Leg Muscles Used When Biking
-HMH- Fit tip #6
Better Core through Better Biking
Do you like cycling? Are you trying to develop your core? A small adjustment in your cycling form can almost double your speed and turn your ride into an excellent abdominal workout.
When you are pedaling, there is a downstroke with the pushing foot in the front and an upstroke with the foot in the back. The downstroke is the power that propels the bike, but often people pedaling will use that push to also lift their resting back foot back up into the pushing position. The trouble with this is power that could be used to speed up the bike is lost to lifting the weight of the lazy back foot.
Good news! By using your abdominal muscles to lift the back foot up while pushing down with the front foot, you conserve all the energy of the downstroke for propelling the bike. Meanwhile, you turn your ride into an abdominal workout consisting of hundreds of unilateral knee raises. Try it! With some practice you will have a strong downstroke coordinated with a strong knee raise that trains your core and makes your upstroke almost weightless. Avid cyclists buy shoes that clip into the pedals to even be able to pull the back pedal up while pushing the front pedal down. This means a faster bike and great core workout.
A side note: there are a lot of muscles potentially involved in pedaling a bicycle. Use your awareness to recruit the muscles you are most wanting to develop. For example, my ride to work today was driven almost entirely by my gluteals. On the way home, I may try to use my hamstrings more. No matter what you’re using for the downstroke, you can always practice making the upstroke lighter by engaging your core.