We couldn’t have a site about butts and NOT consider cycling! I’ve recently started using my bicycle as my daily commute, and it got me wondering if cycling is good for your butt or not. Read on to find out why I think cycling can help you get a nicer butt, if you follow some of my tips.
First things first: a question I hear all the time, and have asked it a few times myself is this –
Does Cycling Work Your Butt Muscles?
If you’ve ever taken a good long bike ride, you may have ended up with sore muscles the next day. I’m willing to bet that the muscles that were sore were most likely your quadriceps (muscles on the front of your thighs).
That’s where most people end up feeling cycling, but that doesn’t mean you can’t tweak your cycling habits a little bit in order to target your butt muscles.
To Get A Nicer Butt, You Need To Work Your Butt Muscles
Cycling is most likely good for your butt. To be honest, any kind of exercise is good for you, and the motions required during pedaling should naturally engage your butt muscles to some extent.
Some people wonder if cycling will make their butt smaller or bigger. Cycling is predominantly a cardio exercise. Sometimes it can be considered HIIT if you are doing a lot of cycling in hilly areas, with short bursts of energy exerted.
Will Cycling Make My Butt Bigger Or Smaller?
From what I’ve heard, too much cardio can be bad for your butt, if you are taking it to the extreme. If you have a high metabolism and struggle to put on muscle, then engaging in a lot of cardio can hinder muscle gain therefore limiting the size of your butt (remember that your butt muscles make up a good portion of the shape of your butt).
On the flipside of this is that cardio is great for fat loss – so if you’re carrying a little extra weight around your butt and hips that you’d like to lose, cycling can be a great way to lose this.
To get a bigger butt, you need to try and build up the size of your butt muscles, and often that means using heavy resistance! The good news is that cycling up hills can provide this heavy resistance.
So the answer to whether cycling will make your butt bigger or smaller really depends on your riding and your current physique – if it’s hilly or flat, how much cycling you typically do, and if your butt shape is due to muscle or fat. Overall though, cycling usually crafts awesome looking butts (just think of how many cyclists love to show off theirs in spandex! :P)
If you are worried that you are doing too much cardio and it could be impacting the size of your butt muscles, then you can counteract that with some weight-lifting exercises for your butt.
A Little Bit Of Butt Anatomy….
There are 3 major gluteus muscles that make up your butt. The action of your gluteus maximus is to extend your leg backwards beyond your hip – think swinging your leg backwards behind your torso, or pushing through from a bent position to straight as you would during squats.
The gluteus medius and minimus also make up your butt, however these are activated mainly through sideways rotation (abduction and adduction) towards and away from the centerline of your body. Since pedaling on a bicycle doesn’t really involve this kind of sideways rotation, these muscles don’t play much of a role in the act of pedaling.
So Does Cycling Activate Your Butt Muscles?
The good news is that action of pedaling does involve extension of the hip, which should activate your gluteus maximus!
The bad news is that most people have inactive glutes, so unfortunately their butt muscles don’t work as well as they should. Glutes get lazy and then other muscles tend to take over – like your quads for instance. This is one reason why many people end up with sore quads after cycling, but never feel it in their butt.
Here’s how to change that, so you can get a great butt workout when cycling.
How To Work Out Your Butt Muscles When Cycling
Tip 1: Visualize and Activate Your Glutes
The number 1 key to making cycling beneficial for your butt is to firstly ensure that you are activating and using your butt muscles when you are pedaling.
Visualize your muscles squeezing on the downstroke of each pedal.
To help picture this, I like to imagine that each down stroke on the pedal is like a single legged squat – you are pushing through your heel from a bent leg position. Squeeze and contract your glutes on that leg as you make this motion.
Tip 2: Setup Your Cycling Position
To further enhance your cycling butt workout, you can try setting up your bicycle so that your legs are in the best position to activate your glutes while cycling.
If you think of the same motion that you do when doing squat exercises, it is not too much of a stretch to see that the best way to target your glutes when pedaling is to position your seat so that your knee is bent to close to 90 degrees when your pedal is up.
That way, when pushing down on the pedal, it’s like doing a deep single leg squat which you can push through your glutes on. I find that a lower seat position allows my pedaling to hit my butt muscles the most. My thigh is close to parallel to the ground at the top of the pedal, and I focus on using my glutes to push down on the pedal rather than my quads.
I also try to position my handlebars higher, so that my torso is as upright as possible. In my opinion this setup almost simulates keeping your torso upright when doing lunges, a motion which I have found helps shift the load into my glute muscles.
Tip 3: Stand up When Hill Climbing
Take a break from using the gears on your bike when cycling up hills and you’ll get a fabulous butt work out. I like to keep my bike in a higher gear which gives a good amount of resistance on the pedals. And then – I stand up while pedaling. Again, I try to keep my torso as upright as possible, without leaning forward too much because I find this helps me feel it in my glute muscles the most.
Experiment to see what works best for you. This motion is very similar to doing step-ups, which are great for your butt. You can really enhance this motion by using your mind to actively focus on squeezing and contracting your glutes, instead of letting your quads do the work.
Tip 4: Push through your heels
I like to take a cue from doing nearly any butt exercise, and that is to push through your heels, not your toes. Do the same when pedaling to help try and engage those butt muscles!
Conclusion: Cycling is a Winner
Cycling can definitely be great for your butt! It combines cardio for fat loss with resistance for muscle gain. The main key is to make sure you are able to activate your glutes rather than letting your quadriceps take over the pedaling action.
It can take a little practice before you start feeling your cycling in your butt, however if you play around with your seat positioning, adjust your riding style when climbing hills, and most importantly- focus on squeezing your glutes with each pedal, then your butt muscles will be feeling sore in no time.
In my opinion cycling won’t make your butt bigger, but it can make it nice and toned, and help you shed any extra weight!