climbing seated

marylogic
marylogic Posts: 355
edited May 2013 in Road general
This may be a fatuous question and I appreciate that there is a high risk of it descending into willy waving, but I am genuinely interested in the answers.

I was given very good advice on here to try to remain seated whilst climbing which I have been following. I can usually manage up to about 16% above which I have to get out the saddle. I am talking about short UK climbs, I think if I tried longer climbs even at lower gradients I would simply fall off.

I wondered if this was usual. Can the experienced cyclists on here stay seated at higher gradients?

Comments

  • hatch87
    hatch87 Posts: 352
    16% is pretty steep. I guess it depends on your gears, not sure I could stay seated much beyond 10% But practice makes perfect.

    I suppose if your in the largest sprocket and struggling to spin at any decent speed then the best option is to up it a couple of gears and stand up. It should always be a last resort (unless you can clear the hill before your legs start burning) but not avoided at all costs.
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  • imposter2.0
    imposter2.0 Posts: 12,028
    If you are going at your own pace and have low enough gearing, then by all means stay seated. Although on longer climbs you might want to stand for a while just to give yourself a change of position for a bit.

    If you are climbing at someone else's pace (like in a race, for example) then pretty much all of the above goes out the window.
  • keef66
    keef66 Posts: 13,123
    I have a triple with a 30t smallest chainring and a cassette that goes down to 25t. I can sit and spin up most of the hills* I encounter, but there are two where I have to stand up for the steep bits.

    *it's all relative. If you live in Scotland you'd probably regard my hills as speed bumps.
  • mustol
    mustol Posts: 134
    The steeper it gets the more time you are likely to spend out of the saddle - this is where it becomes such an important skill. Yes, as you get stronger you will be able to remain seated for longer, but standing engages different muscles and will at least give your tiring muscles (and backside) a break. There is no right or wrong way to climb - do what feels best for you, but there is no doubt that the more you practice climbing out of the saddle, the easier it becomes and you won't fear the steeps climbs as much.
  • Climbing seated will save you more energy, out of the saddle will get you to the top quicker.










    *dependent on length and steepness of hill
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  • Depends very much on the length of the climb and the gear ratios available. There's stuff I can get up seated on the MTB (where seated is often the only option anyway for traction reasons) that I'd struggle to get the road bike up even out of the saddle on a great surface.
    Mangeur
  • StorckSpeed
    StorckSpeed Posts: 291
    No willy waving from me - honest :)
    I'm not the best hill climber by any means, being a little bit plump. I have a tendency to stand up and just power up that hill, especially the shorter ones in which case I can just about keep up with the 18 year old whippets..... Any longer hills and I have mix it up a bit but definitely get dropped.
    There's one lumpy coastal road around where I live that has a fairly long 17% incline. I have a tendency to stand up mid way through it but can't sustain that effort, and with a 34 x 28 gear on the back can certainly maintain a low speed whilst seated.
    My cycling buddy had a hip op 3 years ago and I've never seen him stand-up......ever. Though he sometimes suffers some numbness where lots of blood should flow....

    So in answer to your question - definitely possible. But don't get bogged down with this, stand-up if you prefer or if you think it helps, sit down again when tired.
    Everyone's different , I reckon it helps you build strength in your legs when training but in a Sportive do whatever feels right.
    There's warp speed - then there's Storck Speed
  • Pross
    Pross Posts: 40,440
    It's not just a case of whether your legs can manage, I tend to find the determining factor is whether I can get enough weight forward on the steepest slopes to stop the front wheel coming up. As I've got heavier I tend to stay in the saddle whenever possible as the saddle supports my body weight and puts less exertion on the heart and lungs. I mainly get out of the saddle for short, steep hills to attack them or just to get the momentum back up briefly when my cadence starts to drop in my lowest gear.
  • t4tomo
    t4tomo Posts: 2,643
    Seated I can maintan a more even and faster cadence. standing tends to be pushing hard on the down strokes and slow over the top and bottom of the pedal revolution. I tend to stay seated and tap out a rhythm I'm comfortable with. Only do a bit standing for a change to use different bits of the muscles. I do think getting a good rhythm is key though.
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  • bernithebiker
    bernithebiker Posts: 4,148
    Horses for courses. Some, (like me) like to stand quite a bit, even on shallow slopes. I find it helps to change muscles, and benefit from it when I next sit down.

    On an 8km, 4% slope I would spend almost half out of the saddle, half in.

    Sitting at 90 cadence or so, drop it 2 gears, stand up cadence 60-70 for about 750m, then sit down back up 2 gears for 750m, repeat.......
  • Druidor
    Druidor Posts: 230
    predominantly stay seated but when I do stand it is for short times as my knees end up hurting as they are so knackered. Got to work on the legs to stabilize a bit more.
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  • TakeTurns
    TakeTurns Posts: 1,075
    It is possible to stay seated on high gradients. However, with most hills, the toughest part will be at the very end, so getting out the saddle to power over it would be easier than grinding whilst seated.

    If there are random gradient fluctuations on a climb; I'd get out the saddle in order to get over it a bit quicker to help keep the momentum going and then sit back in.
  • markhewitt1978
    markhewitt1978 Posts: 7,614
    I nearly always stay seated, but mostly because if I get out of the saddle for more than 30 seconds I end up completely exhausted and have to stop!
  • djm501
    djm501 Posts: 378
    marylogic wrote:
    I was given very good advice on here to try to remain seated whilst climbing which I have been following. I can usually manage up to about 16% above which I have to get out the saddle. I am talking about short UK climbs, I think if I tried longer climbs even at lower gradients I would simply fall off.

    I wondered if this was usual. Can the experienced cyclists on here stay seated at higher gradients?

    This is my experience. I'm a heavy rider but I do like to seek out the climbs and punish myself - I live in South Wales so it is hilly around here and we have some big famous climbs most of which I've at least attempted.
    I am the same as you - I sit most of the time in a low gear and spin if possible but about about 15% this becomes difficult and I then alternate between seated and standing up out of the pedals. On really long climbs though the standing is unsustainable. I have a local climb (Caerphilly Mountain) that peaks at 21% in the middle of a 700 ft climb - I sit that bit and _just_ manage to make it. I tried the Devil's Staircase towards Tregaron in Ceredigion at the weekend which has sustained 25% slopes - I had to get off and walk that :(
  • marylogic
    marylogic Posts: 355
    Climbing seated will save you more energy, out of the saddle will get you to the top quicker.

    *dependent on length and steepness of hill

    I'm definitely into energy conservation rather than speed :)

    I do practice climbing out the saddle when I'm out on a short run but on longer runs I try to avoid it. I find if I don't quickly get back on the saddle when it is steep I end up totally wrecked. I didn't know if there was much more mileage in trying to stay seated on the steeper climbs or if I was just going to have to get used to a bit of out the saddle work.

    Thanks for replies
  • djm501
    djm501 Posts: 378
    I have to say that when attempting really vicious hills the pain involved tends to drive any intertnetty advice out of my head and I just what I do when I do it.
    When your lungs and quads are bursting you will find your own path ;)
  • dai_t75
    dai_t75 Posts: 189
    Horses for courses. Some, (like me) like to stand quite a bit, even on shallow slopes. I find it helps to change muscles, and benefit from it when I next sit down.

    On an 8km, 4% slope I would spend almost half out of the saddle, half in.

    Sitting at 90 cadence or so, drop it 2 gears, stand up cadence 60-70 for about 750m, then sit down back up 2 gears for 750m, repeat.......

    I am pretty much like this - much prefer climbing out of the saddle. I haven't been road cycling for long and I read a lot about how you should be seated for maximum efficiency etc. However, this just doesn't work for me, and I am quite happy to climb standing for at least 50% of a hill, usually more. So far I have managed ok with the longest ride of 53m... I may get tired the longer I ride for but we will see!
  • BobScarle
    BobScarle Posts: 282
    The definitive answer is, there is no definitive answer. The most important part of climbing hills is getting to the top. How you get there is up to you. Standing or seated or some combination of the two is fine if it works for you. Climb hills and work out what works.

    Not much of an answer, I know, but as with a lot of things in cycling it's "each to their own".
  • ed_j
    ed_j Posts: 335
    I tend to find similar speeds out of the saddle are easier on the knees. Big gears hurt the knees!
  • djm501
    djm501 Posts: 378
    Ed J wrote:
    I tend to find similar speeds out of the saddle are easier on the knees. Big gears hurt the knees!

    As do big gradients
  • smoggysteve
    smoggysteve Posts: 2,909
    Climbing is about cadence and rhythm. I can keep a higher cadence and keep it a a constant tempo better while seated. If I were to be doing a climb of around a cat 4 I would maybe get out the saddle half way and push harder as I approached the top. On a cat 3 or harder I would stay seated for much longer and only rise out of the saddle as I get close to the top.

    Standing can really sap your legs quickly on longer climbs and takes a lot of training to get the muscles in your legs strong enough to push for long periods out of the saddle. If you were to just do a couple of short climbs then trying to get up as fast as possible is good training to improve your legs for the bigger climbs. Generally I will do a short run once a week with a few small hills to do this. When I come to do my weekly 100km+ run out on a weekend I try to keep it more manageable so I don't tire out too soon so I stay seated most of the time and only stand at the last moment just to accelerate down the other side.
  • rolf_f
    rolf_f Posts: 16,015
    Climbing seated will save you more energy, out of the saddle will get you to the top quicker.

    I've never personally seen any evidence that standing out of the saddle increases climbing speed even on short, sharp hills - I find that on a good day, I can just about equal seated times but not really beat them. It is easy however, to percieve that you are going more quickly when out of the saddle. Natural cadence always drops as you stand up - therefore (IME!) as soon as I stand up, I will want to change to a higher gear (assuming I didn't already do this in anticipation) - this then makes it easy to think that you are going faster as, changing to a higher gear normally occurs on acceleration. Looking at the computer tells a different story and speed is actually unchanged. Whilst a very short sprint up a very short hill might lead to a faster time (or a final sprint to the top of the hill), anything of any significance is unlikely to see a benefit of standing up time wise - it is after all an inefficient means to move a bike.

    As I see it, standing up is all about either the change of muscle groups being used or the need to apply brute force to something really steep. It's never about speed.
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  • hatch87
    hatch87 Posts: 352
    BobScarle wrote:
    The definitive answer is, there is no definitive answer. The most important part of climbing hills is getting to the top. How you get there is up to you. Standing or seated or some combination of the two is fine if it works for you. Climb hills and work out what works.

    Not much of an answer, I know, but as with a lot of things in cycling it's "each to their own".

    I disagree, I can get to the top a few seconds quicker buy standing up all the way, but then can't do sod all else afterwards lol
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  • Rolf F wrote:
    Climbing seated will save you more energy, out of the saddle will get you to the top quicker.

    I've never personally seen any evidence that standing out of the saddle increases climbing speed even on short, sharp hills - I find that on a good day, I can just about equal seated times but not really beat them. It is easy however, to percieve that you are going more quickly when out of the saddle. Natural cadence always drops as you stand up - therefore (IME!) as soon as I stand up, I will want to change to a higher gear (assuming I didn't already do this in anticipation) - this then makes it easy to think that you are going faster as, changing to a higher gear normally occurs on acceleration. Looking at the computer tells a different story and speed is actually unchanged. Whilst a very short sprint up a very short hill might lead to a faster time (or a final sprint to the top of the hill), anything of any significance is unlikely to see a benefit of standing up time wise - it is after all an inefficient means to move a bike.

    As I see it, standing up is all about either the change of muscle groups being used or the need to apply brute force to something really steep. It's never about speed.

    I don't disagree, so I would assume that when changing from seated to out of the saddle you actually change down a couple of gears to increase your speed, rather than to give your legs a rest or take a breather.

    Watch Cancellara in this years Tour Of Flanders powering away uphill from Sagan while seated.
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  • rolf_f
    rolf_f Posts: 16,015
    I don't disagree, so I would assume that when changing from seated to out of the saddle you actually change down a couple of gears to increase your speed, rather than to give your legs a rest or take a breather.

    Watch Cancellara in this years Tour Of Flanders powering away uphill from Sagan while seated.

    No, I think that changing down a couple of gears gives no increase in speed. Try cycling along the flat, seated, at 90 rpm and then stand up whilst maintaining cadence. It isn't pretty!

    I would agree that standing gives you more acceleration but that's a different thing to getting to the top of the climb first. I think this point is illustrated by the way that riders attacking each other on climbs generally get swallowed up by the peloton unless one of the riders can get away from the other and getback to riding seated. Of course, that won't apply to everyone - there's always someone who has to do it differently - but I think it would most.

    I do occasionally test this on the climb out of my front door. It starts reasonably steeply, ramps up for a section and then carrys on climbing fairly gently. I test myself to the start of the gentle bit - a decent time at this time of year is about 2:30. I can do it stood the whole way in round about that time but it costs far more energy. Seated, as long as I have the gears to keep spinning, I'd be able to cut that time by a fair bit.
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  • HiCadence
    HiCadence Posts: 40
    I've witnessed a woman climb Hardknott/Wrynose pass (25% in places) whilst remaining seated and was still able to give me a cheery 'Hello!' as she passed me.... My jaw hit the floor and could not believe what i was seeing.
  • ed_j
    ed_j Posts: 335
    HiCadence wrote:
    I've witnessed a woman climb Hardknott/Wrynose pass (25% in places) whilst remaining seated and was still able to give me a cheery 'Hello!' as she passed me.... My jaw hit the floor and could not believe what i was seeing.

    Just keep telling yourself she had a 10/20/30 triple.. :lol: