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Can I Use My Bike for Resistance Training?

Old 05-30-22, 08:53 AM
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DarKris
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Can I Use My Bike for Resistance Training?

I donít like working out for the sake of working out, but I want to build my strength for overall health and wellness reasons, while also doing things that I enjoy and look forward to doing every day. That being said going to the gym and lifting weights in such a structured environment doesnít really do it for me. Iíd much rather be out riding my bike, but I donít know if just riding a bike will cut it in full body strength building.

Iím wondering if there are ways that I can use riding my bike as a form of resistance training. I could try riding my mountain bike primarily as that will have both more rolling resistance and have more drag that I would have to overcome. Maybe doing lower cadence pedaling in higher gears? And as for upper body, I know one of the points where I struggle is riding out of the saddle for extended periods of time. Mainly coming from supporting my upper body, so maybe doing sessions of extended out of the saddle riding?

Just trying to throw some ideas out there that might work. Again, I donít know if itís possible to get a good deal of resistance training from a bike alone, or at all. In any case I want to find something that I at least enjoy doing.
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Old 05-30-22, 02:56 PM
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No.
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Old 05-30-22, 06:16 PM
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I'll second the no.

The only possible thing you could get some resistance benefit from is for your legs. And only for a few of the muscle groups in them or at least not so they get the true resistance benefit they want. Nothing wrong with pushing harder gears to strengthen your legs, but you can easily push to hard a gear for way too long and get the added benefit of bad knees sometime in the future.

If you have a 46 lb bike, I suppose you could stop and do lifts with it or something.

Bikes are best used for cardio benefit. And how your ride your bike can increase your aerobic and anaerobic capacity. Resistance for all your muscles is best done in the gym.
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Old 05-30-22, 06:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
Bikes are best used for cardio benefit. And how your ride your bike can increase your aerobic and anaerobic capacity. Resistance for all your muscles is best done in the gym.
Well I guess Iím just gonna be stuck with weak muscles then 🥹
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Old 05-30-22, 06:39 PM
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Originally Posted by DarKris View Post
Well I guess I’m just gonna be stuck with weak muscles then 🥹
No your heart muscle will get real strong. That's the one you don't want to get weak. As well there are a lot of other benefits to your health. Your legs will get stronger without the resistance exercise.

Your question was can you use your bike for resistance training. The only thing you might get resistance training out of a bike for is your leg muscles. So it makes a poor choice if you wish to do resistance training.

Some of the muscle types will have to chime in here, but I always think of resistance type exercise as not only strengthening muscles but also building muscles. But I might be getting my terms mixed up.

Last edited by Iride01; 05-30-22 at 06:43 PM.
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Old 05-30-22, 07:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
No your heart muscle will get real strong. That's the one you don't want to get weak. As well there are a lot of other benefits to your health. Your legs will get stronger without the resistance exercise.

Your question was can you use your bike for resistance training. The only thing you might get resistance training out of a bike for is your leg muscles. So it makes a poor choice if you wish to do resistance training.

Some of the muscle types will have to chime in here, but I always think of resistance type exercise as not only strengthening muscles but also building muscles. But I might be getting my terms mixed up.
Fair enough. I really want to build more full body strength but I just canít be assed to follow such a rigid structure of going to the gym and doing set reps of whatever. Wish there was another way that I could actually enjoy/look forward to doing
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Old 05-30-22, 08:06 PM
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Rowing would be great for that.
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Old 05-30-22, 09:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
I'll second the no.

The only possible thing you could get some resistance benefit from is for your legs. And only for a few of the muscle groups in them or at least not so they get the true resistance benefit they want. Nothing wrong with pushing harder gears to strengthen your legs, but you can easily push to hard a gear for way too long and get the added benefit of bad knees sometime in the future.

If you have a 46 lb bike, I suppose you could stop and do lifts with it or something.

Bikes are best used for cardio benefit. And how your ride your bike can increase your aerobic and anaerobic capacity. Resistance for all your muscles is best done in the gym.
Actually, there is a way to have full body workout on the bike including your arms. Certain pedaling technique will allow you push the pedals with a force greater than your body weight even with flat pedals.

The key is not to push the pedals down with your body weight but by using your arms, core muscles, and legs to push the handlebar and pedals apart with the bike on high gear. This is easier to do with dropbar than with flatbar. Track sprinters are well acquainted with the practice and even among BMX racers. It's the only way to accelerate quickly from a dead stop on high gear. However, this technique does come with risks and it does feel like doing deadweights on the gym. It can cause lower back pain / injury if you push too hard, too soon. And like deadlifts, it can only be executed for very short periods.
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Old 05-30-22, 10:27 PM
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Post #8 mentions one thing which does increase leg strength. Many riders do one or all of the below:
1) Put the bike in a big gear and slow down to about 10 mph. Get up out of the saddle and STOMP on the pedals as hard as you can, as in Post #5. Pedal easy for 5'. Repeat 6 times.
2) Put the bike in a big gear and slow down to about 10 mph. Staying seated, attempt to accelerate to about 80 cadence in 30". Pedal easy for 5', repeat until you can't hit the rpms you did the first time. Experiment with that big gear so you can get to 80 cadence in that 30", pushing on the pedals as hard as you can..
3) On a long hill, not too steep, start pedaling up it seated at 50-55 cadence without moving your upper body. Do it with legs only. Keep shifting up until you are riding as hard as you can for 10' still at that 50-55 cadence. Coast back down and repeat 3 more times.

Of course nos. 2 and three can only be done with clipless pedals or toe clips tightened down.

Riding out of the saddle, do NOT support your weight with your arms. Move your butt back until your upper hamstrings just brush your saddle nose and pull up with your hands on the side which has the pedal going down, rocking your bike slightly, don't push down with your arms.

On the vein, another thing you can do is repeat hill sprints out of the saddle, from 30" to 45", giving it everything you have. Sprint, then 5 minutes easy riding, repeat several times. Again foot retention pedals, pulling up as well as pushing down. Mess with the gearing, see what gear and therefore cadence gets you furthest up the hill.

A very easy thing to do is to do one set of pushups, as many as you can, every day when you get up in the morning. Then hold a plank for as long as you can without pain. Just this goes a long way.

Another simple thing is to jump as high as you can from a deep squat, jumping until your legs get tired. That'll help your bones, too.

The above may or may not make your legs bigger, but it will make them much stronger.
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Old 05-31-22, 08:11 AM
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Originally Posted by DarKris View Post
Fair enough. I really want to build more full body strength but I just can’t be assed to follow such a rigid structure of going to the gym and doing set reps of whatever. Wish there was another way that I could actually enjoy/look forward to doing
Partly you just have to come to terms with the idea that there is no magic pill you can swallow and you'll have to make some effort.

You don't have to do resistance training just to keep your muscles in shape and regain the strength you already have with your muscles. A bike obviously doesn't work every muscle in your body. It is one of the better cardio training devices that you can enjoy with others or by yourself. If you have good cardio health, you'll probably be more inclined to want to do some of the other activities that will have you using your other muscles whether or not it's resistance type exercise or not.


If you only do resistance training, you may not get the cardio benefit you need for your heart and vascular system. IMO.

Are you a loner and only wish to exercise by yourself? Or is participating in group sports an option?
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Old 05-31-22, 09:51 AM
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re: rigid schedule for weight training

like any endeavor, there is a big range of approaches, including extremes at the top & bottom. just because some ppl do it a certain way, doesn't mean you can't find your own way, that is fun enough, to do it regularly. for a while I was running 3 miles but I couldn't run 3 miles w/o stopping to walk a little, so I started doing 10 pushups when I stopped. by time I was done w/ the 3 miles, I had done a bunch of pushups. also used to like to do pullups at the V support at swing sets. sometimes obstacle courses can be fun. feel free to be creative. it's your body, it's your life. when you're 95 in a hospital bed, w/ tubes stuck everywhere, you'll wish you could be outside doing ANYTHING
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Old 05-31-22, 11:56 AM
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Yeah, I should also mention that one doesn't work out for the sake of working out. One works out to get results. See my sig. I developed a series of exercises I want to do for strength training, in a logical order, with number of reps for each. I make a table of that with results boxes enough to fill a page, print that out, put it on a clipboard and take it to the gym. I keep track of exactly what weight I use for each set of reps for each exercise. The object of the game is to increase those numbers! That's called results and it's actually very interesting, not boring in the slightest. You don't just go through the motions, you bust your butt - or arms, or whatever. You need to use good form in order to avoid injury. Therefore you have to figure out what good form is and how to perform each exercise using that good form. That'll keep your brain busy right along with your body.

I have a whole thread about it, with printable periodized exercises here: https://www.bikeforums.net/training-...e-athlete.html
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Old 05-31-22, 12:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
Yeah, I should also mention that one doesn't work out for the sake of working out. One works out to get results. See my sig. I developed a series of exercises I want to do for strength training, in a logical order, with number of reps for each. I make a table of that with results boxes enough to fill a page, print that out, put it on a clipboard and take it to the gym. I keep track of exactly what weight I use for each set of reps for each exercise. The object of the game is to increase those numbers! That's called results and it's actually very interesting, not boring in the slightest. You don't just go through the motions, you bust your butt - or arms, or whatever. You need to use good form in order to avoid injury. Therefore you have to figure out what good form is and how to perform each exercise using that good form. That'll keep your brain busy right along with your body.

I have a whole thread about it, with printable periodized exercises here: https://www.bikeforums.net/training-...e-athlete.html
The tracking, data, etc., all that is exactly what I DONíT wanna do. Like I understand why you would do it, but for me I feel like I have so much already that I need to keep track of that adding another thing is just going to overwhelm me even more than I already am.
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Old 05-31-22, 01:17 PM
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Muscle tissue is expensive for your body to build and maintain. It prefers not to and only does on an as needed basis. That's why strength comes from challenging your strength regularly with progressive overload.

You can do whatever you want. Knowing how things work is a good step in accomplishing your goals though.
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Old 05-31-22, 01:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
Yeah, I should also mention that one doesn't work out for the sake of working out. One works out to get results.
One exercises for any reasons of one's choosing. Most of us in here ride bikes for fitness, a few heretics do it for fun, but (this is crazy) you can even ride a bike for transportation. You can lift weights because of boredom if you want to.
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Old 05-31-22, 01:23 PM
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Tracking the data won't make you stronger or provide you any exercise. You don't have to track your data if you don't want. You do probably need to exercise though if you aren't otherwise active in the other normal things you do daily.

Sometimes it's the tracking of your data and seeing your improvement that gives you motivation to go out and do more exercise. Data can also show you different aspects of your fitness that might need work or you don't need to concentrate so much on. I can see where for some data tracking might be a negative.
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Old 05-31-22, 03:18 PM
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Originally Posted by DarKris View Post
The tracking, data, etc., all that is exactly what I DONíT wanna do. Like I understand why you would do it, but for me I feel like I have so much already that I need to keep track of that adding another thing is just going to overwhelm me even more than I already am.
In every project in which I've been involved, success came from planning and accountability. Success is pretty heady stuff. I was just reading about new students' success in Thomas Jefferson HS of Science and Technology. Quite inspirational. I think I'll go clean up the shop and hit my rollers for 70'. You go, kids!
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Old 05-31-22, 04:23 PM
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If you want to get strong and build muscle you need to lift weights or at lest do some bodyweight exercises.....Riding a bicycle isn't resistance training, it doesn't matter how hard you ride, cycling will never build strength and muscle the way weightlifting does.
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Old 05-31-22, 06:13 PM
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Originally Posted by wolfchild View Post
If you want to get strong and build muscle you need to lift weights or at lest do some bodyweight exercises.....Riding a bicycle isn't resistance training, it doesn't matter how hard you ride, cycling will never build strength and muscle the way weightlifting does.
I get it. I just wish I could find something that I could actually enjoy and look forward to doing instead of having another chore to add on to my ever growing list of chores.
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Old 05-31-22, 09:14 PM
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Originally Posted by DarKris View Post
I get it. I just wish I could find something that I could actually enjoy and look forward to doing instead of having another chore to add on to my ever growing list of chores.
You can also do it on the bike. You seemed to have ignore my post when I'm giving you the solution that may be perfect for you.

It's simply riding around in high gear, preferrably doing it when climbing up a hill standing on the pedals (out of the saddle). And doing it in a fashion like you're pushing the handlebar and pedal apart instead of merely dropping your weight on the pedals.

The main advantage of this technique is working out your arm muscles as well, it's a whole body workout and you can push down force greater than your body weight just like in weight training but you're doing it entirely on the bike, what could be better eh?

All it needs is finding a short hill to do it. Few times up a hill a day ought to be enough. That's only couple minutes a day and have fun doing something else on the bike for the rest of the day. Just watchout for your back. If you're feeling the slightest bit of pain on your lower back, then back it off or call it a day.
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Old 06-01-22, 02:48 AM
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Originally Posted by koala logs View Post
You can also do it on the bike. You seemed to have ignore my post when I'm giving you the solution that may be perfect for you.

It's simply riding around in high gear, preferrably doing it when climbing up a hill standing on the pedals (out of the saddle). And doing it in a fashion like you're pushing the handlebar and pedal apart instead of merely dropping your weight on the pedals.

The main advantage of this technique is working out your arm muscles as well, it's a whole body workout and you can push down force greater than your body weight just like in weight training but you're doing it entirely on the bike, what could be better eh?

All it needs is finding a short hill to do it. Few times up a hill a day ought to be enough. That's only couple minutes a day and have fun doing something else on the bike for the rest of the day. Just watchout for your back. If you're feeling the slightest bit of pain on your lower back, then back it off or call it a day.
What you're describing isn't resistance training or strength training, it's just cycling.
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Old 06-01-22, 05:32 AM
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Originally Posted by DarKris View Post
I get it. I just wish I could find something that I could actually enjoy and look forward to doing instead of having another chore to add on to my ever growing list of chores.
Mother Nature has us by the balls. It's just a fact of life that we start losing muscle mass in our 30's. https://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/...0muscle%20loss.

Cycling uphill (or against a headwind) in your largest gear is resistance/strength training; however, the problem is that you're only exercising one group of muscles. Furthermore, strength training isn't suppose to be done for a sustained period of time, because it's an anaerobic activity. So if you use your bike for strength training, you're developing imbalance in muscle strength, which has very negative results over time.

In my opinion, strength training is crucial for the aging body and no other exercise can give us that stimulation to keep our musculoskeletal system healthy.

This Doctor agrees....

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Old 06-01-22, 05:42 AM
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I find sprinting up a 10% gradient in a 53 x 11 gives some resistance and has some specific training effects.
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Old 06-01-22, 04:14 PM
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A lot of people just ride bikes purely for the enjoyment. They don't track their metrics, nor do they worry much about anything involving health and fitness. They just ride.

And probably they are much healthier just for that alone. I don't think anyone claims that resistance exercise is the only way to be healthier.

So again, I think your focus on resistance might be holding you back or at least be giving you an excuse not to try anything. But then again, I'm not really sure you've said what it is you need to achieve. Nor why you think it has to be through resistance exercise.
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Old 06-01-22, 04:24 PM
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Bike, push, pull cause **** squats.
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