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Cycling Exercises: Best Leg Exercises for Cyclists to Perform Better

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Every cyclist dreams of achieving the extra mile whenever they pedal their cycle. Cycling is not always about how strong your legs are but it is how efficiently you can use them. In order to use your legs efficiently, you must exercise them on a daily basis. Exercises will not only shape your legs but even strengthen them. This will give your leg muscles more power to pedal. Find out the powerful and best leg exercises for cyclists that are a must.

Exercise on a daily basis, reduce the muscle imbalances and weakness and turn into a powerful cyclist. Let’s pedal straight into the workouts. 

Best Leg Exercises for Cyclists

1. Alternating Box Push-offs

One of the basic leg workouts for a cyclist is the alternating box push-offs. You need to stand with one foot on a step or a box. Push with your top foot as you jump and cycle your legs. Remember to land softly and repeat with the other side.

box push offs
Box Push offs

2. Split Squat Jumps

Split-squat jumps are considered one of the best leg workouts for cyclists. You need to stand in a split squat position, with one foot in the front and the other one back. Swing your elbows back and jump as high as you can. Land softly, reposition yourself and then repeat it.

split squat jumps
Split squats jumps

3. Single Leg Reach

The single leg reach is regarded as one of the best leg exercises for cyclists. You need to place three water bottles in front of you. Stand on one leg. Perform a squat by slightly bending the knee and reach down towards the left cone. Return to your standing position, perform another squat and reach towards the forward cone. Return to your standing position and finally squat and reach towards the right one. Repeat the entire sequence with your other leg.

single leg reach exercise
Single Leg Reach (source)

4. Split Squats

Moving on with the list, the next leg workout we have is the split squat. Stand with a split stance, with one leg forward and the leg back. Drop down to a split squat position. Get back to your original position. Repeat it for the other leg.

Split Squats workout
Split Squats (source)

5. Forward Lunge

The forward lunge is rated as one of the best leg exercises for cyclists and if you ever ask a cyclist, they’ll say the exact same thing. The reason behind this is, when you perform the forward lunge, the muscles of your hips, thigh, and trunk have to decelerate. This stops the motion of your body before pushing it back to the starting position. This motion is referred to as an eccentric action, but cycling has no eccentric action. The inclusion of this leg workout will drastically improve your lower body strength. Hence we strongly recommend this leg workout for women cyclists. Strengthen your lower leg and be a pro at cycling. 

Forward Lunge
Forward Lunge

Till now, we’ve seen some of the basic but highly rated leg workouts for cyclists. As we move on, the list will contain some strenuous leg workouts. You need to be hydrated for that reason.

6. Lateral Lunge

Cycling doesn’t involve lateral movements. But, the inclusion of such legs workout that trains your hips is compulsory as you generate a fair amount of strength from your hips. The lateral lunge is one of those exercises that will train your hips and back. Hold a pair of dumbbells at shoulder level and lunge to the side. Drop your hips down and back as you descend into the lunge.

lateral lunge
Lateral Lunge for legs

7. Single Leg Squat

This particular leg workout requires great balance and that’s why it is rated as one of the best legs workouts for cyclists. So, you need to stand in front of a mirror and descend down into a squat with your trailing leg behind you. You do not need to worry if you are not able to bend down to a great extent. You do not have to go deep into the squat to receive the most benefit from it. 

single leg squat
Single leg squats for your legs

8. Step Ups

Step up has been regarded as one of the many leg workouts that a cyclist must perform to increase both their stamina and leg strength. As we are discussing the best leg exercises for cyclists, we must include step-ups in it.  Well, obviously you have done this exercise before but here, we are going to introduce some modifications to make it a bit challenging.  

Find a step that is about 6 or 7 inches. Place one foot on top of the steps and hold two dumbbells at shoulder level. Now, step up and raise your trailing leg.Return to your original position and now try the same exercise without resting your foot on the ground. Continue to perform this particular workout till failure as this will test your level of balance. 

step up workout
Step up Workout

9. One-Legged Pedalling

Till now, the most difficult leg workout we have come across is the step up. The reason being, we added some modifications to it. Now, let us move into some of the leg workouts that will actually involve cycling. One of the difficult leg workouts that will test your balance and your hip strength is the one-legged pedalling. This is an ideal leg workout for women which will help women to balance their body. 

Start pedalling with one leg and unclip the other holding it clear of the rotation. Initially, it will be difficult and you will probably find your movements jerky due to weak hip flexors. But, upon practicing your hip flexors will become strong and soon you’ll find yourself effectively pulling on the upstroke and pushing on the down stroke. This is one of the methods of cycling strength training on the bike.

one leg pedalling
Leg strengthening workout (source)

10. Calf Raises

Cycling involves a lot of your calves. Your calves are constantly being flexed while you are cycling. So, you need to build your calf muscles to improve your cycling. Stand on a flat surface with your feet shoulder width apart and lift your body weight using your toes. Keep in mind that you are actually lifting all of your body weight with your calf muscles. 

This is why calf raises is one of those leg workouts that you can perform any time of the day to get the extra pump in your legs. Considering all the workouts we have across till now, calf raises seem to be one of the best leg exercises for cyclists in terms of equipment required. Actually, you do not need any equipment for this that is why it is regarded as one of the best strength training for cyclists at home.

calf raises
Calf raises 

11. Leg Press

As a cyclist, you need to give your legs the best workout training regimen. Although not considered as one of the best leg exercises for cyclists this workout surely gives strong thighs and strong knees. In a leg press machine place your feet about shoulder-width apart on the platform. After resting your feet, press the sled away from you thereby straightening your legs and unlock the sled. Lower the sled until your legs are bent 90 degrees. 

leg press
Leg press for stronger legs

12. Leg Extension 

Talk about weight training, and the leg extension is one of the best leg exercises for cyclists if they want their quadriceps muscles in their leg to be strong. Although it is not considered as the total form of a leg workout, it is the best form of resistance training for your legs. Almost every gym has this machine. The downside to this workout is that the more weight you apply the more pressure it will put on your knees and ankles. 

So, it is best advised to apply light weight and increase the number of reps. In that way, your knees and ankles will not take as much impact as it would have when used with heavier weights.

13. Leg Curl

Leg curls are a simple way to increase strength in your hamstring. This is an isolation exercise that targets your hamstring. This leg workout involves flexing the lower leg against the resistance towards the buttocks.

Till now, we have seen leg workout in their single form, meaning these were all single exercises. Let's now clear the air of confusion about cycling and workouts. 

FAQs on Cycling and Workouts 

Q: How does strength help endurance?
A: This is one question that ponders every cyclist. Well, strength and weight training for cyclists are equally important. Training for strength and endurance at the same time is a very delicate balance. But there is a problem. Those who train for strength and endurance simultaneously simply do not see the muscle gains they had expected. The reason is interference. There are few ways where strength training will help your endurance. One way is obviously the circuit training and let’s see the other ones:

  • Sprint endurance training.
  • A high intensity of concurrent training with heavy loads and sprint intervals.
  • Heavy load strength training.
  • Strength and endurance training is one of the best leg exercises for cyclists when combined with each other

Q: Why cyclists experience fatigue?
A: Fatigue is something the muscle experiences after a strenuous round of exercise. Fatigue is a common symptom that cyclists face after a ride. In order to get rid of this condition, one needs to live a disciplined life. A balanced diet with the right amount of nutrition in it. Drinking lots of water throughout the day as you will sweat buckets while preparing your body for the challenge ahead. Maintaining your weight is also a big factor if you do not want to experience muscle fatigue.

Q: What difference will Circuit Training bring to the body?
A: If there is a book about the best leg exercises for cyclists, it should also have circuit training in it. Circuit training is not a single exercise; it is an amalgamation of various exercises. 

Circuit training focuses on all parts of the body. A circuit must work each section of the body individually. Some of the typical activities that constitute the Circuit training involve; Upper-body workouts, core & trunk workouts, lower-body workouts and total-body workouts.

Now, let’s see what combinations of the workouts you can use in Circuit training.

Circuit 1: Squat, Kettlebell Swing, Single-leg deadlift, Side Lunge, Box Jumps.
Circuit 2:  Leg Press, Planted Step-up, Lunge, Figure-4 Bridge, Split Jump.
Circuit 3: Deadlift, Pendulum Lunge, Side Step-up, Jumping Squat

Q: What is the difference between cyclist’s legs vs. runner’s legs?
A: While cycling and running do involve the same part of the body, but the debate, “Cyclist’s legs vs. Runner’s legs” continues with full swing. During running the body moves through four stages: heel strike, single limb support, push-off and leg swing. Whereas during cycling, it goes through two stages; the power phase and the recovery phase.

Q: Is a warm out session essential before a workout?
A: Before you type “best leg exercises for cyclists” and Google it, you might want to turn to some basic warm-up exercises. Some of them include jogging, skipping, jumping jacks and few push-ups (optional).

Q: How different are workouts for men vs. workouts for women?
A: To be honest, there aren’t any single leg workouts or exercise in general designed for men or female exclusively. A female cyclist’s legs will obviously differ from a man’s owing to the anatomical difference. That is why a female cyclist always puts more emphasis on her diet and strength training. 

Training Program Design Recommendations

Let’s wrap it up by giving you some tips about how to design your training program.

  • The first thing that you need to make is a cycling exercise plan diary or a chart that will contain your regular training regimen. Stick to that plan and make no excuses. 
  • Next step towards training must be to focus on the basic exercises. Start with basic exercises and follow a regular workout routine.
  • Then you should develop strength and conditioning for cycling. 
  • Along with strength and endurance workouts, you must let your body relax too. So, include recovery weeks in your plan. Get into a leisure ride, go for cross-training workouts. Basically, your recovery week should be light and easy for your body.
  • A balanced diet with the right amount of water and obviously no alcohol will bring brownie points to your training plan. 

So, these were the top leg workouts for cyclists. Perform these leg workouts regularly and give more power to your pedal. Make sure to start with a warmup and then get into the intense circuit. These exercises are bound to bring a world of difference to your legs. So, workout, sweat and pedal to faster performance. Share with us your favorite leg workout regime in the comments below!