As you may well know, exercise bikes are one of the best pieces of fitness equipment that you can use for an overall improvement on your health and fitness.
But one of the main questions many people want to know is can an exercise bike tone your legs?
Let me ask you this, have you ever seen the muscle tone on a competitive cyclist?
Constant activation of the leg muscles on a consistent basis is what is going to have you developing an awesome muscle tone that others would only dream about!
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The Importance of Strength Training
Strength training is an integral part of any good exercise routine.
Strength training not only allows you to lift heavier, push harder or endure a longer workout but it also has some really unbelievable benefits to your general health.
Ever heard the phrase ‘Use it or Lose it’?
Well, as we grow old it becomes more and more difficult to develop lean mass.
According to Mayoclinic.org, if you’re not developing some sort of strength training into your programme it can hinder your quality of life.
Strength training is great for 4 things apart from developing muscle:
- Develop stronger bones
- Manage chronic conditions
- Improves your thinking skills
- Manage your weight
Strength training can increase bone density, increase your metabolism, reduce the signs of heart disease, arthritis and depression.
Research has also seen that it can boost your brain power and sharpen you thinking skills.
How An Exercise Bike Is Powered
An exercise bike is powered mostly entirely by your legs.
Yes, there is some hip and abdominal activation in there but it’s mostly the legs that do all the heavy lifting.
There is so much power that can be generated from the legs that very little people even realise.
So when working out on an exercise bike your Quads are going to be doing all the pushing power to drive down the pedals.
Your hamstrings are going to be the pulling power behind the pedals when they are strapped in.
What Leg Muscles You'll Be Using
So, when working out on an exercise bike there are 4 main muscles groups you’re going to be using:
- Quadriceps (the front part of your upper leg)
- Hamstrings (the back part of your upper leg)
- Glutes (your bum)
- Calves (the back part of your lower leg)
Each one of these muscle groups are activated at different stages when cycling – some even used more than the others.
Now, the Quads (Quadriceps) is the muscle group that is going to be used the most!
This exerts more power than any other 3 muscle groups and where you’re going to notice muscle definition the most.
In an upright exercise bike, you’re using all of these leg muscle groups along with your back and abs.
However, in a recumbent exercise bike your legs are still doing the majority of the work but as your laying back, there is less exertion or power used from your back or core.
The Calories You'll Burn
Calories is a great indicator to let you know how many of them you burned during your cycling workout.
Now, before you can see any muscle definition in your legs you need to lose that layer of fat that surrounds them.
So, Harvard Medical School performed an experiment and allowed their subjects from 3 different weight classes to cycle for a 30 minute session.
The results were:
- The person who weighed 125 pounds burned 210 calories
- The person who weighed 155 pounds burned 260 calories
- The person who weighed 185 pounds burned 311 calories
So the more consistent you are with your cycling, the greater the calorie loss will be.
As long as your maintaining a healthy, balanced diet there there will be a calorie deficit so you’ll start to see that sweet leg definition in no time!
How Often Should You Be Using An Exercise Bike
This really depends on your current level of fitness.
You can use your exercise bike everyday if you wish or even just a couple of days a week.
However, try not to think of it in terms of days.
Rather see them as sessions
15 minute, 30 minute, 45 minute or 60 minute sessions.
It seems more appealing this way!
If you are after more defined legs, then choose one of these session lengths and perform a HIIT workout (more on this below).
Short, sharp bursts of explosive power really activates those leg muscles!
Even a simple yet heart pounding workout for 15 minutes will show greater muscle definition compared to that if you were cycling at a steady pace for 2 hours.
The Fitness Plateau
Exercising is all about variety.
Not only will these keep you motivated rather than performing the same exercise routine over and over again.
But it actually has an effect on the progression of your muscle definition.
You see with consistent use of the bike and cycling at the same speed or same length of workout, your body in a way eventually begins to see this is as the norm.
And it begins to plateau.
When it plateaus, you’ll still be fit, healthy and full of energy however muscle definition starts to eventually dwindle.
Now, there is a way you can keep your fitness plateau away for longer with Interval Training or HIIT on the bike.
Interval Training or HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) is one of the best ways to keep your muscles activated and allowing them to work harder over a very short time period.
The harder they work – the greater tone definition your legs will see!
So, it’s all about mixing your workout up
Sitting on the saddle for low rides, standing up and off the saddle for high sprints, turning the resistance up and down.
HIIT sessions usually involves a very difficult pace anywhere from 30-90 seconds and then a rest period for up to double that time.
Changing it up like this will help you to keep those muscles burning, working hard and pumping greater blood flow to your legs.
To get started with a HIIT workout, check out Active.com’ s beginner HIIT workout!
It’s simple but very effective!
Get Those Leg Muscles Fired Up !
So there you have it
If your really longing for leg muscle definition from your exercise bike you need to get those leg muscle groups fired up!
Get on the bike and put in a good solid HIIT workout incorporating high and low resistance.
Fight the un-comfortableness for those sharp few seconds bursts and bring the resistance back down.
Give it all you got for even a 15 minute session on intensive intervals and I’ll guarantee you’ll start to see greater definition in no time!