Building muscle mass gets difficult as you grow older, and when exercise grows too hard to do regularly, you might find your muscles weakening. Using a regular bicycle can become particularly difficult as muscle loss is often greater in your lower body.
However, it’s important for your health to fight muscle loss to prevent heart damage and build cardiovascular fitness, so you can be more active. When e-bikes come in, the story changes. Let’s take a look at just how an electric bike can help you build up your leg muscles.
Which Muscles Will an E-Bike Target
Riding an e-bike is an amazing cardio workout despite the pedal assist. This workout can support cardio health and build muscle mass. However, you may wonder which muscles riding an e-bike can help build up.
In fact, you may think that e-bike riding can only benefit your leg muscles since they are doing the work pedaling. However, there is a lot more at work than just your legs- to at least some extent, your whole body is at work.
The leg muscles built up when riding an electric bike are the quadriceps, calves, and hamstrings. This includes the soleus muscles and gastrocnemius. The glutes, including specifically the gluteus minimus, medius, and maximus. The feet and ankles are certainly worked pretty hard when pedaling as well.
However, the upper body puts in some work, too, including the biceps and triceps in the arms as well as the shoulders. These muscles help to support you as you grip the hand bars and guide the bike
Your core’s abdominal muscles and upper body gets a workout in as well, helping to balance you, especially as you make turns.
E-Bikes Really Train the Legs
Your leg muscles clearly work the hardest when you’re riding, and this is because, despite the pedal-assist, your legs are typically providing most of the power when you ride. With pedal-assist, your e-bike only provides power when you are pedaling, and this is ideal for seniors or those with medical issues.
You can adjust the level of assistance the pedal assist will provide, and this can make it easier for older riders to be capable of riding while still leaving it challenging enough to work out their muscles.
When your e-bike, you’re particularly engaging your thigh muscles, which includes some of the largest muscles in your body, and this is of particular importance to maintaining muscle mass. This group includes the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves, both the soleus and the gastrocnemius.
When you pedal, the hamstring on the back of your thighs and the quadriceps on the front allow your knees to bend and push, creating the main force when you pedal. The quadriceps specifically is the muscle that works the hardest during e-biking.
However, your lower legs aren’t left out either; the calves, specifically the gastrocnemius muscle, which is the most prominent part on the rear of your lower leg, are worked very heavily during pedaling as well.
In fact, the next time you get on your e-bike, try paying attention to just how much your gastrocnemius is moving each time you pedal. You will notice just how much it is contributing to making the motion.
The other part of your calves, the soleus, contributes every time you stand, walk, or cycle. The soleus is responsible for helping you balance, and this is critical when you’re e-biking, so it is continuously engaged.
Finally, the glutes, the muscles in the buttocks, are also engaged, and these include the gluteus minimus, medius, and maximus. The glutes actually work hard alongside your legs to control the hips and legs in order to create the motion of cycling.
How to Work Your Muscles Back Up Through E-Biking
E-biking takes some of the work of powering the bike off of your hands, and this is why it is so great for seniors or those with medical issues. But, this doesn’t mean it can’t still be a great workout. In fact, after enough rides, you may feel like you can turn the pedal assist off if it weren’t so fun!
However, here are some ways to help improve your workout and build your leg muscles.
Don’t Cut Corners on the Pedaling
This is about more than just cutting back on using the throttle. To fully engage all of your leg muscles whenever you ride your e-bike, you need to create full circular motions with your pedaling.
By doing this, you ensure that your quads are working their hardest to push down the pedal, and the hamstrings are pulling your feet upward, creating the pedaling motion. This full circular pedaling motion will ensure the best workout and make sure all of your muscles are engaged
Of course when just getting started, you may feel more comfortable using assist at first and gradually using it less and less each day. If you need a rest day, you can still enjoy your favorite routes with the help of assist.
Consider Standing Cycling
This one is not for everyone, but if you are comfortable and extremely cautious, this is a popular way to increase the workout. By standing on the pedals while cycling, you add your own body weight to the resistance, increasing the workout every time you pedal. However, this can be dangerous and make it harder to balance, so consider if you can do this safely.
Increase the Resistance
Another way to build muscle faster is to increase the difficulty. Over time, you will find that cycling gets easier and easier, and as soon as it stops seeming difficult, try lowering the pedal assist. This will ensure that your muscles keep receiving the challenge they need to grow.
You can also change your terrain to work your muscles harder as well. Hills will ensure that your legs keep working hard to power over them. But, you can also work your core and upper body harder by choosing a path with a lot of twists and turns. This will force these parts of your body to work harder to help keep you balanced.
Choose the right type of Electric Bike
While there are many brands and styles, be sure to do your research and find one that fits your body's needs. The Espin Nesta is a fat-tire folding ebike that has a step-through frame which makes it easy to hop on and off, even if you don't have the best leg mobility. If you need a frame that keeps you upright and less squatted down, you can try something like the Espin Flow which is a thinner tire with a step-through frame sits more upright and is great for people who are experiencing arthritis in the wrists.
It’s not always easy to rebuild muscle, especially as you get older, but an e-bike can make it much easier. E-bikes help you to get out and keep active while still forcing your muscles to work. Plus, it’s easier to work out and build your leg muscles back up when you’re having fun and enjoying new scenery on your bike!