iOS vs Android, PlayStation vs Xbox, Cycling vs Running, the list is endless. One of those battles that will go forever and we could not say which one is better than another. Many people ask me which one is better for them individually cycling or running.
And there is no single answer to such a question because cycling and running are both excellent forms of exercise. Despite the fact that there are differences between them, both are rhythmic activities which allow you to engage large muscle groups. But let’s see exactly what muscles you use when cycling and running.
Muscles used when cycling and running
The main muscles at work in cycling are the quadriceps femoris and hamstrings in the upper leg and the gastrocnemius and soleus in the calf. These muscles contract in a nice sequence which creates the pedaling power. But in general, the quadriceps and the hamstrings do 95% of the work when you ride a bike.
The quadriceps and the hamstrings do 95% of the work when you ride a bike
You can find more detailed information about all the muscles used in cycling and how to train them in this comprehensive article by TrainingPeaks.
When running you use more muscles in comparison to cycling but in a very different way. The muscles that are most used are the adductors, the hamstrings, and the quadriceps. These muscles assist with knee flexion, hip extension and stabilizing the pelvis, which protects your spine. The abdominals are also active all the time when running helping to stabilize and balance the body.
Cycling vs Running – Which burns more calories?
In general, running burns a little bit more calories than cycling. According to the calculations from American College of Sports Medicine, a 150-pound runner who runs at a normal speed of 7 minutes per mile will burn about 1000 per hour. The same person pedaling at 16-18 miles per hour will burn about 850 calories per hour. For comparison, walking requires only about 350-360 calories per hour at a speed of 4 miles per hour.
Cycling vs Running – Injuries
Here comes the biggest advantage of cycling over running. Injuries in running are common. Runner’s knee is the number one in the list. Experiencing a tender pain around or beyond the kneecap is usually a sign of Patellofemoral pain syndrome.
It is a very annoying injury which is very difficult to heal completely. Achilles tendinitis is another very common injury in running. It is an overuse injury of the Achilles tendon the band of tissue that connects calf muscles at the back of the lower leg to your heel bone. Again very difficult to treat and to become again pain-free. More about the other running injuries you can find in this article by Greatist.
Cycling, on the other hand, is a no weight bearing activity so it is much better for your knees and joints. Of course, you can also experience a patellofemoral pain syndrome with the repetitive pedaling when riding a bike or any other injury but it’s much less likely. If you train properly and increase the miles by a slow steady rate you will be fine with cycling.
Cycling vs Running – Which is more fun?
Running can be very fun and enjoyable but nothing to compare with the speed of cycling. The road bikes these days are so fast that you can even be faster than the cars on the road. The passionate runner will say that there is nothing better than running but just check this video below and think again:
Cycling vs Running – Conclusion
So which is better in the battle of the titans cycling vs running? Cycling is definitely a more expensive sport than running but you can always find some affordable options for good inexpensive road bikes or maybe some cheap but still good mountain bikes.
If you love gadgets and tech stuff cycling will become your favorite sport. Also, you can use your bike for the main transportation in the city which will pay itself with time. Riding a bike is the cheapest and cleanest transport today per mile. And also, there are so many great gifts for cyclists these days.
I will say that both activities will improve your aerobic fitness. They are both good for your health and the environment too. There is no easy answer to say which one is better. Of course for me as a passionate cyclist riding a bike will always be the numero uno. But if you can combine both sports you will get even more benefits.
Cycling and running will help you lose weight if you want to. They will help you build muscles and will definitely make you a much happier person.
Also, you can use your bike for daily commutes to work or to college. Riding a bike is the cheapest and cleanest transport today per mile. In a conclusion, I will say that both activities will improve your aerobic fitness. They are both good for
Of course, for me as a passionate cyclist riding a bike will always be the numero uno. But if you can combine both sports you will get even more benefits. Cycling and running will help you lose weight if you want to. They will help you build muscles and will definitely make you a much happier person.
I want to help 10 000 000 people around the world learn how to ride a bicycle and find the joy of cycling to work. Thank you for being a part of the Yes Cycling community.