What Muscles Does Spinning Work?

what muscles does spinning work

Do you love spinning?

Do you take pride in your health & fitness and take part in spinning classes?  Well, if you are like me and love spinning classes, you may have wondered what muscles does spinning work.

More often than not, the last thing on your mind is what muscles are working during spinning. Having said that, you may wonder how are able to undertake a spin class.

As an avid spinning enthusiast myself, this is something I have often thought about. You see, there are more muscles used than you think.

It is this reason I have put this article together.

Be sure to read to the very end for a special bonus tip too!

What Muscles does Spinning Work?

Before I get into what muscles does spinning work, I will explain what spinning is for those who are new.

In its simplest form, a spinning class is indoor cycling that's undertaken using a static bike. A qualified instructor leads classes. The size of the class will vary due to the size and location of the room. It's common practice that instructors will play loud music for motivation.

The seat can adjust to suit anyone's height. Additionally, the difficulty of the class can increase or decrease depending on ability. If you are an accustomed to spinning you can increase the resistance of the pedals.

Some main benefits include:

  • A whole body workout
  • Fun
  • Safe
  • Motivational

​But that's part of the story, the section below will now look at what muscles does spinning work.

Key Muscle Groups

As it turns outs, the muscles that cycling uses are more than what you expected. To make clear, I have put together a list of obvious and not so obvious muscles involved in spinning.

The Obvious List:

  • Quadriceps
  • Hamstrings
  • Glutes
  • Calf's


This muscle group is a combination of 4 separate muscles and located at the front of the thigh. During the downward phase of pedalling this muscle group plays a massive role in pedalling.

In particular, the rectus femoris is a muscle that's worked hard. This is due to its involvement in all aspects of the pedalling sequence.

As we all know, at certain times during a spin class we need to stand up on the bike. Little did we know that we when stand, the quadriceps are the most used muscles.



This muscle group will be opposite to the quads and located at the back of the leg. Hamstrings play an important role, particularly when seated in upright position.

You see, their involvement is when you bring your foot back up to the top to pedal again.

As it turns out, their role doesn't stop there. During a spin class the hamstrings will stabilize the knee. This is very important as it keeps them in a safe positioning.



The glutes are within the buttocks and contain 3 separate muscles. This muscle group is the most powerful and largest muscles within the body. No wonder the glutes are always used during cycling. In fact, they are so used during cycling there is never a point they are not in use.

For example, the initiation of pedalling would not be as powerful if it were not for these muscles. Likewise, starting to pedal would be much harder without the glutes.

And we don't stop there when it comes to the glutes. As they are such powerful muscles they are always in use to support the quadriceps. This is particularly seen when you the instructor tells you to stand up from your seat.



The calf muscles are at the rear of the leg towards the bottom and above the ankle. The calf muscles may be small in size but they are still worked hard during cycling.

Without the use of the calf muscles, particularly the soleus you would not be able to stabilize your leg. We all know how important it is to have stable legs during those tough incline runs!

We all know how important it is to have stable legs during those tough incline sprints!Although not involved in pedalling, without the use of the calf muscles your leg would be unstable.

The primary muscle involved is the soleus.


Why Not Watch More About The Biomechanics of Cycling?


The Not So Obvious List

Now that we have covered the obvious muscles involved, we will now look at the not so obvious muscles.

Below is a detailed list covering each point in more detail as you continue to read through.​

  • Your Heart
  • Bonus Tip - Your Abs

Your Heart

The most important muscle you will ever have, without this we would not be able to do much!

Good job for us, spinning works the heart and works it very well. Spinning is a form of aerobic exercise so requires the use of your heart muscles. During a spin class, all the muscles that you are using need oxygen so they can keep working.

Where does that extra oxygen come from? Oxygenated blood via the heart.

Bonus Tip - Your Abs

I hear this question all the time after my spin class....does riding a bike work my abs? The answer is a resounding YES!

The truth is, our abdominal muscles are working during a spin class. For example, when you sit in an upright position the abs are being used to stabilize the spine! Think about how hard they are working to keep our spine straight when we are sprinting.

The work done by the abs doesn't stop there either. When you are in a seated gripping the handle bars the abs are working to make sure the upper back is stable!

There's no getting away from it....we are always working our abs during a spin class.


To summarize, not only is a spin class fun and motivational, its works our whole body, including your heart!

As we can see, a spin class works more than our legs...we get an ab workout the same time.

Next time you've finished a spin class and someone asks you "does riding a bike work your abs?" You will be able to answer yes!Have a comment or question about spinning or muscle groups?

Leave a reply below and I will get back to you.

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