Will Indoor Cycling Improve my Running?

Are you looking for ways to improve your running performance? You might want to try incorporating indoor cycling into your exercise routine.

Will indoor cycling improve my running? Indoor cycling can improve your runningWith cycling, you work out more or less the same muscle groups–your quads, glutes, hamstrings, and calvesalthough in a different way. 

The workout you get from cycling strengthens your leg muscles and builds your endurance for your long runs.

Read on to learn more about how indoor cycling can help improve your running.

Does cycling help running?

Indoor cycling can help you improve performance.

Indoor cycling can help you build your power, stamina, and endurance with less risk of injuries. It can also help improve your overall cardiovascular fitness.

Unlike running, cycling is easier on your knees and ankles because it is not a weight-bearing exercise. So if you need to increase your training volume to prepare for a long run or marathon, indoor cycling is a great way to do this.

Indoor cycling can help build your muscle power.

As mentioned, indoor cycling uses more or less the same group of muscles used in running.

Your quadriceps and hamstrings in your upper leg are the main muscles that work as you pedal. These are also the muscles at work when you run. However, when biking, your quads and hamstrings do both pushing and pulling motion.

On the other hand, your gluteal muscles or glutes are the main driving force in running and cycling.

Your gastrocnemius and soleus muscles in your calves help in pushing the pedal on your bike and support knee flexion. However, your calves’ muscles do a bit more work during running as they assist in your propulsion as you run.

If you want to build better muscle strength during indoor cycling, go for higher resistance setting on your bike trainer.

Indoor cycling for active recovery

After an intense run, fitness experts recommend active recovery — which means a low-intensity activity after a high-intensity workout.

Another exercise after a hard run?! I know that you’d rather lounge all day, but hear me out.

It turns out that doing a low-intensity exercise after a hard workout is right for you. It will help your blood circulation, reduce lactic acid build-up in your muscles, and reduce the soreness. As a consequence, your muscles recover faster.

Because indoor cycling is a low-impact activity, it is an excellent way to recover from an intense running session.

The day after your long run, you can do a low intensity to medium intensity ride on your bike to give your muscles a break. So dial down the resistance and take it easy on your bike when you need to recover from your run.

Also, runners who have to take a break from running because of injuries can use indoor cycling as their workout before transitioning back to running.

Indoor cycling can provide variety in your workout.

Even the most dedicated runner will need different physical challenges from time to time to keep him motivated and break the monotony in his routine.

Also, fitness experts highly recommend doing cross-training or doing different types of exercise because of the benefits it could bring.

When you do another kind of exercise, you are conditioning different muscle groups. You also reduce the risk of injury from repetitive strains from doing the same thing.

In the case of indoor and outdoor cycling, although you use more or less the same muscle groups, you work them out in a different way.

But since it is a low-impact activity, wouldn’t it get boring?

Indoor cycling is indeed a low-impact activity, but that doesn’t mean that you could not make it challenging

You can try different cycling programs depending on your goals. You can check out interactive indoor cycling apps like Zwift and Rouvy as they have tons of structured workouts and fun activities to choose from.

Indoor cycling is a great way to train indoors.

When the weather is not conducive to running or limiting your outdoor runs because of the ongoing pandemic, you can safely workout in your home with your indoor bike trainer.

How to integrate indoor cycling in your running routine

There is no fixed formula in integrating indoor cycling into your running routine. It will depend on the frequency and intensity of your runs, how much time you have, your fitness goals, and your overall preference.

As a general guide, if you are more into long runs, hill workouts, speed work other run workouts where you put in much effort, you can do easy effort indoor cycling twice a week in between your running days.

If you want to experience the challenge in both running and cycling, and enjoy a more varied workout, you can balance your cycling and running training.

For instance, you can do two hard runs and one challenging ride per week at least a day apart. In between those days, do a comfortable ride and an easy run for your active recovery.

If you are a runner who is on the way to recovery from an injury, you can step up the ante in your indoor rides for more challenge and go easy on your runs. You can do two hard rides and one recovery ride per week, and one or two easy runs. You can transition into more runs as you recover from your injury.

If you want even more variety, you can add at least one strength training session per week in your workout mix.


Indoor cycling is an excellent exercise to complement running. It can help you improve your stamina, endurance, power, and cardiovascular fitness, which are all essential when doing marathons/long runs.

Indoor cycling can also help build and condition your muscles and can be used to increase your training volume while reducing the risk of injuries.

You can also use cycling as a recovery tool after an intense run.

Related Questions

Is indoor cycling safe for seniors? Indoor cycling is great for all ages. Compared to other exercises, cycling is easier on the joints so that seniors can handle it. But, those who have existing back and joint pains may want to use a recumbent bike instead as this offers more support to the body than riding outdoors or using a trainer.

Is indoor cycling suitable for beginners? Indoor cycling is perfect for those who want to start a fitness program as it is a low-impact, non-weight-bearing exercise.

Should I stretch after a ride? Stretching can improve your flexibility and prevent tightness in your muscles brought about by being in a crouched position for too long. It may even help improve your posture and reduce the risk of injuries when exercising.

What do I wear for indoor cycling? Wear a comfortable sweat-wicking topOpens in a new tab. and shorts. For added comfort during long rides, you can use a pair of padded cycling shortsOpens in a new tab..

Is strength training necessary for cyclists? Strength training is suitable for cyclists and everybody else, for that matter. Strength training prevents muscle mass loss and slows down the loss of bone density, which unfortunately happens as we age. When you have strong bones and muscles, you can potentially increase your power when biking.

Adam Johnson

As a middle-aged, 40-something cyclist, my riding goals have changed over the years. A lover of all things retro, and an avid flat bar cyclist, I continue to live off past triathlon glories.

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