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Will cycling make my thighs bigger?

imageI’ve had a few women comment about their fear that cycling could make their thighs bigger so I thought I’d do a bit of research and clear this one up. In short, cycling will not make your thighs larger. In fact in my own case I’ve slimmed down in my thigh and bottom area since I took up cycling, even though I actually weigh more than I previously did.

Here’s a few reasons why your legs are not going to expand:

Muscle is leaner than fat

Muscle weighs a lot more than fat. Cycling will change the shape of your legs, but unless you’re doing a lot of squats, and maintaining the same levels of fat (by eating a lot), you’re not likely to get “bigger”.

Massive quads aren’t just the result of bike riding

Track cyclists (and indeed many riders who specialise in shorter distances, where top end power presides over power to weight ratio) spend a lot of time in the gym.

Aerobic exercise, such as cycling, works your endurance muscle fibres – these become more resistant to fatigue with training, but don’t bulk up. You’d need to lift heavy weights on a regular basis to get a reaction from the muscles responsible for power.

Women build muscle differently to men

Women have much lower levels of testosterone than men (around 15% less), and higher levels of body fat (around 10% more). The body fat is necessary for a healthy menstrual cycle.

Testosterone aids the creation of bulging muscles, and it’s the reason sedentary men naturally have more muscle than sedentary women. If a woman takes to strength training or resistance exercise, she’ll gain muscle, but not as much as a man.

Muscle burns more calories

Great news here…..gaining muscle will make it harder to store fat, since muscle burns more calories, even when you’re not doing anything. When you’re at rest, ten pounds of muscle burns 50 calories a day, whilst the same weight in fat burns just 20. So effectively extra muscle will act like a furnace for calories, so you’re not likely to be gaining more fat if you’re packing on the muscle.

So I hope that’s cleared it up. You will not get larger thighs from riding your bike. You will only benefit in so many ways. Happy riding.

If you want to know more I suggest you google the topic and read the longer version of what I’ve just summarised here.

One comment

  1. Like you Nicola, my thighs are leaner since starting cycling. I also do a lot of leg weight work at the gym for knee injury strengthining. My Physio says it’s precisely cause of riding that I don’t bulk from squats and lunges.

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