Cycling is an amazing way to get from point A to point B and get your daily exercise at the same time, which is key if you understand the important role cardio plays in sculpting a physique of the gods.
Providing your weekly dose of cardio and inspiring you to move, a bike can be an excellent investment. That’s especially true if the streets of your town are bike-friendly and you have a place where you can safely lock it up.
Heck, if you don’t live too far from your local gym or fitness center you can try biking there and kill two birds with one stone by 1) getting your daily cardio in and 2) getting your warm up in by the time you arrive at the gym so you are ready to get into your workout routine.
To get you inspired to cycle more in 2021, we’ve rounded up the top eight amazing benefits of cycling, particularly cycling regularly.
1. It’s a Low Impact Activity
Unlike running, cycling is a low impact activity. Finding forms of low/no-impact cardio is particularly important for bodybuilders as many of you carry around extra mass which can make high-impact exercise dangerous on your joints.
For example, when you run, you put significant pressure on your joints, specifically your ankles, knees and hips. The weight you bear while running can result in more frequent injuries, which can prevent you from getting back on the track, or even lead to chronic pain.
Sure, there ARE ways to run where you can minimize the risk for damage on your joints or feet, but if you have some money, there are much better ways to get your cardio in that don’t include heavy impact, like cycling!
Cycling, as opposed to running or even walking, is not a weight-bearing exercise. The bike will carry your weight, so you don’t have to. That makes it a fantastic exercise that will spare your joints but still get you moving.
2. It Promotes Weight Loss
You can burn anywhere between 400 and 1000 calories an hour when cycling, depending on the speed and vigour with which you pedal. If you are trying to lose some weight, this can be an excellent starting point.
Stationary bikes in particular have long been popular within the UFC, wrestling and bodybuilding worlds where the ability to burn large amounts of calories without fatiguing muscles or joints is necessary.
Looking back, I wish I had done more dedicated cardiovascular training, not just for its beneficial effect on the waistline but for the heart itself. With cardiovascular disease the No. 1 killer of American men, everyone should make it a goal to have a healthy heart, and that means exercising as much as it does following a healthy diet.
I embraced cardio training when my Hollywood career took of. I didn’t have time to train for hours as I used to, so I needed a way to burn extra calories and work my heart in shorter, more efficient workouts. These days, I combine cardio and weight training in the same session.Arnold Schwarzenegger via FLEX Magazine
In order to lose weight though you will need to be spending more than you are consuming, this is the core logic behind caloric-focused cutting. While 400 calories probably won’t make or break your weight goals, doing so regularly will add up over the months.
Don’t forget that you also need to sleep well in order to experience all the benefits of cycling and boost your weight loss efforts. Sleep is when your body rebuilds itself and without sufficient sleep your body won’t be able to continue to grow effectively.
If you struggle getting quality sleep make sure you are cutting out electronics usage at least 3 hours before you intend to sleep. Also consider limiting caffeine intake after noon. Other investments worth considering include a new bed, which can make a world of difference in sleep quality and duration, as well as oral sleep aids like melatonin and ZMA.
3. It Boosts Your Immune System
Exercise is directly related to our overall health. If we lead a sedentary lifestyle and don’t move around a lot, a whole host of unpleasant consequences may arise, one of them being a compromised immune system.
As there is evidence to show that our immune system is actually weakened after an intense workout and that what we truly need is some mild but regular exercise, cycling can be the perfect activity that helps you stay healthy for years to come.
Getting sick means less effective workouts and/or skipped workouts, and as every professional bodybuilder will tell you, consistency is key to getting your goals. Consistency in diet and training, and getting sick can be a barrier to that.
If you cycle outside, you can also count on the benefits of the fresh air and time spent in nature, which while they might not have a direct impact on your gains, can have an overall positive indirect impact on your mood and energy levels, which can then translate to better in-gym workout sessions.
4. It’s Great for Your Mental Health
Leading an active lifestyle can also improve your mental health, studies have found.
As the connection between our physical health and our mental wellbeing is so profound, you can often hear advice along the lines of “take a walk, you’ll feel better afterwards” when faced with a problem.
In order to give your mental health a positive boost, you can do some cycling every day, especially if your health or lifestyle don’t allow you to run or engage in some more strenuous strength training.
Indoor bikes, also called spinning bikes, can be a great solution – they enable you to cycle whenever you want to without having to consider the weather or the traffic.
If you work a desk job there are also dedicated work-spinning bikes that have a built-in platform for a laptop or keyboard, connected to a stationary bike/cycle lower half so you can double your productivity by crushing work and burning calories at the same time.
Why do twice the work? Well, if you get your cardio done while you get your paycheck-earning work done you’ll have more time after/before work to focus on other things, like lifting weights!
5. It Helps Tone Your Muscles
While you will certainly not be able to build serious muscle mass without lifting some heavy weights, cycling can certainly help you tone your leg muscles. Professional cyclists all have MASSIVE quads that would make any pro bodybuilder jealous.
You also can’t spot-reduce fat, so cycling will not specifically help you melt away any of it you have on your legs, but it will certainly help lean you out. The more muscles you have, the more calories you will be burning even when sedentary, and your hard effort will soon be apparent.
The muscles that will be doing most of the work when cycling are your calves, thighs, and glutes. These are large muscle groups that will be spending a lot of calories. Developing these same muscles will help increase squat and deadlift strength as well.
6. It Improves Heart Health
Most people associate cardio with running, but cycling is a form of cardio, too.
Heart health is a important topic, especially for bodybuilders who, due to abnormal diets and extra muscle mass, often end up putting increased pressure on their hearts as pumping blood through all that extra tissue requires extra cardiovascular strength.
As you cycle, your heart rate is elevated, pumping blood throughout your body. This alone is great for improving the health of your heart.
As you are less likely to be overweight if you cycle regularly, you are also at a lower risk of heart disease and high blood pressure.
Of course, if heart trouble runs in the family, cycling may not be able to counteract your risk factors completely. But it can definitely help you combat any genetic challenges, to a certain extent.
7. It Helps You Sleep Better
Regular exercise is also a great way to improve your sleep.
As cycling benefits both your mental health, leaving you less stressed out and anxious, and your physical health, making you feel better overall, you should have less trouble falling asleep at night.
Tiring your body out is often a great way to help yourself fall asleep, and cycling will provide just the right amount of tiredness. It won’t leave you too exhausted to sleep, but it will still help you expend all that built up energy and relax.
Cycling at the end of the day is a great way to make up your calories that need to be burned as well as burn out any left over energy or stress from the day.
8. It Can Help Your Cognitive Abilities
Cycling, and most other forms of exercise, are also a great way to boost your cognitive abilities. If all we do is work on our minds and neglect to work on our bodies, we won’t be as successful in our mental and cognitive processes.
As the old Latin phrase would put it, mens sana in corpore sano – there can be no healthy mind without a healthy body as well.
If you don’t want to improve your cognition then you can also use your time on your stationary cycle to catch up on a Netflix series or a YouTube series you’ve been following. This way you can get your entertainment in while simultaneously improving your physical health, which is one of the biggest win-win scenarios for bodybuilders.
Skinny Yoked Final Thoughts
Apart from all the health benefits, cycling can also help you get to work faster, reduce your carbon footprint, reduce the level of stress you normally associate with commuting, help you get to know your city better, and make you better at spatial navigation.
Don’t forget that you don’t have to cycle outdoors, either. You can invest in a bike and get yourself moving in the comfort of your own home.
If you are not a fan of running, there are a plethora of other types of low/no-impact cardio exercises out there like seated rowing machines and stair-stepper machines, both of which offer unique health benefits.
Ultimately, it has been our experience that if you want to make cardio less of a chore you dread and more of a positive activity you need to shake things up a little bit.
Similar to how plain white rice and broccoli and chicken can become disgusting overtime when that’s all you have stocked in your meal bag, only doing one form of cardio can also burn you out mentally.
By mixing up your cardio exercises, say walking one day then biking the next then doing HIIT the next and stair stepping the next you are constantly challenging yourself mentally and physically and it is the challenging stimulus that will push your body to grow in ways you may never have experience before.