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Strengthen Cycling Quads – A Simple Way To Build Leg Muscles

Cyclists are famed for their massive thighs, which they use to power up huge peaks or sprint to the finish line. Cycling quads that are strong increase your resistance to fatigue and improve the power of your pedal stroke.

cycling quads

About cycling quads

  • What are quads?

Bulging, strong quads are like flashing neon signs announcing that you are a cyclist, and you’ve come to kick some ass. The four muscles collectively called the “quads” or quadriceps muscles are the primary movers when you push through the pedal stroke, so stronger quads equal more watts.

The size of your quads is determined by a variety of factors, including your height—shorter riders’ legs tend to be (or appear to be) stockier; your genes—some people, such as sprinters, have more fast-twitch “anaerobic” muscle fibers, which are the ones that really pop, giving track racers those Lycra-busting quads; and how and where you ride—spinning easy at a high cadence develops less muscle than pushing harder Powerful quads, of course, come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

  • Effects

The quadriceps and glutes are the principal cycling muscles, but the hamstrings, hip flexors, calves, and shin muscles also contribute to pedaling. The quadriceps are in charge of pulling down on the pedals, which is when the pedal stroke generates the most power. Cycling with heavy gears generates physiological adaptations and muscular growth similar to weightlifting since you can push down on the pedals with all your might.

  • Benefits

Cycling can help you achieve a variety of fitness goals because it is a cardiovascular workout, a muscular endurance-building activity, and a strength-building activity. If you merely want to improve the appearance of your legs, cycling can help you burn fat while also strengthening your quadriceps muscles. Cycling is also a low-impact, low-impact activity that is gentle on the joints. You may use your stationary bike fitness to ride up hills or dash to catch the next green light outside. Other exercise techniques should be incorporated into your fitness routine to better treat upper-body muscular regions, such as the back.

  • Injury Prevention

Because big-gear cycling puts a lot of strain on your knees, it’s critical to fit your bike appropriately to minimize injury. At the bottom of the pedal stroke, your seat should be high enough that your leg is fully extended without locking out—you should still have a tiny bend in your knee. While cycling, keep your toes and knees pointed straight ahead. While pedaling, make sure your upper body is calm and relaxed, and that you are not swaying from side to side or leaping forward in a “pecking” action.


See also: Essential Strength Running Exercises, Master Your Training


Exercises to build stronger cycling quads

To get the cycling quads you’ve always wanted, include these on- and off-the-bike exercises into your routines.

On-the-bike exercises

1. Single-Leg Pedaling

The rectus femoris is the quadriceps muscle that runs straight down the front of your thigh and aids in hip flexion (pulling up and pushing down on the pedals). A single-leg pedaling drill is a great way to work it along with your other hip flexors and get a silkier pedal stroke in the process. Most people can pedal with one leg for about 30 seconds before becoming fatigued because the hip flexors are neglected when using both legs because the leg pushing down always pushes the other leg back up.

  • How to Do This:

Sit on an indoor trainer, one foot clipped in and the other propped up on a chair or stool. Begin pedaling at a comfortable cadence with the bike in easy gear, concentrating on maintaining a smooth pedal stroke through the top (where it usually will feel hardest). Spin for 30 seconds in this manner.

  • How Many Reps:

Repeat 3–4 times with different legs. Finish with a gentle pedal stroke with both feet clipped in. Increase your ability to single-leg pedal for 3 to 4 minutes on each leg.


2. Low RPM Grind
  • How to Do This:

Big-gear development results from big-gear work. Ertl has athletes supplement their gym work with big-gear, low-cadence intervals into the wind or on slight inclines to build bike strength during the season. Maintain a cadence of less than 60 rpm and push steadily for about 5 minutes.

  • How Many Reps:

Rest and repeat for 2 to 3 sets.


3. Over-Gear Intervals

(Note: Skip this drill if you have a history of knee problems.)

  • How to Do This:

Shift into high gear on a flat stretch of road to slow down to walking speed. Stay in the saddle and push the pedals firmly but smoothly, increasing your speed until you reach top speed. Hold for about 30 seconds, then shift back down, spinning easily for 1 minute to recover.

  • How Many Reps:

Repeat 5–8 times more. Do this once or twice per week.

Single-Leg Pedaling

Off-the-bike exercises

1. Side Step and Kick

Side Step and Kick

  • How to Do This:

Begin by standing to the right of a box or step, hands at sides (with or without dumbbells). Step onto the box with your left foot. Lift the body up by pressing through the left heel and swinging the right leg out to the side as far as possible. Return to your starting point.

  • How Many Reps:

Complete 10 reps on each side, then switch sides.


2. Bulgarian Split Squat

bulgarian split squat

  • How to Do This:

Stand with your back to a standard bench or box, holding dumbbells. Reach back with your right foot and place the top of your foot on the box. Bend the left leg and lower the right knee to the floor. Push through the left foot to return to the starting position when the left thigh is parallel to the floor.

  • How Many Reps:

Complete 10 reps; then repeat on other leg.


3. Slider Lunge


  • How to Do This:

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Underneath your right foot, place a paper plate or a towel. For balance, shift your weight to your left leg and clasp your hands in front of your chest. Bend your right knee and slide your left foot out as you lower into a lunge, sending your hips back. Remember to keep your left knee over your toes and your chest lifted. Pull the left leg in slowly and return to the starting position.

  • How Many Reps:

Repeat for 15 reps, then switch sides.


4. Lunge Split Jump


  • How to Do This:

Begin by standing, then step your left foot forward and lower into a lunge so that your knees form a 90-degree angle. Jump up quickly by pressing into your left heel and switching your legs in the air in a scissors motion, landing with your right foot forward. You can use your arms for balance and momentum. Jump again when the left knee grazes the ground.

  • How Many Reps:

Perform 5 jumps on each leg for 10 jumps total.


5. Squat


  • How to Do This:

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands clasped at your chest. Lower into a squat by sending your hips back and bending your knees until your thighs are about parallel to the floor. Maintain a lifted chest. To return to the starting position, press through the heels.

  • How Many Reps:

Perform 10 reps.


6. Walking Lunge


  • How to Do This:

Hold dumbbells at your sides and stand. Take a giant step forward with your left leg and your right knee bent toward the floor. Both knees should be bent at a 90-degree angle. Press into your left heel to return to standing, then repeat with your right leg.

  • How Many Reps:

Continue for 20 paces, 10 on each leg.


The thighs of professional cyclists resemble tree trunks. Sprinters are typically hulking riders whose massive muscles combine to pull on the handlebars and explode into the pedals for a powerful sprint. Strength training, both on and off the bike, is recommended to increase your quad strength. Let’s do a great job and have the strongest cycling quads.


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