15 Effects Of Cycling On Body Shape


Cycling is a full-body and mind workout, therefore, the limitless benefits of cycling are evident. From improved mental health and a lean body to strong cardiovascular health, cycling can be categorized as the ideal low-impact, versatile (indoor/outdoor) option for exercise. 

It’s only when you get on a bike and start peddling to move the bike along that you get to know just how much of an impact cycling has on your body.

Contrary to popular belief, cycling does not solely target the lower body by adding to its strength. Cycling has an impact on all the muscles of your body, even those that do not seem connected to cycling initially.

I will discuss how cycling is a healthy body shape-changing exercise in this blog. I will dive into the details about the impact of cycling on the whole body. 

One important thing that should be kept in mind is that the effects of cycling differ from person to person and from men to women even more so. Therefore, cycling’s impact on the body starts with the type of body you have. 

Let’s have a look at how cycling affects your body shape, why the muscles on the entire body are affected, and how it impacts the mental and cardiovascular aspects of a human being. 

Cyclist on road bike going down hill on road

Cycling and Body Shape

It’s a fact that almost all exercises affect the whole body up to some extent. Different exercises are used to target different parts of your body. However, you can mold exercises and workouts to suit your needs – tailor them to target the muscles you want toned. 

The same is the case with cycling, even though the sole focus of cycling goes to the lower body, you also get other amazing benefits. You can convert it into a full-body workout and make variations to target your choice of muscle. 

There are numerous benefits of cycling; therefore, it’s hard to pinpoint the most important. Researchers think that all benefits are equally important. The first thing to keep in mind is that there are natural physiological differences between male and female bodies (Source).

Tip: if you’re a beginner, choose a flat bike path. If you can handle advanced roads and are ready for a tougher workout that also engages your upper body and core, try mountain biking or off-road biking.

1. Lower Body Muscle Development

A bike, whether indoor or outdoor, has multiple benefits when it comes to the strength of your body as well as your mind. Test the promising effects of cycling by getting on a bike and riding uphill, or by adding a lot of resistance training – you will feel the burning sensations beginning in your lower body. 

Not only does this form of resistance training improve the strength and functioning of your glutes, hamstrings, and hips, but it also enhances your overall muscle endurance. 

This results in a much-toned body because of the perfectly shaped muscles. 

2. Leg Shape and Strength

In addition to the strengthening of the muscles of your legs via cycling, the functioning of the entire lower body is enhanced without putting much stress on it. 

While it’s true that cycling improves your leg muscles, not all cyclists gain similar results. There are variations in the leg size and toned muscles of the area from cyclist to cyclist. 

One of the major reasons behind this is the differing levels of cycling. Depending on their training level, top-level cyclists have lean and slimmer legs. On the other hand, track cyclists have stacked legs. 

If road cyclists want strength and raw power, they can lift heavy loads to achieve that. They can also cycle in the hills for more time to get stronger legs. 

Furthermore, if you want a shape suited to stamina, what you have to do is build up the aerobic base along with many long rides at comparatively low intensity for promoting the production of aerobic cells as well as developing cardiovascular fitness.

3. Resistance Element

The resistance element of cycling means that it doesn’t just burn fat, it also builds muscle.

The focal point of cycling is surely the toning and strength of the muscles around the glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calves, but it also affects the upper body.

4. Brain Power

Exercise has been repeatedly and factually proved to be interconnected with brain health – and the reduction of cognitive changes that can leave you vulnerable to dementia later in life. 

It’s not only the body that gets affected by cycling. Increased brainpower is crucial to get your body ready to work twice as hard to get it into shape. 

Cycling triggers the brain to improve the blood flow throughout the body, which in turn results in a healthy and strong body. 

After cycling, studies have shown that in some areas of the body, the blood flow ascends by 40 percent. It is recommended to include cycling in your routine for 55-60 minutes per day, at your own pace, and move up the speed gradually. 

5. Tone Your Arms

Cycling contributes greatly to toning your arms. The force you apply to pull on the bars of your bicycle to oppose the downward pull is key in toning your biceps, triceps, and deltoids. 

In hilly areas, you can feel twice the force you would otherwise feel on smoother grounds; hence hilly regions are the best to get the best workout for your arms. 

The upper body helps to gain balance and maintain your posture during cycling. Road biking is all about maintaining an invariable position for longer intervals; this helps in upper bodybuilding and muscle toning. 

You’ll know you have built resistance to arms pains, when you can retain your position even longer than before, and when you surpass your previous cycling time limit. 

6. Core Workout

Cycling is a top-notch core and cardio workout. You are most likely to burn 400 calories an hour.

If you’re overweight, cycling might be an ideal medium for you to lose weight, as it isn’t a weight-bearing activity.

Cycling works core muscles like the abdominals and back. It helps to maintain the body upright and it requires much amount of your core strength to keep the cycle in the right position. 

Strong abdominals and back are crucial in supporting the spine, increase stability, and enhance levels of comfort while cycling.

Cyclist on mountain bike in fall going through forest

7. Low-impact

This is a workout that doesn’t put stress on your joints. Even if you haven’t been on a bike in years, cycling is an exercise that doesn’t need much expertise. 

The rates of injuries are higher when running, as compared to cycling. Runners suffer from muscle damage more like 133-144% and DOMS and inflammation rate is much higher than cyclists. 

Though cycling doesn’t increase much bone density like other sports, it would get you good results by adding some training to your routine. It’s a great workout for people suffering from joint concerns of the lower body and overall stiffness. 

8. Body Shape: Men and Women

Transformation via cycling takes a longer time to see, as compared to running. Cycling is first and foremost a leg-dominant sport (Source), which means that the legs are the first to transform in definition and muscle mass. 

Men: cycling body transformation in males often take 12-16 weeks to see improvements, whether that is in terms of fat loss, size, toning, or definition. 

During the first 12 weeks, definition begins to develop in the triceps and triceps and is quite noticeable for you. Some changes and toning of the muscles around the calf, hamstrings, and quadriceps also start to appear, as these are mainly responsible for the major functioning during biking. 

Women: even though the body transformation process of female cyclists is the same as the males, it is much slower in comparison. This is due to the hormonal limitations found in women; those play a huge role in differentiating muscle development between males and females. 

As females generally hold more body fat, the transformation in size and weight is slightly longer than males. This is also the reason why female cyclists have to work harder to build muscle mass, tone their bodies, or body definition. 

If a woman is riding more than 4 times per week and more than 60 minutes, you should expect to see some gradual weight loss.

After 12 weeks or more, you should begin to notice some definition develop in the lower body. Some people prefer running to cycling because it favors rapid weight loss and burns more calories, but keep in mind: 

  • Running is a weight-bearing exercise while cycling is not;
  • Cycling is low impact whereas running is high impact;
  • Running has more injury rates than cycling;
  • Cycling will take longer to tone your body than running, but the results will be long-lasting. 

To find out more about the transformative affects of cycling, check out this youtube video:

9. Flat Stomach

You are wondering if you are burning your belly fat via cycling so the answer is yes. While riding, even though your stomach muscles aren’t at work as hard as your leg muscles, cycling’s nature is aerobic, which means you are burning fat. 

Beware that cycling at low intensity burns a higher percentage of fat than high intensity. Work at a moderate pace so conversions seem neither too difficult nor too easy. 

Add interval training to push the calorie burn. Opt for cross-training so you enable your body to cycle for longer periods, ultimately getting more exercise done; burning more calories, and achieve overall reduction in weight and belly fat.

Cycling also works your abdominal muscles, helping you to achieve a flat stomach. When you climb, pull, descend, and pull, your abs are hard at work to keep your body balanced and centered on the bike. 

This natural engagement as you go through your workout can help lead to a slimmer, more toned midsection. 

10. Indoor Cycling – Recumbent Bike

Recumbent biking is one of the most comfortable modes of cycling that offers indoor body toning. This form of cycling is considered to be a serious workout – a core workout. 

A recumbent bike workout includes major muscle groups including your quadriceps, shins, calf muscles, hamstrings, glutes, and many more.

It is a conformable way to tone these muscle groups, resulting in a firm, muscular, and athletic body and enhanced overall health. 

You can extract all the benefits that outdoor cycling offers, without having to go out. 

A small study indicated that healthy older women improved their muscle strength, body shape, and functional abilities after incorporating biking into their routines.

11. Indoor Cycling – Body Changes

How does indoor cycling contribute to changing your body? Indoor cycling is getting more popular day by day. It is a great way to lose weight because of the number of calories it allows you to burn. You can burn as much as 600 calories per session via cycling. 

The most important part of understanding how indoor cycling changes your body shape lies in the fact that it can build and tone muscles to a great extent. 

Weight loss is the most primary encouraging factor for people to start some kind of exercise.

However, for enhanced physical fitness as a cyclist, you should aim for muscle development, shape, and strength, in addition to weight loss. 

You must keep in mind that cycling is much more than just sitting down on the stationary bike and spinning the different groups of muscles. In cycling, the muscles you utilize enable you to build and tone them in the process. 

Indoor cycling targets a wide range of muscles in your body, from your core, glutes, back, to your upper body, quadriceps, hamstrings, and legs. It also targets a few more muscles for betterment, without your awareness. 

This way, indoor cycling is said to be a total body workout and not just a lower body workout. You need to be able to engross your core and upper body to stabilize and maintain your body. Also, your back must be stable and strong enough to have a proper balance and posture.

Meanwhile, your lower body muscles will aid in pedaling with ease and efficiency, getting in good shape in the process.

12. E-biking

E-biking is gaining popularity rapidly among exercise enthusiasts which makes you wonder if this type of exercise contributes, and if it does – to what extent, to transforming your body’s shape?

E-bikes are usually associated with lower body workouts. It will help you bulk up your muscles, lose weight, and acquire a lean body.

13. Bike to Save Time

No other exercise offers weight loss, body toning, and saving time simultaneously. 

If you compare various experiences like getting somewhere via a car, bus, or bike; biking always is the winner as it combines both: muscle toning and transportation. 

Car: the traffic takes up a lot of time and then you have to find a parking space. Cars need fuel hence money is spent, further costing include parking. 

Verdict: No exercise whatsoever.

Bus: walk to the bus stop and wait a while for the bus to arrive. Pay for the ticket and go through many stops to reach yours. 

Verdict: Little to no exercise.

Bike: get your bike that doesn’t need fuel, filter past traffic, and reach your destination, all the while getting the best exercise and saving time. 

Verdict: Muscle toning and full exercise.

14. Health Benefits of Cycling

According to American Heart Association (AHA), regular aerobic exercise results in a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, dementia, type 2 diabetes, and several types of cancer. 

It may also aid in sleeping soundly and enhanced cognition. Furthermore, regular exercisers report fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety and a better quality of life, as compared to people who seldom exercise, or don’t work out at all. 

Cycling has also been associated with lower risks of obesity, heart diseases, and type 2 diabetes.

At least 150 minutes per week aerobic activity is recommended, in medium intensity, by AHA. When you cycle regularly, cycling can enhance your overall cardiovascular endurance. 

15. Hop On And Go!

Researchers explain that when you sit on a bike, you put your weight on a pair of bones in your pelvis called the ischial tuberosity, which releases impact on the legs and feet. 

This may benefit those with joint pain or age-related stiffness – and the resistance work of pushing pedals may help increase bone density. Ultimately this results in a healthier body image and a toned body shape.

When planning on cycling, the first thing to always keep in mind is to avoid using a poorly fitted bike as it can give way to several pains such as back, shoulders, hips, neck, and lower body’s major muscles. 

Other symptoms of a badly fitted bike include aching hands, wobbly hips, lower back fatigue, knee strain, etc. 

That’s why beginners are required to work with a professional trainer or visit a local bike shop to get the proper fitting. Definition of a poor bike include the seat being too high or too low, the handlebars being too far, too low or too loose, etc.   

Wrapping Up

Well, there you have it; 15 positive effects of cycling on your body.

Of course, these positives can be enhanced by drinking plenty of water, maintaining a healthy diet, and getting plenty of sleep.

That being said, simply biking, if only for a minutes a day will have you on the road to some pretty positive results.

Martin Williams

Martin has been tearing up all sorts of trails on a range of bikes ever since he was young. He once cycled across France, and once fell into a canal on a hybrid. He writes about everything to do with cycling on our site.

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