Other than being a very fun sport, mountain biking has fitness benefits which we aren’t even aware of. And therefore, this post is all about the health benefits of mountain biking, where you will also learn whether you are physically ready for such sport and even which muscle groups are worked the most.
There are quite a few mountain biking disciplines, and no matter your favorite discipline – this information will be accurate as they’re not categorized for individual discipline – yet they are an average of all disciplines together.
But do you even know which muscles do mountain biking use the most? Right, let’s get straight into it.
What Muscles Does Mountain Biking Work?
You might already know the main advantages of mountain biking, but we believe it’s very useful to know exactly which muscles and body parts are worked the most.
Even though you’re cycling only using your legs and feet, you are still using your whole body, from your back, shoulders, arms, and more.
The muscle groups which are the most targeted during mountain bike cycling are the following:
Any of these groups include additional individual muscles or smaller muscle groups. For example, for arms – it’s biceps and triceps while for thighs, its hamstrings and quadriceps.
As you can notice, most of these muscle categories are based in the lower body – which tells us that mountain biking really uses our lower body the most, more specifically the legs.
If you have a closer look at the leg muscles, especially calves you can notice that there are two main muscles which are soleus and gastrocnemius.
However, even though these body parts are being used the most – you shouldn’t think other body parts aren’t working anything.
Of course, glutes and legs are the most recognized muscles toned by mountain biking, but there are additional body areas such as the core which includes back and stomach.
And finally, the strength of the upper body shouldn’t be forgotten. The upper body is the least used part of our body during mountain biking, but it can affect arms, especially biceps and triceps.
What most cyclists don’t know is that changing body position during riding is putting pressure on the upper body and helps tone it and strengthen the upper body as well.
Are You Physically Ready for Mountain Biking?
How do you know whether mountain biking is an ideal sport and how do you know if your body is physically ready (has what it takes)?
Since there are quite a few different mountain biking disciplines, there are quite a few requirements to meet.
Mountain biking is definitely a sport that requires endurance, core strength, balance, bike handling skills (advanced), and also self-reliance.
As you become an advanced rider, you will be able to go after steep technical descents and high incline climbs, but you should first make sure you handle well the basic requirements first.
Health Benefits of Mountain Biking
Now, let’s get to the reason why you are all here – and that’s to discover the main health benefits related to mountain biking.
There are quite many benefits and advantages of mountain biking, but we will list the best ones. Therefore, you’ve probably heard about a couple of these already – but if not, it’s time to learn!
Less Stress on Joints
While most people think that mountain biking is stressful on joints, in reality, it’s actually different. In fact, mountain biking puts a lot less stress on joints that any other aerobic activities – which includes running.
Cycling is generally considered as a non-load bearing sport which reduces the risk of injuring your joints.
Reduced Stress – Improves Mood
It’s no secret that mountain biking is demanding, but because of its demands – mountain biking is able to stimulate your body with natural endorphins. If you don’t know what endorphins do – they are a way to make your body feel good and get more energy at the moment.
However, scientists have also come to the conclusion that other than reducing stress and improving mood, mountain biking is ideal for preventing depression or anxiety.
Improved Coordination and Balance
Mountain biking is a dynamic activity that requires a person to constantly be on a lookout and adjust to the terrain and elevations.
You might not notice it, but trying to hold on to your bike and staying on it so you don’t crash actually improves your balance and coordination through the brain, muscles, and nervous system.
Works the Whole Body
As mentioned previously, mountain biking is a sport and an activity where you work your whole body – even though you only use your legs to pedal.
Even the upper body is being used, especially the arms and shoulders – but also the core which will make you see a great fit change to your body in general.
Improved Heart Health
Since mountain biking is a regular exercise, it has the ability to improve cardiovascular fitness which only leads to improved heart health.
Interestingly enough, The British Medical has done a study where they have discovered that mountain biking (and cycling in general) reduces heart disease by 50%.
Since mountain biking is a sport that uses your whole body, large muscle groups require a lot of oxygen, which improved the blood flow. Therefore, the heart works steadily while it’s increasing its fitness up to 7% – studies show.
Decreased Risk of Diseases
Just the way mountain biking can improve heart fitness, it can decrease the risk of other diseases such as cold, flu, and many others.
The University of North Carolina has done a research where they have discovered that an average person who cycles at least 30 minutes a day up to 5 times a week has half as many sick days off than a person who doesn’t cycle.
What’s most interesting is that women who cycle often have the ability to reduce the risk of breast cancer too.
Sleep Better & Enjoy Nature
Lastly, who doesn’t sleep well after a long (tiring), but enjoyable ride through nature? As the green environment is connected with improved psychical condition – combine it with cycling and production of endorphins as you work down that trail, and you get a perfectly balanced mental health.
Now, enjoy your mountain biking regularly, and you will be able to even increase the brainpower, get plenty of good sleep, and enjoy much more natural.
Whether you’re an occasional mountain bike rider or you’re very passionate about a specific mountain biking discipline – you will experience every one of the benefits mentioned in this post.
If you aren’t experiencing any health benefits of mountain biking, maybe you are rushing into it so we highly recommend you take it slow. Also, it’s not about how hard you ride, or how long you ride – but try increasing the number of times you pick up your mountain bike throughout the week, as this might help.
However, if you aren’t feeling the mountain biking or don’t like any of mountain biking disciplines – there’s nothing you should worry about. There are plenty of other cycling opportunities out there, and maybe a road bike is your ideal option.
If you know any other advantages of mountain biking, feel free to let us know in the comments.
What would be your favorite health benefit, if you had to choose one?