Are you a runner looking for the best cross-training program to help you improve your running form for an upcoming long-distance running event?
If you are, for sure, cycling workouts have crossed your mind. In this article, we will answer your most asked question: Does cycling really help with running?
Get ready because you will surely have a better cardio cross-training program (better than other workouts) as soon as you finish reading this!
Does Cycling Improve Your Running Routine?
First things first, YES, doing cycling workouts can improve your running form and overall performance.
In addition, when you are cycling without sitting on the bike (in a vertical position), it guarantees you are working the same muscles as that with running.
However, the difference comes in the level of intensity as cycling leans more toward being a low-intensity workout.
Moreover, as a runner, you need to engage in cross-training, like adding cycling to your routine to help in different areas of your body.
The benefits it holds are encapsulated in three words that best describe how cycling workouts improve running performance:
You can get the real deals on the three benefits if you do these two wheels cycling activities:
- Sprint intervals with a 10-second recovery time using a road bike
- Change to big gear in riding uphill for mountain biking to increase heart fitness
- Riding a stationary bike like the Bowflex VeloCore Bike for a healthy yet safer ride
While doing these three cycling training, expect the following benefits:
- Strengthened leg muscles
- Improved endurance and speed
- Faster heart rate for better cardiovascular strength
Also, you get to activate your muscles and heal broken tissues as it clears away lactic acid production through hydrogen ions breakdown.
In turn, having all of these benefits can enhance and help your overall performance in running. These also help prevent an injury caused by solely relying on a run for cardio fitness.
Benefits of Cross Training With Cycling Workouts
If you cross-train running with cycling, you will get hold of the following benefits:
- Conditions the entire body even when injured
- It helps the body have a recovery day through low-intensity training
- Enhances your running cadence and form
- Increases body stability and muscle strength
- Enables flexibility in your routine
- Amplify cardiovascular endurance beneficial for long runs
- Aids in muscle activation through lactic acid flushing
Does Running Improve Your Biking?
On the other end of the tail, running can also improve your cycling.
Not just that, it enhances your cognitive well-being as it enables the creation of additional neural pathways from your new training regimen.
More importantly, it assists you in reaching these physical benefits that will surely make your cyclist’s heart (and legs) go loco:
- Improves the strength of calf muscles
- Engages core muscles when using correct bike posture
- Impacts bone density for strength
In addition, running strengthens similar muscles to cycling and enhances complementary muscles to further your overall fitness.
Nevertheless, a study on those with a sedentary lifestyle shows that aerobic workout like running helps a biker achieve better cycling endurance.
Just imagine what it can do to runners like you.
Also, running is a faster solution to shedding more fat, losing more calories, and reaching a healthy weight.
This means you have a lighter body to carry, improving your pedaling and speed.
Moreover, adding running to your cross-training programs for cycling is essential as it provides recovery days from the extreme physical strength cycling requires.
This also conditions the body, enhances your cycling cadence, and adds versatility to your routine for overall cardio fitness.
Benefits of Cross Training With Run Workouts
Cross-training jogging or sprinting with your usual cycling routine will be a gateway to achieving these PROS:
- Advances muscle tolerance in rigid activities
- Creates a break from the usual cycling-only habit
- Condition your cardio health to prepare for different cycling routes
- Aerobic endurance training like this benefits your coordination
- Strengthens lower back and neck
- Contributes to a stronger core
- Relaxes your brain from too much cycling focus
Benefits of Cardio Workouts: Cycling and Running
Now that the facts that workouts like cycling and running provide cardio benefits and uplift skills are settled, another thing needs to be expounded on – the general benefits of a bike and run.
If you are doing cycling and running, expect that these will administer some of the perks listed below:
- Maintain fitness
- Improves cardio health (e.g., heart, heart rate)
- Aids in weight loss
- Build muscle strength
- Steps up physical endurance
- Increase the flow of blood
Yes, you read that right—workouts like cycling and running help increase blood flow, based on experts.
As the blood circulates well, it distributes oxygen and nutrients among different parts that make your whole system function at its best state.
This results in better heart health, brain function, and, most importantly, faster training recovery for your body.
In addition, workouts like these two are also responsible for improving your blood sugar levels and helping you prevent diabetes.
Alongside these benefits are energy and mood improvements too. You can also expect developments in your reproductive health and sexual functions.
Nonetheless, besides providing opportunities for a healthy body, the core goal of these workouts is to make you a stronger runner and cyclist.
Consequences of Cardio Workouts: Cycling and Running
With every promising benefit that running and cycling provide, there are complementary consequences that you need to take a mental note of.
Here are some of the RISKS a bike and run can produce:
- Increase lower back pains
- Ankle and knee injury
- Splints in shin muscles
- Heart risks
- Possibility of increased cardiac arrests
These are scary risks cyclists and runners have in their bags.
Yet, the possibility of having the last two consequences above are higher for professional cyclists and runners.
This is because professionals tend to reach the limits of their bodies to prepare for long distance contest routes, a half marathon, or even the Olympics.
However, you can prevent these risks with proper guidance from a training coach and when you abide by the proper running and cycling stances, equipment, diet, and cross-training programs.
The Importance of Cardiovascular Health for Running Performance
If you are asking what will advance your performance in running, aside from biking, there is a top factor that comes to mind – cardio health.
A runner who has a conditioned and healthy cardiovascular system can have these advantages during trainings and actual competitions:
- Run faster in a much lower time frame
- Have max levels of oxygen that can be utilized in running or marathon training
- A stronger heart makes long run easier
- Prevent joint pains (e.g., knee joints) to help you run faster
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
You surely have many questions in mind about the relationship between cycling and run training for your overall fitness.
Do not worry much because, in this section, we answered some of your frequently asked questions!
How Much Cycling Is Equivalent to Running?
If you have a steady ride for 3 miles or 4.83 kilometers, it is equal to a 1-mile of running or 1.61 kilometers of the same effort.
This equivalence also shows that running burns more excess body fat and calories than cycling using mountain bikes or joining a spin class.
Is Cycling Better Than Running for Stamina?
YES, riding a bike is better for building stamina than running, as it entails a lower impact on the body than running.
As you settle well with cycling and build speed in time, your core strength and other muscle groups can sustain more prolonged physical cycling activities.
Does Stationary Bike Improve Running?
YES, a study shows that cycling on stationary bikes helps improve your runner speed, particularly when you incorporate High-Intensity Interval Training or HIIT.
Riding stationary bikes, which have two wheels, also aids in decreasing injury caused by over exhaustion of muscles in actual outdoor biking.
This is also a safer option for those who want to train hard with specific routines unsuitable for practicing on a busy road.
Does Cycling Strengthen Leg Muscles for Running?
YES, cycling helps a runner’s leg gain more strength.
Some muscles benefiting from this are the hamstring, quads, glutes, and calves.
Additionally, cycling replicates the midfoot strike you do when you run, improving your calf muscles’ level of strength.
Why Are Runners Skinnier Than Cyclists?
Runners are skinnier than cyclists because running bears more weight in burning excess body fat and calories than cycling workouts which in turn shows in their body structures.
Also, a runner’s muscle tone becomes smaller in time to give way to more efficient running skills and performance.
Always remember that skinnier runners do not mean weaker athletes, as this is how healthy looks for most of them.
This physical characteristic is what makes every stride lighter and faster.
With all these facts laid out, one thing’s clear – cycling helps running and vice versa.
As a runner, when you cross train with cycling, it has an added benefit in how you perform while running, like:
- Incorporating a ride in your training aid recovery of the body
- Improves cadence, form, stability, and strength
- Increases overall cardiovascular fitness
- Enables flexibility outside your comfort zone
You can also get these benefits if you are a cyclist cross-training with running.
Of course, these benefits of cycling for running are all achievable with the help of a certified training coach and supervision from your doctors.
So now, wait no further!
Get your muscles working, ride your bike, and pedal your way out to maximum running efficiency (or run your way through cycling prowess)!