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Sitting or Climbing for XC Training

carbineacscarbineacs Posts: 65
Hi,

I'm sure this has been done a few times, but I feel this is specific to me!

I ride to work every day, 3 miles each way on a heavy HT. Obviously I would like to use this time the best I can.
Should I be trying to stand for the entire duration to build glutes and hamstrings, or sit and concentrate on already strong quads?

The reason I ask, is that I'm quickly falling behind my friends, some of which haven't been riding as long as I have. I bought a road bike last may and have done around 2000 miles on it since. I'm concerned that I may have 'trained' the wrong muscles too much? When I sit on the MTB, I get my fastest climb times, and standing I'm normally 1 - 1.5mph slower avg on the climbs. However my friend who is now finishing XC races on the podium says I need to stand more. I obviously stand for technical stuff, but as most of my local trails are fairly flat then there can be some sitting time.

I ride 3 bikes, road, carbon HT XC bike and alloy heavy hardtail. SPD on road and XC bike.

I want to enter some races this year, but I'm simply not fast enough. I know I need to get out there and train hard (I think I am!) but I'm really concerned I'm training the wrong muscles. What does everyone else do? Could it be that I'm more naturally suited to sitting? Or is standing ultimately the way to go?
Rule #65 // Maintain and respect your machine.

Posts

  • njee20njee20 Posts: 9,613
    3 miles is nothing, you won't really develop any sort of decent fitness from riding 3 miles. Your best bet would probably be to do a quick warm up (and it would have to be very quick), then ride it flat out, but even then it's pretty useless frankly.

    Extend your route if you want it to be useful time on a bike. As for standing versus sitting a lot of it is personal. If you want to win MTB races and you always climb in the saddle then there's little point attacking every road climb out of the saddle. It's horses for courses though - ideally you need to be able to do both.
  • carbineacscarbineacs Posts: 65
    I should point out that I do at least 50 miles a week. Normally a couple of MTB rides at 15 - 30 miles a time and a road ride of 30 - 50 miles. I just referenced the 3 mile commute as every little helps?
    Rule #65 // Maintain and respect your machine.
  • FerralsFerrals Posts: 785
    It's funny, having just got back into biking this year my general fitness is fine and pedalling seated I'm quick, but where I used to be able to sprint out of the saddle for ages, that part of my riding has gone to pot, I think it does require more specific muscles, for me I feel like my inner thighs aren't strong enough so am working on that
  • raldatraldat Posts: 242
    Like njee said, just extend your ride a little. The 3 miles probably takes you 10 minutes or so. Make it 30 min each way and useful. I live 5 miles from work but ride between 11 and 15 each way each day. Makes the ride worthwhile and allows enough distance for a warm up and some intervals. Also allows me to seek out a few decent hills to climb and a nicer traffic free route so win win.
  • njee20njee20 Posts: 9,613
    I just referenced the 3 mile commute as every little helps?

    Yes and no, there's no training you can do in 3 miles that will achieve anything of note.
  • Chunkers1980Chunkers1980 Posts: 8,035
    I'd disagree there. Spin for a mile and then flat out for the other 2 will do something useful.
  • carbineacscarbineacs Posts: 65
    Ok, noted on the 3 miles, I will try and put some more miles (in a shirt and trousers, it's not very nice getting to work sweaty! Although I do push it on the way home..) anyway..

    Lets put that aside for now, say I'm out with my girlfriend who can't keep the same pace as I can, or I'm riding to the shops, what I'm thinking is, should I be standing the entire way? Even when the urge to sit kicks in, that I still stand? To work on the muscles not used when sitting?

    Like I say, I just don't want to be training the wrong muscles (quads only) but then find that when and if I race, that I'm weak on the parts where people are standing like on rough decents or sprinting on the flat. If someone is the same fitness as me, but they are stronger at standing then they will have the advantage standing on a root / rock section as they can still power out of it better than I can. If that makes sense..
    Rule #65 // Maintain and respect your machine.
  • kajjalkajjal Posts: 3,380
    You will find some riders are just naturally better at things. I have always been faster uphill but useless at real jumps and not that fast downhill. My mate is fine uphill, ok at jumping but really fast downhill even on the rocky lose stuff. In the end just practice the skills you need to enjoy your riding.
  • njee20njee20 Posts: 9,613
    Lets put that aside for now, say I'm out with my girlfriend who can't keep the same pace as I can, or I'm riding to the shops, what I'm thinking is, should I be standing the entire way? Even when the urge to sit kicks in, that I still stand? To work on the muscles not used when sitting?

    There's no inherent advantage to standing. In fact if I'm trying to ride uphill slowly I'll often stand, you can just use your body weight to turn the pedals really slowly. You need to train your weaknesses, do a race, see what you're bad at. At the end of the day things like 3 mile rides are best being treated as a bit of a spin to get the legs moving, then do some proper training on the way home. Riding along slowly out of the saddle is pretty far removed from sprinting up a hill out of the saddle or standing up to descend.

    The best thing you can do is ride more, if you ride a mountain bike you will naturally end up doing all the stuff you need for racing. Personally when I race I'm tending to find my lower back hurts, which suggests to me I'm not doing enough core stability stuff at the moment.
  • carbineacscarbineacs Posts: 65
    Excellent, I'm probably worrying over nothing then. I do try to beat previous Strava segments on my commute, but I know my weak points are switchback cornering in dense forest and wet rocks. Scared to death of wet rocks after a nasty fall in Coed y Brenin!

    Maybe when on the road with my girlfriend etc I will just loop around and do the same climb again instead of worrying about standing or sitting. I will tell my friend he is wrong about standing :-)
    Rule #65 // Maintain and respect your machine.
  • njee20njee20 Posts: 9,613
    That's a much better way of getting training out of a ride like that certainly. If you want to make the most of it turn it into a hill rep session - attack the climb as hard as you can, whether you do that sitting or standing is going to depend on you and the climb!
  • FerralsFerrals Posts: 785
    I'm going to start doing hill rep sessions soon - for no other reason that I'm allowed back on the bike but I've been told off-road jarring will damage the fracture, I can't face riding on the road so I figure riding uphill wont be jarring (starting with fireroads) and will boost my fitness. I'll have to very gently roll back down - or push it down if I'm starting on more tecnical climbs

    Is it as simple as riding up the same hill again and again?
  • njee20njee20 Posts: 9,613
    Ish. The whole point is pushing yourself harder than you would in the normal course of things. To get maximum benefit you need to be feeling fresh and recovered. My preferred method is to attack a climb for a given time (say 3 minutes), then mark where you got to. Roll slowly back down and do it again, see if you can beat your mark. Repeat until you're way off your previous effort.

    You ideally want to completely destroy yourself if you've done it right. This is probably not ideal whilst recovering from an injury. I'd have thought a gentle road ride would be inifitely more pleasant and less taxing.
  • FerralsFerrals Posts: 785
    Yeah the injury is to the shoulder though so while I'll start with a few cycle path ambles with the mrs to test the water, in a couple of weeks I think I will be ready to push things. Cheers for the advice on technique. There's a strava segment on a local hill which is 0.8 km and 65m climb and my pre injury record was about 4:20 so that could be a good candidate to see how much time I can knock off
  • WindyGWindyG Posts: 1,099
    I used to hate climbs it was my biggest weakness, it's pretty flat where I live so I would just go out on the road and find the steepest climb with a Strava segment and keep hitting it a few times a week until I got better. On the MTB I found it easier to loop a section and it was just as much fun tying to go downhill fast so I could to make the whole thing enjoyable rather than a chore. I actually enjoy attacking hills now, the standing or sitting thing just depends on the climb, short and sharp for me out of the saddle sitting for the long climbs. Also it's great if there is a group of you to challenge each other.
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