How to Gain and Define Muscles with Indoor Cycling

While it is apparent that indoor cycling, as a form of cardio, can help you burn fat, cycling indoors is usually not considered the best tactic for building muscle.

But, this article will tell you just that – you will learn how to gain muscle while cycling indoors + what supplements and nutrition to take that will help you reach your goals faster. Let’s begin!

To grow muscles, you need to exercise, feed them with sufficient protein, and you need to let them recover before exercising again.

Exercising creates micro-muscle damage. Later, when you rest, your body recovers the damage through muscle protein synthesis, and the muscles grow bigger and stronger.

It is worth noting that it is far easier to build muscle when you are in a caloric surplus, than a deficit. Being in a caloric surplus means that you are consuming more calories than you are spending. If that is the case, the body will store the excess calories as fat.

But, if you are in a slight surplus while exercising and eating enough protein, you will ensure that a significant portion of those calories gets stored as new muscle tissue.

Here is the important through. Considering that indoor cycling and spin bike workout is a cardio exercise activity, you probably have already guessed why it is problematic to expect to gain substantial muscle mass while cycling indoors.

Cycling is one of the best ways to burn calories/lose weight, and you probably aren’t eating while on the spin bikes. In other words, if you cycle a lot, it will likely put you in a caloric deficit. If you are in a deficit, building muscles become harder.

Also, indoor cycling predominantly activates lower body muscles. When talking about building a physique, people usually focus on the upper body musculature. Therefore, if your focus is building upper body musculature, cycling alone won’t do the trick.

If you want to get bigger, your best approach is to include weight training alongside indoor cycling (and proper nutrition and supplementation, which will get to later).

That way, you will give your body enough stimulus for muscle protein synthesis overall, both in the upper and lower body.

While cycling won’t get you bigger in the upper body, at least if you don’t train with weights, it can help you LOOK bigger.

If you are training with weights while cycling, and if you are staying in a slight caloric deficit, the chances are that you will start building muscle while burning fat at the same time.

That will make you look more shredded. Your muscles will be more defined and thus appear bigger, even if they are not. This will mean you will look your best at the beach, even if you are not jacked.

Plus, lowering your body fat percentage is the only thing that is going to reveal your abs. If you have a gut, no amount of situps will show your six-pack.

What Muscles Indoor Cycling Use And Can Improve?

indoor cycling improves leg strength

Cycling predominantly works muscles of the upper leg. Quadriceps (fronts of your thighs) do the majority of the work, and hamstrings (back of your thighs) stay activated quite a bit.

Besides quads and hams, cycling also activates your gluteus muscles (booty!). Muscles of the lower leg, such as calves, are activated, but only slightly.

Also, cycling indoors activates fewer muscles, as you don’t worry about balance, countering wind, and similar, which is common outdoors.

It’s important to note that cycling as an activity primarily works type 1 muscle fibers. These fibers are more durable, but they produce less force, making them more suitable for long-distance activities.

However, these muscles don’t grow as much as type 2 (fast-twitch) muscle fibers. That’s why cyclists usually have wiry and strong legs. But, their thighs wouldn’t win any bodybuilding contests.

Again, if you want to maximize muscle gain, combine cycling with weight training – that will train your type 2 hypertrophy much better.

What Food To Eat To Gain Muscle When Cycling Indoors?

carbohydrates for mid ride fuelling

As explained, if you want to build muscle, you need to exercise, eat protein, and rest, while ideally staying in a slight caloric surplus (or at least avoiding deficit). Forget about midnight sleeping or staying up late to watch Netflix. You need to eat the right food before, during, and after every cycling workout.

Therefore, to add muscle mass, you should focus on eating more protein and resting on time. Try to focus on intaking 1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. But, if you can’t reach that number, just make sure you intake some protein in every meal.

Great protein sources are foods like lean beef, chicken breast, eggs, tuna, and cottage cheese. But, plants are excellent protein sources too – lentils, brussels sprouts, peanuts, oats, and almonds. Mix and match, but as we said, make sure you intake some protein with every meal.

Supplements For Gaining Muscles When Indoor Cycling

Protein Powder

protein for post ride fuelling

Taking quality protein powders such as Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey will make sure you hit your protein goals even if your food intake is off. One scoop contains 24 grams of protein, which will make it much easier to reach your target.

For vegans or lactose-intolerant, a plant-based blend such as Orgain Organic will have everything your muscles need.

It is important to take vegan blends as plant-based protein isolates usually lack some of the amino acids. Taking a blend fixes that, and every scoop has everything your muscles need.


Drink water pre, mid, and post indoor cycling sessions

Creatine is one of the most researched dietary supplements, and people worldwide are using it for decades.

Our body produces its own, and we can intake it through foods like red meat, but not at the optimal dosage.

Therefore, supplementing with 5 grams of creatine per day will be all you need to get the most benefits.

Creatine is involved in the production of ATP, our body’s primary energy source. With more ATP, you will be able to push yourself more, especially during high-intensity workouts.

That will help you get through your weight training sessions and also HIIT cycling workouts.

More strength – creatine will also help you lift more. That alone will directly translate to more muscle size.

More size – creatine will tie water in your muscles, making you look bigger fast. But beware! If your legs are already bulky, you might need to upgrade your pants size. Again, we choose Optimum Nutrition, as it is a well-known name in the industry.

Avoid Weight Gainers and Junk Food

We don’t recommend weight gainers, the name says why. They are called “weight” gainers, and your goal is not to gain weight, it is to gain muscle. Quality weight, not just numbers on the scale.

Sure, weight gainers help you increase your calories. But, most are just a bunch of sugar, fat, and chemicals mixed with some protein and fiber and will do you no good. Skip them, and just try to eat more healthy calories from real food.


We hope that our article helped you learn How To Gain Muscle While Cycling Indoors + What Supplements And Nutrition To Take. With the right approach, it is certainly doable.

And let’s face it, no matter how fun it is, cycling alone won’t get you the superhero physique. It will help you get ripped and is excellent for cardiovascular health, but weight training is mandatory if you want to increase (upper body) muscle size.

Therefore, get to it, program some weight sessions, or at least calisthenics into your routine, and enjoy your new strong and endurant body this summer!


Hi there, I'm Sayed Hamed Hosseiny, the founder and one of the authors at (YEB). I am a former indoor cycling instructor and personal trainer with nearly 20 years of experience. With a passion for indoor cycling, I have spent years designing cycling parts, repairing, and importing exercise bikes. All the articles, tips, guides, reviews, and comparisons on (YEB) reflect my personal opinion and expertise in the field. I'm excited to share my knowledge with fellow exercise bike enthusiasts and help people find reliable indoor cycling information and the best exercise bike for their needs. If you have any questions or suggestion, you can contact me at

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