This question has been bugging me for a while; If you unicycle for one hour, would you get stronger than if you bike for one hour, or does biking make you stronger? I would guess unicycling because you have to pedal consantly. Thanks.
It’s two different workouts. For an accurate answer, you have to define “stronger.”
Being able to do more squats with more weight for longer time.
Probably bicycling. You can gear it up and really use some muscle. Unicycles, however, are going to be better at developing your core strength and fast-twich muscles.
My uneducated guess would be that the bike will be better for this. In general, a bike has longer cranks and you pedal slower. This is similar to the type of work involved in high-weight squats.
Riding a unicycle is more aerobic, with your feet generally making a smaller circle, which means a smaller range of leg motion.
A bike also works your upper body differently from a unicycle, though exactly how different depends on whether you hold a handle, handlebar, etc.
I’d have to say unicycling – specifically muni – will make you stronger…per your definition. I have a reasonably extensive bicycling background, and when I began muni, especially as I learned uphill riding, my quads would get sore. Seemed weird given how much biking I did, but that’s what happened. Now, with doing more muni, my quads don’t hurt anymore, but my wife comments on my quads having much better definition. I’ve also noticed that on the bike, major hills are now easier.
Net, I’d conclude muni strengthened my quads more than just biking. I’m not sure whether less intense unicycling would do the same or not.
Re: biking vs. unicycling
I would expect, given an identical course, that unicycling would build more muscle than bicycling. On the unicycle you are always doing more work; with every pedal revolution you have to correct your wobble, which takes muscles which never get used on the bike.
his question was over an hour though.
i guess an hour up hill climbs on a uni would do better than an hour of hill climbing on a bike, as hill climbs on a unicycle are essentially squats.
i say ride uni for core strength/ab workout. and ride bike for areobic to keep fat down. go squats to actually gain serious strength. or at least the ability to do more squats.
When you bike, if your doing it right, you spin almost as fast on on a uni but you use you calves as well because you circle pedal and pull up. You can’t do that on a Uni so it’s pretty much pure quad, which would help you do squats.
HOWEVER, making your legs pure quad is a great way to badly pull your hamstrings or destroy your knees.
I’d bet idling with alternating feet would be the best thing for squats.
if your goal is to get more fit, and that’s what you have in mind before heading out, either activity will probably be pretty equal if you go out and ride to specifically utilize each sports’ ‘toughest’ parts.
Sure climbing up a hill is a better workout than on a bike…unless you do 6 rotaions up the hill and UPD where the bike would continue to climb (exerting far more leg work for a much longer time)
MUni’ing is too easy to get into a rythm sometimes and your heart rate slows right down even though your cruising speed is still quite fast. A bicycle’s gears, while designed to help out the cyclist, can be used to specifically have the ability to make the cyclist wrok much harder than he needs to be.
They each have their pros and cons, it’s all in how you go out and ride them.
Biking definitely- you can gear yourself to the terrain, whereas a unicycle tends to be undergeared, and you pedal faster and shorter circles.
On the other hand MUni may be more tiring than MTBking- probably has more to do with having no suspension and making constant adjustments to keep your balance in technical terrain. I’ve done a 12hr MTB race on both a unicycle and a bike- I can definitely push myself harder on a bike, but I feel just as hammered after doing it on a unicycle.
Unicycling uses different leg muscles than bicycling in part due to the different body position and pedal position. Any time you change your pedal position you’re going to change what leg muscles you use and what range of motion those muscles go through.
Make a big change in your riding position on a bike and you’re going to get sore legs until your legs get used to the new pedaling position. For example change from a relaxed road bike geometry to a very upright and aero triathlon time trial bike and you’re legs will be hating you until they can get used to the new position. So just because your legs got sore when you changed from your bike to your uni doesn’t mean the uni was offering a better workout. It just means that you were working different muscles through a different range of motion. When the muscles get use to the new activity they won’t get sore.
I don’t ride my bike much. If I go out and do something like a 40 mile ride on my MTB on dirt roads my legs get sore in areas that don’t get worked the same way on a unicycle. My legs get sore because they’re not used to the new slightly different activity, not because they’re weak.
If you want to get stronger at squatting, get your butt in the weight room. Both can help you some, but will have little transfer.
When I was learning to unicycle, I noticed that it hit my obliques a lot. Obliques are huge in squatting and that might help, just like how you’re going to strengthen your thighs and overall leg with both, but that doesn’t mean there will be much transfer. COMPLETELY DIFFERENT MOVEMENT!
Granted that most people pedal their bikes slower than optimum speed, I still pedal my unicycles a lot faster than bikes.
I hear different numbers for optimum cadence on bkes. For recreational riding I think it’s supposed to be something like 60-90 rpm. For racing it might be more like 80-120? But on a unicycle, if you’re out for speed or training, you will basically be pedaling at the highest speed you can maintain for the chosen amount of time. For me, this is always faster than on a bike, unless I’m going up a hill or something similar.
This is what makes the bike more efficient; the choice of gears…
Re: biking vs. unicycling
“Unicyclist of Oz” wrote
> This question has been bugging me for a while; If you unicycle for one
> hour, would you get stronger than if you bike for one hour, or does
> biking make you stronger? I would guess unicycling because you have to
> pedal consantly. Thanks.
caveat: “in general”
lemma: “i am a noob unicycler, many years of biking” and my opinions are
based on my last two days of riding around that tevatron.
Cycling can hit the quads a lot harder. With the mechanical advantage
conferred by bike gearing, one will reach an aerodynamic and
tire-deformation rate limit, and the cyclist can devote almost all of
her or his superbaseline metabolism to powering the Furnace of the
Femur. IOW, on a bicycle, you can pedal as hard as you possibly can, for
as long as you possibly can – so limiting ourselves to the quads,
hamstrings and a lesser extent the calves, cycling wins. And of course,
a cyclist can coast for brief periods of time, and a cyclist gets a
speed boost/effort reduction when going down hill, enhancing stamina.
Of course, as many have noted, the upper body is not very involved in
biking beyond pulmonary support.
Looking at the uni… baseline speed is pretty low, so there are not
generally (chimera Unis and cokers aside) going to bump into speed-power
issues like aero and tire deformation power limits. The legs perform
more multi-vector thrusting on the pedals to keep balance, but i think
absolute power levels are down, and an infinitude more work being done
by the torso/abdominal/spinal-hip muscles. I think if you tried to cram
so much power into a uni as one can into a bicycle, a painful upd would
Geared Monsters break the rules. They properly should be fitted with
The final analysis comes down to oxygen use: i think one would have to
be a very good – of the class of some of the luminiferous posters here
– to work uni hard enough to achieve a VO2 comparable to what a random
bicyclist could achieve. In fact, thinking about it, i’m not entirely
sure a unicyclist could actually stay upright under the kind of O2
demand a bike can generate – it might get a bit difficult to balance
with all that heavy breathing.
Note that this parameter VO2(bike)/VO2(uni) is fairly easy to test for.
Someone at a University should propose a study. We could look at
radio-isotopic metabolic uptake too. I want a coauthorship for
So i would conclude that a unicycle provides distributes work over a
larger set of muscles than does cycling, but doesn’t generate the peak
power levels that cycling can, but almost certainly runs at a higher
baseline output. Total fitness: Uni. Nicest butt: bike.
of course, i look forward to discovering where my analysis has erred.
but cyclists tend to have flabbier bellies, so there.
if someone has already said tis my bad… but if you use tiny cranks… its a killer on your legs, a simple mile long ride and im pooped out cuase its so hard to stop with the little cranks, and i rode a bike for the first time in a really long time yesturday for like 6 miles… and about half way through i relized i could coast… and my legs were fine and i had it on the lowest possible gear…
Re: biking vs. unicycling
> The final analysis comes down to oxygen use: i think one would have to
> be a very good – of the class of some of the luminiferous posters here
> – to work uni hard enough to achieve a VO2 comparable to what a random
> bicyclist could achieve.
It depends what your are doing. I can quickly and reliably hit my VO2
maximum by riding the bumps at the local BMX track. The first time I
attempted the 900 (now expanded to 1200) foot long torture test, I was
so deep into anaerobic debt at the end I was reduced to lying down in
the dirt and panting for what seemed like minutes before I could
consider standing up again.
I’m a back-of-the-pack MUni rider, so don’t assume this level of abuse
is limited the elite riders.
> In fact, thinking about it, i’m not entirely
> sure a unicyclist could actually stay upright under the kind of O2
> demand a bike can generate – it might get a bit difficult to balance
> with all that heavy breathing.
Did anyone say unicycling would be easy!
Back to the original question…
According to caloriesperhour.com, unicycling uses the same about of
enerby as walking quicklty (4mph), far less than even moderate
bicycling. Judging by my heart rate monitor, I’d say that just
puttering along on a smooth flat path uses even less energy than that.
On the other hand, try riding seat out in a crouched position and see
if that doesn’t get your legs burning and heart pumping.
The same is true on a bicycle. The effort required depends on how you
ride and what terrain you are riding.