How to Keep Legs From Burning When Cycling

Cycling on a road, mountain or stationary bicycle provides cardiovascular and strengthening activity. You elevate your heart rate, burn fat and strengthen your abdominal, gluteal and leg muscles. However, cycling also can produce leg burn, a product of muscle fatigue. You quickly lose strength and coordination, and may feel deep pain or burning for the duration of your workout and beyond. Employ a few techniques to delay and quell muscle burn during a cycling workout. If you experience deep pain or muscle strain while cycling, speak with your doctor.

You can take steps to ease symptoms of leg burn from an intense bike ride. (Image: kapulya/iStock/Getty Images)

Step 1

Spend up to 15 minutes doing light aerobic activity that gradually elevates your heart rate before your cycling regimen. Walk, march in place or cycle at a moderate pace.

Step 2

Spend the first five to 10 minutes of your ride slowly increasing your pace. Beginners, people recovering from injury and people who cycle first thing in the morning particularly benefit from a prolonged warm-up before doing an intense cycling workout.

Step 3

Ride fast for 30 seconds, then slow to a recovery pace for up to one minute. Repeat this cycle every five minutes, doing a brisk but sustainable pace in-between intervals.

Step 4

Change your route. If riding on a level route at a fast speed irritates your leg muscles more, switch to a hilly route or one at a steady grade that allows you to ride more slowly but still feel challenged.

Step 5

Stop cycling to rest your legs. If you want to keep your heart rate elevated longer, do some full-body yoga stretches before cooling down. The most effective way to stop your legs from burning while cycling is to shorten your workout.

Tip

Add a teaspoon of baking soda to your drinking water before cycling to potentially boost your anaerobic performance. In a study published in 2008, scientists at Loughborough University found that athletes who ingested sodium bicarbonate before exercising worked out longer without getting muscle burn. Although not conclusive, the study postulates that baking soda may lower acidity in blood composition.

You glean greater aerobic benefits from doing speed intervals during your workout rather than cycling at the same pace throughout.

Warning

Check with your health-care provider before beginning an exercise program for the first time or if you have been away from fitness programs for a while, or if you have any chronic health issues.

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