standing up climbing..why is it so hard

elderone
elderone Posts: 1,410
edited December 2012 in Road beginners
Why is it so much harder to climb hills standing rather than sitting.I have had trouble with this since i started road riding 3 months ago.To be fair i havn,t had to get off and walk a hill yet but have been down to 5mph on some steep bits with a heart rate at 95% of max.(this was horse shoe pass climb and if any one has ridden it they know its a serious climb).
As soon as i stand up my legs ache like hell and my heart rate increases for no gain in speed or ease of climbing.
Im a short arse at 5ft6 and find it easier to sit down and climb.
My question is,do i need to stand to improve over all or can i just plod along sitting on my butt.I have no intention of racing but my aim is a 100 mile sportive.
cheers
Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori
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Comments

  • smidsy
    smidsy Posts: 5,273
    Sitting is generally accepted as being more efficient but standing tends to produce more power for short bursts (helpful to keep the momentum going or engage different muscles etc).

    In answer to your question it is harder standing as you are taking all your weight through your legs as well as using the muscles to turn the pedals.

    Pedalling out of the saddle (up hills or not) also shows up any lack of core strength as this helps to keep your body position as the bike moves under you.

    Its like anything the more you do it the easier it will get.

    If you have only been going three months I 'm guessing your base fitness and core strength could be bettter, so keep turning the pedals and try out of the saddle pedalling now and then.

    Core strength can be helped by off the bike excercises too.
    Yellow is the new Black.
  • Pigtail
    Pigtail Posts: 424
    Practice- I'm better on the flat than climbing, partly because of my weight, but I can spend a lot of time up out of the saddle. I probably do too much of it, but it certainly didn't come without practice.

    Its now become second nature, spin for a while, when it gets tougher, kick up a couple of gears stand up, weight quite far forward, arms reasonably relaxed and use a steady rhythm. It helps me to recite something to keep timing, though I don't always do it, or I may start to get going then not need it. So in my head I go "a-one, a-two" or more recently "a-one, two, three, four" and repeat.
  • ddraver
    ddraver Posts: 26,391
    The truthful answer to this is MTFU, it ll come soon enough.... ;)
    We're in danger of confusing passion with incompetence
    - @ddraver
  • If it's any reassurance I have the same issue (I was even going to post about it). I started cycling about three months ago and haven't been out of the saddle once properly. I climb a lot of hills but if I stand up my legs just burn so I sit straight down. I figured that it was simply a case of core strength in my legs and that in time I might find it easier. At the moment my legs are giving everything they have got to get up the climbs and the additional power needed in the standing position just simply isn't there.
    It is something I would like to work on so I have decided to forget about standing on any significant climbs but concentrate on standing whenever I come to a little rise in the road or any really short little climbs (20 to 50meteres). I'm hoping in time I will build up significant core strength in my legs to stand whenever an extra boost is needed but think it might take quite a while.
    Keep plugging away at it. At least sitting is the most efficient way of getting up the hill and we should just be proud of the fact we are getting up them at this early stage :)
  • alihisgreat
    alihisgreat Posts: 3,872
    Half of climbing out of the saddle is technique.. not pushing too big a gear, not letting heels drop etc.
  • Bozman
    Bozman Posts: 2,518
    Some folk sit and some stand it's down to what you find comfortable and easier.
    I sit on the inclines and stand on the steeper hills, if i stay seated on the steeper hills i get really bad lower back ache, i had to cut my ride short yesterday because i'd spent more time in the saddle due to some really greasy roads.
    I've lost strength in my legs since i've been trying this spinning lark, a mate commented that i seemed to be lacking something on the steeper hills and i had to agree that i felt that it wasn't as easy, i'd been climbing one way for years without a problem but i changed to see if it was easier and it wasn't for me.
  • It is noticably less efficient standing up, however once you get the hang of it it's terribly satisfying. Just keep chipping away at it until you're good!

    I've been riding my fixed gear bike now the weather is getting worse and the only way up the hills is to stand up, bloody murder at first but you get tougher and adapt to it.
  • alfablue
    alfablue Posts: 8,497
    edited November 2012
    Doing a spin class at the gym once a week has dramatically improved my standing ability, I could probably manage it throughout a whole ride now. In the spin class (45 minutes) we tend to spend about a third of that time standing, sometimes high resistance, low cadence and vice versa, sometimes trying to keep the body still, just moving legs (very hard to do at first), and some of it is with one or other arm up in the air! Must work, anyway.

    Whilst seated climbing is usually best, the advantage of a standing climb is that you can use your whole body weight on the steepest bits. I tend to switch between both on longer hills just for variety and I suppose it uses muscles differently so may to some extent, rest some muscles, a little bit.
  • I found I 'blew' sooner climbing standing than sitting. It was only when I used a power meter that I learned I was producing more watts standing than sitting.
  • amaferanga
    amaferanga Posts: 6,789
    The reason you find it hard is because you never do it. Climbing out of the saddle in the right gear is at worst marginally less efficient than being seated, but anyone claiming that it's noticeably less efficient is either doing it wrong or just doesn't climb enough out of the saddle to have adapted to it.
    More problems but still living....
  • I’ve kind of evolved over the past couple of years from a sitter to a stander. I now find it much more comfortable to get into a good cadence in an applicable gear at the foot of a climb and just do the thing out of the saddle. If I sit down at any point it hurts like hell and I find it hard to stand up again – and then I lose my rhythm and have to churn up the rest of the hill swearing like a trooper. For longer climbs of for example three or four miles at 6% average I’ll sit down and tap away, but round here we have some big steep bugg3rs of a mile or so that I’ll just batter into out of the saddle.
  • saprkzz
    saprkzz Posts: 592
    I think you use less engery sitting, but I personally enjoy standing and finding momentum. On a long hill i will alternate keeping the same pace, this seems to work well for me.
  • Wiggins does it sitting down. :)
  • dashik
    dashik Posts: 156
    JTL stands but he's part mountain goat so that's no surprise......
  • elderone
    elderone Posts: 1,410
    thanks for the replies chaps and it seems to back up what i was thinking anyway.Like i said my biggest concern is the way my heart rate goes up when standing and i sit again because of that more than not pushing my legs.
    I am new to cycling but not training or hard work as for 20 years in my younger days i competed in my fave sport at international level so even though the body isnt what it was the mind set still is.
    I love the mtfu coments even when tongue in cheek and to be fair i learned that as a teenager yomping across the falklands so manning up to cycle is in my mind not that manly at all.
    What is good about asking advice in any sport is you can learn from your peers and thats what asking in this section is all about.
    Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori
  • Slack
    Slack Posts: 326
    As others have said, just keep practising at it. It's only natural to want to stand on some climbs, just to get out the saddle and break the monotony, change the pressure points for a half a minute etc....In time, you will find and refine what works for you.

    As a side note, I've only seen the lighter framed riders riding out of the saddle efficiently for extended periods.
    Plymouthsteve for councillor!!
  • i have a weak core which my physio is helping me with and try to stay seated as long as i can but i do find it quite satisfying standing as i climb. there is a 0.2 mile 13% hill near my house which i can only get up without stopping by standing all the way. it hurts like hell but sure feels good afterwards.

    the way i see it is that if it is difficult then it is doing the legs and other muscles some good from a strength point of view.

    no pain no gain!
  • Because when you sit down its easy to pedal 'in a square' than when you are standing up. If you want to 'pull' on the upstroke of the rotation, it kind of helps when you don't have all your weight bearing down at the same time.
  • dai_t75
    dai_t75 Posts: 189
    I have only been cycling a few weeks and I don't know if I'm different to others, but at the moment I much prefer being out of the saddle when climbing a hefty hill. Now I'm sure my technique is all over the place at the moment, but I'm hopeful that will improve with time.

    I just don't seem to get enough power in the saddle and it just seems to drain me more. Although the legs do burn a lot more when standing. I think I would rather deal with the burn than the lack of energy/momentum when seated. Just shows we are all different... I am 6ft and quite slim if that makes a difference!
  • Monty Dog
    Monty Dog Posts: 20,614
    You generate more power standing so if you don't conserve your energy it's easier to 'blow'. Recent research that there's only a minor difference in efficiency so the key difference is how hard / fast you want to go? The key is training to work on your threshold and know what's sustainable - if you wanna ride hills better, ride lots more.
    Make mine an Italian, with Campagnolo on the side..
  • nolight
    nolight Posts: 261
    I also have the same problem of standing up climbing! However it may have something to do with my lack of confidence in standing (climb or no climb) anyway so I need practise.

    Some things I need to learn:
    Is it easier or more difficult to stand up when in clipless pedals vs platform pedals? I am in platform at the moment but may change to clipless.

    How do you balance yourself when standing? I always worry I may fall down. Should I shift my weight forward?

    Getting in the right gear when standing. Currently I am using the constant cadence strategy, so I shift to easier gear when climbing. This is not the correct way for standing right? What is the ideal gear to be in for standing relative to the same gear when sitting (2 gears higher maybe)?

    Should I be standing up and at the right gear already before starting the climb? Because once I am sitting and on the hill I find so difficult to stand up, feels very tired and lazy. Or it is just lack of practice and core strength?
  • elderone
    elderone Posts: 1,410
    nolight wrote:
    I also have the same problem of standing up climbing! However it may have something to do with my lack of confidence in standing (climb or no climb) anyway so I need practise.

    Some things I need to learn:
    Is it easier or more difficult to stand up when in clipless pedals vs platform pedals? I am in platform at the moment but may change to clipless.

    How do you balance yourself when standing? I always worry I may fall down. Should I shift my weight forward?

    Getting in the right gear when standing. Currently I am using the constant cadence strategy, so I shift to easier gear when climbing. This is not the correct way for standing right? What is the ideal gear to be in for standing relative to the same gear when sitting (2 gears higher maybe)?

    Should I be standing up and at the right gear already before starting the climb? Because once I am sitting and on the hill I find so difficult to stand up, feels very tired and lazy. Or it is just lack of practice and core strength?
    Can,t answer all your questions but for me sitting or standing on hills im already in the lowest gear which on my bike is 34-26 so not the easiest gear.I had a go yesterday on ahill by me which is steep enough to lift the front with the effort required.On this section i tried standing and tried different positions and i found that with my hands in the drops i got a position where i was standing and most important to me,my heart rate didn,t go up higher.I will try this a lot and see how it goes.
    As an aside i,ve watched dozens of utube clips,from hard knott pass,mow chop.dragon sportive etc etc and I observed most on long steep climbs were sitting.food for thought.
    Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori
  • It is nothing to do with core strength or bike stiffness or pedals. It is all to do with sustainable power to weight ratio. If you stand you are probably putting down more power so run out of steam sooner than if you are sitting. If people go up the hill faster than you it is because their power to weight ratio is better than yours. Fast twitch muscle fibers do tire sooner than slow twitch which is why I said 'sustainable' power to weight ratio.
  • It has little to do with core strength or bike stiffness or pedals. It is all to do with sustainable power to weight ratio. If you stand you are probably putting down more power so run out of steam sooner than if you are sitting. If people go up the hill faster than you it is because their power to weight ratio is better than yours. Fast twitch muscle fibers do tire sooner than slow twitch which is why I said 'sustainable' power to weight ratio.

    Sorry was trying to edit.
  • I've only got into cycling about 2 years ago having done little for 10yrs or more. Even before then I didnt stand up having oodles of gears on my old mountain bike to chose from. However, buying my 1st racing bike in 35+ years(one of those approaching age 50 moments) changed things somewhat. This hasnt been helped by living up the top of a hill -you either do the walk of shame or you ride it, in the latter case impressing the neighbours with your lobster-like appearance on arrival.
    When I started I hated hills and couldnt get the hang of standing up. I cant say now that I love climbing, but 3 things improved my technique. Firstly, a few days spent cycling in the Isle of Wight. Now I'm not suggesting fellow newbies rush down to the Isle of Wight ferry,but it was the short sharp nature of the hills(and plenty of them) there that gave me plenty of practice in getting me out of the saddle and ultimately gave me more confidence when I returned back to S.Wales. Around here, hills tend to be longer and steeper. So basically pick your routes with a similar topography and hopefully that may help.
    Secondly, I also got around to joining a cycling club who have an insane habit(at least to me) of picking routes with the steepest climbs they can find-the ones with names! In this respect I cant say they've taught me anything only that if I dont go a little faster, I wont be joining them for a slice of cake at the next stop, so I've had to improve.
    Finally-and probably the biggest influence on my climbing- is my cycling club's winter spinning classes. Over the last 2 winters, I've really seen a difference to my confidence in the technique. The 1hr classes get you standing up consistently and since you cant get left behind, that bit of pressure is taken off you. They are definatly worth a try in the winter months at your local leisure centre.
  • alihisgreat
    alihisgreat Posts: 3,872
    It is nothing to do with core strength or bike stiffness or pedals. It is all to do with sustainable power to weight ratio. If you stand you are probably putting down more power so run out of steam sooner than if you are sitting. If people go up the hill faster than you it is because their power to weight ratio is better than yours. Fast twitch muscle fibers do tire sooner than slow twitch which is why I said 'sustainable' power to weight ratio.

    But core strength, bike stiffness.. and pedals.. all play a role in climbing even if they are marginal gains (although going from a weak core to a strong core is much more significant than a marginal gain).

    So you can't say its got nothing to do with those factors.

    or you could do what you normally do and dig up some random research related to cycling a unicycle on flat roads and try and claim it supports your point?
  • nolight wrote:
    I also have the same problem of standing up climbing! However it may have something to do with my lack of confidence in standing (climb or no climb) anyway so I need practise.

    Some things I need to learn:
    Is it easier or more difficult to stand up when in clipless pedals vs platform pedals? I am in platform at the moment but may change to clipless.

    How do you balance yourself when standing? I always worry I may fall down. Should I shift my weight forward?

    Getting in the right gear when standing. Currently I am using the constant cadence strategy, so I shift to easier gear when climbing. This is not the correct way for standing right? What is the ideal gear to be in for standing relative to the same gear when sitting (2 gears higher maybe)?

    Should I be standing up and at the right gear already before starting the climb? Because once I am sitting and on the hill I find so difficult to stand up, feels very tired and lazy. Or it is just lack of practice and core strength?

    ...I've spent the last three months really working at this , after 2 years cycling, not unlike tincaalot, here's my thoughts in relation to the questions above...

    ..much easier in clipless pedals, second best is loose toe-straps if you're not ready for clipless. I'd imagine it would be very hard on platform pedals - if you choose too easy a gear your feet will tend to lift on the upstroke, and there's a danger your foot could slip under down stroke pressure..

    ..balance can be tricky at first, the bike is much twitchier and can swing what feels like violently, under pressure. I tend to lean forward but keep upright..sort of letting my weight fall on the down leg if that makes sense. Feeling secure in you pedals helps a lot. I still often sit back down when in traffic to avoid an excessive wobble...

    ...the right gear.....if I'm comfortable sitting down, I'll usually click up 2 gears for standing - most often its fine. With practise you get a feel for what is going to work, eg if its starting to ramp up a little while I'm sitting, one click will often be enough. If you're in too easy a gear when standing, it really makes is tough!...best to sit back and adjust and try again....I've never tried changing gear while standing.
    I now find it becoming much more intuitive, I'll stand just for a change (maybe 20 revs standing, 20 sitting etc..I seem to find I get a boost when I sit back down ), when the gradient increases just to "power" up a steeper section of a longer climb, or just to blast up a very short climb (hump back bridge etc) without changing gear...

    anyways, stick at it, find a favourite hill to practise on...3 months ago I never got out the saddle - now its added another dimension to my enjoyment of cycling and my Strava times have improved constantly.
  • elderone
    elderone Posts: 1,410
    thats a very good write up.cheers ^^^^^
    Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori
  • If youve watched any mountain section of any road race you will see that all the best climbers do it out of the saddle....nuff said.
    the deeper the section the deeper the pleasure.
  • elderone
    elderone Posts: 1,410
    pride4ever wrote:
    If youve watched any mountain section of any road race you will see that all the best climbers do it out of the saddle....nuff said.
    Yes but im a beginner not a road racer so that doesn,t really say anything .Most road racers also go at a pace most on here only dream off and will never achieve.
    Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori