Weight impact on Climbing

equinefunk
equinefunk Posts: 323
edited August 2012 in Health, fitness & training
Hello,

I have been riding a lot this year about 3 times a week doing about 10-20 miles XC/Trail miles per ride & between 200-700mtrs of climbing depending on the ride. I have noticed an improvement in my overall riding fitness & my ability to climb but I struggle on very steep gradients. However I'm probably guessing that I'm about 13kg overweight. (This was how much luggage I took on Holiday with me!)

What impact is this extra weight having? I am trying to lose it will the loss of the weight mean a dramatic increase in my ability to climb steeper gradients?
I'm over 6' and have quite a large head.

Comments

  • YeehaaMcgee
    YeehaaMcgee Posts: 5,740
    extra weight won't affect you much - I'm around 95Kg and I climb just fine.
    Just keep riding climbs, and you'll get better.
    Maybe you should think about doing some properly big climbs as well.
  • equinefunk
    equinefunk Posts: 323
    extra weight won't affect you much - I'm around 95Kg and I climb just fine.
    Just keep riding climbs, and you'll get better.
    Maybe you should think about doing some properly big climbs as well.

    Thanks, I have noticed a huge difference already. What do you class a properly big climbs?
    I don't struggle with long climbs, it's the gradient that gets me around 20% I struggle with.
    I'm over 6' and have quite a large head.
  • YeehaaMcgee
    YeehaaMcgee Posts: 5,740
    equinefunk wrote:
    extra weight won't affect you much - I'm around 95Kg and I climb just fine.
    Just keep riding climbs, and you'll get better.
    Maybe you should think about doing some properly big climbs as well.

    Thanks, I have noticed a huge difference already. What do you class a properly big climbs?
    I don't struggle with long climbs, it's the gradient that gets me around 20% I struggle with.
    Big climbs?
    Well, climbs that go on for miles and miles.
  • equinefunk
    equinefunk Posts: 323
    equinefunk wrote:
    extra weight won't affect you much - I'm around 95Kg and I climb just fine.
    Just keep riding climbs, and you'll get better.
    Maybe you should think about doing some properly big climbs as well.

    Thanks, I have noticed a huge difference already. What do you class a properly big climbs?
    I don't struggle with long climbs, it's the gradient that gets me around 20% I struggle with.
    Big climbs?
    Well, climbs that go on for miles and miles.

    :cry: I'll guess I'll learn to love them.

    Thanks for the advice.
    I'm over 6' and have quite a large head.
  • YeehaaMcgee
    YeehaaMcgee Posts: 5,740
    No need to "learn to love them" - just keep riding climbs. They will get easier with time. Well, you'll get faster anyway.
  • pilch
    pilch Posts: 1,136
    Losing weight will help you climb better/easier it's simple physics... there is less mass to propel up the hill.

    If you get fitter AND lose weight you will notice a dramatic improvement
    A berm? were you expecting one?

    29er race

    29er bouncer
  • YeehaaMcgee
    YeehaaMcgee Posts: 5,740
    However, your mass has a direct effect on the amount of torque you can put through the pedals.
    Simple physics, you might say.
  • t.m.h.n.e.t
    t.m.h.n.e.t Posts: 2,265
    Bit of a physics failure going on. Less weight - easier climing.

    It isn't hard to figure out.
  • YeehaaMcgee
    YeehaaMcgee Posts: 5,740
    Less weight gives you less load to carry up a hill, but it also reduces your torque.
    It doesn't pay to oversimplify things.
  • pilch
    pilch Posts: 1,136
    Less weight gives you less load to carry up a hill, but it also reduces your torque.
    It doesn't pay to oversimplify things.

    now who's oversimplifying things :lol:
    A berm? were you expecting one?

    29er race

    29er bouncer
  • YeehaaMcgee
    YeehaaMcgee Posts: 5,740
    pilch wrote:
    Less weight gives you less load to carry up a hill, but it also reduces your torque.
    It doesn't pay to oversimplify things.

    now who's oversimplifying things :lol:
    Not me - I'm adding another thing to consider.

    Let's explain this another way - picture me, an overweight, but fairly physically fit rider, and Njee - another forum member who is a semi-professional XC rider, then let's add a thin, but unfit new rider.

    Njee is considerably lighter than me, and will undoubtedly climb faster, simply because he's far fitter.
    The lightweight, new rider is NOT going to be faster than Njee, despite being far lighter than him. In fact, There is a very good chance that I would climb faster than him/her.

    Weight is not the be-all and end-all of climbing. It doesn't matter how much you weigh, climbing more, will make you climb faster.
  • whyamihere
    whyamihere Posts: 7,698
    Climbing speed is near enough all about power to weight. The new, thin rider wouldn't have a lot of power, due to not riding a lot. Njee will have a lot of power and low weight, so will fly uphill. Yeehaa will have a lot of power, but more weight as well, so will climb slower. I have no idea about your body composition, but if you have a decent amount of fat contributing to the weight, losing that WILL make you climb quicker, that is simple physics. On the road, climbing is a simpler thing, because you can also say that losing most of the muscle from your upper body will help you climb quicker too, but on a mountain bike you're going to want to retain a fair bit to help muscle the bike around anything technical.

    It's something of a fallacy to say that the extra weight will help you put more torque into the pedals though. In general, any climbing on a bike is done at an aerobic level, so you're not putting out anywhere near your maximum power (the exception possibly being if you absolutely demolish yourself up a very short climb). The power comes more from aerobic capacity rather than out an out strength - it's why stick-thin racers will almost always beat their similarly trained but bulkier competitors.
  • pilch
    pilch Posts: 1,136
    Njee is considerably lighter than me, and will undoubtedly climb faster, simply because he's far fitter.

    err that's what I said...
    pilch wrote:
    If you get fitter AND lose weight you will notice a dramatic improvement

    ....put better by whyamihere
    whyamihere wrote:
    if you have a decent amount of fat contributing to the weight, losing that WILL make you climb quicker
    A berm? were you expecting one?

    29er race

    29er bouncer
  • YeehaaMcgee
    YeehaaMcgee Posts: 5,740
    My point remains - that fitness has a great deal more to do with climbing ability than just pure "losing weight"
  • itguy2
    itguy2 Posts: 88
    Speaking from personal experience here after loosing nearly 3 stone since Xmas this year through pure calorie control and cardio work 4 or 5 times a week, it does get easier to climb when you're lighter, but remember to ensure you build the muscles in your legs to compensate for the body fat loss.

    I'm on a heavy resistance programme now to get my quads into shape after most of my running being undertaken with running and rowing.

    It was only on my last outing did I actually get to the top of a climb and feel great.

    Lapierre Zesty 514 &
    Orange Crush 2010
  • equinefunk
    equinefunk Posts: 323
    edited August 2012
    whyamihere wrote:
    Climbing speed is near enough all about power to weight. The new, thin rider wouldn't have a lot of power, due to not riding a lot. Njee will have a lot of power and low weight, so will fly uphill. Yeehaa will have a lot of power, but more weight as well, so will climb slower. I have no idea about your body composition, but if you have a decent amount of fat contributing to the weight, losing that WILL make you climb quicker, that is simple physics. On the road, climbing is a simpler thing, because you can also say that losing most of the muscle from your upper body will help you climb quicker too, but on a mountain bike you're going to want to retain a fair bit to help muscle the bike around anything technical.

    It's something of a fallacy to say that the extra weight will help you put more torque into the pedals though. In general, any climbing on a bike is done at an aerobic level, so you're not putting out anywhere near your maximum power (the exception possibly being if you absolutely demolish yourself up a very short climb). The power comes more from aerobic capacity rather than out an out strength - it's why stick-thin racers will almost always beat their similarly trained but bulkier competitors.

    Thanks for that explanation. I should clarify when I said weight I was referring to Fat rather than muscle.
    If I'm carrying the extra fat/weight is it closer to carrying a 13kg pack or is that too simple?
    I'm over 6' and have quite a large head.
  • Chunkers1980
    Chunkers1980 Posts: 8,035
    More a 13 kg body suit.
  • deveng
    deveng Posts: 132
    More a 13 kg body suit.

    In line with this, try balasting yourself with 13kg fairly evenly distributed (ankle and wrist weights + backpack etc) and see if you find it easier or harder to climb. Guarantee it's harder.
    Wilier Izoard XP 105
    Saracen Zen 1
    SRAM/RaceFace 1x10
  • craigw99
    craigw99 Posts: 224
    when i was thin and fit climbing was easier, now i am unfit and fat its much harder :-(
    im working on the fitness to make it easier again - with fitness i expect i will lose weight so will recieve a double bonus :-)
    opinions are worth exactly what you pay for them ;-)
    2012 boardman team F/S tarting has begun..
    1992 cannondale m1000 still going just
  • Murr X
    Murr X Posts: 258
    My point remains - that fitness has a great deal more to do with climbing ability than just pure "losing weight"
    Correct, however anyone much beyond the "newbie" category will benefit more by losing a significant amount of weight than doing a great deal of training (especially if that training is high volume low intensity, but that is another topic). It is very difficult for a half trained or above athlete to gain power - much more difficult than losing weight in general and most (virtually all) carry a lot more than is ideal for performance.

    The Top XC riders all carry very little bulk whether it is muscle or fat. It is a complete myth that large or strong leg muscles will help produce more aerobic power which is exactly what an XC rider needs to rider faster (technical skills aside).

    Murr X
  • Murr X
    Murr X Posts: 258
    My point remains - that fitness has a great deal more to do with climbing ability than just pure "losing weight"
    Correct, however anyone much beyond the "newbie" category will generally benefit more by losing a significant amount of weight than doing a great deal of training (especially if that training is high volume low intensity, but that is another topic). It is very difficult for a half trained or above athlete to gain power - much more difficult than losing weight in general and most (virtually all) carry a lot more than is ideal for performance and are often in denial.

    The difference dropping just 5Kg in an overweight individual makes is be surprising to many and contrary to the commonly held belief power will not drop as a result. Actually aerobic power will not drop until an athlete becomes extremely thin unless that weight is lost too fast and the athlete suffers from low blood sugar, low glycogen or the like. I have measured this many times in myself and the often talked about myth that weight loss will affect power output gets blown out of the water - this is where a powermeter is so useful and I could not live without one. If you are a road rider then anaerobic power (AWC) may be compromised slightly with muscle loss in the legs but it is usually still not a big deal and is only apparent in near maximal anaerobic efforts which despite what some may think rarely occur in MTBing but can be very important on the road.

    The Top XC riders all carry very little bulk whether it is muscle or fat. It is a complete myth that large or strong leg muscles will help produce more aerobic power which is exactly what an XC rider needs to rider faster (technical skills aside).

    Murr X