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11 Crucial Stationary Bike Benefits For Glutes

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Whenever I go to spin class, the biggest burn I feel is in my quads and in my glutes. These are the two most important muscles in cycling, but what benefits do stationary bikes have for glutes?

The glutes are a crucial muscle group in cycling and act with the quads to drive the pedals. Cycling tones the glutes, and burns fat in the area making your butt look more aesthetically pleasing. High-resistance stationary biking can also build glute muscle.

In this post, I’ll go through the 11 most important reasons why riding a stationary bike is good for your glutes.

stationary bike benefits for glutes

1. Glutes Are The Second Most Important Cycling Muscle Group

The quads are definitely the most important muscle in cycling, but they are closely followed by the glutes. (Source)

The quads’ primary role is to drive downwards on the pedal. The quadriceps are in action from the top of the pedal revolution to the bottom. They then rest slightly as the pedal rises upwards from the bottom to the top, and then repeat this action again.

The glutes act simultaneously with the quads.

When you are pushing down on the pedals, it’s the quads and the glutes that are doing the majority of the work.

Cycling is essentially a pushing rather than a pulling activity. The glutes are helping to push down on the pedals, and propel you forward.

Here are the key muscle groups that are used in cycling and their different roles and level of importance:

Muscle GroupRole In CyclingLevel of Importance
QuadsForcing downwards on the pedalsHigh
CalvesWorking alongside the quads to force down on the pedalsMedium
HamstringsHelping the leg bend in between the bottom of the pedal stroke and the topMedium
CoreMaintaining balance and postureMedium
GlutesForcing the thighs downwards on the pedals and stabilizing the hipsHigh-Medium

2. The Glutes’ Role In Cycling

The glutes have several roles in cycling, all of which are crucial. They are probably the muscle with the widest range of tasks during cycling.

The main functions of the glutes include:

Power You Forwards

This is the most obvious and most important role. The glutes help to add force downwards onto the pedals. A powerful glute will really add pace to your cycling.

Stabilize the Hips

This is a less obvious function, but the glutes work in several directions. While cycling, they help the hips remain stable.

This helps make your cycling pedaling motion as efficient as possible. It also stops any strain or stress being placed on your core and helps your legs work to their optimal ability.

Add Force To The Thighs

The glutes are directly next to the quads and hamstrings and provide power to these two key muscle groups.

3. Strong Glutes Helps The Legs Work More Efficiently

The stronger your glutes are as a cyclist, the more benefits this has to other parts of the body, particularly the quads and hamstrings.

Strong glutes provide power to the quads and hamstrings, and this helps them save energy while maximizing speed.

Also, the glutes work to keep the hips steady (as I just mentioned above). On the other hand, if you have weak glutes, can you guess what has to act to keep the hips steady? It’s the hamstrings and the quads.

So weak glutes mean more work for the legs.

Strong glutes mean less work for the legs. Therefore, your legs can use their full force and focus on pedaling the bike.

A similar effect occurs with the knee! Strong glutes mean that the legs are stabilized which leads to less stress on the knees. Weak glutes mean the thighs have to work hard to keep the knees stable.

Here’s a quick table that demonstrates all of this information about the glutes many and varied roles!

Role of GlutesRelative ImportanceImpact
Stabilize the hipsHighFrees the legs to power the pedals
Add force to the thighsHigh-MediumStarts the downward force on the pedals, aided by the quads and calves
Stabilize the kneesHigh-MediumFrees the legs to focus on pedaling

4. Cycling Acts Like Resistance Training

One of the beauties of cycling that it is possible to build some muscle mass. This is not the case with many forms of cardio – but is definitely possible on a bike.

However, you do need to know what you’re doing to achieve it.

Traditional resistance training, like lifting weights, acts by muscles working against a force repeatedly. For example, if you do bicep curls with a dumbbell, your biceps are contracting against the force of the weight.

This type of resistance training causes tiny tears in the muscle. These are known as ‘micro-tears’ (I can imagine you can see why).

These mico-tears then rebuild, and the muscle builds back stronger and potentially slightly bigger. The muscle is actually trying to adapt, and become more resilient to the same exertion in the future.

Cycling can activate this kind of resistance training to some extent.

When you cycle, your muscles are acting against a resistance. This can potentially lead to some small micro-tears in the muscles, with your quads and glutes being two key muscles where this can happen.

However, it is worth bearing in mind that the high number of reps required in cycling doesn’t mean that there will be much micro-tear action.

In weight-lifting, the optimal way to build muscle is to use a low number of repetitions against high resistance. You generally want to be doing somewhere around 6 to 12 repetitions for 3-5 sets for overall muscle size. (Source)

12-20 repetitions is good to build muscle endurance, whereas anywhere over 20 repetitions are more about toning the muscle.

Here is a table that gives you some indication of the number of repetitions of an exercise, and the target aim:

Number Of Repetitions Of An ExerciseTarget Aim
1-5 RepsTo increase strength and power, but not necessarily increase muscle size
6-12 RepsIncrease muscle size
12-20 RepsIncrease muscle endurance
20+ RepsTone muscle through cardio-style resistance

If you are only able to do 20 turns of your pedals, then you are either going up an extremely steep slope, or there is something wrong with your bike!

However, you can definitely get some lower rep work in if you do some of the following:

5. Interval Training

This is a brilliant way to achieve many health benefits and is a good way to really work out the glutes and potentially add some muscle mass to them (if that’s your aim).

Interval training is kind of how it sounds. While on a cycle ride, you mix up your speeds so you are sometimes sprinting, sometimes cruising during a period of relative rest.

Even though this will often mean your overall ride is over the same distance and time as if you went at a constant speed, studies have shown that this creates a lot more cardio and muscle-based benefits.

What does this look like in real life?

Well, it means that you will be doing short sprints amongst rest periods throughout your ride. You could do sprints of one minute, and rest periods of thirty seconds (when you’re just cruising).

Try to mix up the following:

  • Make the sprints more intense as the ride develops
  • Make the rest periods shorter
  • Make the sprints longer in duration
  • Try to increase intensity over a series of rides
  • Increase the resistance in the sprints

If you’re looking for a good resource to get you started with interval training, then this video from the Vegan Cyclist is a fantastic place to start:

6. Incorporate Hill Climbing In Your Routine

The other really important way to develop muscle is by increasing resistance.

If you are cycling indoors on a stationary bike, then the best way to do this is by cranking up the resistance as high as you can bear. Cycle like this for about a minute, and alternate between periods of high and low resistance (interval training style).

If you are outdoors, the best way to achieve this is by finding climbs.

Climbs really get your glutes working!

If you can find a route that alternates climbs with descents, then this is perfect for butt muscle growth.

Otherwise, just whatever climb you can find will work great.

7. Leave The Saddle

If you want to optimize your climbing fully, one last thing you can try is leaving the saddle.

When you are seated, cycling is a non-weight-bearing activity. This means that the weight of your torso is not supported by your legs. For the glutes, this makes things easier, as they do not need to stabilize your legs so much.

However, in weight-bearing activities (when your body weight is supported by your legs) your glutes have to work harder.

Cycling becomes weight-bearing when you leave the saddle.

Your body weight exerts a greater force through your glutes and legs. This increases the force on the muscles and increases the chances of future muscle development.

8. Cycling Tones The Glutes

To put everything simply, cycling really acts well to tone the muscles in the glutes.

Cycling is a high-repetition exercise. In weight resistance training, the number of repetitions of an exercise that you complete has a big impact on the kind of result it has on a muscle.

For example, if you really want to grow the size and strength of your muscles, then the best way is to
find exercises that you can only complete between 6 to 12 times. So, if you wanted to strengthen your biceps you could try bicep curls.

Choosing a dumbbell weight that you could only lift 6 to 12 times would be the optimal weight to really grow the power of your biceps.

Cycling is a much higher repetition activity. You are going to be doing hundreds of pedal repetitions, even if you’re going up a steep slope.

Therefore, cycling is ideal for building muscle endurance rather than muscle size. In reality, this means that your butt will look sculpted and toned rather than massive.

If it’s a Kim Kardashian bubble-butt you’re after, then weight resistance training is the best way to go.

9. Weight Loss

This is probably the most obvious reason why stationary bike cycling is good for the glutes.

Research suggests that cycling is an excellent source of exercise to help in reducing weight. This is especially true if you also follow some simple nutritional guidelines.

Cyclists will burn anything from about 400 calories to 1000 calories over an hour of cycling. That’s a lot

What impact will losing weight have on the glutes?

The big one is that glutes will simply look better. They will be more shapely and aesthetically pleasing.

Losing weight also means the glutes will have to work less hard during cycling. You’ll have less weight in the hips that they need to stabilize. Plus the glutes won’t need to exert as much force to achieve the same speed.

Here’s a great video to give you the full lowdown on how to use cycling to maintain a healthy weight:

10. Cycling Reduces Fat Deposits In Key Areas

One of the weird things about weight loss, though, is that it is often not proportionate.

For example, if a woman has 10% excess fat in her hips, 4% in her arms, and 6% in her belly, then losing weight does not mean everything will decrease at an equal rate. Her hips might stay the same, but her arms get skinnier, for example.

Gender plays a large role in where weight is lost. If you are particularly looking to lose weight in the glute area, then if you’re a woman – then you are in luck!

The hips and buttock area is often the first place that women will lose weight. (Source) Just some weight loss can really positively alter the look of your butt!

If you’re a man, however, things are not quite so rosy. The usual place where you will lose weight first is around the belly.

11. Cycling Is Low Impact

Let’s finish with a really important issue that will have some impact on the glutes.

Cycling is low impact. What does this mean?

Well, a low-impact activity is one that doesn’t place repetitive stress on joints by pounding them continually. Cycling is generally kind to joints and helps them move in a natural and fluid way.

The joint that most affect the glutes is the hips. Some activities that involve a lot of high-impact lunging can affect the hip joints. The glutes may overcompensate to protect them and support the hips.

Thankfully none of this happens in cycling! Cycling keeps the hips mobile and moving in a fluid way. This is all good for the working of the glutes!