What Muscles Does A Stationary Exercise Bike Work?

October 31, 2021
  • Sydney Kaiser
    Product Reviewer, Content Writer, Certified Personal Trainer

*TreadmillReviewGuru helps consumers find the best home fitness products. When you buy a product we recommend, we may earn a commission.

The stationary exercise bike is an excellent piece of equipment that helps build muscle and strength while giving an effective, heart-pumping workout. The exercise bike primarily works all the main muscles in the legs, but the core, back, and arms get some exercise too. Don’t forget about the heart muscle! As you become breathless and your pulse increases, you’re improving your cardio strength and giving the heart a great workout.

Although the leg muscles do the majority of the work, more and more brands are coming out with stationary bikes that include extra features and equipment to tone the upper body even more. Home exercise bikes from brands like, Proform, NordicTrack, Bowflex, and Peloton include weights that can be used while riding the bike. The Bowflex Velocore Bike also has a tilting feature that really gets your core burning. Check it out, and more stationary bikes at our Best Exercise Bikes list to see which one is best for you.

What Muscles Does An Exercise Bike Work

Leg Muscles On A Stationary Bike

There are four main muscle groups in the legs:

  • Quadriceps – the muscles in the front of the thigh above the knee
  • Hamstrings – the muscles in the back of the thigh between the hip and knee
  • Calves – the muscles in the back part of the lower leg between the knee and ankle
  • Glutes – the largest and strongest muscles of the body, also known as hips or butt

As you push the pedal down and then pull up to complete the full pedal stroke, all of these muscle groups are recruited to do that motion. The hamstrings and quads will continue to work during the full pedal stroke. Once you’re warmed up, you’ll get these muscles to burn even more when you increase resistance, pace, and move in and out of the saddle.

To engage more of the lower leg and calf muscles correctly, you want to make sure that your feet remain flat. A common error in form is letting your toes dive downward which engages the wrong muscles and throws off your center of balance.

Core And Back Muscles On The Exercise Bike

When you’re seated on the stationary exercise bike, you want to have good posture. As you roll your shoulders down and back and rest your hands on the handlebars, keep your spine long and draw your belly button in towards your spine. This engages the core which helps you stay stabilized on the bike, especially when you stand up out of the saddle. When your core is engaged, the muscles are working.

The lower back muscles get involved as well when you place your hands on the handlebars and tilt your upper body forward. As you put more miles on your bike, all of these muscles will get stronger as long as you keep your core engaged.

Arm Muscles On The Stationary Bike

Although you won’t get as great of burn in your arms as you will your legs during the ride, your arm muscles will get some work. While your core and back help support your upper body as you’re tilted forward, your arms also help keep you in the correct position. Specifically, the muscles on the front and back of the arms, also known as biceps and triceps, will be engaged when you lightly hold the handles.

As mentioned, if you’re wanting even more of a workout in your arms, light weights can be used and come with plenty of stationary bikes on the market to achieve this goal.

The Muscles You Can’t See While On The Bike

Sure, having strong leg, core, and arm muscles is great for your health and body, but your heart muscles are the most vital. The heart is an organ mostly made up of muscle and the exercise bike definitely works that muscle. When you’re exercising on the bike, your heart will pump harder and faster to keep up with the activity.

Over time, this cardio exercise will make your heart muscles stronger and even help your heart do its job better when you’re off the bike. Strengthening these muscles will let more blood get pumped throughout the body as well. All of this is super beneficial to your overall health.

Bottom Line

Riding a stationary exercise bike will improve your cardiovascular system, strengthen your leg muscles, engage your core and back, and exercise your arms. You’ll reap all of these benefits, all while getting a low-impact workout that is safe on your joints.

It’s important to know what muscles you’re using during any type of exercise whether you’re on equipment like the indoor bike or not, to ensure you’re engaging the right muscles and using them properly, all while maintaining correct form. Stay up to date on the latest stationary exercise bikes on the market and keep up with health and fitness tips and news by checking out more from us here.