Even though you are likely to see a number of exercise contraptions on a frequent basis on your fitness journey, you can rarely go wrong with an exercise bike – and there is a good reason that makes it an enduring favorite of many people. One of the major benefits it gives is a good physique over time, even while remaining a form of low impact exercise – it never puts undue pressure on your body.
When you are in the midst of pedaling an exercise bike, the muscles within your stomach and legs give you the best power and position, which allows you to focus on burning calories and losing unnecessary fat stores.
In addition, bikes are user friendly, and they help you increase your stamina without the risk of injuring yourself, unlike high-impact sports like running. The best part of it is that you do not need to worry about weather conditions outside, especially when you are cycling indoors – and it tones your body in ways you might not have thought of.
What are the muscles that are at work when you cycle?
Some of the leg muscle groups that are in use when you cycle are:
- Calf muscles
- Quads (Quadriceps, which are in the front part of the thighs)
- Gluteus Maximus (your bum)
- Hamstrings (these are at the back of your thigh)
- Hip flexors
- Dorsiflexors of your foot
- Plantarflexors of your foot
When these muscle groups contract together in a certain sequence, this creates the motion of pedaling. In addition, there are some muscle groups in the upper body that also work to give you a total workout when you cycle, although they mostly function as support systems to give your body balance. They are:
- The back muscles
- Abdominal muscles – both external and internal
- Shoulders and chest
- Arm muscles
What are the benefits of your stomach muscle?
Even though it may not work the upper body in particular, there are some benefits that it still provides, which include:
- Creation of a calorific deficit – cycling in general will help your body create a calorific deficiency, as it is burning more calories than what you are taking in. this forces it to use the fat stores for your energy, and you begin to slim down – eventually revealing the toned muscles that are underneath these fat stores.
- Stress relief – Any kind of exercise you do can count as a method of stress relief, but being in a spinning class can be good for you since it allows you to talk to other people – especially if you are in the same weekly class. It will also help you relax from tough days, since the classes also have some upbeat music, while the instructor can offer plenty of motivation to help you feel better.
- The exercise is kind to the joints – cycling is among the low impact exercises, which means that it does not place much pressure on your joints such as the ankles and knees. This makes it kinder to you if you have conditions affecting your bones like arthritis, and it is also a useful activity for older and overweight or obese people to do, since it only involves muscle movements. However, there is something you need to also keep in mind: to lose a significant amount of weight, you need to cycle at moderate to high speeds for at least 250 minutes every week. This is equal to about 45 minutes every day, which is how long a spinning session lasts.
How cycling engages your core
Obviously your legs will be doing plenty of work as you pedal through the session, but your core – your center – is where most of the energy comes from. This area is not just your stomach, but also includes the pelvic floor muscles, the abs, and your lower back.
As you are riding the bike, the abs will help you maintain stability and prevent upper body movements that cause unnecessary rotation. As you ride the bike, the core and abs come in to stabilize your movements, but the activity will not directly build them like plank holds and crunches would.
Instead, cycling activates the use of these muscles because it forces them to continuously draw in towards the spine, similar t when you are about to cough or sneeze. As you continue doing a few drills lasting 30 to 60 seconds and increasing the resistance, you learn to maintain control, which eventually builds your abdominal stamina.
In order to increase the benefits you are getting from your cycling session, make sure you drop on the floor and do some additional exercises that strengthen the core. You will begin noticing that your sessions on the bike will last longer, and your midsection becomes stronger. The exercises are:
- Stability ball crunches – lie on a stability ball, and make sure it is supporting your lower back. Plant your feet firmly on the floor and place your hands behind your head, then crunch up and down for 10 to 15 times. Do three sets.
- Stability ball bird dog – on a stability ball, balance your midsection while maintaining a belly-first position. Place your hands flat on the floor and tuck your toes behind you to form a plank. Raise your left leg and right arm slowly, hold, and then repeat with the right leg and left arm. Repeat for 20 times.
- Hip bridge – on an exercise mat, lie down with your knees bent and your head on the floor. Place the hands along the hips, and lift your bum to make a straight line from the knees to shoulders. Pause and breathe two times, then release. Repeat three sets, and do the move 12 times for each set.
Spinning provides plenty of work for your leg muscles, but it also engages the core muscle groups in a major way to help you build your stamina. However, you also need to set up your bike properly and engage in other core-building exercises in order to make the most of your spinning sessions.