Does Cycling Help Sprinting? How To Use Your Bike To Run Faster

Are you interested in improving your sprinting performance?

While regular running is a great way to increase your speed, it may not be the only solution.

Cycling has been proven to help improve sprinting times due to its many benefits.

In this article, we’ll explore how cycling can make you run faster, the benefits of cycling for runners, and provide sample workouts that will help you get the most out of your training.

So grab your bike and let’s get started on improving your sprinting game.

How Biking Can Make You Run Faster

Cycling helps with sprinting because it targets many of the same muscles as running, but without putting as much stress on your joints.

Dr. Robert Berghorn, a Physical Therapist at Ascent Physical Therapy, says that cycling is especially effective for runners when it comes to cross-training exercises.

Cross-training – the practice of supplementing running with an additional exercise type — helps build strength and endurance, which results in better performance for runners.

This technique has been used for decades in running programs to help develop strength and fitness without actually running and cycling is one of the most popular forms.

Not only does cycling help improve overall fitness levels and reduce fatigue, but it also works different muscle groups than running does and helps prevent overuse injuries caused by repetitive motions on the run.

Benefits Of Cycling For Runners

As an avid cyclist and runner, I have found that biking is an excellent way to supplement my training routine.

Cycling has not only helped me with leg muscles and explosive power, but it has also improved my fast-twitch muscle fibers and functional threshold power.

This has enabled me to hit the ground running faster than ever before.

Below are several major benefits of cycling for runners.

1. Reduced Risk Of Injury From Excessive Running

For runners, it is important to monitor how their bodies react to running activities and strive for healthy recovery practices.

After tackling a great distance, it’s not always wise to jump back into running the next day without giving your body some much-needed rest.

To stay active without risking injury, cycling is a fantastic alternative during your recovery time.

Biking can help improve blood flow and flush out any toxins that build up in your muscles, as well as reduce stiffness from your previous run.

Since cycling does not require us to be on our feet but instead uses a supportive seat like a stationary bike or regular bike ride outdoors, there is much less strain put on our legs and body than that running or jogging continuously.

male running athlete train on the street

By utilizing cycling if you find yourself feeling sore after a distance run, you can still work out some of the discomforts while avoiding potential injuries at the same time.

Cycling provides a balance between necessary downtime for recovering from runs and avoiding long periods of stagnation for our bodies.

This leads to fewer cases of ailments or harm due to physical activity associated with long-distance running.

2. Cycling Allows For A Longer Cardio Exercise

Pedaling away on a bike not only strengthens your legs but also pumps up your heart to superhero levels.

Not only is it low-impact, but it also helps you build stamina and endurance for longer cardio workouts.

In long-distance running, a strong heart is crucial for maintaining blood flow and ensuring effective performance.

A proper long-distance running workout should focus on building up the muscles while strengthening the heart.

two cyclist riding bikes across the mountain

This combination will allow you to prevent any injuries while running, as well as ensure that your body can handle the strenuous activity required for long-distance runs.

A longer cardio session allows runners to gradually increase their distance each time and slowly build up their cardiovascular strength along the way, leading to improved performance and physical fitness levels over time.

3. Improve Endurance And Muscle Strength

With regular cycling, your muscles become more powerful and capable of generating greater force, allowing for improved speed on the track or road.

Biking and running combined are the optimal way to improve your endurance and muscle strength.

Such longer bike rides can also help strengthen and condition your muscles, thereby increasing your speed and endurance during a run.

Working on multiple muscle groups at once with cycling ensures that the muscle groups you use for running are supported by the other muscles from cycling.

As such, the ability of different muscle groups to extend towards an improved performance will allow for better output when running due to increased strength and endurance, allowing for better long-term results all around.

With greater strength and more stable balance achieved through biking combined with more frequent runs, this will help combat any fatigue or body exhaustion during a run.

4. Adjusting Your Cadence

When it comes to running, the same principles as biking apply.

A steady and consistent motion with a smooth cadence is important to maximize your workout.

For biking, you should strive for 70-90 RPMs while pedaling, which can help you increase the intensity of your routine.

To achieve this rate, start with easy gear and gradually work your way up until you hit 90 RPMs.

Once those numbers are achieved, shift into a higher gear but still maintain that same speed – going any faster could cause injury or strain on the muscles.

By following this simple technique for both running and biking, you can combine both exercises together for an even more effective workout routine.

professional cyclist training on the road

Not only does this allow for increased endurance and strength training from both activities, but it also helps in maintaining good form during extended periods of activity due to the consistent cadence needed throughout each movement.

Best of all, by sticking to one cadence throughout all types of workouts, your body develops muscle memory more quickly than if there were drastic changes between activities.

When used correctly and religiously followed, adjusting your cadence can be immensely beneficial when combining running and biking in one session.

5. Minimize Running While Maintaining The Same Impact

You would want to reduce the amount of long-distance running because it can harm your knees, ankles, and hips in the long term.

The process of reducing running time without reducing the impact can be achieved with a variety of strategies.

One popular method, which is called the brick workout, combines two different exercise disciplines into one cohesive strategy.

This allows you to recover quickly after a workout and to still gain all the same muscle strength benefits in the long run while avoiding injuries such as knee, ankle, and hip pains.

This method is typically done by transferring your cadence immediately from biking to running, thus increasing the heart rate quickly and providing the same results as an extended run would.

In order to make sure this transition from bike to run goes smoothly and safely, it is important to use monitor devices for your exercise such as wireless heart rate monitoring chest straps that have been designed for exercise rather than medical use.

female professional runner training

While these may not always provide total accuracy due to various factors inhibiting them, they should still provide enough insight into how much strain your body is going through in order to prevent any unnecessary harm.

By using this approach in conjunction with other training exercises and methods such as strength training or intervals you can reduce running time while not sacrificing muscle gain or overall results.

Cycling Workouts For Runners

Whether you’re a beginning jogger or an experienced marathoner, cycling can help improve your speed and endurance in running.

For novice cyclists who want to incorporate cycling into their routine, there are a few sample workouts that they should consider trying.

One thing is certain: by combining cycling with running at least once a week, you can increase overall fitness without having to put too much strain on your joints or leg muscles.

Proper Way To Cycle

I know that cycling is an excellent way to build strength and speed.

But it’s important to make sure you’re doing it correctly.

Your cycling posture and pedaling technique are the key elements of proper form when it comes to cycling.

Personal trainer and postpartum running coach, Alison Marie, outlines some guidelines for improving your cycling technique.

First off, make sure your bike fits properly and is adjusted according to your body size.

When the knees are in their straightest position, they should be bent at about 145 degrees. This angle is essential for a full range of motion and to avoid overextension.

If the seat or handlebars are too low or high for your height, this could lead to an inefficient ride as well as potential injury.

Make sure all parts of your bike (brakes, tires, bearings) are in good condition for optimal efficiency and safety when riding.

When on the saddle, keep your back straight with an upright position so you don’t strain any muscles during longer rides.

male cyclist riding a road bike

When it comes to pedaling technique, try using circular motions instead of pushing down hard – this will reduce fatigue by evenly distributing effort across each leg muscle group throughout the entire rotation cycle.

Keep your feet firmly planted on the pedals without locking onto them; allowing some movement prevents stiffness while also providing better balance over time.

Clip-in-type pedals are best for cycling because they allow you to pedal through the entire range of motion instead of just pushing down on the pedals.

When cycling, aim for 80–100 RPMs (revolutions per minute) for optimal cardiovascular endurance.

Resistance training can also help improve your performance when cycling. High resistance intervals can help simulate hill workouts or speed intervals which will help you develop a faster-running cadence.

Additionally, weight training can help with explosive power and functional threshold power—two key elements of sprinting success.

Dr. Alison Marie advises that following these tips will get you on the path to more efficient bicycle riding and potentially improved performance in other disciplines as well.

Cycling Workouts You Can Do Today

I’m a firm believer that cycling can help improve sprinting performance.

I love to incorporate two types of cycling workouts into my training plan: active recovery rides and interval training.

Overall, these two sample cycling workouts incorporate different aspects of training that can be built upon over time in order to make progress toward improving sprinting performance.

Active Recovery Ride


For an active recovery, I’ll hop on the bike for about 30 minutes and pedal at an easy pace.

I keep my pedaling rate high (95+ RPM) and focus on keeping my heart rate in Zone 1 or 2—the lower part of your aerobic zone.

This helps flush lactic acid out of the legs without taxing them too much, so it’s great for days when you don’t want to do a hard workout but still need some sort of exercise.

Bricks And Tired Leg Training

I have found bricks and tired leg training to be an excellent way to increase my sprinting speed.

This type of workout involves a steady effort on the bike, followed by a hard effort on a run.

You should push yourself at a rate 5-6 out of 10, then after being off the bike, work hard for 2-4 miles.

It’s not only a great way to simulate a short tempo run or harder 5k but also offers more impact per session as it is done on ‘tired legs.’

woman running in the evening

Doing this regularly can lead to faster race times and improved personal performance.

This type of training can really help any runner who might be running fewer miles because of time constraints or soreness from high mileage weeks.

For those trying to build leg strength and endurance, it can be the perfect option since you can adjust the distance on the bike and/or run accordingly – allowing for more rest if needed due to excessive fatigue.

Which Is Better? Cycling Vs Running

As a cyclist and runner, I often find myself debating which of the two is better for my overall health and fitness.

While running has long been considered the go-to workout for cardio, cycling also offers many benefits that can be overlooked.

To make this comparison easier, we will break down each activity.

Cycling Pros

  • Cardiovascular Benefits – Cycling is an aerobic exercise, meaning it increases heart rate and strengthens cardiac muscles. This helps increase endurance and stamina when running a sprint, which is essential for peak performance.
  • Compared to running, cycling is a lower-impact activity, resulting in fewer injuries and more comfortable workouts.
  • Another perk of cycling is the ability to cover greater distances, adding an element of excitement and adventure to your exercise routine.
  • Long-Term Endurance Effects – With regular cycling training, your body gradually builds up its capacity to handle longer distances at higher speeds with less fatigue. As such, you’ll have more power reserves available in a sprint race compared to someone who hasn’t trained with cycling beforehand.

Running Pros

  • Shorter exercise time. Given the higher intensity of running, a half-hour jog may equate to a 2-hour bike ride (depending on resistance).
  • Fatal injury potential. Just like running, cycling can be tough on the knees, proving that both sports have their share of long-term bodily effects. Not to mention potential accidents on the road.
  • The calorie-burning champion. When it comes to torching calories quickly, running takes the lead with its ability to burn more in a shorter timeframe.

My Verdict

Cycling is a great way to improve your running performance. I highly recommend combining it with your running training regimen.

It is important to start off by keeping rides short and relaxed with minimal hills.

For more intense rides, you can incorporate hill reps and short, sharp bursts for a cardiovascular workout.

As part of cross-training, it helps build muscular endurance for long-distance running.

This piece of the puzzle is often overlooked by runners who just focus on running.

Frequently Asked Questions

To enhance your running performance, consider using a road bike or a hybrid bike.

Road bikes are lightweight and efficient, allowing for a good cardiovascular workout and improved leg strength.

Hybrid bikes offer a balance of road and off-road capabilities, promoting muscle development and overall fitness.

You can integrate cycling into your running routine by alternating days for each activity or combining them in a single workout as a warm-up or cool-down.

Additionally, consider incorporating cycling as a cross-training activity on rest days or during recovery periods to maintain fitness while reducing running-related stress on your body.

As far as frequency goes, try adding 1-2 days of cycling each week at first and gradually increase this amount over time if needed.

When it comes to intensity level, make sure to keep it moderate so that your body has enough time to recover between runs.

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