Fitness is exciting, and you plan out several activities in order to increase it. These include going to the gym and going on the treadmill or cycling, or you might decide to use an old bike you own and go out cycling for a few hours.
While cycling is a great, low-impact exercise that has numerous benefits for increasing your stamina, you might wonder whether its benefits extend to toning your bum in the process. This also raises questions about how it tones the muscles and improves your physique – and the answer is that it does. Read on to find out how, and its overall benefits.
What are the muscles that are targeted in cycling?
The truth is, cycling might not do much for parts of your body, especially in the upper half. However, it does have numerous benefits when it comes to your lower body and helps to improve muscle tone in these areas.
Some of the leg muscle groups that are in use when you cycle are:
- Calf muscles
- Quads (Quadriceps, which are in the front part of the thighs)
- Gluteus Maximus (your bum)
- Hamstrings (these are at the back of your thigh)
- Hip flexors
- Dorsiflexors of your foot
- Plantarflexors of your foot
When these muscle groups contract together in a certain sequence, this creates the motion of pedaling. In addition, there are some muscle groups in the upper body that also work to give you a total workout when you cycle, although they mostly function as support systems to give your body balance. They are:
- The back muscles
- Abdominal muscles – both external and internal
- Shoulders and chest
- Arm muscles
How does cycling help tone your butt?
Regardless of the biking machine you use, the act of pedaling will mostly involve the hamstrings and quads, with some additional help from the calves. The butt muscles play a very important role though because they help to extend your hips as you pedal (especially the Gluteus Maximus – the largest muscle in your body). This means that your cycling motion will give your bums quite the workout.
There are two additional muscles in the bum, the Gluteus Medius and the Gluteus Minimus, which are equally important in the task. They both act as hip abductors (help the leg move away from the midline of the body), which allows you to move your hips outwards and laterally. They also give your legs stability as the gluteus Maximus gives the bulk of the power to move.
Since the act of pedaling uses these muscles, they become more toned with time. This change will come in the form of additional muscle mass that gives the appearance of ‘tight’ bum and less jiggling due to reduced fat mass. This is important for many people because the butt is a major problem area, due to the fat deposits that occur there so easily.
How can you maximize your cycling experience to tone better?
There are several things to keep in mind during your indoor cycling class in order to maximize your cycling experience and reduce injuries. They include:
Adjust your seat correctly
One of the first things you must learn before using an exercise bike is learning how to set it up properly – otherwise, you will run into a host of problems when using it, including the risk of injuries.
For instance, waking up the morning after an indoor cycling class and noticing you have muscle soreness in the knees and hips – it is likely due to the seat being too low. When the saddle is too low, it makes you lose the range of motion you have in your pedaling, which forces the body to not make the most of each stride and causing pain the following day.
If you are unsure, ask your instructor to help you find the correct setting for your height (which is why you need to arrive early). Another alternative is to use the rule that the maximum height of the seat must be at the height of your hipbone. When you are seated, your foot must remain flat, and your knees slightly bent, when the pedal is at the bottom.
Fortunately, seat adjustments are quite easy, since many bikes will have a number that they will associate with specific seat settings, so take note of your own adjustments so that you can change things quickly for the next session.
Ensure the handlebars are at an optimal position
When the handlebars are high, it is easier for you to keep your shoulders away from your ears, since the waist and spine are elongated. If you want to boost your abs workout, the handlebars should be as close as possible to the height of the saddle.
Regardless of what height you want them to be, always make sure they are never lower than the height of your seat, as this will make you slouch too much and place unneeded pressure on the groin, shoulders and lower back.
The resistance levels should be optimal for your workout
The resistance is part of the success factor – so you need to follow through with the workout carefully. When it is too low, you risk getting pain in your joints due to a pace that is too high – so watch out for signs like a shoe popping out of the pedal clip, or a pedal stroke that is too loose.
Handlebars should be at the correct height
One common mistake many people make when adjusting the handlebars is using the elbow-to-fingertip measurement system when correct adjustment requires you to ignore the elbow measurement. The reason this rule does not work is because the arms are not always in the same proportion as the torso.
Instead of this technique, hop on the bike instead, then adjust the handlebars from your seat. You must ensure you are close enough to comfortably hold the handlebars – never slouch, avoid lunging, and the body should not feel compressed between the saddle and handlebars.
Cycling is a good way to tone your bum, as it works the muscles of your legs extensively. However, you should also be careful to avoid certain mistakes that can compromise your efficiency in your workout and sabotage your progress.
Hi, my name is Marjorie, a health and fitness expert.
Sports and fitness have always been my area of expertise since I could remember. For me, one of the greatest things I accomplished is opening my own gym as well as starting this blog on indoor bikes and fitness. Indoor bikes have brought a massive break for me and my clients, they have enabled me to look past some of my client’s many challenges during work out and achieve the best results they can. I would say that I am proud to help people understand the benefits that come with indoor bikes when it comes to fitness and health and how to find the best one for the cause.