When you’re trying to build muscle, whether for weight loss or weight gain, sometimes the same old weight lifting and/or running can get a little boring. Some people like to switch it up and add more exciting activities. One of the activities that is growing in popularity is cycling. But does it build muscle?
You might be surprised to learn that cycling actually does NOT build lean muscle. It does however build muscle endurance.
Have you ever seen a written workout plan before? Usually it has some days dedicated to cardio and other days dedicated to strength workouts. When doing strength workouts, you are lifting heavier weights for a few repetitions for just a little bit of time. When doing cardio, short for cardiovascular (heart) you are doing repetitive movements over and over for a longer period of time. This gets your heart rate up and burns calories, but it does not build lean muscle.
Does Cycling Build Muscle or Burn Fat?
Cycling, as you’re moving your legs around and around repetitively over an extended period of time, will definitely get your heart rate up, and you’ll feel the burn in your calves, but you’ll simply be burning calories and shedding existing fat, not building up your lean muscle mass.
You can get a bit of a more intense workout from cycling if you are going uphill, or, if you are using a stationary bike, if you increase the resistance or incline. Creating a greater resistance will make you work your muscles harder, but it won’t make you build much more lean muscle. Increasing the incline will absolutely give you better definition in your muscles as well as dramatically increasing your endurance as you do more and more.
If you are looking to build more lean muscle, you don’t have to drop your cycling routine. You should just include some definitive strength training in your schedule. Strength training will help you to build muscle, and cardio exercising like cycling will burn fat. Doing these two things together, alternating days will give you the most benefit.
There are some people who argue that they’ve been working out doing cycling and they have seen better muscle definition. This could very well be the case since it does aid in defining muscles. In fact, if you have a maximum resistance cycling session in a consistent basis, you may even see a bit of extra muscle. If you are the kind of person who wants to be a body builder of have a very distinctive amount of new muscle, however. Cycling won’t do the job completely.
None of this talk about cycling not building lean muscle means that it’s not good for you. In fact, cycling is incredibly beneficial to your health. Not only does it increase your heart rate, but it also lowers your risk for heart disease, increases good cholesterol levels, and can decrease feelings of depression and anxiety.
Does it just Burn Calories?
Cycling is a wonderful way to burn calories as well as increase muscle endurance and definition. If you’re looking to build new lean muscle, then you’ll have to combine some strength training in there to get the desired effect.
An ideal weight management plan has both cardiovascular and strength training exercises. Cardio burns the fat, strength training builds new muscle. Cycling is an ideal cardiovascular exercise with the added bonus of endurance training. You have to leave the strength training to the weights, though. There’s really no way around it if your goal is to get more muscles than you already have.
Does cycling build new muscle? No.
Does cycling strengthen and define the muscles you’ve already got? Yes.
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