This was in Road Bike Riders email thing and I thought since this topic comes up often it should be shared.
Find Your Strongest Climbing Position
Is it seated or standing? The best position is highly individual because it depends on muscle fiber type, body weight, fitness and training -- all combined with the length and steepness of the grade you're climbing.
Generally, heavier riders climb better seated because standing requires them to support their body weight. This exacts a larger energy penalty. Virtually all weight is carried by the legs, none by the seat.
You need to find which position is more efficient. Here's how:
Important: Warm up well, then ride each of the following tests with your most comfortable cadence and gear. Don't try to spin fast if that's not your style. Be yourself.
Test 1. On a hill that's representative of those you usually ride, pedal to the top standing all the way. Record your time, heart rate, perceived exertion and, if you have a power meter, your average wattage.
Recover for 10-15 minutes and repeat the climb, this time seated. Record your data.
Test 2. Several days later, climb the hill again. But reverse the order -- make the first ascent in the saddle and the second while standing. Take the same amount of recovery time between efforts. Record your data and compare.
Do this procedure again the following week. Then you should see a pattern. What you're looking for is the position that produces . . .
* a lower heart rate
* lower perceived exertion
* a faster time (or higher wattage)
That's the most efficient position for you.
Be careful with these results. It's a rare cyclist who always climbs better either seated or standing. Most riders will be faster and more comfortable when they alternate being in and out of the saddle on the same climb.
It takes quite a bit of climbing experience to determine the best mix. What you want to know is which position you should use for max performance when you need it.