Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy published the results of a study that showed the tibialis anterior was the only lower leg muscle that was used during the first half of the pedal stroke. Almost certainly, pedal strokes will help your leg muscles.

Worrying about the upper body and abdominal muscles?

Harvard Health Publishing says that your abdominal muscles help keep your body straight when you are cycling. Most of the time, this is done by contracting. When cycling uphill, if you start pulling on the handlebars, which will work the biceps and triceps, you will also work out your upper body and stomach. This will help you keep your body still as you ride the bike.

Even if it’s just for a short time, all of these muscles can be used during the power and recovery phases of riding. Stop using public transportation, like a bus or train, driving or calling a taxi for short trips. Just cycle and shape your muscles.

Do stretch after cycling

Researchers at the University of Medical Sciences in Poznan, Poland, did a study to find out if stretching helps keep people from getting hurt. The research showed that the two are related. According to the results of the study, if you already have muscle soreness, you should stretch after cycling to keep it from happening again. Even if you haven’t hurt your muscles, just stretch a bit after cycling. It will comfort your muscles. 

Final Verdict

We hope you’ve done enough study by now to know which muscles are used during cycling. Cycling is a fun sport that also acts as a form of fitness. You simply need a little self-control to notice how drastically your life may change.