Will Riding an Exercise Bike Strengthen My Knee?

Man watching woman on exercise bike at gym

An exercise bike is a bicycle that remains stationary as it is being peddled. It is an easy, elegant solution to the difficulty of taking a bike out to an area that is congested or unpleasant for bike riding or riding in inclement weather. An exercise bike is not just beneficial for becoming fit, however. It can also be used to strengthen the knee.


There are two major muscle groups that support and stabilize the knee: the quadriceps and hamstrings. The quadriceps group attaches to the front of the shin bone below the knee and controls the straightening of the knee and the movement of the kneecap. It's essential for standing, walking and running. The hamstrings group attaches to the back of the shin bone and is used to bend the knee. A number of other muscles such as the hip abductors also affect the knee. The major ligament in the region is called the anterior cruciate ligament; it's the most common place for a knee injury.

Low Impact Exercise

Compared to other exercises, cycling is a relatively healthy exercise for the knee. The motion is smooth, and the knee bears little of the actual weight; it doesn't have the same high impact effect as running or any sport in which running is critical. In addition, the resistance of the bike can be changed to allow the knee to do more or less work in accordance with how your knee feels in response to the exercise.


According to the website Cartilage Health, stationary exercise bikes are used often for knee rehabilitation after knee injury or surgery and the management of chronic degenerative conditions such as osteoarthritis. Cycling can help with knee joint range of movement, knee joint stability and muscle strength. It can also reduce or eliminate pain. The cycling motion will nourish the anterior cruciate ligament and build the quadriceps.


For many people, a stationary exercise bike can be a cornerstone of an exercise routine. It also works wonderfully as a warm-up exercise. Five minutes on the bike will prepare your muscles for strenuous activity. By increasing the blood supply to the muscles of the knee, cycling helps to prevent injury during exercise.

Correct Form

You must set the saddle of the bike at a height that will not strain your knee or hip joints. The saddle is considered too high if your hips rock back and forth as you ride, which places stress on your hip joints. Your knee will also be completely straightened when the pedal is at its lowest point, which can strain the illotibial band and the anterior cruciate ligament in the knee. You should adjust your seat to a height that leaves your leg just slightly bent on the downstroke to the lowest pedal level.

Explore In Depth

Toward a better prescription of the prone back extension exercise to strengthen the back muscles January 30, 2007
  • A. Plamondon
  • C. Marceau
  • S. Stainton
  • P. Desjardins
Are resistance and aerobic exercise training equally effective at improving knee muscle strength and balance in older women January 01, 2017
  • Elisa A. Marques
  • Pedro Figueiredo
  • Tamara B. Harris
  • Flávia A. Wanderley
  • Joana Carvalho
Leg intramuscular pressures and in vivo knee forces during lower body positive and negative pressure treadmill exercise. July 01, 2012
  • Brandon R. Macias
  • Darryl D. D'Lima
  • Adnan Cutuk
  • Shantanu Patil
  • Nick Steklov
Effectiveness of Hamstring Knee Rehabilitation Exercise Performed in Training Machine vs. Elastic Resistance Electromyography Evaluation Study April 01, 2014
  • Markus Due Jakobsen
  • Emil Sundstrup
  • Christoffer H Andersen
  • Roger Persson
  • Mette K Zebis