Does Peloton Build Muscle? (Everything you need to know)


Peloton is a home solution not only for the spinning enthusiast but also for everyone how wants to get fit and is looking for a great cardio workout. But does peloton build muscle?

In general, the peloton does build muscle because it has a range of interval programs that target both fast and slow-twitch muscle fibers. Alternating high resistance in combination with sprint and uphill climb helps to develop strong legs and build muscle endurance.

With peloton, you can start cycling right away with on-demand classes that range from strength, HIIT, and Tabata, but it all comes down to how much you will challenge yourself.

Can You Build Muscle With Peloton?

Generally, you can build muscle with a peloton because of the HIIT and strength classes. Those high-intensity interval sessions require constant shifts from seated sprint all the way to brutal uphill climbs which build strength and muscle.

If you want to build muscle on the peloton you need to seek out HIIT and climb classes. Those type of classes makes your thighs burn. Within the 20-30 minutes class, you want at least 3-4 tunes that have slower cadence. I personally like the range between 80-100 BPM.

What is cadence in peloton? Cadence in the peloton means speed or revolutions per minute (RPM). Revolutions per minute mean how many times the pedal rotates 360 degrees within one minute time. Music tracks with slow cadence usually have a slower beat.

The perfect example is “American Woman” by Lenny Kravitz.

American woman song is the example of slow cadence and high resistance

Those type of tunes are typically slow but allows you to get your resistance up. The beat is slow and you can push.

What is beat in the peloton? In peloton beat per minute (BPM) refers to to the song from the playlist. Songs that have low BPM usually require to stay in the saddle and climb uphill at a slow pace and high resistance. Tracks that have faster BPM usually require to stand up and move faster with lower resistance.

Why cadence is important for building muscle? Cadence is important for building muscle because the lower the cadence, the more resistance you put on. High resistance helps to build muscle endurance, increases your heart rate, and burns more calories in general.

Adding more resistance fires up the type 2 muscle fibers and keeps your quadriceps working hard. In some classes, the instructor will ask you to stay seated in the “saddle”. This is the most difficult part because sitting is much more challenging on high resistance than standing.

What I like about peloton is the variety of trainers and workout sessions. I’ve been doing spin classes for over the last decade and I know that when you do the same workout back to back it can get predictive and boring. In the peloton, you do have many options.

What Muscles Does Peloton Work?

In general, peloton works almost all the muscles in the body because it offers variety of classes. Peloton bike is just one of the options that works on your legs and core. Peloton strength, yoga or pilates classes work on your upper body as well.

Here you can see the full breakdown of with muscles works on peloton.

MuscleWhen it works
QuadricepsQuads work all the time during the peloton class, however the most impact you can feel in the seated climb sessions and sprint.
HamstringsHamstrings are the antagonists of quads so they work all the time, but the most effective way to work them is by changing the positions from seated to standing.
GlutesGlutes work the most when you’re standing
Hip flexorsHip flexors work the most during the standing positions
CalvesCalves are most engaged during standing
CoreCore works throughout the session and you need to keep it tight all the time
Muscles worked during peloton

Also, many peloton bike classes offer sessions where the instructor is using the weights. During the session, you simply stop pedaling you grab a weight, and do some upper body movements. This is a great way to engage upper body muscles and push the blood towards them.

This way it keeps the balance.

Does Peloton Work Your Whole Body?

Generally, the peloton does work your whole body because it offers a variety of sessions that engage the upper and lower body. Peloton bike and thread work on your legs and core, where peloton strength, HIIT, and Bootcamp work on arms, shoulders, and chest.

Here is the breakdown of the classes and what muscles do they work.

ClassBody parts
StrengthFull body (using weights)
RunningLower body and core
YogaFull body (flexibility, balance and strenght)
Bike bootcampFull body (cycling and weights)
Tread bootcampFull body (running and weights)
PilatesFull body (no equipment)
Peloton classes that work whole body

Does Peloton Build Leg Muscle?

Generally, the peloton does build leg muscle, but its not stimulating muscle hypertrophy. This means you build up muscle endurance and density, not the size. Doing peloton classes, even on high resistance, isn’t enough for optimal hypertrophy like after squats or deadlifts.

What is hypertrophy? Hypertrophy is a fancy name for building muscle. It occurs after a muscle has been under stimuli of heavy load, usually with lifting weights. Peloton classes have high resistance but it’s still a cardio workout, not a typical weight lifting session.

Will Peloton Make My Legs Bigger?

In general, a peloton won’t make your legs bigger because there is not enough volume to trigger hypertrophy. Doing 20 minutes class, even for 7 days a week, will develop muscle endurance and stamina, but it won’t make the legs big, as long as you control your calorie intake.

People who do peloton classes and get bigger legs don’t do so because of the resistance or the volume. Nutrition plays a role here too. Eating high-carb meals after the workouts to “reward” yourself for a tough session over time can lead to bigger legs.

I won’t be covering here what factors make you gain weight while doing peloton. I’ve already covered that in “does peloton make you gain weight“, which I suggest you read.

The high-intensity classes lead to high energy expenditure and greater appetite after a workout.If your goal is better performance than there is no problem. You can eat and do peloton as much as you want.

But if your goal is better body composition, together with doing classes you need to look at your nutrition. The easy solution is to have more protein-rich and high-fiber foods. Those foods will increase your satiety and lower your appetite.

Some of the best options are:

  • Eggs
  • Chicken
  • Fish
  • Beef

Having protein with every single meal not only will help you eat less food, lower your cravings but also increase energy expenditure. Proteins are the most “metabolically” expensive nutrients. This means the body needs a lot more energy to break down, digest, and absorb all the amino acids.

In other words, you burn more calories just by eating more proteins.

On the other hand, eating high-carb meals will give you those spikes in blood sugar, fluctuations in energy levels, and increased appetite for more food. So even if you’re doing a great job on the peloton bike, because of more calorie intake, the legs get bigger.

Can You Get Ripped Using Peloton?

In general, you can get ripped using peloton, as long as you’re in a calorie deficit. The high intensity peloton classes allows to regular cardio workout, and with combination of low-calorie and high-protein diet you can lose fat and build muscle at the same time.

Getting ripped with peloton is more about nutrition than exercise, to be honest. You can still do your 20 minutes daily classes, but if you don’t follow up with the diet that creates a calorie deficit, then it won’t work.

Why calorie deficit is important with peloton? A calorie deficit is important with peloton because it allows you to burn more fat and get lean. Creating a calorie deficit with a peloton is easier than ever because you have access to daily high-intensity exercise at your fingertips.

Now all you need to cary for is balanced diet.

Conclusion

Building muscle on the peloton is fun and the best way to do it is by joining the classes that are doing climbing and HIIT.

One of my favourite peloton instructors that is doing a lot of HIIT and climb combination is Olivia Amato. her classes are tough with limited rest. That’s when you build up your legs muscles.

Michal Sieroslawski

Michal is an exercise physiologist (MSc), nutrition coach, Ashtanga teacher, and fitness blogger. He shares his successes and failures to help busy men and women squash down 20, 50, or even 100 pounds of fat without leaving their home.

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