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Leg day can be an intense workout that leaves your legs feeling fatigued and sore. After an intense leg day, you may be tempted to hop on your bike and take a leisurely ride.
Cycling after leg day is a positive idea, as the exercise increases blood flow in your legs and speeds up recovery and muscle development. It also helps muscle endurance of your legs, as well as having many other benefits.
However, it is important to understand the potential risks of biking after leg day, as well as any precautions you should take.
In this post, I’ll take a look at:
- Is cycling after leg day a good idea?
- 11 things to consider if you’re going to cycle after leg day
- The benefits of cycling after leg day
- Why and how long you should cycle after leg day
- The best leg exercises for cyclists
Is Cycling After Leg Day A Good Idea?
Although it may seem counterproductive to hop on the bike so soon after a strenuous workout, the truth is that you’ll doing your legs a lot of good.
In order to get your legs feeling better after a leg day, it’s recommended that you stretch them out and work through the soreness gradually. Many people use exercise rollers to stretch their muscles.
The same thing is happening when you go on a bike ride—your muscles are getting a workout. You’re slowly working up their body temperature over the course of the next twenty minutes of the bike ride.
Your aching muscles will soon feel better and heal more quickly. (Source)
When you work out your legs, you’re putting stress on your muscles, tendons, and ligaments. This causes small tears in the muscle fibers, which need time to heal.
During the recovery process, blood flow is crucial to bring oxygen and nutrients to the affected areas. This is where riding a bike comes in.
The pedaling motion of biking can increase blood flow to the legs, which can help to speed up the recovery process.
11 Things to Know About Post Leg Day Cycling
There are specific things you need to know about biking following leg day in order to get the most out of it. (Source)
1. Warm Up Properly
A proper warm-up before cycling is essential to prepare your muscles for the workout and prevent injury.
Start with a few minutes of low-impact cardio such as jogging in place or jumping jacks to increase your heart rate and blood flow to your muscles.
Then, spend a few minutes doing dynamic stretches such as leg swings, walking lunges, and high knees to loosen up your legs.
If you’re looking for a fast 3-minute warm-up, then I found a fantastic one on Dr Alex Ritza’s Youtube channel. This is what he does to keep his legs injury free before every ride:
2. Gentle Cycling
Spend 20 minutes pedaling slowly and steadily on a stationary bike. This time range is adequate for muscle conditioning without being too taxing on your energy levels.
During a warm-up, you train your muscles to get them ready for the activity ahead, but you don’t go far enough to consider it as a full workout.
It’s a simple way to put your muscles to work while minimizing the risk of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and maximizing your gains from resistance training.
3. Incorporate Interval Training
Interval training is an effective way to increase your cardiovascular fitness, burn more calories, and improve your cycling performance.
Alternating short bursts of high-intensity cycling with periods of rest or lighter cycling will help to increase your endurance and power.
4. Try a Stationary Bike
The best choice of exercise equipment for this light cardio is a stationary bike.
A stationary bike is a great way to get in shape without putting too much strain on your body because it allows you to keep using your legs the whole time.
Keep in mind that riding is meant to be a gentle way to get your muscles moving and warmed up, not a strenuous workout.
Riding with the intention of warming up your muscles is preferable after a hard training day since you don’t want to overexert your muscles.
5. Focus on Form
Proper form is crucial for maximizing your workout and preventing injury.
Keep your back straight, engage your core, and maintain a smooth pedal stroke to ensure that you are using your muscles correctly and efficiently.
6. Follow up with Cardio
Lighten up your workout by doing some recovery work after your cardio.
Relax your muscles by stretching or rolling them. Using a foam roller first thing in the morning helps alleviate delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and makes your muscles feel better overall for the remainder of the day.
After you’ve finished stretching, you can opt to cool down in an ice bath. This aids in muscle repair and growth following exercise.
7. Gradual Progression
Gradually increasing the intensity and duration of your cycling workouts is important to avoid burnout and injury.
Start with shorter, less intense rides, and gradually increase the duration and intensity over time as your fitness improves.
8. Fueling Properly
To speed up the recovery process and get the benefits of your workout, it’s important to eat a protein-rich, well-balanced meal shortly after you finish.
Incorporating a protein-rich food or beverage into your post-workout routine is an excellent way to speed up muscle recovery.
Make sure to eat enough protein-rich foods such as chicken, fish, eggs, and beans, and to stay hydrated by drinking water throughout the day.
9. Stretching Before Biking
Stretching before biking is essential for having a smooth cycling session after a tiring leg day.
When you stretch, you increase flexibility and range of motion in your muscles, which leads to better performance on the bike and a quick recovery.
Before hopping on your bike, it’s recommended to spend a few minutes stretching your major muscle groups, such as your calves, hamstrings, and quads.
10. Stay Hydrated
Adequate hydration is essential for maintaining performance and preventing cramping.
Make sure you are well-hydrated before, during, and after cycling by drinking plenty of water and electrolyte-rich fluids.
11. Listen to Your Body
It’s important to pay attention to how your body feels during the ride and adjust the intensity or duration of the ride as needed.
If you experience pain, fatigue, or discomfort, it may be a sign that your body needs more recovery time.
It’s important to listen to these signs and take a break if needed to prevent injury or overtraining.
Why and How Long Should You Cycle After Leg Day?
The length of your cycling session after a leg workout will depend on the intensity of your workout and your current fitness level. If you had a particularly intense leg workout, it’s best to start with a shorter cycling session and gradually increase the duration as your muscles recover.
A good starting point could be a 20-30 minute session at a moderate intensity.
You can gradually increase the duration of your cycling sessions as your muscles adapt and recover. As you get more comfortable, you can increase the duration of your cycling sessions up to 60-90 minutes.
It’s important to note that your cycling session should not be so intense that it causes additional stress on your leg muscles.
The purpose of cycling after a leg workout is to promote blood flow, reduce muscle soreness and improve cardiovascular fitness, not to exhaust your leg muscles further.
5 Main Benefits of Cycling After Leg Day
Here are a few reasons why you need to add this amazing low-impact exercise to your leg workout routine!
1. Increased Blood Flow
Cycling after a leg workout can help increase blood flow to the muscles, bringing oxygen and nutrients to the area and helping to speed up the recovery process.
This is because cycling is a cardiovascular exercise that increases your heart rate, which in turn increases blood flow throughout the body.
The increased blood flow can help to flush out lactic acid and other waste products that can build up in the muscles, reducing muscle soreness and fatigue.
2. Reduced Soreness
Cycling can also help to reduce muscle soreness, also known as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), that often occurs after a workout.
This is because cycling can help to increase blood flow to the muscles, which can help to bring oxygen and nutrients to the area and can also help to flush out waste products that can cause soreness.
Here’s a brilliant Youtube video from Candito Training HQ where they demonstrate how to cycle following a leg day to reduce soreness:
3. Improved Cardiovascular Fitness
Regular cycling can improve cardiovascular fitness, which can benefit overall health.
Cycling is a cardiovascular exercise that increases your heart rate and improves the efficiency of your heart, lungs, and blood vessels.
Improved cardiovascular fitness can lead to better overall health, including a reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, and other health issues.
4. Increased Endurance
Cycling after a leg workout can also help to increase endurance in the legs, making them better able to handle intense workouts in the future.
This is because cycling is an endurance type of exercise, which can help to increase the capacity of the muscles to perform work over an extended period of time.
5. Aids Weight Loss
Weight loss is one of the benefits of cycling after a leg workout.
Cycling is a cardiovascular exercise that can help to increase metabolism, which can lead to burning more calories and fat.
When you cycle, your body uses energy to move the pedals and keep you balanced, this energy comes from the calories stored in your body, mostly from fat.
The harder you cycle and the longer you cycle, the more calories you will burn.
How Soon Should You Start Cycling After Leg Day?
It’s generally recommended to wait until the next day to start cycling after a leg workout. This is because your muscles need time to recover and repair themselves after being stressed during your workout.
If you cycle immediately after a leg workout, you risk putting additional stress on the muscles that are already fatigued, which can lead to injury.
It’s best to give your muscles at least 24 hours to recover before subjecting them to more stress. If you feel soreness the next day, you can try to do a light cycling session, and this will help to increase blood flow and reduce soreness.
It’s also important to note that the intensity of your leg workout and your cycling session should be adjusted accordingly.
If you had a particularly intense leg workout, it’s best to start with a light cycling session and gradually increase the intensity as your muscles recover.
4 Best Leg Exercises for Cyclists
A good cycling leg workout should focus on building strength in the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves. You can increase your power output by training the same muscles used during cycling.
Here are some of the most effective leg exercises for cyclists to practice in the gym!
A standard training drill for bikers and runners alike.
The squat is a great exercise since it targets almost all of the muscles in the legs. It’s a great way to build strength in your abs and lower back, too.
If you’re just getting started with this type of workout, it’s best to do it without any weight at all at first. You can improve your technique by doing this.
Lifters with greater expertise benefit more from increasing the weight they use to increase their strength and power.
The Bulgarian split squat is a great way to mix up your routine and challenge your body in new ways.
Among endurance athletes, the deadlift is another popular workout. This is an excellent exercise for strengthening your legs and core muscles.
The deadlift has several iterations; the Romanian deadlift and the single-leg deadlift are two examples.
However, you shouldn’t try any of these other exercises until you have mastered the squat properly.
The lunge, like the deadlift and squat, is a fantastic lower-body exercise.
However, it places a greater emphasis on strengthening the quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings than on any other muscle groups.
Core strength is improved, and power is added to the pedal stroke as the quads, glutes, and hamstrings become more developed.
The lunge can be performed in a number of different ways, including the reverse lunge and the walking lunge. But before you start experimenting with alternative forms, you should master the standard one.
4. Leg Press
This is one of the few activities on the list that involves using a piece of equipment. Those just starting out who desire more strength on the bike can benefit greatly from doing leg presses.
Biking after leg day can be a fantastic way to recover and stay active.
I’ve just discussed 11 essential things that you need to know when planning to bike after leg day, like properly warming up, taking a gentle ride, and getting the proper nutrition.
These tips will help you to reduce discomfort and enhance the benefits of your ride. But don’t forget, your body knows best.
If you’re feeling sore, take it easy and listen to your body.
With a little bit of preparation and a lot of enthusiasm, you’ll be able to conquer any challenge that comes your way and make the most of your biking experience.
So, gear up, and get ready to hit the road. Happy biking!