Indoor cycling is one of the best forms of cardio for sculpting the legs. This exercise tones the leg and surrounding muscles without straining your joints, allowing you to work out longer.
So, if your fitness goal is to get a leaner physique and a shapely lower body, read on.
Let’s understand what toned legs are and how indoor cycling benefits your leg muscles. I’m also sharing some ways to boost the leg-sculpting effect of your indoor cycling workouts.
What is Leg Toning?
Leg toning is about reducing adipose or fatty tissues around the muscles to give your legs more strength and definition.
Compared with a less toned body, sculpted legs look and feel tighter. It is because getting toned legs centres on body weight reduction. As you lose weight, you also lose fat, giving your legs and other body parts a more sculpted shape.
Toning and weight loss involve two essential components. One is a balanced diet with more protein, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats. The other is regular exercise, specifically cardio and strength training that use your legs.
Is Indoor Cycling Good for Sculpting Legs?
Any exercise form, including indoor cycling, contributes to a higher metabolic rate or caloric burn. Increasing your metabolism is essential to shedding excess pounds.
In addition, Harvard Health Publishing states that 30 minutes of moderate stationary bicycling can burn 210 to 294 calories. This calorie burn rate can go as high as 441 calories when you switch to intense indoor cycling sessions.
However, either of these training modes can help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight. If you complement the calories you burn from exercise with reduced food intake, you’ll be able to meet the daily 500-calorie deficit necessary for healthy weight loss.
But what about toning? Will cycling make my legs and thighs bigger? This question is a common misconception. And to answer directly, indoor cycling will not give you massive leg muscles.
How Does Indoor Cycling Affect the Leg Muscles?
Indoor cycling is effective for losing weight and sculpting the legs. It is mainly because the pedalling action targets your lower-body muscles.
Below is a more detailed description of how these muscles work as you cycle and tone your legs.
1. It strengthens the quads.
Your quadriceps or front thigh muscle often shows the first signs of leg toning, usually within a week or so of indoor cycling. That’s because this large muscle group plays a crucial role in cycling and gives you the most leg power to push those pedals down.
The force to extend your knee and move the pedal towards the floor comes from one of the quad muscles — the rectus femoris.
In a 2016 study, researchers found that the rectus femoris activity peaks during the pedalling motion’s first quarter and final sections.
Getting toned quads not only makes your legs look better. They also take the strain off your leg joints, which strengthen and protect your knees. This additional benefit also explains why cycling is good for knee rehabilitation.
2. It activates the hamstrings.
Your hamstrings are at the back of your thighs. During indoor cycling, this muscle group sculpts your legs by allowing the upwards “pulling” movement.
This action happens in the second half of the pedalling motion, where you flex your legs and knees to go back to the starting position.
If you like to boost hamstring activation, consider wearing specialised cycling shoes that clip on the pedals.
3. It works the calves.
The calves or the muscles at the back of your lower leg play a supportive role and get worked during cycling.
Specifically, the calves flex your knee, foot, and ankle as you press the pedal down and pull it upwards. For better calf activation, try leaving the saddle and cycling while standing.
How Can You Boost the Leg Sculpting Effect of Indoor Cycling?
Here are some tips you should incorporate in your cycling sessions to boost the leg sculpting effect.
1. Crank up your cycling resistance level.
Making your leg muscles work harder is vital to getting toned legs. One way to do that is to bike at higher resistance.
Doing this encourages your legs to exert more force, creating micro tears in the muscles. When these tears recover, you get strong and more defined legs.
2. Try HIIT cycling.
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is best for shedding pounds and sculpting legs during indoor cycling.
In this training style, you alternately perform high and moderate-intensity cycling in short intervals. You can enhance your HIIT cycling sessions by increasing your sprint frequency, cycling speed, or resistance level.
The best thing about this is HIIT sessions are short workouts and do not last longer than 30 minutes. It’s perfect for those who value time efficiency and fast results.
3. Cycle while standing up.
Cycling off the saddle at a high resistance turns your workout into a weight-bearing activity.
Cycling while standing up transfers more of your body weight to your legs. The added load naturally forces your leg muscles to work harder.
In addition, cycling while standing up also increases glute, core, and upper-body muscle engagement.
Bottom Line on Toning Legs with Indoor Cycling
If shedding excess weight and sculpting the legs are among your fitness goals, indoor cycling can help you achieve both. Riding a high-quality exercise bike moderately or intensely can burn lots of calories.
As you lose weight, the constant cycling motion works your lower-body muscles, resulting in well-toned legs. But for best results, consider ramping up your cycling resistance level, doing HIIT, or biking off the saddle. Also, don’t forget to complement your workout routine with a healthy diet.
1. Can an exercise bike tone my bum?
Regular cycling sessions can enhance your glutes. That’s because your butt muscles help extend your hips to perform the cycling motion. Consistent cycling targets your glutes and, eventually, makes them less saggy.
2. Can indoor cycling workouts help with body toning and weight loss?
Indoor cycling is an excellent body-shaping activity for two reasons. First, this cardiovascular exercise burns a lot of calories. And second, the pedalling motion activates several muscles. Both of these are vital elements to gaining a leaner or toned body.
3. What other muscles get worked on a stationary bike?
This exercise equipment can tone your upper body muscles and lower legs, hips, core, and upper body. It also targets the most important muscle of all – your heart!
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