Spin bike and treadmill

Does Biking Help Running?

Biking and running, though distinct in mechanics, share a symbiotic relationship that can significantly enhance an athlete's performance. In the quest to understand this dynamic, 'Does Biking Help Running?' dives into the multifaceted ways in which biking contributes to a runner's prowess.

From providing a low-impact alternative for injury prevention and recovery to enhancing cardiovascular endurance and muscle strength, the cross-training benefits of biking are numerous.

This exploration reveals how integrating biking into a runner's regimen not only bolsters their running economy but also aids in overall physical conditioning, offering a holistic approach to improving running performance.

Benefits of Biking for Runners

Let’s take a quick look at the benefits of biking that you can reap as a runner.

Low-Impact Cross-Training

Cycling stands out as a low-impact exercise, making it an ideal cross-training option for runners. It significantly reduces the stress on weight-bearing joints like the knees and hips, which are often impacted by the high-impact nature of running.

This aspect is particularly beneficial for those recovering from joint-related injuries or runners who are prone to joint pain. By incorporating cycling into their training regimen, runners can continue to enhance their cardiovascular fitness without the risk of exacerbating joint issues.

Improved Cardiovascular Fitness

Cycling and running are both excellent cardiovascular workouts, but cycling has the advantage of being sustainable for longer durations. This extended exercise period helps in strengthening the heart and lungs, thereby enhancing a runner's aerobic capacity.

Improved cardiovascular fitness translates to better endurance on runs, allowing runners to maintain a consistent pace for longer periods. Additionally, cycling's varied intensity levels, from leisurely rides to high-intensity sprints, provide diverse cardiovascular challenges that can further boost a runner’s aerobic performance.

Muscle Balance and Strength

Biking complements running by targeting muscle groups that might receive less emphasis during running, particularly the quadriceps and glutes. By strengthening these muscles, biking helps achieve a more balanced overall muscle development.

This balance is crucial for runners as it reduces the risk of injuries caused by overusing certain muscles while neglecting others. Moreover, stronger glutes and quadriceps can improve a runner's power and efficiency, contributing to better performance, especially in uphill and speed segments.

Increased Leg Turnover

Cycling can significantly enhance a runner's leg turnover, also known as cadence. The rapid leg movements required in cycling, especially during high-intensity intervals or hill climbs, train the legs for quick, repetitive motions.

This training directly translates to running by improving the speed and efficiency of a runner's stride. A higher cadence in running is often associated with increased speed and reduced risk of injury, as it encourages a more efficient running form.

Flexibility in Training

Biking offers flexibility in training, particularly useful during inclement weather or when access to safe running routes is limited. Indoor cycling or spinning classes can be excellent alternatives, allowing runners to maintain their fitness levels in a controlled environment.

This flexibility ensures that runners can continue their training regimen without interruption, maintaining consistency in their workout schedule. Additionally, cycling can be easily adjusted for intensity and duration, making it suitable for both intense training sessions and lighter, recovery-focused activities.

Active Recovery

Cycling is an effective tool for active recovery, especially after intense running workouts. It promotes increased blood flow to the muscles, helping in the removal of lactic acid and other metabolic waste products. This active recovery process can alleviate muscle soreness and speed up the recovery process.

Moreover, the low-impact nature of cycling ensures that this recovery activity does not place undue strain on the muscles and joints. This is particularly beneficial after hard running sessions, races, or during periods of high mileage, allowing runners to recover more efficiently while still engaging in physical activity.

Enhanced Endurance

Endurance is a critical aspect for runners, especially for those focusing on long-distance events. Biking allows for longer-duration workouts which contribute significantly to building endurance. Unlike running, where prolonged duration can increase injury risk, cycling offers a safer way to extend workout times.

This endurance built on the bike often transfers to running, enabling runners to sustain longer running sessions. Furthermore, the endurance gains from cycling can lead to improvements in overall stamina and physical resilience.

Mental Break and Motivation

Incorporating biking into a running routine provides a valuable mental break, offering variety and reducing the monotony of training. This change of pace can reinvigorate a runner's enthusiasm and motivation, particularly during periods of heavy training or when facing a plateau.

Cycling in different environments, such as scenic routes or challenging terrains, adds an element of adventure and enjoyment, which can be mentally refreshing. Keeping the mind engaged and motivated is crucial for long-term training success and personal enjoyment in the sport.

Weight Management

Biking is an effective way to manage weight, which is crucial for runners aiming to optimize performance and minimize injury risk. Cycling burns a significant amount of calories, particularly during intensive sessions like hill climbs or speed intervals.

A proper weight management strategy contributes to a runner's speed and efficiency by reducing the energy cost of carrying extra weight. Additionally, maintaining an optimal weight through activities like cycling can help reduce the stress on joints, further decreasing injury risks.

Improved Running Economy

Regular cycling can lead to an improved running economy, which refers to the amount of oxygen a runner uses at a given pace. A better running economy means that a runner can maintain their pace while expending less energy.

This improvement is particularly beneficial for long-distance runners, as it allows them to conserve energy over extended periods. The cross-training effect of cycling helps in enhancing cardiovascular efficiency and muscle endurance, both of which contribute to a more economical running form.

Biking Workouts That Help Running

Let’s take a look at two biking workouts that will help turn you into a better runner. Here we have an indoor cycling training plan that is ideal for all levels.

1. Hill Interval Workout

Objective: To build strength in your leg muscles, improve cardiovascular fitness, and enhance your ability to handle running hills.

Duration: Approximately 60 minutes

Workout Structure:

  • Warm-Up (15 minutes): Start with a gentle ride at a low resistance, gradually increasing the intensity every 5 minutes to prepare your muscles.
  • Hill Intervals (30 minutes):
    • Find a hill or increase the resistance on your bike.
    • Perform a 5-minute interval at a challenging but sustainable pace, focusing on maintaining a steady cadence.
    • Recover for 3 minutes with light pedaling at low resistance.
    • Repeat this cycle 5 times.
  • Cool Down (15 minutes): Gradually reduce the intensity and pedal at a low resistance, allowing your heart rate to come down and your muscles to relax.


  • Focus on maintaining a smooth pedaling motion.
  • Keep your upper body relaxed and avoid hunching over the handlebars.
  • Hydrate well before, during, and after the workout.

2. Tempo Ride

Objective: To improve your lactate threshold, which is crucial for long-distance running, and enhance your endurance.

Duration: Approximately 90 minutes

Workout Structure:

  • Warm-Up (20 minutes): Begin with easy pedaling, gradually building up to a moderate pace.
  • Tempo Effort (40 minutes):
    • Increase your pace to a challenging but manageable level. This should feel like a 7-8 out of 10 in terms of effort, where you can speak in short sentences but not hold a conversation.
    • Maintain this steady effort for 40 minutes. It's crucial to find a sustainable intensity to avoid burning out too early.
  • Cool Down (30 minutes): Slowly reduce your effort level and pedal at an easy pace to help your muscles recover.


  • Keep an eye on your heart rate or power output (if available) to ensure you're staying in the correct effort zone.
  • Focus on maintaining consistent cadence and smooth breathing.
  • Pay attention to your posture, keeping your back straight and shoulders relaxed.

How a Spin Bike Replaces a Regular Bike

Using an indoor spin bike like those from Ascend, compared to a regular outdoor bike offers several distinct benefits. Remember, if you’re using a spin bike, proper form is essential!

  1. Weather-Independent Workouts: Indoor spin bikes allow you to train regardless of outside weather conditions. You can exercise in the comfort of your home without worrying about rain, snow, extreme temperatures, or poor visibility.
  2. Safety: Indoor cycling eliminates risks associated with outdoor biking such as traffic, road hazards, and the need for protective gear (helmet, reflective clothing).
  3. Customized Training Intensity: Spin bikes typically come with adjustable resistance settings, enabling you to customize the intensity of your workout. You can simulate various terrains, from flat roads to steep hills, without needing the actual topography.
  4. Convenience and Time Efficiency: With an indoor bike, there's no need for travel to cycling locations. This makes it easier to fit workouts into a busy schedule, and you can even multitask, like watching TV or reading, while exercising.
  5. Structured Workouts: Indoor bikes are conducive to structured training sessions, such as high-intensity interval training (HIIT) or targeted endurance building, without interruptions from traffic or stoplights.
  6. Performance Tracking: Many modern spin bikes are equipped with digital monitors that track and display your workout metrics, like distance, speed, calorie burn, and heart rate. This data can be valuable for tracking progress and setting fitness goals.
  7. Reduced Impact on Joints: Indoor cycling is a low-impact exercise, making it easier on the joints compared to outdoor cycling on uneven or rough terrains.

People Also Ask

Can cycling help me run better?

Yes, cycling can indeed help improve your running performance. It offers several benefits that contribute to a better running experience.

Can you replace a run with a bike ride?

Yes, a bike ride can replace a run, especially for cross-training purposes, injury recovery, or to avoid overtraining. While cycling doesn't replicate running exactly due to differences in muscle engagement and impact, it's an effective way to maintain cardiovascular fitness and muscle strength without the high impact of running.

How many hours of cycling is equal to running?

The conversion between cycling and running in terms of time is not straightforward because it depends on various factors like intensity, terrain, individual fitness level, and cycling efficiency. However, as a general rule of thumb, it's often said that roughly 1 hour of running is equivalent to about 3 hours of cycling at a moderate effort level. This ratio can vary significantly based on the intensity of each activity.

How many km of cycling is equal to running?

The distance conversion between cycling and running is also variable and depends on factors such as intensity, terrain, and individual fitness. A commonly used approximation is that cycling distance is roughly 3 to 4 times running distance. So, for example, 10 km of running might be roughly equivalent to 30-40 km of cycling. Again, this is a general estimation and can vary based on individual circumstances and effort levels.

Whether you're looking for a spin bike or a treadmill to step up your cardio routine, Ascend has the cardio machine for you. Shop our collections below.

Justin Tardif-Francoeur

Justin Tardif-Francoeur

With over a decade of experience in the health and fitness industry, Justin has a rich background ranging from personal training in bustling gyms to practicing massage therapy in health centers, and eventually running his own practice. An avid advocate for self-improvement, he tirelessly pursues the latest research to broaden his knowledge of human physiology and the body's potential. When he isn't enriching his understanding or assisting clients, Justin can be found embracing the great outdoors through paddle boarding, yoga, and hiking, or immersing himself in a challenging workout. His passion transcends personal growth, as he's equally committed to inspiring others on their own journey of self-improvement.


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