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Can Riding an Exercise Bike Tighten My Legs & Butt?

A staple at many commercial and home gyms, the stationary bike offers a non-impact workout that's easy on the joints. Along with providing an effective cardiovascular workout, cycling also builds muscular strength, most notably in your glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps and calves. Your lower body is responsible for the majority of the movement and energy on an exercise bike, which means that your workout will target some of the largest muscles on your body.

Calorie Burn

One of the ways to look more toned in the butt and thighs is to lose extra flab covering your muscles. To lose fat, it's necessary to burn more calories than you consume daily -- and an exercise bike can help you do just that.

It takes approximately a 3,500-calorie deficit to lose a pound of fat. Riding a stationary bike burns approximately 286 calories in 30 minutes if you weigh 180 pounds, according to the Health Status calculator. Kick up the intensity to a vigorous rate and sizzle 486 calories in 30 minutes. Jump on the stationary bike three to four times per week, and -- provided you're eating just enough calories to maintain your weight -- you can lose as much as 1/2 pound every week.

Now all that fat won't come from your butt and legs, but as your whole body trims down, you'll look tighter, leaner and firmer through the lower body.

Proper Form

Using proper form and posture on the stationary bike can help you to maximize the muscle development in your glutes, thighs and calves. Adjust the seat so that your knee remains slightly bent at the bottom of the pedal rotation. Develop a push-pull pattern to fully engage your hamstrings and quadriceps; push down with one leg while pulling up with the other.

Place only the balls of your feet on the pedals, and keep your feet parallel to the floor throughout the pedaling motion. Keep your abs pulled in toward your spine to protect your lower back. Slide your shoulder blades down your back and maintain a straight torso throughout your session.

Cycling Drills

How you ride the bike also affects the development of the muscles of your legs and butt. Once you can sit and pedal comfortably for 30 to 60 minutes, it's time to direct your training.

Seated climbs, with the resistance at a high level, helps engage your quads -- the muscles at the front of your thighs. Standing climbs will be effective at developing your hamstring muscles -- at the backs of your thighs. Sitting and pedaling at rapid pace with moderate resistance can also develop your quadriceps.

Vary your workout by alternating these drills. For example, after a warm up do:

  • 2 minutes of a steep seated climb
  • 1 minute recovery
  • 2 minutes of a steep standing climb
  • 1 minute recovery
  • 1 minute of a fast, seated sprint

Repeat the sequence several times to make a complete workout. Do this drill-focused workout at two or three rides per week; the other days, pedal at a steady, moderate intensity.

Off the Bike

To expedite the development of better definition and tautness in your butt and thighs, augment cycling with two to three strength-training sessions per week. Focus on moves such as squats, single-leg deadlifts and heel raises. Do two to three sets of eight to 12 repetitions using a weight that feels heavy by the last couple of reps.

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About the Author

Beth Rifkin has been writing health- and fitness-related articles since 2005. Her bylines include "Tennis Life," "Ms. Fitness," "Triathlon Magazine," "Inside Tennis" and others. She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Temple University.

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