Marathon training has greatly helped build my cardio in running such that my rare bicycle ride has been the longer than ever - and faster. This and the pushing part of the pedal stroke seem to be alot stronger from running.

Talking to an avid biker I found out this is a known that you can run into biking shape but not the other way around.

Since the bike is focusing on different muscles than running then do these muscles turn into strengths for running?

I think maybe it can help your sprinting, cadence, and speed. Could this be?

What benefit for improving your running, if any, comes from biking?

Thanks :)

2 Answers 2


Bike and running both use the leg muscles. They don't focus on "different" muscles, it's the same muscles producing the same type of motion with a different emphasis on where the power is placed.

Can you improve one by doing the other? It depends. If you are at the low end of the scale (just starting, getting back into shape, etc) then yes, running can help biking and vice versa. This is because anything is better than nothing.

However, due to sports specific adaptations, the best way to get better at running is run more (With an intelligent training plan). Similarly, the best way to get better at cycling is to cycle more (Again with a plan).

There are a lot of triathletes and multisport athletes that will tell you different, and there is some crossover effect due to using the same muscles and developing cardiovascular systems, but overall the impact isn't as great as you might think.


Your body adapts to whatever you are doing. If your job involves cutting up vegetables then your mind learns the movements required and over time improves the speed and efficiency with which you can complete the task until it becomes a subconscious level of response. This is discussed in "What is Reality" in reasonable detail and in this interview with a cup stacker.

Part of that learning process when completing a task is that your muscles are also adapting to be good at the task. Fast twitch growth is nurtured if you do lots of "explosive" exercises and slow twitch if you do more aerobic-style exercises like long distance running.

The upshot of all of this is that: Your body will adapt to be better at whatever you are doing the most. If you run all the time, your body will get efficient at running, same for cycling, fishing, weightlifting, swimming etc.

I would be careful with taking fitness facts from anyone who is a "expert", make sure you fact check their comments before taking them as complete truth.

Onto your main question: What does road biking do to improve your running? Road biking predominately develops your leg muscle groups due to the constant resistance of pedalling and will improve your general fitness (reducing resting heart rate, improving muscle endurance etc.) Both of these can help with running. Road biking can improve your understanding of how to push your body and how to manage your fatigue, both of which are important for running.

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