Which Muscles Are Used When Riding A Bike?

15/08/2013 01:00

Many people are not aware of which part of their legmuscles are used at different points of a pedal stroke, when they are riding their bikes. On the diagram below, you can get a good idea of which muscles are used when.



Which Muscles Are Used When Riding A  Bike


Lets imagine that the circle above is the full 360 degree of a pedal stroke. The pedal stroke is representing the right side, so the pedals are going clockwise. If we start at the “dead spot” on top, at 12 o’clock and go to to 3, the hip extensor (red) is doing most of the work. 


From 3 to 6 o’clock, the knee extensors (purple), takes the biggest load of work, but just before 6 o’clock, the ankle plantar flexors (skin colour) takes over.


After we hit the “dead spot” at 6 o’clock, the ankle dorsiflexors (blue) is doing the biggest load of the work, before the hip flexors (yellow) is doing the most of the work at around 9.


From 9 to 12 o’clock, the knee flexor takes over the biggest load of the work from the knee flexors.



Clipless will make you more efficient

This means, that if you are using clipless pedals (like Shimano  SPD or Look Keo) you are training the ankle dorsiflexors, the knee flexor, and the hip flexors a lot more efficiently, than if you used standard pedals.
In the end that will give you not just better strength in your leg, but also better endurance, due to that when your left leg is going from 12 o’clock to 6 o’clock, the right leg is helping the left leg because it is going from 6 o’clock to 12 o’clock. Therefore, your hip and knee extensors will not be doing all the work, when activated, if you use clipless pedals. My own personal experience is, that i got 2 km/h faster by shifting from standard pedals to clipless. You can read some few reviews of different clipless pedals here:


Shimano PD-5700 105 SPD-SL


Shimano PD-6700 Ultegra SPD-SL


Look Keo 2 Max


Written by René