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Which Muscles are used during Cycling?

With so many factors, we should conclude cycling as a whole-body activity. Recollect the above the next time someone says – “Cycling is all about legs”.

Which Muscles are used during Cycling?
Written by Editorial

At SpokeHerd, we all gasp for air after a hard cycling session. It is common after intense aerobic activity. But, remember those sore hamstrings with a tinge of burning sensation after a quality cycle ride? It depicts how cycling engages the various muscles of our body.

You would surely have heard phrases like ‘lower-body session’, ‘pull workout’ in any gym’s vicinity. The former is used to describe which muscle groups are being trained in that session. And the latter is a movement pattern that is being focussed.

Similarly, how can we describe cycling? 

There is a pedaling motion. There is a static hold for your arms. And the favorite of cycling communities – the constant tension around the neck and the traps. Also, we have legs that are engaged at all times. 

With so many factors, we should conclude cycling as a whole-body activity. Recollect the above the next time someone says – “Cycling is all about legs”.

Moving on, knowing which muscles are used during cycling will help you in two ways.

Find the right form

Learning the right cycling form and technique is overseen by the multitude. Maybe, it is an innate movement pattern but often, cyclists ride with a sloppy form. 

Knowing which muscles are to be engaged, you can consciously recruit them and cycle with the right form.

Reduce injuries

Bad form and injuries are co-related. When you cycle with improper form, you risk developing injuries. Learning the muscle recruitment process shall help you understand the different pain points. 

Now, to the question, we need answers for —

Which muscles are used during cycling?

Note: The following are muscle groups and not individual muscles.


Commonly known as the hips or the butt, glutes are made up of three muscles. They are one of the strongest muscle groups in the human body.

While cycling, glutes are one of the major contributors to getting adept at riding with a fluid motion. The glute muscles work in unison to exert force from the thighs. They also regulate the rotation of thighs. 


Quads or quadriceps is a group of four muscles. To achieve ideal cadence, a smooth, yet powerful downstroke is needed. For this, quads are important.

By cycling regularly, quads are trained with both volume and intensity. This means a lot of blood flow into the quad region, making it strong and muscular. 


In the pedaling motion, the knees are always active. During both knee flexion and extension, hamstrings are engaged. 

They are a group of three muscles combining to provide stability during the movement. Weak hamstrings spell trouble when you are cycling for long distances.


Calves are made of two muscles and are used amply while you cycle. As we use calf muscles every time we walk, they are used to high volumes of stress.

By pushing hard against the pedal continuously, the calf muscles are activated at all times.


Most beginner cyclists tend to oversee the activation of core muscles while cycling. Engaging the core muscles, obliques and even the lower back is a must to provide stability to the body.

With a strong core, you can relax hip flexors and spinal erectors by a fair margin.

These muscle groups are effectively used during cycling. Likewise, to become a better rider, strengthening these muscle groups is ideal. 

It can be done using weight lifting or calisthenics. 

So, with focussed cycling, you are gifted with toned and strong muscles. Not to mention the cardiovascular benefits of cycling. 

We, at SpokeHerd, see no reason why you shouldn’t start cycling today.

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