What Muscles Does An Exercise Bike Work? (Complete Guide)

If you want to burn calories fast, one effective way is to use exercise bikes. In addition to helping you shed that extra weight, it can also help you tone several muscles in your body. But what muscles does an exercise bike work?  

This article will discuss what muscles when you use this machine, how many hours you need to put into tone those muscles, and routines that could help you tone your body quickly.

Lower Body Muscles 

It’s not surprising that your lower-body muscles are targeted when using exercise bikes. The pedaling motion engages all of these muscles, which firms them with regular use. But what lower body muscles do work when using spin bikes? Check them out below:  

  • Quads and Hamstrings  
    The front thigh muscles, also known as quads, are located in your femur bone. This muscle group is responsible for extending your leg while supporting different movements such as walking and jumping. Since they act as knee extensors, they work steadily whenever you extend your leg as you pedal. On the other hand, the hamstrings or back thigh muscles are opposite of your quads. They are responsible for movements such as bending your knees and tilting your pelvis, which are movements you do when you are on an exercise bike. Whenever you bend your knee as you pedal, these muscles are activated, toning them as you continuously pedal.
  • Glutes 
    Another muscle group that works when riding an exercise bike is the gluteal muscles. Also called glutes, these muscles work with your hip joint and facilitate the abduction and extension of the thighs. The glutes are pushed down whenever you push down your legs to pedal. As you ride the spin bike, these muscles, along with your hips, push you forward so you can easily pivot your thighs. In return, it strengthens them, allowing you to tone your bum.  
  • Calves 
    This muscle group plays an integral part in strengthening your lower body. Calves are responsible for supporting you when you stand, allowing you to move your foot and lower leg. They are essential for running and walking, as they can contribute to your pace and stride. These muscles are located at the back of your leg. In cycling, they support your lower body as your push and pull. So, as you lift your heel and extend your foot during pedaling, these muscles work, firming them as you go.  
  • Hip Flexors 
    Another muscle group that is essential to your lower body movement is the hip flexors. These are the muscles responsible for supporting the ball-and-socket joint in your legs. Basically, they allow you to move your leg and knee and bring them closer to your chest. It also lets your upper body move forward to your hip. These muscles are activated every time you take a step or move your legs forward and back. Exercise bikes enable your hip flexors to work with your hip and glutes, toning and stretching them with every pedal.  
  • Inner Thighs 
    Exercise bikes also help tone your inner thighs. Your inner thigh muscles or adductors help bring your legs to the center of your body. They keep you stable and balanced and help you move safely. These muscles are critical in stabilizing your hips, knees, core, and low back. Since it supports many muscle groups, they are also activated whenever you work these muscles. Basically, they give your lower body the stability to perform regular activities such as walking, squatting, and cycling.
What Muscles Does An Exercise Bike Work? (Complete Guide)

Upper Body Muscles 

Because of the pedaling motion, it’s pretty easy to tell that exercise bikes can target many of your lower body muscles. However, many are still unfamiliar with the benefits this machine provides to your upper body’s muscles.  

While riding an exercise bike won’t always target your arms and abdomen, certain positions will allow you to target and strengthen them.

For example, pedaling with high resistance while standing can put pressure on your arm muscles and lower back, allowing you to work on these muscle groups. Then, as you increase the intensity, you can put more pressure on these muscles, eventually toning them.

Changing your position while cycling also targets the upper body muscles. Every time you shift your body, you put pressure on these muscle groups, including arms, abs, back, and shoulder. But how do exercise bikes work these muscles? Let’s find out.  

  • Abdominal Muscles   
    Do you know that exercise bikes can also strengthen your core? If you’ve experienced attending an intense spin class, you know that cycling can work out your abdominal muscles and is an excellent way to tone them. But how does this pedaling movement target your abs? Cycling strengthens your abdominal muscles by supporting your body from your hips to your ankles. While it’s not enough to give you the six-pack abs you want, the pedaling motion helps provide you with a strong foundation you need to develop and a stronger core. Remember, rock-hard abs aren’t the only indication of a strong core. Being able to support your body while doing intense workouts can also indicate that.  
  • Back   
    Even if you don’t feel like you’re working out your bike muscles while riding an exercise bike, the support your abs provide also comes from the back muscles. This will also depend on your posture and form. If you don’t correct them, instead of targeting your back muscles, it may strain your lower back. So, to work your back muscles, you must never forget to correct your saddle height and posture. If you do, it can improve your back muscles, resulting in increased stability for a more comfortable ride.
  • Biceps and Triceps   
    Your arm muscles--biceps and triceps--work heavily whenever you ride an exercise bike. These front and back arm muscles help you grip the handlebars, keeping your upper body stable while your legs pedal. As you increase your intensity and move in and out of your saddle, this muscle group is targeted, especially when you tighten your grip.
exercise bike upper body muscles worked

How Long Does It Take To Tone Muscles Riding A Bike?

An exercise bike is not a special machine that magically tones your muscles when you ride it. You need to put in time and effort and consistently work out to achieve a firm bum and legs.

That means you need to ride your bike regularly. It may seem pointless as the first few rides would not show any results. But remember, consistency is key. You have to be patient and persistent.  

If you want to see how your muscles evolve as you train, you can use a body fat scale. Physical results won’t manifest right away, but the body fat scale can help motivate you, especially if you can see how your muscles are growing. Generally, the effects of your workout will show after 4 to 6 weeks of consistent training.  

During this period, you will notice that your legs, thighs, and butt are firmer. You will also start to feel stronger, and the workout will be easier than it was when you first started. But don’t stop yet.

After 6 weeks, start increasing the intensity and duration of your workout. However, don’t push your limits—no need to double the time and intensity right away. Listen to your body. If you push yourself too much, you might lose your motivation and flow.  

After 2 to 4 months, your body will look more toned. Your legs, thighs, and butt will look stronger and more muscular compared to when you just began. If you're using a body fat scale, you’ll see that your muscle mass has increased and your fat has decreased. But achieving this is only the start. You need to maintain and consistently ride the bike to keep this toned body.

Also Check Out - Are Calorie Counters On Spin Bikes Accurate?

Two Spin Bikes Beside a Fitness Signage

Exercise Bike Workout Routines For Building Muscle 

When you start riding an exercise bike, you need to ask yourself what you want to achieve with your workout. Do you want to lose weight and tone your muscles? Or do you want to gain more muscle mass and volume?

Once you determine your fitness goal, you can now create a routine. Here are two plans you can try to tone and strengthen your muscles:

For toning and strengthening

This type of exercise routine targets your legs, thighs, and bum while helping you burn calories. Start by doing HIIT training on your exercise bike 2 times a week for 30 to 45 minutes. Make sure you alternate between a high intensity and recovery phase. During the high-intensity phase, increase the resistance.

This will allow you to work your muscles more. Then, add some cardio workout of 45 to 60 minutes at least once into your weekly routine. This could be aerobic exercise, Zumba, or anything that could get you moving. This will help you shed that extra weight fast.

See Also - Do Exercise Bikes Strengthen Knees?

For muscle bulking

You need to remove the extra cardio workout and focus on the HIIT training for this routine. Depending on your strength, you can do 3 to 5 HIIT workouts per week for 20 to 30 minutes. Make sure you increase the pedaling resistance as you go for maximum results.

air bike muscles getting worked

Muscles Worked When Biking FAQs

Can a stationary bike burn belly fat? 

Yes, it can burn belly fat, but you need to be consistent. Removing that extra fat on your tummy will take time, so you must be patient and persistent.  

How does cycling change your body shape? 

If what you mean by changing your body shape is losing weight and getting toned, then yes, it will change.

Is road biking better for fitness than stationary bikes? 

It depends on what your fitness goal is. But road biking can require more strength, especially on uphill streets. This means that you will need to exert more effort, providing you with better and faster results.


Riding an exercise bike can work wonders for your body. Not only can it target your lower body muscles, but it can also help strengthen your upper body muscles. However, these changes won’t happen overnight.

Be sure to put in the time and effort. It may be challenging to continue working out at first, but once you can see the results of your hard work. You’ll realize that your sweat will never be a waste.  

Last Updated on December 18, 2022

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Andrew White

Andrew White is the co-founder of Garage Gym Pro. As an expert fitness professional (gym building nerd) with over 10 years of industry experience, he enjoys writing about everything there is to do with modern fitness & the newest market innovations for garage gyms. When he isn’t testing out products for his readers, he’s usually out surfing or playing basketball.