I hear this comment often as a personal trainer, “I don’t need to do lower body strength training since I do cardio.” While cardio exercise (like cycling) does strengthen lower body muscles, doing a resistance training can really enhance your cardiovascular workouts (think riding stronger AND longer). Need another reason to try this 4 exercise cycling workout? Stronger muscles also equals a lower risk of injury. The good news is these cycling workout exercises can be performed anywhere without any equipment.

What to do: Perform 12-15 reps of each exercise as a circuit, moving from one exercise to the next. Repeat the circuit 2-3 times, resting between new circuit rounds. Do this circuit on non-consecutive days 1-3 days per week.


Why: Squats are the total package – works quads, glutes, calves & shins.


  • Start with feet a little wider than shoulder width apart, toes out slightly. Relax your shoulders down and engage your core by drawing your belly button in toward your spine.
  • Hinge at the hips shifting them back as if sitting onto a chair and put some weight into your heels. Lower down until thighs are almost parallel or parallel to the floor.
  • Return to start pushing up through your legs.

Safety Cues: Ensure knees do not go past toes. Return to standing if your heels lift off the floor or your back begins to round on the lower phase.

Modification: Squat down half way

Progression: Hold weights or add an alternating front kick in between squats to challenge your balance.

Lower down like you are sitting in a chair, make sure knees stay behind toes

Leg Raise With Calf Raise

Why: Leg raises strengthen hip flexors. Calf strength is especially important as they are involved in up 65% of your ride, according to the AFAA.


  • Stand with feet hip width apart, toes pointed forward.
  • Raise your right leg off the floor, bending at the knee, until your knee is in line with your hip. Keep your foot flexed slightly to engage your anterior tibialis (shin).
  • Place foot back to floor and then lift both heels off the floor into a calf raise, squeezing through the calves before lowering heels back down.
  • Do 12-15 leg raises on right leg then switch to left leg, doing 1 calf raise in between each leg raise.

Modification: Rest between leg raises and calf raises

Progression: Hold weights

Bring leg up with knee at 90 degree angle & foot slightly flexed
Press up on toes squeezing calves

Glute Kickbacks & Hamstring Curls

Why: Your glutes and hamstrings perform hip extension through the downward phase of the pedal stroke.


  • Start in a tabletop position on hands and knees, creating a neutral spine & flat back by stacking shoulders over hands and hips over knees.
  • Flex your right foot; keeping the bend in your knee, raise your leg up as high as you can or until knee aligns with hip (no higher) and squeeze through the glute. Keep foot flexed so the bottom of your foot aims toward the sky.
  • Do 12-15 glute kickbacks on the right leg using controlled movements (no momentum!) then hold your kickback at the top on the last one. From here, extend your leg out (toes in line with hip) and then pull heel into your glute. Point toes as you extend out and flex foot as you pull it into a hamstring curl.
  • Repeat sequence on left leg.

Modification: Do fewer reps or rest between kickbacks and hamstring curls

Progression: Tuck a 3 to 10 lb. weight behind your knee during the kickbacks

Start in tabletop with shoulders over hands and knees over hips
Flex one foot and raise leg up toward the ceiling, keeping knee bent
For hamstring curl, extend leg out in line with hip
Flex foot as you pull your leg in toward your bottom and point your toes as leg extends out


Why: Stretches the hip flexors which are almost always tight for people! Think hours of sitting on couches, in chairs, on the bike, etc. Also strengthens glutes and low back.


  • Start laying down, feet slightly apart under your knees, arms relaxed to your sides on the floor.
  • Push through your feet, lifting your hips off the floor as high as you can (without momentum) or until your hips are diagonally in line with shoulders. Squeeze your glutes, feel your hip flexors open, then lower back to the floor with control. Do 12-15 reps.

Safety cue: Avoid excessively arching your spine to lift hips higher.

Modification: Lift hips halfway

Progression: Hold one foot off floor for a single leg bridge

Lay on back with feet under knees
Lift hips off floor, squeezing glutes

Use your stronger legs to put the pedal to the metal during your next cycling class! Have a favorite cycling workout of your own? Use the comments section below to share with others!

Happy Cycling Workout!


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