After 10 months my commute has gotten to the stage where it's quite easy and I'm looking for ways to maximise it as a workout and hopefully benefit more muscle groups. Currently it just seems to work my thighs.

I don't have time to ride for fun, but my commute is an hour each way which seems plenty. If I wanted to spend more time I could do a stomach/calf workout instead.

I would have thought it would use the calves but it doesn't seem to (I don't feel any burn in the calves).

Ideally I would like to work my abdominals while riding. Is there any way I can do this? I have thought perhaps purchasing a weight belt so my stomach has something to push against but I'm reluctant to spend the money for something that might be useless and I'd have to wait a month for shipping.

So my question is, is there a way to benefit more body parts than just the thighs while cycling?

  • Go on longer rides with some steeper climbs. And use clip-in pedals if you don't already so that you can exercise pulling up strokes as well as pushing down. – Carel Oct 9 '16 at 9:55
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    Another option is to work your cadence, by deliberately choosing a gear that is too low, so you're pedalling faster than normal. Its hard to maintain, and gives the calves a good work out if you're twiddling with your ankles. My top cadence was 135 RPM at 40 km/h on 20" wheels. 5 mins of that was quite enough to work the lower legs. – Criggie Oct 9 '16 at 12:36
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    The best way to work your abs would probably be to do 10 minutes of floor work after you get off the bike from the homeward journey. – Chris H Oct 9 '16 at 16:08
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    As you have established base level fitness with long steady duration, you add strength and conditioning with sprints, short sessions and intervals. In you case, the distance is fixed, so you don't have much choice for "long slow" day then a "Short, high intensity" day, but you can mix up you commutes. As far as abs (and resistance/weight training) - you need to get off the bike to do it effectively. – mattnz Oct 9 '16 at 20:57
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    Good work. I suggest trying strava, and if you like the data then consider HRM or cadence sensors. And explore varying your route, even if its just taking the next road over instead. – Criggie Oct 9 '16 at 23:12

How to work abdominal muscles while riding?

Get out of the saddle for long periods. Don't try to sprint, just stand on those pedals and work. Consciously pull your pelvis up with your stomach muscles, partly because those are the muscles you want to work, but also to stabilize your core.

I see in another post that you say I don't use clips. Toe straps or clipless pedals will help with this exercise, because it will allow you to pull up in addition to using your weight to push down. I'm not aware of any science to back this up, but it feels like it uses the stomach muscles at least twice as much.

One thing to be careful of is hyper-extending your knees. Some people do this more easily than others. If you pedal hard when the knee is hyper-extended it can damage the meniscus (cartilage). One way of reducing this risk is to position your body so that your shoulders are over the handlebars.

Being out of the saddle for long periods will certainly increase your workout, use your stomach muscles more, and also your arms and shoulders.

  • I actually tried this yesterday, it gave me the best workout of everything I've tried. But I'm pretty fit, it was nothing compared to a few minutes off the bike. So I can get some exercise, but not enough to be worth the effort since I can't focus at all, it's just incidental exercise. – Kilisi Oct 11 '16 at 0:30
  • Good to see that you're experimenting. Listen to your body for signs of injury, and include different activities for variety. The clipless pedals would help increase the intensity. – andy256 Oct 11 '16 at 0:36

Vary your cadence during your commute.High cadence (90 - 110+) will train the heart. Low cadence (60) in a Higher gear will give your Legs Back and Arms a good workout.Dont forget to do some regular stretching esp on those big glutes.

  • Not sure how you're supposed to stretch the glutes, I stand in the pedals every so often and coast partly to stretch my legs and air the family jewels, so I guess it does that as well. – Kilisi Oct 11 '16 at 0:33

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