does cycling help running endurance

Does Cycling Help Running Endurance: 7 Great Benefits of Cycling in 2023

Does cycling help running endurance?

Riding a bike is one of the most effective ways of improving running endurance as it builds up your muscles, increases endurance, and reduces the risk of injuries to the hips and legs.

As you get more brick workouts under your belt, you will usually notice a positive change in your running speed, technique, and endurance during long-distance running events such as marathons. 


Cycling is one of the most effective cross-training techniques out there whether you are working through an injury or are perfectly fine. 

As a low-impact activity, cycling also provides a range of aerobic benefits. You can also use cycling to improve endurance by riding uphill in proper form to build strength.

You can also do short sprints out of the saddle to build speed and spike heart rate. Lastly, you can build endurance by going on steady long rides.

The best thing about cycling as compared to running is that since it is a low-impact activity, recovery usually comes much faster. 


Both cycling and running provide a cardiovascular workout, and by and large, tend to use similar muscle groups.

Cyclists usually produce much of their cycling power through the hamstrings and quadriceps in the upper legs and the gastrocnemius and soleus in the calves. Runners on the other hand usually make use of the calves, iliopsoas, hamstrings, glutes, and quadriceps.

However, it is important to note that neither cycling nor running tends to build overall muscle mass. Rather they may ins one instance cause muscle shrinkage as you would need more metabolically efficient muscles to engage in intense running or cycling.


If you are a runner nothing could be more beneficial to your running performance than cross-training and particularly cycling. Cycling is effective for aiding recovery and building muscle strength and endurance as compared to many other forms of cross-training regimens.

Some of the benefits of cycling for running include:

  1. Build Complementary Muscles

When you are running you will be building certain sets of muscles and making them better able to perform certain functions. While you will initially grow stronger at some point you will plateau. 

Since you use similar muscles when cycling in addition to several others, you will be a stronger and more efficient runner. The reason for this is that when you develop other muscles as you will be able to complement your running muscles with those developed in cycling.

  1. Aids in Recovery

After a long run, a cyclist will usually be sore and will not want to go back out there. However, by taking to a bike for a low-intensity exercise you will be able to fasten your recovery.

Moreover, since it is a low-impact exercise, you will be able to reduce joint and muscle stiffness while improving blood flow to the muscles and taking out lactic acid.

  1. Aerobic Training

There are several ways runners may use cycling for aerobic training. They could do short sprints to spike heart rates by out-of-saddle speed riding. These workouts will push the body hard and force it to grow and adapt faster.

Alternatively, you could opt for steady long rides that build endurance. This will usually have lower recovery rates but you will get to enjoy a cardio workout and improve cardiovascular fitness.

does cycling help running endurance
  1. Exercising with an Injury

Getting injured is quite a blow that would put you out of commission when it comes to running. However, since running is a low-impact exercise, you can use it to stay in shape as you wait for your running injuries to heal.

In fact, some studies have shown that continuing to get some activity while injured plays a significant role in reducing recovery times. 

  1. Optimize Fat Burning

If you took up running for weight loss, then cycling is one of your best friends. While running overall burns more calories, you will start to burn fewer calories over time. Since the optimum fat-burning rate is between 65 to 75 percent of the maximum, you challenge the body to increase heart rate with a new challenge on a bike. 

  1. Push Your Comfort Zone

Just trying a new sport is enough to push you out of your comfort zone. Even if you are used to keeping fit and working out taking up cycling as a runner will build new neural pathways and exercise the brain which will improve well-being. 

As such expanding your training to include cycling may break bad habits, make you more open to trying out new things in your runs, and be more confident.

  1. Find New Exhilarations

Cycling can offer new thrills and offer novel ways to experience the outdoors whether it is climbing ridges, bi8king downhill, or riding with other cyclists. Whatever your level of experience or age, you can always find enthusiasts to ride with who can help you on your journey to fitness and endurance. 


If I had my way all runners would have to incorporate cycling into their training regimen. It is a fun activity that will also give the body much-needed rest with its low intensity and low impact forces as compared to running. Moreover, it also increases running performance and helps in faster recovery. 

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Some of the ways to blend running and cycling into a fun training plan include:

Training hard on the run and recovering on the bike

If you are running and taking high-intensity workouts such as hill workouts, long-distance runs, tempo runs, and speed work you should incorporate two easy cycling regiments in your weekly workouts. To prevent overload of stress on your body keep the resistance light which will improve circulation and help in recovery. 

A sample of an easy cycle and a hard run is:

  1. Monday: Speed Workout – Red Zone
  2. Tuesday: Recovery Ride 30 to 60 minutes – Yellow Zone
  3. Wednesday: Tempo or Hill Workout – Orange Zone
  4. Thursday: Recovery Ride 30 to 60 minutes – Yellow Zone
  5. Friday: Easy Effort Run – Yellow Zone
  6. Saturday: Easy Long Run or Race Simulation Run – Yellow to Orange Zone
  7. Sunday: Rest day

Training hard and easy on both the bike and the run

If you intend to mix up your routine and spread the higher quality workouts between cycling and running you can increase the intensity of cycling. This can be effective for runners who love to cycle and run that are looking to improve fitness and performance without too much impact on the body.

A balanced cycle and run sample might look like this:

  1. Monday: Speed or Tempo Workout – Orange or Red Zone
  2. Tuesday: Recovery Ride 30 to 60 minutes – Yellow Zone
  3. Wednesday: Easy Effort Run – Yellow Zone
  4. Thursday: Sprint, Hill, or Tempo Ride – Orange or Red Zone
  5. Friday: Easy Effort Run 30 to 40 minutes – Yellow Zone
  6. Saturday: Easy Long Run or Race Simulation Run – Yellow to Orange Zone
  7. Sunday: Rest day

Training hard on the bike and easy on the run

If you are primarily a cyclist that wants to cross-train with running, you can do some low-intensity running workouts to adapt to the high-impact forces of running while using your cycling regimens to train for fitness at higher intensity levels.

Such a regiment might look like this:

  1. Monday: Speed or Sprint Intervals Cycle Workout – Red Zone
  2. Tuesday: Easy Effort Run 30 to 45 minutes – Yellow Zone
  3. Wednesday: Hill or Threshold Cycle – Orange to Red Zone
  4. Thursday: Easy Effort Run 30 to 40 minutes – Yellow Zone
  5. Friday: Recovery Ride 45 to 60 minutes – Yellow Zone
  6. Saturday: Easy Long Run – Yellow Zone
  7. Sunday: Rest day

Whether you are looking to boost your fitness or are in need of active recovery workouts or just want to mix things up, cycling is one of the most effective ways for a runner to improve their performance.

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