Tone them up: The 9 Best-ever Leg Exercises for cyclists

We can’t do the work for you, but we can put the best leg moves for cycling in one easy-to-find place. These resistance training exercises will help you maintain essential lean muscle and improve both their strength and efficiency, so you can do more work with less effort, improve your endurance, and punch those pedals with authority.

 The following are three five-move circuits that get the job done. Each circuit hits all your major lower-body muscles from every angle. Cyclists benefit from doing single-leg moves as well to build balanced strength. 

 Rotate through these circuits, performed two to three days a week, to keep your muscles guessing and prevent boredom or burnout.

Pro tips

  • Lift to momentary fatigue—the point at which you can’t perform another rep with proper form.
  • Some days, go heavy enough you can only eke out six to eight reps. Other days, lighten up and perform higher reps (12 to 15) to fatigue. For jumps, go by feel.
  • Plan your strength sessions on the same days as interval workouts or hard rides. Yes, that makes those hard days even harder—but it allows for proper rest and recovery on easy days.
  •  Lift seasonally. Carve out a 12- to 16-week period during which to build strength, and transition into an easy maintenance phase after that with workouts once or twice a week. 

1) Dumbbell squat

Video by Bowflex

Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding dumbbells at your shoulders, with your abs tight. Bend your hips and knees, pressing your hips back and lowering into a squat until your thighs are nearly parallel to the ground. Push back to the starting position. Repeat.


2) Kettlebel swings

Video by BodyFit By Amy

Stand with your feet wide, holding a kettlebell with both hands, arms hanging in front of you. Keeping your back straight and pressing your hips back, squat and swing the kettlebell between your legs and behind your hips. Stand up, pressing your hips forward and swinging the weight to shoulder height. Repeat.

3) Single led deadlift

Video by The Betty Rocker

Hold a kettlebell by the handle in your right hand. Stand on your right leg. Keeping that knee slightly bent, bend at the hip, extending your left leg behind you for balance. Continue lowering the kettlebell until you are parallel to the ground. Return to the starting position. Repeat for a full set and switch sides.

4) Side Lunges

Video by Health Magazine

Hold dumbbells (collectively weighing 5 to 10 percent as much as you) in front of your chest and stand with feet hip-width apart. Take a giant step to the right and bend your right leg, lowering your hips down and back until your right thigh is parallel to the floor. Straighten the right leg, drawing the left leg in as you stand. Repeat on the opposite side.

5) Box jumps

Video by POPSUGAR Fitness

Stand facing a 12- to 18-inch box or step. Squat back, then jump up, swinging your arms forward for momentum. Land firmly on the box with your knees soft to absorb the impact. Step down and repeat.

6) Leg press

Video by JamCoreGirls LIFESTYLE

In a leg press machine, position your feet about hip-width apart on the platform. Press the sled away from you, straightening your legs, and then unlock the sled. Bend your hips and knees and lower the sled until your legs are bent 90 degrees. Push back to start. Repeat.

7) Barbell deadlift

Video by Nia Shanks

Stand up straight, holding a barbell in front of your thighs, with arms extended and palms facing back. Bend your knees slightly. While keeping your back flat, slowly bend at the waist, lowering the weight as far as comfortably possible. Pause and contract your glutes to raise the weight back to the starting position. Note: This is an advanced move, so start with lighter weight to get the form down.

8) Lunge split jumps

Video by

Stand with your right leg forward and your left leg extended behind you. Bend your right knee and dip your left knee toward the floor, so you’re in a lunge position. Place your arms straight out in front of you or out to the sides. Swiftly, jump up and switch legs in the air, landing in the opposite position. When the back knee grazes the ground, jump again.

9) Pendulum lunges

Video by Jillian Michaels

Stand holding dumbbells at your sides. Take a giant step back with your right leg, bending the left knee so that the left thigh is parallel to the floor and the right knee dips toward the floor. Press into the left foot and bring your right leg back up, immediately swinging it in front of you into a forward lunge: Bend your right knee, so your right thigh is parallel to the floor, and allow the left knee to dip toward the floor. Continue alternating front and back, then switch legs.


This article was originally published by Bicycling. We promote their content because we believe it awesome and helpful for our customers.


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