Cycle training is widely performed as a major part of any exercise program seeking to improve aerobic capacity and cardiovascular health. However, the effect of cycle training on muscle size and strength gain still requires further insight, even though it is known that professional cyclists display larger muscle size compared to controls. Therefore, the purpose of this review is to discuss the effects of cycle training on muscle size and strength of the lower extremity and the possible mechanisms for increasing muscle size with cycle training. It is plausible that cycle training requires a longer period to significantly increase muscle size compared to typical resistance training due to a much slower hypertrophy rate. Cycle training induces muscle hypertrophy similarly between young and older age groups, while strength gain seems to favor older adults, which suggests that the probability for improving in muscle quality appears to be higher in older adults compared to young adults. For young adults, higher-intensity intermittent cycling may be required to achieve strength gains. It also appears that muscle hypertrophy induced by cycle training results from the positive changes in muscle protein net balance.
Keywords: aerobic exercise; cycling; ergometer; lower body; muscular adaptation.