Effect of NOT Standing when said so in session

I have a question on this. Some MTB coaches argue it is better and more efficient to stand on the climbs due to varying terrain conditions that can cause to a loss of traction. Because the study was done on the road, how does it translate to off road disciplines? I’m very curious.

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I think it depends on the trail conditions. If it’s loose or wet, you’re definitely going to lose traction on the rear wheel, so it’s better to stay seated. If it’s good soil or hard packed, you can certainly stand to power up a hill, especially if it’s steep, but you have to judge the trail conditions.

I prefer to do most of my climbing seated. I find that I can maintain better traction with the rear wheel and save any out of the saddle efforts for short periods to make a pass if I need to get around someone quickly in a race, to stretch my legs or back, or to power up over a root or rock or something technical, in which case I stay low and basically hover just above the saddle in order to keep some weight on the rear wheel and maintain traction.

Generally speaking, if you shift your weight forward like you do on a road bike, you’re probably going to lose some efficiency because of loss of traction on the rear wheel. I think MTB and off-road riding has a lot of variability so you’re naturally off the saddle frequently and it becomes kind of instinctive once you ride a lot and learn from experience when it’s beneficial to stand and when it’s not.
I’m sorry I don’t have a cut and dry answer for you, but that’s kind of the nature of mountain biking anyway! :slight_smile:


So true! Thank you!

Thank you! This was the missing bit of info I was after. Standing is one thing, doing it at varying cadences and styles is another, but doing it when the power is very low relative to the cadence in a way that I would never ride intentionally just felt awful. I’m relieved to hear that this is something I can adapt to a “saner” form of suffering… There’s a difference between “suffering” and “feeling wrong.” :slight_smile:


My apologies if I’m adding to an out-of-date thread, but I wanted to pick up on the comment from @coach.suzie.s about revising workouts with “silly stand prompts.” I would assume that the new Blender has been recently revised, but it nonetheless contains a few prompts to stand at a power target a shade below FTP with a cadence of 80 in some of the endurance intervals.

Like MSR, I find that in ERG mode there isn’t enough resistance to push against if the power target is around FTP. I need something well into MAP or AC in order to maintain control.

The issue it not the lack of resistance its a lack of fluidity in your pedal stroke. Which in my experience is something which can be trained and improved.

more discussion in this topic

A question regarding cadence numbers and ERG mode - Training / Training Plans - SYSTM Forum (wahoofitness.com)


I pretty much sit for everything. Soon as I stand up it’s like I go from fine to completely gassed in a couple seconds. I have found I can do pretty much all the drills and NM efforts sitting just fine and after reading articles like this one and watching videos on the subject I really don’t have a desire to learn how to ride out of the saddle. If I am not comfortable riding while standing, then I won’t be tempted to switch to a less economically viable option when the going gets hard.

I have the same problem with the high cadence out of the saddle work. I just challenge myself to do as much as I can every time that I am asked to do it. Just try to do some every time that you are asked and a little more the next time. It is making you a better, more well rounded rider. I am a lot better out of the saddle now than in the past but it is still something I work on.

For what it is worth, I find that if I do the workouts the require a lot of standing in slope mode instead of erg mode it works better for me. I just find it easier to hit the correct cadence and power that way. thats just me though. Good Luck

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You get better by being outside your comfort zone. If you always take the easier path, you’ll always under perform.

I would try to do the standing part, maybe not all of it, but at least try.

When climbing a 2 hour mountain, you’ll be happy to stand up once and a while.


I think my point is mentally we stand for relief when riding while standing is proven to be less efficient so why become good at riding less efficiently why not train the harder path of not needing the relief and staying at optimal efficiency. I am of course a newbie and I haven’t done alot of outdoor riding in the big mountains, but I have several 2 & 3 hr climbing rides under my belt both virtually on Zwift and also in the real :earth_africa: in Honduras & in the USA. Not that it qualifies me as anything other than a beginner still, just saying that I have known the desire to stand up on a climb for relief and said no to it and kept my butt in the saddle and kept spinning instead.

Standing is not always less efficient. Especially for steep climbs and for putting out more power and for quick increases in power. And it also depends on your rider type. Plus, it helps recruit different muscle groups.

When I started I definitely ignored most of the stand prompts. But the more I did the easier it got. And then when I do longer, steeper climbs I feel better standing on the pedals because I’ve been practicing them.

So, you don’t have to stand, but it does help you if you do as much as you can.


Tell that to this guy:
Alberto Contador, he was pretty good :grin: and used to climb out of the saddle a lot (understatement)


Haha I knew someone was going to post this :joy: You are absolutely right that Contador is amazing and makes out of the saddle work look effortless, but we are comparing the physiology of a generational talent to the rest of us? Michael Jordan scored a good portion of his points via dunks…I guess I should work on my dunk game too lol. Effective and efficient are not always the same thing (although in cycling it’s pretty close). If I get to the pinnacle of performance and endurance level like Contador then I will revisit my position on standing :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: until I will make no illusion that I need to get out of the saddle for any of the rides or workouts I have encountered yet, but I am just getting started in sufferfest so maybe I will eat those words here in a few weeks. Any workout recommendation that would push me to the limit and get me wanting to be out of the saddle?

Maybe this should be a podcast topic. Along that thought, I wonder if there are correlations between 4DP rider type, body type, and the effectiveness/efficiency of prolonged out of the saddle efforts.

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Best i can do. :slight_smile:


You better your performance by changing this up. Changing cadence, sitting/standing, VO2 max intervals combined with base work,…

If you always do the same, the result will always be the same (thinking otherwise is the definition of insanity :wink: )

So just try to do some of the standing intervals, get outside your comfort zone. It’ll make you better.


I’m too afraid of the wrath of GvA not to do what I’m told :scream:

I also think that

  1. If it’s been put in there by the coaches it’s there for a reason (that goes for big cadence changes too - I figure they’re either there to stress me, or they’re there to teach me how to recover (and to train my body to do so))
  2. If I’m finding something really hard I obviously need it really badly and better do it again and again to get better. Using different muscle groups that can’t handle the load, well, they need strengthening so they can in future.

Outside, standing from time to time definitely helps me push on in long climbs -be that surges or “recovery/ respite” - and moreso as I’ve worked on it - hence my perseverance rather than just blind faith in the coaches (or fear of GvA).

And the legend Contador - in one of the videos I watched he talked about doing 20 minute intervals standing, at a cadence in the low 90s! At first that seems almost impossible - as I’ve practiced it I find that I can now quite easily climb standing at a cadence of 80 to 90 and I’m slowly increasing the duration. Not yet 20 minutes but I reckon even 10 will be an achievement when I get there :sunglasses:. I credit the Sufferfest/ SYSTM coaches and what seemed impossible initially for getting me to a point where I’m quite comfortable.


Be like Mike…always.out.of.the.saddle… :joy:. Does he ever sit?


Almost shockingly, yes!!!

And we are all a little disappointed in him for it :wink:


Shocking!!! :joy:

I caught him sitting briefly this morning on TGTTOS. Not sure if a single sitting pedal rotation counts though

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