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Standing while climbing (long)(9 posts)

Standing while climbing (long)NewDayNewWay
May 24, 2003 6:38 AM
To put all this in perspective, I live in Eastern NC, where there are hills, but not hills like in some places, but there are still some pretty decent hills around. Also, I weight about 180 lbs (side-note: down from about 200 from about four months ago).

Historically, I have always followed the standard convention of staying in the saddle on all hill climbs. Last week decided to try an experiment. I went out for a 30 mile ride, and decided to stand on all hills of at least moderate steepness, whether long or short.

End result: totally kicked it on the ride. Have tried this again several times with very good effect. Now I find it hard to stay in the saddle on climbs at all! Some observations about standing while climbing.

* I found that standing while climbing required a careful choice of gears; too low of a gear resulted in going about the aerobic threshold; to high a gear created lactic buildup. Just the right gear provided a balance. I found that the secret was to pick a gear so that I could use my body weight to maximum effect on the down stroke.

* Slow and easy is the rule. I'm not a racer. However, even though my pace is not fast, I'd bet I'd pass a lot of people staying in the saddle on the climbs (or pass them at the top - see next point). Having a steady rhythm, with a gentle back-and-forth rocking of the bike was important.

* When I get to the top of the hills I'm able to accelerate, and my legs feel strong. Sitting and spinning on a climb takes an aerobic toll on me, and when I get to the top I'm using the same muscles in the same way as I did on the climb. End result: nothing noteworthy. While standing, the muscles I use when sitting had a chance to recover on the climb, so I could kick butt at the top.

* I have this technique where I tend to straighten the leg on the up stroke. There is a noticeable feeling of recovery in the leg on the up stroke when I do this. I also have this technique where I say in my head "relax" talking to the leg coming up. So I'm saying relax relax relax... in my head. The power of the mind.

Anyways, I understand staying in the saddle is practically a necessity on very long climbs (e.g., mountain climbs), but I wonder if I (or anyone else) is just being too anal about not standing in the saddle when climbing. What are your observations with standing while climbing? Any thoughts from the more experienced crowd on the convention of sitting while climbing versus my counter-convention experiences? Am I making a mistake that will cost me on much longer rides?

I've got my second metric century on Monday. I will be applying this technique over the full 62 mile course. I'll let you know how it works out.

my convention: faster = bettercollinsc
May 24, 2003 6:47 AM
that said, I can stand for miles. Just depends on how your body likes to do it. Best is always to mix it up, but both definitely require different concentrations.
where did you get the standard convention???elviento
May 24, 2003 9:18 AM
I thought the convention is to alternate standing and sitting and see what fits YOU best.

Standing is not as efficient as sitting but utilizes different muscles.
doesn't work for me.Frith
May 24, 2003 10:09 AM
the only time i stand up is when the grade is pretty steep. I spin up most hills and find if I stand for too long I get anaerobic due to the recruitment of the muscles it takes to support my weight for that period. I think the posters above who said it has more to do with personal comfort were bang on. I will make an effort to use your technique of resting on the upstroke and see how it works out.
doesn't work for me.The Human G-Nome
May 24, 2003 4:39 PM
coming out of the saddle and doing it effectively is definitely something you have to work on. you probably aren't going to be good at it right from the getgo. just like the original poster stated, the best way to get good at it is thru repitition and experimenting on your position while standing. i think anyone is at a disadvantage on climbs if standing isn't a part of your arsenal. practice, practice, practice. my legs used to blow up 10 seconds after standing, but now i can go for miles.
Standing hurts my knees.Eug
May 24, 2003 11:26 AM
Thus I try not to mash a lot and I try not to stand when cranking up my hills. If I do that then I'll have knee pain within 20 km.
i didn't go to that conventionmoschika
May 24, 2003 6:01 PM
i stand up hills most of the time. i'll sit for as long as i can keep my speed but once i start to slow and the pitch increases i'm out of the saddle. i'll switch it up if the climb is long and i start to tire. if the climb is really steep there is no way i'm sitting. it's way too hard.
practice helpsbianchi boy
May 24, 2003 6:05 PM
I never used to climb out of the saddle until I started taking spin cycle classes in the winter. In spin classes, they climb out of the saddle all of the time. Doing that helped build up the muscles for standing and I started standing more and more on road rides. I find that standing works best for me on short steep climbs. On longer climbs, it tires me out more. Standing also works well on group rides when you take turns pulling to conserve energy. You just need to learn to stand without jerking back and hitting the person behind you.
May 24, 2003 6:53 PM
I read that standing consumes about 10% more energy