Does cycling make your butt big? Does it train your glutes?
Does cycling make your bum bigger? It's a question we're often asked here at House of Peach? The answer: probably not, but that doesn't mean cycling doesn't have amazing benefits!
by CHLOE ALEXANDER on
May 15, 2023
Cycling’s fun. You ride around, feeling the wind on your face while your body’s hard at work steering you forward. You can do this full-body workout while getting some fresh air. Or you could, unless you’re like me and prefer the indoors.
In that case, you can cycle for miles while staying in place. But we’re not here to judge that. We’re here because you’re asking (or hoping) that cycling might make your butt big.
So what will it be? Will your butt stay the same, or will you have to buy new jeans. The short answer is a no to both of those questions. Now, let’s get into the long answer.
Does Cycling Make Your Butt Big?
Cycling can help you to lose weight (as part of a healthy diet and if you’re in a caloric deficit) as well as tones your buttocks – but cycling doesn’t give you the progressive overload that resistance training provides.
Of course, that is, unless you work your glutes. Remember how I said cycling works your whole body? I should mention that the intensity with which your muscles work varies. So it doesn’t build all your muscles equally.
Does Cycling Build Glutes?
It depends on how you’re cycling. The glutes are three muscles in your butt. Normally, cyclists don’t utilize them when they’re cycling. Not in a way that’s challenging them anyway.
As always, exceptions exist. Bikers use their glutes to speed up while they’re sprinting. Plus, they use their glutes when pushing themselves at elevation. The question is, do you do any of that?
What Happens When You Don’t Utilize Your Glutes?
Ideally, your gluteal muscles should be working to stabilize your hips while powering the downstroke. See how I said “ideally”?
Most cyclists just use their quads and hamstrings to do everything. Your brain then goes, “Huh, it looks like we don’t need the glutes.” Then, it assigns the stabilizing work to the quads and hamstrings too.
The problem is that these muscle groups aren’t that good at that sort of work. That’s why you have trouble straightening yourself when getting off your cycle.
How to Work the Glutes While Cycling
Start interval training if you want to work your glutes while cycling. Interval training means taking things easy briefly, followed by strenuous activity.
Simply put, you have a short burst of strenuous activity and a resting interval. This method also helps you burn more calories. The pattern will be something like this:
Riding as usual (resting interval),
Riding strenuously (going uphill or going faster),
Riding as usual, and so on.
When riding normally, your quadriceps and hamstrings do most of the work. You’ll only use your glutes to power the downward stroke while peddling.
If you want to engage the glutes more, you can raise yourself in your seat. But I wouldn’t do that, especially if I’m in the middle of interval training.
You’ll have to get out of your saddle when you cycle uphill. At this point, you’ll use the full force of your glutes to help move the bike.
Cycling at a Sprint
Sprinting is the same way. When you’re trying to gain speed, you rise off the seat. You push your heels and squeeze your glutes. Remember, sprinting and cycling uphill is strenuous.
Exercises to Help You Activate Your Glutes
Even when you’re not cycling, you should incorporate glute exercises into your workout. It’ll help you later when you’re trying to cycle. I recommend the following:
Glute bridges work your glutes (duh!), quads, and abs. You start by lying on the ground and drawing your knees up. Your feet should be flat on the ground, pointing outward.
Flatten your arms on the sides, palms facing up. Now raise your hips until your spine is aligned with your knees. Remember to squeeze your glutes and abs the entire time. Hold the position for a few breaths and come down.
You can add weight by holding a weight plate on your hips during the exercise. Otherwise, you can wear the resistance band just above your knees.
You’ll need a stepping stool for this one. Don’t have that? Stand by the button step of your stairwell. Step onto the step and push down on your foot. As you raise yourself, squeeze your glutes and stretch the other leg behind you. Hold for a second and return to your normal position.
Repeat the exercise for both legs. The glute squeeze targets your hamstrings and glutes.
Squats are great. They activate your quads, hamstrings, calves, glutes, abs, and the muscles around your spine. Of course, your stance determines how much you engage your glutes.
Stand with your feet just a little wider than your shoulders. Make sure your toes point outward, but only slightly. When you sink into the squat, you’ll be activating your glutes. The deeper your squat, the more you’ll engage your glutes.
You can wear a resistance band just above your knees for more engagement. I recommend doing a light warm-up before these exercises to avoid pulling a muscle.
Cycling doesn’t affect the size of your buttocks. It can be toned if you engage in interval training. But muscle use isn’t enough for enlargement. If that’s what you want, you’ll need to start doing resistance exercises focusing on engaging the glutes.
I’m Chloe – a body confidence writer here at House of Peach! I help women to feel fabulous in the body they’re in and feel amazing in gym wear – regardless of their body shape and type. Unleash Your Peach.