How to Get Monster Cyclist Quads

Posted on June 22nd, 2017 at 2:28 am by

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If you thought that cycling can only serve as a great cardio exercise, then guess again!  Biking can help you increase your leg muscle size in proportion, but only if you generate enough resistance.   When you push through the bike pedal stroke, you use your quads as the primary movers.  Powerful quads come in many sizes and shapes, and how big they’ll get depend on a variety of factors including your genes (some people simply have more fast-twitch muscle fibers), your height (shorter legs tend to be stockier), as well as where and how you ride (pushing those pedals harder develops more muscle).

If you practice cycling but haven’t managed to build your quads stronger and bigger, this is what you should do to change your routine.
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Leg press

The leg press works the same muscles that squats do (and many cyclists like to squat).  However, it allows you to put on much more weight than squat racks.  You can stack up 200-250 pounds and never have to worry about needing a spotter to help you with your leg press exercises.

Position yourself properly in the leg-press machine – abs engaged, back flat, and feet (shoulder-width apart) on the platform.  Then slowly allow the weight to come down by releasing the levers attached to the weight plates.  Next, extend your legs, but don’t lock-out your knees at the top of the leg press.  Pause briefly and then lower the weight by slowly bending your legs.  Repeat this for a full set.

Single-leg pedaling

The next key strength exercise for your cyclist quads is single-leg pedaling.  The quad muscle, called the rectus femors, helps you flex your hips.  The single-leg pedaling drill is one of the best ways to work that muscle, along with other hip flexors.  When you use both legs when cycling, the hip flexors get neglected, and that’s why most people pedal with one leg only for about half a minute before they fatigue.  So, sit on an indoor trainer with the bike in an easy gear, one foot unclipped and the other clipped.  Start pedaling at a comfortable cadence and try to keep it smooth through the top of your pedal stroke.  Do it for 30 seconds before you switch legs.  Repeat it 3-4 times, and then clip in both feet to finish.

Uphill rides

Now, some practical tips for quad building when cycling outside.  When you ride uphill, you push your bike and body weight with your hamstrings and quads, forcing yourself to use more leg muscle because you also have to deal with the forces of gravity.  Going up a hill forces you to push harder with your legs, just like setting the incline on a treadmill higher.  Riding uphill also requires you to push with your gluteus maximus, if you’re riding in a sitting position.  Make sure to get yourself a quality bike, as well as quality bike parts like Rock Shox, to get the most out of your rides and to ride safely.  You don’t want your bike to fall apart while you push it uphill to the maximum.

Stand up when pedaling

In order to add more resistance on the upstroke, add weight to your down-stroke pedaling.  You use different muscles than you do while sitting so try to stand while you ride.  The seated pedal requires the use of your glutes, hamstrings, and quads, but when you stand up you’ll use more calf muscle.  Do this from time to time to build the other leg muscles proportionally to your quadriceps, as it will add up to your total leg power and development.

Pedal slower (low RPM)

Use more muscle by pedaling slower, as big gears are great for big quad development.  Use slight inclines during cycling and perform low-cadence, big-gear intervals to build strength.  Try to push steadily for 5 minutes while keeping your cadence below 60 RPM.  By pedaling slower, your legs will do more of the work with less assistance from the bicycle’s mechanical apparatus.  Avoid slow-pedaling up a hill, because it will lead to exhaustion and fatigue much sooner, but do it on a slight incline or an even grade.

The point is to put more stress on your leg muscle tissue, in order to cause microtears in the muscle fiber that will repair and recover later, causing the muscles to grow.  Besides these simple gym exercises and cycling tips, add some sprinting (track cycling) to your routine.  Sprints are great for building leg muscles, and can be used as a part of your high intensity interval training on the bike.  Choose a high gear that will be enough for you to maintain a sprint with adequate resistance for at least 30 seconds.  Of course, be careful not to overtrain, and take 2-3 days off during the week to give your legs some time to rest and repair.

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