running versus biking

All You Need to Know About Running Versus Biking

Running versus Biking: Which is better?

When picking up a new sport, it’s good to know just exactly which muscles does it target, as well as the health benefits for doing so. With that said, when it comes to running versus biking, it might be tough to choose which one is better for getting in good cardiovascular shape.

In this article, we’re here to address which exercise is best for targeting core muscles, and also potential health gains from both sports. By the time you finish the article, you’ll have a better idea of which workout to go for. Let’s get started!


Which muscles does running work?

Compared with biking (or cycling), running requires more work from the lower body, as well as more motion. Running is broken down into a few steps: heel strike, single-leg support, push off, and leg swing. When they all work together, it contributes to a single and smooth running motion.

When running, many muscle groups are used. For instance, leg muscles such as the adductors, hamstrings, and quadriceps work together to help propel the body forward, through movements such as extending the hip, flexing the knee, and balancing the pelvis. Abdominal muscles also work to keep the pelvis in check throughout the workout.

For some exercises to help you build muscles for running, check out this video here: 

Which muscles does biking work?

Similar with running, activities like biking exert force on leg muscles, but they also include working out the glutes, abdominals, and arm muscles, thereby leading to a more complex, all-around workout.

There are different stages in the cycling process. First, there’s the top of the stroke of the pedal, which works the quadriceps and hamstrings. Next, when you push down, the calves and gluteus maximus work together with the other two previous muscles at the halfway pedal mark. Finally, the hamstring muscle is worked at the bottom of the stroke, to start the recovery period.

In the meantime, other body parts such as the abdominals, shoulders, and triceps work to keep the upper body balanced, in order to propel the bike forward and prevent the cyclist from falling off.

What are the health benefits to running?

Since it’s a type of cardiovascular exercise, running can help build a stronger heart, along with stronger leg muscles. Because of the constant pounding on a hard surface, running has also been shown to lead to better bone density.

In addition, running burns more calories on average than cycling: compared with a 40-minute session on the bike which burns about 400 calories, running burns around 500 calories, considering that you have to support your body weight as you move forward.

What are the health benefits to biking?

Just like with running, biking is also a cardiovascular sport, which can help strengthen your heart and lower blood pressure. Since cycling does not require the feet to be on the ground (compared with the foot pounding found in running), it’s also considered a low impact sport for those who have bad lower joints.

Also with cycling, it helps build stamina faster, since you’re not exerting as much body weight to push you ahead, thereby tiring you out less sooner than that of running. It also assists you in bulking up, for that toned, all-around fit body.

For more information on the health benefits to biking, check out this video here: 

Which activity should you do?

Both running and cycling are excellent sports to do, especially if you want to lose weight and/or get into good physical shape. The two activities are great for working out plenty of upper and lower body muscles, as well as for improving cardiovascular health.

At the same time, however, doing too much of one thing whether it’s only running or just cycling can lead to sports-induced injury: for instance, excessive running leads to muscle strain, which might induce injuries such as plantar fasciitis or patellofemoral pain syndrome, aka “runner’s knee.” Too much cycling, on the other hand, can cause quadriceps tendinitis and patella pain.

With that said, it’s important to find balance between work and rest for both sports; only then can you gain the benefits from the exercise while also avoiding getting hurt.

For a health-benefit comparison on running versus biking, check out this video: 

Take away message (Conclusion)

All in all, running and biking are equally-good exercises that can help work out your muscles while also keeping you in good physical shape. However, you must also be careful not to over-exert yourself on either activity. To prevent this, here are some things that you can do:

  • For running: Besides going for miles every day, take time to strengthen other body parts, including your hip flexors, which we highlight in our article here: How to Strengthen Your Hip Flexors
  • For cycling: Take breaks in between long, cycling workouts to let your muscles and joints recover from the miles logged in the previous day.
  • For both: Do other strength-training exercises to enhance targeted muscles, as well as stretch often to relieve sore muscles.Have any questions? Feel free to comment!

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