Can Cycling A Lot Replace Leg Day At The Gym?

bodybuilder cycling
June 14, 2023 0 Comments

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In this article I will be answering the question “can cycling a lot replace leg day at the gym?”. Many people have asked themselves this very question.

How often do you see people who cycle regularly? Have you noticed that many of them have pretty good leg development. This is not always the case, but it is true in many instances.

This article will explore this topic in more detail and discuss whether cycling really is a feasible replacement for leg training in the gym.

Can Cycling A Lot Replace Leg Day At The Gym?

Cycling is more beneficial in beginners in terms of seeing added size on the legs. Cycling primarily works the cardiovascular system, but it is also effective at providing a good workout for the quads, hamstrings and glutes. 

Training legs in the gym on leg day will be more beneficial in terms of hypertrophy and strength than cycling. The people that you see with huge legs from cycling typically have very good genetics for leg growth.

Exercises like the squat, deadlift and split squat will do far more for building impressive legs than cycling will. Whether cycling can replace leg day at the gym also depends on your individual goals.

If you are in a phase of your training where you are enjoying cycling more and want to get better at that, cycling a lot will be far more beneficial for you in that respect. 

bodybuilder cycling

Different Training Stimulus

There is a greater cardiovascular component to cycling than there is if you are training legs in the gym. Twenty rep squats are also effective for conditioning, but cycling will have you working hard for longer periods.

Cycling regularly will improve your cardiovascular conditioning. It will also provide an effective workout for your legs. In the gym you can work your legs a lot harder with very heavy weight.

You will build far stronger legs by getting strong on movements like the squat, leg press and unilateral leg exercises. Your legs will also grow as they get stronger. With cycling you can’t achieve the same level of progressive overload.

You can improve your endurance by cycling longer distances. You can also work your legs harder by cycling up slopes. But you simply cannot induce the same level of progressive overload over time as you can from barbell squatting.

Greater Control In Gym Workouts

You are better able to control and manipulate various training variables from working your legs in the gym. You have a lot more control over the progressions in weight and reps.

In addition, you can perform exercises in a tempo fashion to put the muscle under more tension. Volume can be adjusted to induce more muscular fatigue.

Cycling regularly works the leg muscles well. But there is only so much stimulus for your legs that cycling can provide. With gym workouts you can work the legs from all different angles and ensure that your legs are well balanced.

Cycling doesn’t allow this same level of control in terms of muscle development and strength. You may develop some imbalances from certain muscles doing more work.

If you are quad dominant, your quads could be doing a lot more work than they should when you are cycling.

Greg Doucette’s Views On Cycling

Greg Doucette is a very well known fitness influencer and his views on this topic are very interesting. It must be known that Greg is a very keen cyclist and it is one of his passions.

In his own words, cycling will actually make your legs smaller. Greg went from having 27 inch legs to 25 inch legs after a period of lots of cycling. So his legs became smaller from focused cycling.

Greg also mentions that beginners will benefit a lot more from cycling in terms of muscle hypertrophy. Intermediate and advanced trainees won’t experience too many additional benefits besides improved conditioning.

Cycling is great for your cardiovascular strength and it will indirectly improve your work capacity in the gym. The freaky athletes that you see with huge legs from cycling tend to have very good leg genetics.

A good example is Robert Forstman. He has huge legs but he lifts weights as well as cycling. Robert can squat over 200kg for a few reps on the bulgarian split squat. This is insane and shows how strong Robert’s legs are.

So training your legs from lifting weights will always be better than cycling for building big and strong legs. Cycling can be a good compliment but it isn’t as effective as gym workouts.

In addition, cycling very long distances regularly will make your legs a lot smaller. Cycling in sprint type fashion will be more beneficial to retaining leg size.

Combining Cycling And Leg Workouts

To improve conditioning and leg strength at the same time, combining both cycling and leg workouts in the gym can be beneficial.

The key is to pay attention to how often you are cycling. Maybe focus more on shorter duration bouts of cycling at a higher intensity. This will compliment weight training well and mean that you don’t lose leg size.

With this approach you can add size and strength to your legs, as well as improve your cardiovascular fitness. This is the best of both worlds when it comes to longevity.

I have a friend who lifts weights regularly, at the same time he has been doing sprinting most days. Amazingly, he has gained strength and size! So focusing more on shorter duration and higher intensity cycling to compliment your weight training workouts can work very well.

If you take your cycling too far and go for very long distances, you will burn the candle at both ends. Your performance in the gym will suffer and your recovery will be impeded as well. 

Final Thoughts

Can cycling a lot replace leg day at the gym? The answer is no, you cannot replace leg day at the gym with cycling and expect to see better gains in leg strength and size.

If your goal is to focus more on cycling and improve your cycling performance, then this replacement would be more feasible. 

When you see cyclists with freaky legs you should bare in mind that they have better leg genetics than most people. For the best of both worlds you can implement cycling training alongside your gym workouts.

Just pay attention to recovery, volume and intensity. It would be better to program in shorter duration cycling at a higher intensity. This would complement weight training workouts much better.

If you have any comments and wish to share your thoughts on this topic, please leave them below. As always, stay safe and enjoy your training!

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