We’ve all experience that shaky leg feeling after climbing too many stairs, riding a bicycle a long way after a period of no exercise, or even starting something as seemingly easy as Tai Chi. That shaking comes from not using certain muscles in your legs. Those muscles are basically weak.

Cycling will improve your leg strength. Pedalling forces your leg muscles to apply a lot of torque. In most people the larger muscles at the top of the leg develop first. However, over time the development will work its way down to the muscles above the knee. Normally this takes me about a year or two of heavy duty cycling to see and feel the results. The phrase “heavy duty cycling’ is key to developing muscle strength in your legs. Just gently tootling around your neighborhood is a great thing to do for you stress level, but it does little to improve muscle mass. You need to put the gas on and really do a work out. As an added bonus you’ll find your stress level decreases even more than with that jaunt around the block.

I have a personal story to share. I tore my anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) playing basketball when I was twenty years old. That caused me to have stability issues on my left side for years. However, after I biked across the country in my early 20's, the instability disappeared. It was an intense, long term workout that gave me new respect for the power of the bicycle. I developed so much dense muscle mass above my knee that I didn’t need the ACL to hold my leg together. Then in my late 20's I stopped cycling and started boxing. I guess I’m a glutton for punishment. And punishment is what I received in the ring. I ended up tearing both menisci in my left knee. The meniscus is cartilage in the knee joint. It performs like a shock absorber to protect the knee from injury. If you don’t take care you can lose all the strength in your knee and that can lead to surgery, or even a knee replacement. My inside meniscus became stable over the years; however, the outside continued to tear every few years. Warning bells started to go off. That last think I wanted was to end up in the hospital. This past year I started working at Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwiches as a bicycle delivery person. In my book there is nothing like being paid to exercise. Lo and behold, my knee strengthened amazingly fast. I plan to continue working as a bicycle delivery rider to keep that knee out of trouble. Perhaps you can find a way to incorporate a bicycle into your muscle strengthening program... and earn so money as well.

 Please contact us at yanL@downtube.com with any fitness related questions.

©2018 Dr. Yan Lyansky