Exercise bikes are awesome pieces of fitness equipment. Despite their style, they do allow you to really vary up your training with different ways to workout. They also give you something functional and practical to do from the comfort of your own home. Obviously, we’re a fan of them. A common question, though, is whether they can help you to build up muscle in your legs.

The motion that an exercise bike requires means that you need to use your legs to generate power no matter what it is that you’re doing. That is, of course, a good start, but does it mean that you can build muscle? Only if you use it in the right way, and keep things changing.

Quad Development

Your quadriceps or quads are the main muscles that you’ll be using to push down the pedals and build up your power. They are the huge muscles on the front of your legs, and they are likely a lot stronger than you think.

If you have the resistance high enough on your exercise bike so that you do really feel like you’re pushing down the pedals, and if you work hard enough, your quads are going to be taking a hit. They will get bigger the more you do it and the longer you do it, but a higher resistance is what is going to make the difference.

close-up of bike exercise

Hamstrings on the pull-up

Your hamstrings on the back of your legs will be needed in your workout too. As you pull the pedals back up with them strapped to your feet, your hamstrings are what are going to be doing a lot of the work. Not as much as your quads, but still a reasonable amount. Aside from your glutes, these and the quads are pretty massive muscles, so they’ll see a benefit from your workload.

The more you concentrate on different positions and different resistances, you’ll see different levels of hamstring activation too. This allows you to tailor your workout routine and make sure that all of your leg muscles are getting the work that they need to become bigger and stronger.


The best thing you can do if you want to build up your leg muscle is to do H.I.I.T. training on your exercise bike. The beauty of HIIT training is that you are going to be using the highest possible resistance that you can handle, which is where the muscle building is going to be coming from.

If you set the resistance high and exercise in short sprint like bursts of even 45 seconds on, 45 seconds off, you are going to be doing a tonne of work and building serious muscle over time. You can even do it standing so that your quads are holding your body weight while you are doing the movement and add that extra effort to maximise your results!

women exercising on fitness bikes


We aren’t going to sugar coat the exercise bike. It does have its limitations, like everything in life, but they are not drastic. There are the more obvious limitations such as having to do the same exercise for every workout and needing to take an adequate amount of time between workouts to build up and recover your muscle, but here are a few specific limitations, too.

Time Consuming

Cycling is a time-consuming exercise. All cardio exercise is if you want to do it to a decent level, and cycling is absolutely no exception. It doesn’t matter if you’re running, rowing or cycling, time will be needed for a full and good workout. Of course, this is the case with strength training, too.

Limit to resistance

The main limitation is the actual capability of resistance of the equipment. Again, this applies to all training equipment, but it needs to be said nonetheless. Using an exercise bike means that the maximum resistance is capped. As you do build serious muscle on your legs, there will eventually be a point where you can only do so much, and you become better at building your muscular endurance rather than strength. This type of plateau is just a part of fitness.

woman exercising on fitness bike

Ultimately, you can build up your leg muscles with an exercise bike. There’s no way around it. If you put in the work, you’ll get results, and it is as simple as that. There are limitations to it, but there always are. If you are concerned about how far it can take you, why not look into some bodyweight exercises that you can do alongside the exercise bike to really hammer home your leg gains!



Before beginning any exercise or nutrition program, consult your physician, doctor or other professional. This is especially important for individuals over the age of 35 or persons with pre-existing health problems. Exercise.co.uk assumes no responsibility for personal injury or property damage sustained using our advice.

If you experience dizziness, nausea, chest pain, or any other abnormal symptoms, stop the workout at once and consult a physician or doctor immediately.