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What Muscles Does Stationary Biking Work & Other Exercise Benefits

What Muscles Does Stationary Biking Work

When talking about cardio exercises such as indoor cycling via stationary bikes, many people tend to talk about the weight loss benefits with all the body fat reduction. Despite how great riding a stationary exercise bike is when it comes to losing weight, it does much more than just burning calories. This is a conversation about all the things a stationary exercise bike brings to your muscle groups and how it affects them. We’re going to delve into just what stationary exercise bike work can bring to your daily routine and why people list it as one of the best in the category of aerobic exercise. So, what muscles does stationary biking work?

Stationary Bike Muscles

The muscles the stationary bike targets are mostly in the lower half, but it also targets the upper. Quads constantly work as you pedal continuously; the hamstrings, working as opposition to the quadriceps, flex the knee and bend as you pedal. The gluteal muscles work each time you push down while pedaling. Calves push and pull during cycling, and the hip flexors are trained as you cycle continuously. As for the upper body, the abdominal muscles tighten when cycling rapidly, your back muscles strengthen as well, straightening out your lower back, and your biceps and triceps strengthen when gripping handlebars.

Lower Body

For all who’ve asked what muscles stationary biking works, here is the rundown.

• Quadriceps & Hamstrings

When it comes to your lower half, the quads and hamstrings, or the front and back of your thigh muscle, work together continually as you pedal. Training these parts of your body will not only improve athletic performance, leg strength and flexibility, but also prevent injuries and help manage chronic conditions such as arthritis.

If you’re only interested in intensive workouts tied to hamstrings, you can visit our blog post to find out more about how you can train your hamstrings.

• Glutes

Glutes Stationary Biking

The glutes, known as the muscles of the buttocks, squeeze whenever you push down while pedaling on the exercise bike. These muscles propel you forward and work to move your thighs as you cycle. Cycling is great for strengthening and toning your buttocks.

• Calves

As for the calves, they represent the muscles at the back of your leg between the knee and the foot and they push and pull as you cycle. Cycling targets your primary muscle, known as the gastrocnemius, as it is used to lift your heel and extend your foot during pedaling. The advantages of training this part of the lower body are quite obvious – you can enjoy improvements in running and cycling speed and endurance as well as an increase in jump height and distance.

• Tibialis Anterior

Tibialis Anterior

One of the lesser known benefactors of cycling, the tibialis anterior, is in front of the shin and covers a large bone that runs through your shin. Training this muscle can help prevent knee injuries, improves balance and coordination and, above all, helps reduce pain in the shins, knees and lower legs. 

You should point your toes up during pedaling, that’s when this muscle gets worked.

Hip Flexors

Hip flexors are like a bridge, connecting the upper and lower halves of your body. Hip flexors belong to a group placed around your ball-and-socket which joins your legs to the torso.

The benefits of training this body part include:

  • maintaining good posture and core stability
  • reversing the effects of sitting
  • decreasing chances of pain and injury
  • improvements in athletic performance
Luckily, you can’t miss out on training it as you cycle, since it works continuously.

Upper Body

Even though the exercise bike affects the lower body the most, you should not ignore upper body benefits.

• Abdominal Muscles

Abdominal Muscles Stationary

If you’ve ever driven your bicycle with high intensity, you’ve probably noticed what a tremendous workout you’ve given to your abs. While cycling doesn’t involve enough movement for you to attain rock-hard abs from cycling alone, one of the best benefits is that it helps you develop a stronger core, which is the key to a strong foundation for your body.

• Back Muscles

While not at the level of toning your abdominal muscles would receive, your back muscles do receive a decent amount of exercise. Along with improving your back and ab muscles comes increased stability of your spine, strengthening your balance and posture.

These muscles, of course, aren’t the main target of these workouts. There are other, far more effective exercises for the back and you shouldn’t expect anything amazing since the back never tenses up during cycling.

• Biceps & Triceps

Your biceps and triceps reside in the front and back of your arms and these muscles are worked to a decent amount when you’re holding the handlebars while cycling. Increasing your grip on the handlebars can lead to an increased focus on this muscle group which can be highly beneficial.

That being said, cycling is not an exercise for the biceps and triceps, and can only improve them slightly, compared to the level of improvement it does on your lower half.

When working out, do not lean too heavily on the handlebars. This will create muscle imbalances and take work away from your body.

Other Stationary Bike Benefits

Other Stationary Bike Benefits

Apart from calorie burning and muscle building, here are other benefits you can enjoy from stationary biking.

• Decreases Blood Pressure & Cholesterol Levels

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), pedaling on a bike can help bring down high blood pressure and unhealthy cholesterol levels.

• Ease Of Use

There really is no competition when it comes to the ease of use of an exercise bike. It has a plug and play feel synonymous with video games. Very little effort and time are needed when preparing a stationary bike for your workout. Most modern bikes have user-friendly screens that help you if you want to design a workout or if you just want to track your progress. If you’re like me, you can just sit on it and go.

There is absolutely no way to stray from the correct form. It’s so easy and simple that it gives leeway for multitasking. You can catch up on your favorite show with ease or chat with people on your phone.

• Safety

Stationary Biking Safety

Stationary bike work is incredibly safe. An indoor bike offers all the benefits of riding a bike outdoors but without the dangers of traffic crashes or weather issues. The chances of hurting any one of your muscle groups or tendons is next to none, unless you set things to a difficulty you are not capable of, of course. If you’re still not sold on the exercise bike, you can visit our blog post where we delve into further detail about all the exercise bike benefits.

• Cardio Helps Lift Your Mood

According to some studies, riding a stationary bike for as little as twenty minutes or half an hour could help improve your mood if you’re feeling under the weather.

For more similar articles on muscles, check out our posts on does jumping on a trampoline build muscle and what muscles do recumbent bikes work (here). If you only have a regular bicycle and can’t afford a stationary, here’s how you can turn your bike into a stationary bike.

Have you already made up your mind on buying a stationary exercise bike but are uncertain of which one to pick? You can check out the best exercise bike reviews or the best foldable exercise bikes, if you’re short on space.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, a stationary bike is good exercise because it burns calories and also builds muscle. It is a great cardio workout that improves not just the calf or leg muscles in general, but the arm muscles and the entire body overall. It reduces fat, tones muscles, improves the heart rate and mental health.

Yes, a stationary bike burns belly fat. Now, if we’re talking effectiveness, a cardio workout like riding a stationary bike is the best low-impact workout for losing a ton of fat, and cycling at a medium intensity where it wouldn’t be too easy nor difficult to ride for extended periods of time. We have also put together a complete guide on how to lose belly fat fast at home.

How long it takes to build muscle on a stationary bike depends on the amount of hours put in and the intensity. In realistic terms, muscles targeted in the stationary bike workout, mainly leg and some upper body muscles, begin changing noticeably at around one or two months. Stationary exercise bike work considerably improves calf and thigh muscles, but do not disregard the upper half muscles – even the arm muscles improve during cycling.

A stationary bike is better than a treadmill if you’re looking for a low-impact workout that focuses more on the legs, improving their muscle mass and flexibility. The treadmill does burn more calories with a workout of the same intensity, but it’s also less safe and more demanding of full-body coordination. The treadmill affects the back muscles, arm muscles and the overall upper body at a higher level than stationary bikes.

Yes, a stationary bike is good cardio, great even! Only slightly outshone by treadmills and the like, an exercise bike is one of the best cardio workout devices. Just like any other cardio exercise, it works the leg muscles the most. The exercise bike will increase your strength and stamina, and substantially increase your thigh muscle mass.


So, what muscles does stationary biking work? Hopefully, now you know. The exercise bike is one of the safest, most practical and efficient workout tools on the market. Its ease of use, accessibility and benefits to both your mental, and especially physical condition are insurmountable. It allows you to opt for a cardio exercise with a lot of repetitions, or an exercise with a lot of resistance for muscle mass. Everyone needs at least one cardio exercise in their routine, and whether you’re focusing on lower muscle groups or just want to lose weight, this is the safest bet!