What Do Exercise Bikes Target on the Body?

Athletes using the stationary bicycle in a gym

Exercise bikes offer you a low-impact workout from a seated position. Recumbent bikes give you the comfort of being in a reclined position when you pedal. This is beneficial to back pain sufferers. Regardless of the bike you use, one thing is for sure; you burn calories during exercise. As an added benefit, you target multiple muscles on the body. This will not make you big, but it will definitely improve your muscle definition.


The quadriceps give the front of the thigh its definition. This muscle group is involved with two actions -- hip flexion and knee extension. When you raise your thigh toward your stomach and straighten your leg, you perform these actions. Both of which are performed while pedaling an exercise bike.


The hamstrings sit on the back side of the thigh and they perform the complete opposite motions of the quadriceps -- hip extension and knee flexion. You extend your hip when you move your thigh away from your stomach, and you flex your knee when you move your heel closer to your butt. Both actions take place as you push down on the crank during the cycling motion.


The gluteus maximus, medius and minimus are collectively referred to as the "glutes." This muscle group forms the buttocks and is responsible for hip extension in a similar fashion as the hamstrings.

Hip Flexors

The hip flexors flex the hip as the name implies. This is the same action that works the quadriceps. These muscles run from the lower stomach area down across the top of the thighs. The main muscles of the hip flexors are the psoas major and iliacus. In anatomical terms, you may hear this muscle group referred to as the iliopsoas.


The gastrocnemius and soleus make up the calf muscles. The gastrocnemius has a lateral and medial head, which are found right beneath the knee on the back side of the leg. The soleus sits in front of these muscles and both parts taper down to the Achilles tendon. During plantar flexion, you recruit the calf muscles. This action takes place when you bend your ankle and point your toes downward. While pedaling the bike, you do this as you extend your leg out.

Tibialis Anterior

The tibialis anterior runs down the front of the shin and covers the large tibia bone. Every time you dorsiflex your foot, you work this muscle. Dorsiflexion takes place when you point your toes up during pedaling.

Rectus Abdominis

The rectus abdominis is the large muscle in the stomach that reveals six pronounced segments when it is really defined. While pedaling an exercise bike, you work your abs to maintain balance and generate force. You will experience a greater effect on an upright bike than a recumbent bike because you do not have a backrest.

Tips About Exercise Bikes

Exercise bikes come equipped with a resistance adjustment. By turning it up, you will increase the workload on your body. Do not lean on the handlebars. This will create muscle imbalances and take work away from your body.