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DarlingRhadamanthus's avatar

Stationary bicycling---will it bulk your legs?

Asked by DarlingRhadamanthus (11203 points ) January 9th, 2010

I do Pilates but want to do some extra work on my upper legs (or buh-thighs). Squats don’t work because of my knees. I wanted to add some stationary bicycling but I don’t want to bulk up my legs….so my questions are:

1. Is it effective to use a stationary bike on low resistance (like spinning) to tone legs? Is it effective at all?

2. Does adding more resistance increase bulk? (That’s what I am assuming.)

Any info would be appreciated.

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15 Answers

Spinel's avatar

1. An exercise bike gives more of a cardio workout, but riding a stationary bike does tone the legs.

2. Increasing resistance will make for a harder workout – such an action will put more pressure on and require more effort from the leg muscles. For really noticable bulking,daily obsession is required.

For more information, see this Doityourself article.

Pretty_Lilly's avatar

To answer your question with a question !
Have you ever seen professional cyclists with huge bulked up thighs ??? They have strong, well toned strong thighs !

rooeytoo's avatar

I think professional cyclists do have huge thighs! But I also think @Spinel is correct, you have to work really really hard to get that way! If it were easy, we could all be pro cyclists!

Darwin's avatar

If you keep the cycle set on a moderately easy level of resistance and you use it regularly for 20 to 30 minutes at a time, you should see the muscles in your legs and butt become more toned.

If you set the resistance to maximum, so that you can only pedal a few times, eventually you would build more bulky muscle. Adding some extra testosterone to the mix would also lead to bulking up.

The big thighs on pro bicyclists are due not only to pedaling, but also (and more importantly) to weight lifting to help build up the muscle mass in the quads and glutes.

Pretty_Lilly's avatar

@rooeytoo I have met Lance Armstrong he does not have huge thighs!!!! Rock hard yes !!!

rooeytoo's avatar

@Pretty_Lilly – well you have me, I was never close to Lance, although it sounds like a nice place to be. I guess I am basing my opinion on the guys who race in a velodrome venue, they sure look huge!

The road racer guys must have different physiques.

DancingMind's avatar

Just in general, more weight + fewer reps = more bulk, less weight + more (fast) reps = tone

engineeristerminatorisWOLV's avatar

Only doing that under high tension or resistance would bulk the legs up.Doing under low resistance for hours together would only lean it up rather than bulking.

denidowi's avatar

The Principles are much the same as for running.
You want to bulk up, you do short bursts flat out against heavy resisteance.
Sprinters do Bulking up work.
That is, you simply do uphill work over short time periods – say 20–30 secs, and rest for 1.5 mins etc. Intervals with flat out short bursts to long resting between spurts Ratios.
Tough hard short bursts against weights or resistance best bulk up.
So each of those factors that you change to the opposite will build more endurance than speed, tone your legs but keep them fairly thin.
AND Long, slow, constant grind will also better build up the aerobic capacity of the body

denidowi's avatar

@rooeytoo – Yes; there does appear to be some confusion re pro cyclists etc.
The sprinters, mostly velodromers, will require good Muscle BULK to move them bikes over short distances, but the roadracers, who travel mile upon mile, they are more tightly toned, rather than bulky.
It’s like the Ethiopian 5000 metre runners vs the 100 yard dashers.
Look at those women sprinters: they got those beautiful, well-packed thighs and leg and stomach muscles

rooeytoo's avatar

@denidowi – I would rather look at the guys, but yep I agree with your theories.

denidowi's avatar

Sure you would, Honey ,,, but bein’ a guy, I love to keep my eye on dem womenLOL! ;)

mass_pike4's avatar

biking is an aerobic exercise. Riding a stationary bike with low resistance will not bulk up your legs. You will have a minimal gain in muscle mass at the very best. You will only bulk up if you are doing the anaerobic (weight training) exercise for your legs. This is where the “bulk” that you are not going for comes in. Biking will not do this for you.

mcbealer's avatar

NSFW Here is exactly what Lance’s er, legs look like… mmmm so yummy.

To answer the original question though, you shouldn’t see any major bulking by way of the stationary bike. The shape of your thighs will change though, and will appear more V shaped from the front, and like a backwards D from the side.

rooeytoo's avatar

@mcbealer – OMG, now that woke me up for sure! That is a beautiful body!

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