Forum home Mountain biking forum Health, fitness & training

Climbing sitting down/standing up - lack of leg power?

YIManYIMan Posts: 576
Over a week off I've been doing the same 40 minute off/on road route most days, a couple of times with a mate.

Going up a hill near the end which is a dirt road probably 200 metres long, steady gradient, I noticed my mate just seems to ride away from me, with a much lower cadence i.e. seemingly effortlessly pushing a much bigger gear. Ok, I am nearly 15 stone at 6'4 to his 13 stone at 5'11, but when I tried I just don't seem to have the leg power to push a bigger gear up the hills, even with long gangly legs.

Is this purely down to power/weight ratio? I climbed the same hill today in a bigger gear standing up, without running out of puff by the top, so it seems I have the fitness to push my weight up the hill in that gear, but I find it really difficult doing it sitting down.

Could it be lack of leg strength? Core strength? Both? What can I do to train up - is it simply a case of losing some weight and training specifically pushing bigger gears without wrecking my knees?


  • andysolandysol Posts: 125
    Is almost definitely power to weight ratio. Even if you are of equal fitness, you still have to haul your mass up the hill. Im in a similar situation, although the more i cycle the more weight i lose then the closer i get.
    Eventually i plan to be even but is difficult if im / your weight is always going to be more.

    Just dont worry about it keep working on the fitness and it will get easier.

    I find on a TT or undulating terrain im a match for my riding partner. But on longer climbs his youth and weight are an advantage.

    Evidently i mostly have a FCN of 1. I'm now a lady!
  • ollie51ollie51 Posts: 517
    I tend to climb with a high cadence and sat down, a*se on the nose of the saddle and using the bar ends for leverage, as for making an improvement, do hill reps; find a difficult hill ride up it, 10 pedal revolutions in the saddle then 10 out, and repeat till the top. Descend and repeat another 7 or so times.
  • YIManYIMan Posts: 576
    Cheers, I'm sure specific training will help. I'm just a bit perplexed as to why my legs don't seem to be strong enough to do anything other than spin little gears fast.
  • andysolandysol Posts: 125
    Im doing the following:-
    On a steady long constant uphill. Stay seated, at a steady high cadance, have your heart rate at 80% max. Keep this at the same for as long as possible. Find the longest hill possible for this.

    On more severe climbs:-
    What he said :) Do repeats, saddle 10, stand 10 etc.

    Do the same climbs repeatedly and push yourself each time.

    Try to keep relaxed on the climb

    If your arms are not relaxed then this will waste energy, if you find yourself tensing up its possible your stem may be too long. Also check your saddle height for your correct leg extension.

    Re seated / standing, standing definatley uses more energy. On a mountain bike i find seated and high cadence easier. Where as on a road bike i tend to use the standing technique more.

    Evidently i mostly have a FCN of 1. I'm now a lady!
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,667
    How high is the seat?

    If it's not high enough, that's often a common reason for lack of power and finding it exhausting. Raise the seat enough to get decent length on the legs when extended, but not over extending, and I find I get tonnes more power through the pedals and yet it's more comfortable.

    Other factors apply also beyond just strength, power/weight.

    Such as the geometry of the bike. A slack bike designed for downhill will be harder to power up a hill.

    Weight of the bike can make a difference. Light bike is very easy to get up a hill. Doesn't mean it's better at other things though.

    Pedal choice. SPDs give you a power advantage on climbs. You'll often see SPD riders amongst a group of flats that will power ahead. They suck on downhills though. Good flats and descent shoes will anchor the foot to pedal and you can get effective strokes out of them though without sliding off or constantly repositioning as you slog up the hill.

    Standing has more power, but you're dead in a fraction of the time. I only do standing if it's a short section or final steep bit of a climb. Otherwise, seat up, relaxed, and ideally do a climb after having warmed up.

    Then dream of the potential downhill to come to take your mind off the climb.
Sign In or Register to comment.