What Muscles Does An Exercise Bike Work?

Author: Alex Bristol

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What Muscles Does An Exercise Bike Work?

A stationary bike works out a lot more than just your leg muscles. With proper form, an exercise bike workout can actively engage muscles across pretty much your entire body. Upright and recumbent bikes each offer their own muscle-conditioning benefits.

Because riding a bike is considered low impact, it is an ideal exercise for beginners, offering an efficient calorie-burning, muscle-toning workout. However, if you have previous injuries or other physical limitations, check with your doctor before riding a stationary bike.

cycling indoor

The Different Muscles Worked on by an Exercise Bike

Lower Body:

  • Quadriceps: This is the muscle in your thigh. They act as your knee extensors. Quadriceps are steadily working when you are pedaling an exercise bike.
  • Hamstrings: These are the muscles at the back of your upper thighs. These muscles work opposing your quadriceps. Their main function is to flex the knee, allowing it to bend while pedaling.
  • Gluteal muscles: These are your butt muscles. We have three glutes, large, medium, and small buttocks. It also helps to propel your bike.
  • Calf muscle: Below the knees, at the lower part of your legs, are the calf muscles. You work on the primary calf muscle (gastrocnemius) while riding a bike. It helps to lift your heel and extend your ankle to enable you to pedal when the knee is straight.

    The soleus, on the other hand, is a smaller calf muscle that also helps to raise the heel to cycle the bike when your knee is bent.
close up legs of cyclist on indoor turbo

Upper Body:

  • Abdominals: The bucket seat, along with the leg angle position in the exercise bike supports your lower abdominal muscles to work while cycling. If you fix your leg angle position closer to the pedal, you will feel your lower abs working a bit harder.

    A strong core stabilizes your body and lets you provide power when you push against the pedals.
  • Arm muscles: The front and back muscle of the arm are the biceps and triceps. Some exercise bikes feature an arm crank to work on many upper extremity muscles. The biceps allow you to pull the handle towards the body while the triceps help to push it away.
person working out on an indoor excercise bike

How Long To Build Up Muscles On An Exercise Bike?

You are not going to build muscle the way you want it overnight. For that, you need to work out regularly and be consistent. You’ll see the results after a few weeks. Be patient and persistent and you’ll start to see the effects on your body.

If you want to track the evolution of your muscle mass, you can do it with a body fat scale.

In general, you should start seeing the first effects after a few weeks, about 4 to 6 weeks. Your legs, thighs, and buttocks should be more firm. Your workout should also feel easier and less demanding after 4 to 6 weeks than it was at the very beginning.

After 6 weeks, continue working out at this pace and eventually increase the duration and intensity of your exercises at a pace that suits you, not too much though because doing too much could have a negative impact on your motivation and health.

After 2 to 3 months, you should clearly see that your legs, your thighs, and your buttocks are much more muscular than when you started exercising. Your muscle mass has increased and your fat mass decreased so that your body shape has become more athletic.

From this point on keep it up or push yourself harder if you want to really get going, but be warned because I know how addicting it can be.

cyclist looking tired after indoor cycling workout

Stationary Bike Workout Routines To Build Muscle

Routine Example 1

• Combined Cardio & HIIT Workout on Monday (30 to 45 min)

• Cardio Workout at a medium intensity on Thursday (45 to 60 min)

• HIIT Training every Saturday (20-30 min)

cyclist work out 2

Routine Example 2 (High Intensity)

• HIIT Workout on Monday and Wednesday (20 to 30 min)

• Cardio Workout on Thursday (30 to 60 min)

• HIIT Training on Saturday (30 to 45 min)

Workout Plans For Different Fitness Levels


Start with a 25- to 35-minute workout and progress from there, adding time in 1-minute increments as you build up your fitness.

  1. Start off pedaling at a low intensity for 5-10 minutes (warmup).
  2. Switch to medium intensity for 5 minutes, followed by:
  • high intensity for 1-2 minutes
  • medium intensity for 5 minutes
  • high intensity for 1-2 minutes
  • medium intensity for 5 minutes

3. Finish by pedaling at a low intensity for 5 minutes (cooldown).

sweating hard while on an indoor bike turbo

Interval Training

Once you’ve built up your fitness, you may want to boost your strength and stamina with interval training.

  1. Start off pedaling at a low intensity for 10 minutes.
  2. Switch to medium intensity for 10 minutes, followed by:
  • high intensity for 2 minutes
  • low intensity for 2 minutes
  • high intensity for 2 minutes
  • low intensity for 2 minutes
  • high intensity for 2 minutes

3. Cooldown by pedaling at low intensity for 5-10 minutes.

person working out on an indoor excercise bike

Weight Loss

This type of workout helps to burn calories and body fat, and it can be a good option to include in a weight loss plan. It’s also a good option if you want to switch up your resistance levels quickly.

  1. Start off pedaling at a low intensity for 5-10 minutes.
  2. Switch to medium intensity for 3-5 minutes.
  3. Alternate between high intensity (1-3 minutes) and medium intensity (3-5 minutes) for the next 20 to 30 minutes.
  4. Cooldown by pedaling at a low intensity for 5-10 minutes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does an exercise bike tone your stomach?

An exercise bike itself won’t tone your stomach although it depends on how you actually use it that’s going to sculpt those abs into a shape that will make anyone jealous. You can work toward this goal by taking into account losing weight, balance, movement, and resistance.

Is 30 minutes on a stationary bike enough?

The exercise bike burns calories, which will assist in creating a caloric deficit which is necessary for weight loss. The average person can burn 260 calories for a moderate 30-minute ride on a stationary exercise bike, which can contribute to your overall weight loss goals.


The exercise bike is excellent equipment for workouts. It’s easy on all your joints and easy on your lower back. It has a larger seat, which makes it safe and comfortable.

You don’t need to spend a lot of money on a gym membership or personal trainer. All you need is consistency and dedication. It also pays to know what muscles an exercise bike works. With this knowledge in mind, we hope you can achieve the kind of body you’re aiming for.

Good luck and of course.

Happy pedaling!

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