5 Best Leg Exercises to Improve Your Cycling

Lower body strength enhances and improves your performance while cycling. (Image via Pexels / Pixabay)
Lower body strength enhances and improves cycling performance. (Image via Pexels/Pixabay)

Cycling can be a tough workout, so it’s super important to build up the lower body through leg exercises.

You may do a bike-specific strength training routine to complement your cycling programme, but that's not necessary. Your legs work hard while cycling, and you’re already strengthening them while riding. The key is to improve your cycling power with simple bodyweight exercises that mimic the movements involved in the sport.

Leg Exercises to Improve Cycling Speed and Power

Mentioned below are five best leg exercises to improve your cycling performance. These workouts will help you build and tighten key muscles so that you can get out of the saddle and put on a show. Let's get started:

1) Squat Jump

Squats are a great leg exercise for cyclists. They help keep the hamstrings balanced by working them in a different way to the pedaling action.

A good rule of thumb is to squat down till the thighs are roughly parallel with the ground – an angle the legs are used to when pedalling.


How to do it?

  • Stand with your feet about two shoulder width apart and knees slightly bent.
  • Bend your knees, and sink into a deep squat position.
  • Engage through the quads, glutes, and hamstrings, and jump up off the floor as high as you can.
  • With your legs fully extended, your feet should be several inches off the floor.
  • Land softly on the balls of your feet, and immediately sink into a squat for another explosive jump. Repeat this sequence.

2) Lunge

Lunges work the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calf muscles, making them a good overall leg exercise. They also help balance out any strength difference in the thighs.


How to do it?

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart, with one leg in front of you and the other behind.
  • Take a step out so that the foot lands flat and stays flat while it’s on the ground.
  • Your rear heel should rise up as you lower yourself.
  • Bend your knees to 90 degrees, and keep your trunk upright and core engaged as you do this exercise.
  • Push your body up from your front leg to return to the starting position.

3) Single Leg Kettlebell Deadlift

This is another single leg exercise. It helps the legs become equally strong and prevent the dominant leg from doing all the work, which can make the less dominant leg weaker. This exercise can also improve balance, which can make you more efficient when out of the saddle.


How to do it?

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart, and hold a kettlebell in front of your left hip.
  • Lift your left leg, and lean your upper body forward while keeping your back flat and core tight.
  • Reach the kettlebell towards the floor, squeezing your left glute as you raise your leg behind you.
  • Slowly hinge back to your starting position, keeping good form throughout.
  • Repeat for ten reps, and swap onto the other side. Go very slowly, and focus on your technique.

4) Bulgarian Split Squat

As a cyclist, you need to have strong legs. Bulgarian split squats are a great leg exercise to boost your hill climbing ability and strengthen both legs.


How to do it?

  • Stand in front of a bench or sofa, and balance on your left leg.
  • Lift your right leg behind you, and hop your left leg forward so that your right is bent at 90 degrees.
  • Keeping your back straight and body upright, lower your left leg into a split squat.
  • Squeeze back up, feeling the burn in your left glute and perhaps right quadricep.
  • Do ten reps, and switch legs. You can hold dumbbells to increase the resistance, if desired.

5) Donkey Kick

Donkey kicks are an excellent leg exercise you can do to target the gluteus maximus, which is located in the buttocks. When you do donkey kicks correctly, you engage your core and shoulder muscles too.


How to do it?

  • Get on all fours, with your knees hip-width apart and hands beneath your shoulders.
  • Engage your core, and lift your left leg up, keeping your knee bent and foot flat.
  • The leg should pivot on the hip.
  • As your leg lifts, squeeze your bum, and keep your pelvis facing the floor.
  • Only move the active leg; don't let other parts of your body move during this exercise.


There are plenty of leg exercises to choose from, so the challenge comes in distinguishing between the great, good, and bad ones. Put effort to stay goal-oriented and making the most out of your workout time.

Knowing the correct form is key in cycling exercises. As with any workout, relaxing your muscles and breathing deeply will help you perform the exercises effectively. Don't be afraid to modify the workouts to suit your body.

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Edited by Bhargav
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