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the correct technique for climbing??!(16 posts)

the correct technique for climbing??!Maverick
Oct 29, 2001 9:18 PM
anyone knows the right technique to climb standing?? is it true that you're not suppose to point your toes down at 6 o'clock? and so what's the correct approach if the hills are too damn steep? i've had so many ppl with so different techniques teaching me the 'right way' to climb..kinda getting sick of this. or should i just stick to my style? someone pls enlighten me.
And I thought I was anal...MrCelloBoy
Oct 30, 2001 2:36 AM
Do it your way! (Unless it a'int working)...
I've never heard that about 6 O'clock.
All I know about cimbing is different strokes for different folks.
Sometimes I "ankle" and sometimes I don't, but I've never heard one way was "right or wrong."
re: the correct technique for climbing??!jacques
Oct 30, 2001 2:41 AM
Throw out all past advice. Then watch hours and hours of TdF and Giro climbing videos and imitate. One day you'll find your way.
I agree, butJohn-d
Oct 30, 2001 3:13 AM
make sure you watch those that are similar in build to you. What I mean is if you are a light weight watch the eagles. If you are a heavy rider watch those. See also the earlier thread on spinning.
a little adviceDuane Gran
Oct 30, 2001 4:36 AM
I tend to be pretty analytical about climbing, so I'm happy to offer some advice. This is a matter of self discovery, so I'll mention some experiments you can try to find out your best personal approach. Some thoughts:

* The first advice is not to stand out of the saddle if you can avoid it. In my experience, (and from reading Joe Friel's take on it) the heart rate goes up dramatically but the speed doesn't alter much. If the gradient is really sick you might be better off, but only for a short while. Practice sitting through the climb. If you can do it, you will undoubtedly be faster.

* When standing, position your weight over the pedals. Really, consider it. A lot of people stand and then lean on the bars, which is a big waste. You are standing precisely so that you can use your body weight to assist pushing down the pedals. A good way to find the sweet spot is to use a trainer. Stand up and put one hand behind your back, using the other hand on the bars for balance. Do this and you will find the right position.

* When standing, pull up on the hoods in order to pull up on the pedals. In general, forget pedalling in circles on a climb. Piston action (up & down) is coordinated enough.

* There is a lot of debate on how much you should rock the bike back and forth. Basically, let the bike move where it wants to as long as you keep a fairly straight line. Pulling up on the hoods will naturally cause some rocking. Don't accentuate it, just let the bike move naturally.

* I like to keep my feet fairly level, but a little pointing down isn't bad. Personally, I find it hard to believe that anyone climbs with their toes pointed at the 6 o'clock position. That is straight down! A down pointed toe may help with pulling up, but a level foot increases your leverage on the downstroke. This is my personal experience. This issue is hotly debated and there are dozens of opinions.

* When you begin to get out of the saddle, maintain your pedalling motion as you lift up. Have you ever seen someone rise out of the saddle and then suddenly slow down and overlap your wheel? Very bad form. You can easily "drop kick" the person behind you this way.

Good luck!
Good stuff!......nmjagiger
Oct 30, 2001 6:22 AM
a little adviceDog
Oct 30, 2001 6:47 AM
just some follow up nuances based upon my experience (YMMV):

*conditions, competition, hills, your body, are highly variable, and your muscles are subject to fatigue; so, you may want or need to stand occasionally or frequently, depending upon the circumstances; steeper hills, more likely to stand; long hill, spin mostly, but stand occasionally to use different muscles, stretch a little, accellerate, get weight off the butt, etc. When you stand, you use different muscle groups, giving others a rest - further, not all standing is the same - move your body forward or rearward to use various muscles, some for a more relaxed movement, some for more power; if you are blown up from being in one position, you may find some power trying another - there is no one "correct" position; your body is extremely variable. BTW, check out Lance in this year's hill climb time trial in the Tour; he mostly sat and spun, but he did tons of standing, too.

*to get maximum power up a steep section, pull the bars up against the power down stroke with your foot; this gets your upper body into the action, a source of additional power - on an extreme grade, or when desperatly trying not to get dropped, the bike might be rocking a foot to each side; just don't over or under emphasize the rocking without a purpose

*I vary foot position, too; typically, you have more power with a heel down position (go to for explanation); but, if you get tired of that, you may need to switch to foot level or even toe down a bit

*Yes, don't drop kick the guy behind you; accellerate a bit in the saddle before standing if someone is right behind you; also, common courtesy is to yell "standing" before standing up to warn others

To climb well, do lots of climbing; make it fun and a challenge; one of the best things you can do, of you can, is lose weight; drop 10 pounds and you'll see a tremendous difference.

kinda agreecyclopathic
Oct 30, 2001 6:55 AM
with a few comments:

Friel is too hang up on LTHR. I read his book a few times but he never points out that your LTHR for standing may be entirely different. Usually it's 10-20bpm higher but may be lower. This may have following implications:

guys who dislike standing would quickly choke up out of saddle. On other hand who regularly rides long insane climbs (10min+) out of saddle would be considerably faster as he is more likely limited by leg strength not lungs/blood

pointing toes down reduces stress on calves/foot/achilles

don't forget to pull leg up

spinning at 90-110RPM out of saddle takes practice
A lot of good info above.4bykn
Oct 30, 2001 7:17 AM
Just remember, that climbing more than any other facet of cycling is a very individual thing.

Myself, I start at the bottom of the climb and (try to) finish at the top. Whatever gets YOU to the top.
re: the correct technique for climbing??!badabill
Oct 30, 2001 7:45 AM
Everyones advice has been pretty good. Mine would be to find what works best for you. Me, I stand alot while climbing, maybe 50% of the time on climbs longer than 3mi. I like to vary the workload on diff. muscle groups. when I stand I shift up 2 gears and drop my cadence a bit to keep the HR down. Seated I tend to spin more. By doing this I tend to get over tough climbs fresher.
re: the correct technique for climbing??!Jon
Oct 30, 2001 8:27 AM
As a poor climber, I find all this advice really helpful, especially Duane's suggestion of practicing
standing climbing on the trainer with one hand on the bar, to find the correct balance point. With
respect to standing vs. sitting I read a study done on the subject which is kind of interesting. The
researchers found that for most cyclists seated climbing is more efficient (in terms of heart rate
and perceived effort) for grades under 10%. Over 10%, heart rates for subjects were identical both
seated and standing, but perceived effort was lower standing. Interesting?
One speculation:Leisure
Oct 31, 2001 4:59 AM
I can't fully tell because I haven't read the study, so I don't know a lot of the experimental limitations, but I'll hazard a guess anyway.
Depending on gearing limitations climbing while standing on a low grade will burn more energy because your muscles are actively supporting your body weight in a manner that is not completely translated into moving i.e.-some of the force you exert to hold yourself up is placed on the back pedal and thus does not contribute to propulsion. Above a certain grade the entire energy expended to support your body-weight translates directly into motivating the bike upward (all of your weight is placed on the pedal propelling you forward).
The perceived effort statement might be easier to understand by turning it around: sitting is "perceived" to be more difficult than standing. Sitting and spinning a perfect circle places more load on smaller muscles not specifically evolved for the task, whereas standing more closely mimics walking, running, and jumping, which our legs are evolved for. The smaller muscles that carry more load in the sitting position have the same efficiency as the larger ones, but per-unit-volume it will be working harder and will fatigue faster. The nervous system perceives this as more effort even though both scenarios burn the same amount of oxygen and thus require the same heart rate.
re: the correct technique for climbing??!El Obvio
Oct 30, 2001 12:01 PM
I like to start with the bike pointed in a general uphill direction. I try to concentrate on rotating the cranks in a clockwise motion when viewed from the right. Although it may seem totally against reason, I've found the fastest way up the hill is to actually ride the bike against the forces of gravity. If it feels hard, don't worry, you've probably got the right technique going. Despite being much faster in its initial velocity, riding the bike down the hill, along the same plane as the force of gravity does not restult in any significant overall time gains after reaching the top.
worry about whats in front, not the guy sucking your wheel!!BigLeadOutGuy
Oct 30, 2001 5:26 PM
Long climbs are better done in the saddle...standing uses alot more engery...if the climb is a short and steep than jump out of the saddle and power your way though...dont worry about the guy sucking your wheel behind you...if he tags your wheel and falls its his own fault NOT yours. dont climb in the drops....start with your hands on the hoods are a few inches out from teh stem...this will open up yoru chest allowing you to breathe better. concentrate on the up pull of your pedal stroke..not so much the down stroke...youll lose less momentum. theres prolly other things that maybe helpful but i cant remember right now...experiment and find what works for you...or you culd just not listen to anything i just wrote too...that would be fine as well! =)
re: the correct technique for climbing??!Tahn
Oct 30, 2001 7:38 PM
Someone suggested earlier that you should put your weight on the pedals and use it to pedal.
Well, I used to do that and I didn't last very long standing. Then when I switched to the opposite and my climbing is up a level. This is what I found works for me.
- On very long climbs it's better to climb sitting.
- On steeper and shorter climbs it maybe advantagous to climb standing (since you can apply more force). But I find that one should lean forward, shift more weight onto the handle bar (i.e. do not use your weight to pedal. Let the bike help carry your weight). This way you can really pull up on the up strokes (if you have cliffless pedals of course).
- Rocking does work (but also waistes a bit more energy. so use it only for short and steep climbs) Also, it's important to maintain a straight line.
You should try all the different styles and find the one that works for you though.
Avoid it.Leisure
Oct 31, 2001 3:57 AM
Just kiddin'.

I imagine the technique stuff has been covered by everyone already. Beyond that my only serious advice is to not burn yourself out on it. If you feel like your wasting unnecessary energy you probably are.