Does cycling bulk up the thighs?

Sunday, 2 February 2014 - 9:50am IST | Agency: DNA
The answer is no, say fitness experts. They share their thoughts on this theory.

Highs are often a sensitive issue among women. Many are unhappy with theirs and label them ‘thunder thighs’. And then there are those, who hit the gym with a vengeance to banish the thunder from their thighs but are afraid to try cycling or spinning because it may bulk up their thighs. Fitness experts share their views:

Role of genetics and diet
Exercise alone doesn’t determine the shape of the thighs, genetics and diet too play an important role here. Individuals who belong to the endomorph body type respond more quickly to resistance training and tend to build muscle with more ease than ectomorphs. And it doesn’t only have to be cycling or spinning, any form of exercise can supplement muscle formation. Also, diet is responsible, cycling is not the culprit. It’s the burgers, pizzas, fries, chocolate cakes and other high-calorie foods that are responsible.

Cycling doesn’t bulk up the thighs
Leena Mogre, director of Leena Mogre’s Fitness opines that cycling doesn’t lead to bulky thighs, and she says, “Cycling/spinning is a form of cardiovascular exercise that will make one lean. Building of lean muscles start when one starts losing on the percentage of fat. Any form of exercise helps in building lean muscle tissues and the percentage of muscles goes up, and because of that one can burn calories even at rest.”

A desirable toned look
Shalini Bhargava, fitness instructor at JG’s Fitness Centre partially agrees that cycling can lead to the thighs “looking” bulky, if done more than thrice a week (a typical session lasting for 45 to 60 minutes) but quickly clarifies that this muscular bulk is of the good kind. “Any muscle growth which is natural is desirable, unlike when it’s gained artificially through steroids. Cycling/spinning leads to a muscular ‘toned’ look of the thighs and it will show in a beginner who hasn’t exercised before, than someone who’s been working out regularly for years. Initially, after a couple of weeks the thighs may look bulky but remember, it is a toned look,” she says.

Bhargava says that she often comes across women who are under the misconception that cycling will lead to even more bulky thighs. As a result, she explains to them that it is not so and dispels their myths and cites her own example of cycling for more than 15 years and doesn’t have big, bulky thighs.

Cycling vs spinning
One can burn around 600 to 700 calories at a spinning session. There is a difference between stationary cycling better known as indoor cycling and spinning. A spinning class is a group activity with others and an instructor. There are different levels in the spinning program, music, lights, etc. and with the instructor, the motivation is much higher as there is focus and no room for distraction, informs Mogre. Also, a spinning cycle is different than a stationary cycle. But these days, even stationary cycles have different levels in their programs.

Tips for cycling

Doing a proper warm-up and cool down before and after cycling is necessary.

Stretching after a cycling session is important to rid lactic acid formation in the body.

Position yourself adequately. Don’t keep the seat too low or high.

Stay hydrated while cycling
— Shalini Bhargava

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