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Riding out of the saddle difficulty

Old 09-24-23, 03:41 PM
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Originally Posted by raceboy
Not sure about your easier on the knees theory.
Hard to assess. Standing adds more body weight to the pedals, but also tends to reduce the knee angle when the heaviest force is borne, so I think there will be some offsets. And variation in technique can make it more or less force.

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Old 09-24-23, 03:46 PM
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When I stand up on the pedals to climb a hill, I use my upper body a lot for extra leverage which also takes some of the stress away from the knees. My full body is doing some of the work and not just the knees alone.
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Old 09-24-23, 03:53 PM
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Originally Posted by wolfchild
When I stand up on the pedals to climb a hill, I use my upper body a lot for extra leverage which also takes some of the stress away from the knees. My full body is doing some of the work and not just the knees alone.
I notice that I do the most the upper body effort at the moments where the leg push would otherwise be the highest. Thatís during climbing.

When standing on flatter sections, Iím more likely just leaning forward and supporting the upper body weight on the bars to allow a faster cadence while standing but likely not pulling up on the bars.

When racers are sprinting in the drops, though, they will be leaning forward, bracing the upper body through the bars but also pulling up to counteract the immense upward reaction force from the pedals as they are pushing so hard.

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Old 09-24-23, 04:10 PM
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Standing up cycling takes about twice the energy and outputs about 50% more energy to the wheels. It's less efficient, but for most, it's a short term energy boost.

As stated above, a bicycle with a climbing geometry greatly assists the out of seat efficiency at the cost of being less efficient on level ground.

Not having your legs/butt connecting to the seat, assisting balance also takes more energy. Your arms are now making considerable active adjustments that your inner thighs were doing passively

I have a stand-up bike without a seat stay/seat tube/top tube, so the cadence is slower, and the effort is greatly increased.
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Old 09-24-23, 04:24 PM
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I'm 70 years old, but I still pedal standing a lot on my regular 52 mile route with 3400 feet of climbing and my 54 mile route with 5000 feet of climbing. I have a 10-13% grade that takes about 10 minutes to complete. I can do it standing in a 30/24 or seated in a 30/36. My cadence will only be 55-65 rpm, instead of 70-80. Finding the perfect gear ratio can be tough on the steepest grades. If I try to use a 30/28 for a higher cadence, it's too easy, with insufficient pedal resistance. For some reason, finding the right gear combination for 4-8% grades is far less difficult. I use my 46/28 for 6-8% grades.

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Old 09-24-23, 05:03 PM
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Originally Posted by CrimsonEclipse
Standing up cycling takes about twice the energy and outputs about 50% more energy to the wheels. It's less efficient, but for most, it's a short term energy boost.
Do you have actual data? Estimates Iíve seen are more like 7% to 10% increase to stand while pedaling. But I donít recall where I saw that.

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Old 09-24-23, 05:15 PM
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I'd find it very difficult to do an entire ride (90mins or 2 hours is my everyday usual) glued to the saddle, even if I didn't ride SS and have a lot of hills where I am. It comes so naturally to me that I often find myself doing it without even thinking about it, just to stretch my legs, and because I enjoy it.

I got my first practice at it about 40 years ago as a kid, when my saddle broke and I was too cheap to buy a new one for a few months. Didn't do the same sort of hard riding back then, just a paper route and to school and back, but it must have been enough to acquire the knack.
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Old 09-24-23, 05:18 PM
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Originally Posted by ofajen
Do you have actual data? Estimates Iíve seen are more like 7% to 10% increase to stand while pedaling. But I donít recall where I saw that.

Otto
I don't have a power meter, but it should be pretty easy to run a calorie burn estimate from a heart rate monitor alongside power meter data. There's obviously going to be some lag in heart rate, but with a few repetitions you should be able to get a reasonable rough figure.
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Old 09-24-23, 05:41 PM
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Originally Posted by genejockey
At 6' and 205 lbs, I can do 10-15 SECONDS easily, but much beyond a minute is really hard.

For fun and practice last night, and because I was on Zwift due to poor AQI, I was climbing the "Leg Snapper" in the "Innsbruck" world (0.27 "miles" at 6.9% average "gradient), going out of the saddle the whole way. I was carefully watching the watts and keeping it right around 300, and that took 1:46 or so each trip. That worked out pretty well - I made it to the top without being so gassed that I had to just coast.
I love that climb on Zwift. I usually climb it in the saddle at a high cadence at full gas. It makes a great VO2 max interval!

Today I rode the Zwift Epic KOM + Radio Tower. I was seated for most of the KOM and out of the saddle for almost all the Radio Tower climb, which is 10-15% for 7-8 mins. Itís a brutal climb that really forces me out of the saddle (my Kickr Bike can sim up to 20% slopes and any gearing). But on gradients <10% I usually stay seated, with the odd short stint out of saddle to stretch my legs.

I agree about being careful not to mash too hard out of the saddle on a longer climb. I keep an eye on my power meter to avoid the risk of blowing up. Although today was tough as I went full gas up the Epic KOM in a small group and was already on my limit when we hit the base of the Radio Tower climb. So it became an exercise in just turning over the cranks with minimum effort out of the saddle. But it requires around 300W just to keep moving at 15%.

For reference Iím 6í1Ē and currently 185 lbs. Not ideal for climbing but I do okay on less steep climbs if I can stay seated at a good cadence. I reserve standing mainly for steep ramps or a leg stretch. I also often stand when punching over rollers in the big ring. But not on more sustained climbs.
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Old 09-24-23, 07:01 PM
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I love climbing out of the saddle. Always have. I also love the benefit of getting a full body workout, especially if my gears are limited to higher than "right" for the hills encountered. I just got back from the week long Cycle Oregon. Not tons of climbing but all in the coast range or along the coast. Some of it steep. I rode it on a 30-26 low and didn't always use that low dear. (As a 70 yo.)

Looking in the mirror after I got home; yes I lost upper body muscle mass but - there's a toughness to that reduced muscle fiber that wasn't there when I started that ride. A toughness I always see after doing real hills in "too big a gear" and standing a lot. And I don't stand to push with more weight. I stand to do the full body push-pull with full rocking of the bike at what ever speed/RPM is appropriate for that hill, my conditioning and my hills/mileage left to ride. (I use shoes, pedals and cleats I can pull on all day - without unclipping and without causing issues for my feet from pulling that hard or standing toes down. I canned the use of straps a few years ago because they simply weren't up to a hard week of out of the saddle climbing without sending me to the doctor post ride. All the shoes I ride now are laces or double BOA.) I don't ride with power meters or HR monitors but I do monitor my breathing carefully; for depth, speed and is it beginning to get ragged?
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Old 09-24-23, 08:46 PM
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Originally Posted by SoSmellyAir
This describes me.



This also describes me, except for the taller or strong parts.

But the odd thing is, I can climb out of the saddle better (i.e., > 10 pedals strokes) on my hybrid bike with flat handlebar and flat pedals. I wonder why?
I notice a difference across my bikes, as far as how comfortably and how long I can climb out of saddle. I expect it has to do with frame geometry differences. I recall reading a builder describe his fitting technique as first designing for oos climbing, then determining saddle location from there. I think essentially it's where your hands are, when your COG is above the bb. Too close or too far is bad.

On a different note, FG riding has definitely improved my oos stamina.
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Old 09-24-23, 10:00 PM
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I cannot get out of the saddle for climbs right now. Patellofemoral pain syndrome rears its ugly head in my left knee, which just doesn't track right. I am considering going to 11-speed and using the 11-34 tooth cassette in order to make the climbs easier. I can climb sitting down ok, but rpm's drop, I have a compact crank and 12-30 cassette now. Most climbs I see are 4-6% at most. Signed up for a hilly ride in 2 weeks that I have done before as a test of my legs. Depending on how that goes, its likely back to the doctor for PT and further evaluation/MRI.
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Old 09-25-23, 07:43 AM
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Originally Posted by downtube42
I notice a difference across my bikes, as far as how comfortably and how long I can climb out of saddle. I expect it has to do with frame geometry differences. I recall reading a builder describe his fitting technique as first designing for oos climbing, then determining saddle location from there. I think essentially it's where your hands are, when your COG is above the bb. Too close or too far is bad.
Iíve kinda been exploring that space. I think itís about like you describe, although I think it is relative to where COG is above where the pedals are during the downward pedal push.

Bar height is also important. Your upper body needs to bear some weight during parts of the pedal cycle. You want it to feel somewhat like a forward leaning running posture.

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Old 09-25-23, 12:22 PM
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Originally Posted by CrimsonEclipse
Standing up cycling takes about twice the energy and outputs about 50% more energy to the wheels.
No, standing does not require twice the energy than seated pedaling. For well-trained cyclists, standing and seated energy is about the same.

The power to the wheels is determined by how hard you work, not by your cycling position. You can produce more or less power standing, if you choose.
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Old 09-25-23, 12:47 PM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse
No, standing does not require twice the energy than seated pedaling. For well-trained cyclists, standing and seated energy is about the same.

The power to the wheels is determined by how hard you work, not by your cycling position. You can produce more or less power standing, if you choose.
Yeah, there are several factors but not a big net load. There is additional internal workload from stabilizing muscles, a small internal work savings due to a lower cadence (less power spent moving legs, feet and pedals at a given speed) and a small external load due to increased air resistance of taller profile.

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Old 09-25-23, 04:21 PM
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At the risk of stating the obvious, to get better at riding without a saddle remove the seatpost completely.

I'm not very good at riding out of the saddle, know some people who claim they always ride out of the saddle.
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Old 09-25-23, 04:43 PM
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I've learned something new today. Having grown up in an area with plenty of hills and in an era when 42/24 was the low gear, I had no choice but to climb steeper pitches out of the saddle. Before reading this thread I didn't know that it was difficult for anyone. Now, with lower gearing, I still ride small rollers and maybe the last 50 yards of a longer climb out of the saddle to give my butt a rest. On my fixed gear I ride pretty much all the hills out of the saddle.

Another height/weight data point: I'm 6'1" and my weight fluctuates between 155# and 165#.

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Last edited by obrentharris; 09-25-23 at 05:47 PM. Reason: correction: Thanks to SoSmellyAir for the heads up.
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Old 09-25-23, 05:31 PM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse
No, standing does not require twice the energy than seated pedaling. For well-trained cyclists, standing and seated energy is about the same.

The power to the wheels is determined by how hard you work, not by your cycling position. You can produce more or less power standing, if you choose.
Yeah, if standing took twice the energy then nobody would be standing or if they did they would blow up after a few seconds!

My feeling is that I use a little less energy climbing seated, but sometimes alternating between seated and standing works well and standing is often more practical on very steep grades with normal road gearing. I find riding seated very difficult above 15% and pretty much impossible above 20% on a 1:1 gear.
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Old 09-25-23, 05:42 PM
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Originally Posted by obrentharris
... Having grown up in an area with plenty of hills and in an era when 42/24 was the high gear, I had no choice but to climb steeper pitches out of the saddle. ...
You meant the lowest gear?

I only need 3 crank revolutions to rest my bum. Any more rest is offset by the energy loss and risk of pedaling OOS.
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Old 09-25-23, 05:49 PM
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Seeing heights and weights I'm thinking I should give up cycling and try sumo wrestling. I'm 6'1" in 4" heels and 150 with a 35 lb toddler on the other side of the seesaw.
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Old 09-25-23, 08:03 PM
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I used to ride BMX bikes as a kid. The only way to climb or gain any speed was to go OOS. Even as an adult, I still ride my road bike similar to when I was kid.
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Old 09-25-23, 09:07 PM
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Riding brevets, particularly long ones at 400 km and up, OOS stints provide essential relief. Really it's a relief of everything that's been in a steady state for a long time - butt, hands, neck, low back, shoulders. If I'm on a long stretch without a hill to climb, I'll ride OOS for a bit just for a break. If we're pacelineing, my turn on the back will include OOS time to break things up. In that regard, occasional hills that provide a reason for 30 seconds OOS are welcome.
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Old 09-25-23, 10:23 PM
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On long rides, I ride OOS for about 30" every 15' by the clock. That gives a little time to get blood back into those butt tissues and varies the terrain in which I do OOS. I'm 5'6" and weigh 145-150. I find I do best if I ride OOS in the drops, no weight on hands, maybe pulling up slightly, backs of thighs brushing the saddle's nose. Something about that position seems to make it somewhat less work. I agree, watch your power meter. Way easy to go too hard.
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Old 09-26-23, 01:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Trakhak
As TerryMorse and Genejockey and a few others pointed out, it's best to fight the natural tendency to push much harder when you ride out of the saddle.
An addendum to this advice: generally, when I climb out of the saddle, I pedal at a lower cadence. My respiration is often coordinated with my cadence (e.g. out for three pedal rotations, in for two), and sometimes I unconsciously use the same breathing pattern when I switch to standing. If my cadence goes down and my effort goes up, even if it isn't close to my maximum, the respiration rate that worked for in-the-saddle riding may not be sufficient for out-of-the-saddle riding. So, in addition to not trying to push too hard as in the post quoted above, I also focus on increasing my rate of respiration, if necessary. These two things together have helped me to be able to climb standing for longer without going into the red.
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Old 09-26-23, 01:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Trakhak
As TerryMorse and Genejockey and a few others pointed out, it's best to fight the natural tendency to push much harder when you ride out of the saddle.
Um... But that defeats the point of getting out of the saddle.

In the saddle the force you can apply to the pedals is limited by your body weight. Beginner cyclists might find it difficult to apply full body weight to the pedal (i.e. make their butt to lift off the saddle) whilst riding in-the-saddle, but with training it soon becomes possible. At which point the body weight becomes the limiting factor.

The whole purpose of out-of-the-saddle position is to overcome that limit: to use your hands to pull against the handlebars and thus apply greater than your body weight force to the pedals. The whole purpose is to push much harder.
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