does cycling help with running

3 Main Benefits of Cycling and Does Cycling Help With Running

Does cycling help with running – Cycling and running go hand in hand as some of the best forms of cardio, and if you are a runner, then you may think of cycling as running with added help. However, cycling is way more than that and is just as good for you as running is. There are many benefits of beginning to cycle as a runner, and cycling can actually improve your running performance. 

Cycling and running work most of the same muscles, when that muscle is worked it will perform better in both cycling and running, so if you have already been running for a while, you’ve got the tools to start cycling before you even buy a bike.

In this article, we will explore the benefits that cycling will have to a runner so we can convince you to get onto that bike and improve your running performance.

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What Muscles Do Cycling and Running Work?

As mentioned before, cycling and running work a lot of the same muscles, training these muscles will help you in both cycling and running to give the best performance possible. Therefore, you can improve your running, just by getting on a bike. Let’s get into some of the muscles that both cycling and running use.

Both cycling and running are heavily focused on the leg muscles as both activities have you use your legs to move forward. In fact, from your muscles’ perspective, being on a bike and running will just change the speed at which you are moving forward.

Quadriceps and Hamstrings

Quadriceps are a group of four muscles that are situated on the front of your leg, they are used to extend the knee. When both running and cycling the quadriceps are used to extend your stride and push your legs forward. When cycling, the quadriceps push down the pedals, while during running, they push your feet into the ground so you can take a step forward.

The hamstrings do the complete opposite, they are a group of three muscles that sit on the back of your leg and are used when flexing the knee and bringing the calves toward the upper leg. When cycling, these muscles are used to bring the pedals back up again after pushing down. The hamstrings help with running when you lift your leg up to place it down again further forward.

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The calves are composed of two muscles in the lower portion of your leg, these muscles are the gastrocnemius and the soleus. The calves are used to help push your legs off the ground. When running, the calves are used to push your legs off of the ground and further forward so your hamstrings and quadriceps don’t have to work as much.

When cycling, the calves are used to push down the pedals along with the quadriceps. 


The glutes are the biggest muscles in your body and make up your butt. The glutes aren’t just for show and have a massive part to play in the stabilization of your body especially when running and cycling.

When you are running, the glutes extend the hip to help push you off of the ground and stabilize your body by tightening so you don’t fall over while your other leg muscles are moving you along.

When cycling, the glutes have a similar job, as you are pushing the pedals down, the glutes will extend your hip to help the pushing of the pedals. They will also keep you and your bike steady and stable while you are using your legs to pedal. 

Benefits of Cycling for Runners

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As well as building strength in the same muscles that you use for running, therefore bettering your running performance, cycling also has other benefits that all runners could use. We have listed a few of them below.

Aiding Recovery

Running is an intense workout and after a long run your legs may be so sore that you don’t think you can hack another run tomorrow. If your legs are still sore, then this is your body telling you that you cannot do another high-intensity run again just yet.

However, a great benefit to cycling is that you can choose your own intensity. If instead of another run you do a low to medium intensity bike ride, it doesn’t only give your legs a much-needed rest, but it also could help aid the recovery of your legs. 

Cycling will help increase the blow-flow to the muscles that your legs use while running, which will flush out the lactic acid that builds up during high-intensity workouts and help them repair themselves. As well as this, your legs will be in motion while cycling so you can reduce the muscle and joint stiffness, and be back to running by tomorrow.

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Exercising With An Injury

Getting injured while running can be a real blow to your workout routine, and if you injure yourself while running you will have to take a break from running for a while. However, you don’t want to spend the entire recovery period doing nothing. Cycling can help you keep in shape while you cannot run. 

The main cause of injury when running is from the impact of the running. While running, your feet are constantly hitting the ground and causing an increased impact on your feet and legs. When cycling you don’t get that impact as your legs are in constant motion with your feet planted firmly on the pedals.

Therefore, if you have an injury it is likely that low to mid-intensity cycling will not aggravate said injury and you can keep in shape during the recovery process.

Coming Out Of Your Comfort Zone

If you have been running for a long time, although physically stimulating, it could stop being mentally stimulating. Cycling is a new sport that can help you come out of your comfort zone without changing the way in which you work out.

Because cycling and running work so many of the same muscles it wouldn’t be a huge difference for your body, but your mind could really benefit from trying a new active sport.

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Final Thoughts

Cycling and running are very similar in the muscles they train and the way they work your body, and therefore they go hand in hand by improving the other. If you are a runner then cycling can help you in many ways, most of all it can help recover your body and is way less damaging to your legs than running is.

Alternating cycling and running each day can really help build fitness and muscle without so much injury risk. More importantly, however, cycling could be a fun and exciting sport to try out and maybe find another passion.

3 Main Benefits of Cycling and Does Cycling Help With Running?