Running and cycling are two of the most popular and common exercises out there. Both offer plenty of great benefits to your health and fitness as a whole. But out of the two, which is better for weight loss? And what about muscle growth, or even just your general fitness?
If you’re trying to decide between cycling and running, don’t worry – we’ve got you covered!
In this handy guide, we’ll weigh up the differences between cycling and running to figure out which of the two exercises is better for helping you lose weight, along with other benefits that they offer.
So let’s get started, shall we?
Is Cycling Or Running Better For Weight Loss?
So which of these two exercises is better for weight loss? As it turns out, running is the better option by a decent margin.
Running is a high-impact exercise that works out most of your lower body. It provides far more exercise than cycling, which (while still an intense workout) doesn’t use as many muscles.
As a result, running will help you lose weight faster than cycling will and you’ll see better results sooner. This doesn’t mean that cycling isn’t a good option for weight loss, though – quite the opposite in fact!
While running burns more calories and works more muscles, it uses a lot more energy. Meanwhile, cycling is more gentle on your body, meaning that you can keep going for far longer than you would on a run.
Because of this, you can see just as good a result from cycling as you would from running; as long as you maintain an intense cycle for an extended distance, you can burn plenty of calories without wearing yourself out too quickly.
How Much Better Is Running Than Cycling For Weight Loss?
You might be wondering just how much better running is than cycling when it comes to weight loss. This can be a bit tricky to quantify, as it depends on several different factors such as your speed, the terrain you’re on, and how far you travel during your run or cycle.
For example, while running helps with more weight loss overall, you can actually burn more calories on a cycle if you’re traveling uphill due to increased resistance on the pedals.
In general, however, if we’re looking for a direct comparison without any of these factors then running and cycling come down to a 1:2 or 1:3 ratio of calories burned.
This basically means that you’ll have to cycle 2-3 times the distance of running in order to burn the same amount of calories.
What about the duration of the exercises instead of distance? An hour of running will burn around 566-839 calories, while an hour of cycling will burn around 498-738 calories.
There might not seem like the biggest difference between the two, but you’d have to do much more work for an hour of cycling than you would for running.
Which Is Better For Building Muscles?
Okay, so we’ve established that running is much better than cycling when it comes to losing weight – but what about helping you build muscles? As it turns out, running once again comes out on top here.
As we’ve already mentioned, running uses more muscles than cycling does, meaning that you’re working out more of your body. As a result, you aren’t just giving your muscles more exercise, you’re working out more of them too!
The main muscles that running works out are your quadriceps (in your thighs), hamstrings (in your calves), and your glutes. On top of that, though, running also builds up muscles in the whole of your leg along with your core, hips, and even abs!
In contrast, cycling focuses almost exclusively on your leg muscles. While cycling can help you build muscles in your core and other parts of your lower body, it is nowhere near as effective at this as running.
Cycling is still great at building leg muscles because of the resistance caused by the pedals, and cycling uphill or with a higher gear provides more resistance for a tougher leg workout.
However, this is still less effective at building muscle than running; as a high-impact exercise, running provides a rigorous workout for your legs and is a great way to build up muscle.
What About Your Overall Fitness?
While running is a better exercise for losing weight and building muscle when compared to cycling, both of them have plenty of benefits for your overall fitness.
Both running and cycling are forms of aerobic exercise, which essentially means that they are forms of exercise that get your heart rate up and increase your breathing. Aerobic exercises like running and cycling are great for keeping you fit and offer plenty of health benefits.
Some of these benefits include improved cardiovascular health, reduced risk of issues like strokes and heart attacks, and boost your immune system. On top of that, running and cycling both improve your stamina and endurance and, as we’ve already covered, are great ways to lose weight and build muscle.
The benefits of running and cycling aren’t just to your physical fitness, however, and they can also help your mental well-being. Exercise is a good way to reduce stress and clear your mind, improving your overall mental health.
The amount that these exercises improve your fitness depends on a few factors.
How often you run or cycle, how long you do these exercises for, and the intensity of the exercise all contribute to the amount you gain from them; while things like weight loss and muscle gain are in running’s favor, the number of factors that can influence you fitness means that it’s hard to tell whether running or cycling is more beneficial as a whole.
Despite running being the better method for losing weight and building muscle, it isn’t necessarily the better exercise for improving your fitness. As a high-impact exercise, running makes you more tired faster than cycling, meaning that you won’t be able to do it as much.
Meanwhile, cycling is more gentle on your body – this means that you can cycle at a higher intensity for longer than you would with running, and you can actually get more benefit from cycling as a result.
Overall, these two exercises are both brilliant for improving your fitness and there are plenty of benefits for doing either.
Don’t feel that you need to avoid cycling just because running is better for weight loss and muscle growth; cycling may not be quite as effective, but it’s still a great form of exercise that does still help in these areas without being as stressful on your body.
And there you have it! If you’re trying to lose weight and build muscle, then you’re better off running. Because it works out more than just your legs and burns more calories, running is better than cycling in these aspects.
However, running and cycling are both great for your overall fitness, and there really isn’t a wrong choice in how you want to exercise. Go with whichever option you prefer, and you’ll be sure to see great results in no time!
Good luck, and have fun!