Learn to pedal out of the saddle

This test video from Global Cycling Network says climbing while standing can be just as efficient as sitting.

Cool! Let’s dig in

Here’s the video


This rider is very, very skilled. He’s relaxed, smooth and balanced. Good thing: He’s a pro.

When alternating 30 seconds sitting and 30 seconds standing, he looked forward to every change. When he was sitting, he wanted to stand. When he was standing, he wanted to sit. He said it’s a matter of comfort. Changing positions, using different muscles.

When he stands, there’s a slight increase in workload. That makes sense. After a long day on the bike I have trouble getting off the couch.

Overall, the rider’s effort level is consistent between sitting and standing. In this admittedly incomplete test, sitting and standing are almost equally efficient. For a lot of riders, that’s a shocker.

I’d like to add

A normal rider does not look this good! Most riders are too far forward, too far back, hunched over and/or chopping at the pedals.

If you’re not skilled at pedaling out of the saddle, you’ll use a lot more energy standing than sitting. Clear signs you’re doing it wrong: back wheel slipping, front wheel floating, back hurting, heart rate spiking, bike stopping dead when you hit rocks.

If you practice your standing pedaling, you can become equally effective in and out of the saddle. You’ll be a double threat: a bimodal badass.

This skill is the key to fun things like technical climbing, sprinting and wheelie dropping.

You’re not going to climb this sitting on your seat.

This winter, get really good at pedaling out of the saddle. Your tender bits will thank you — and you’ll ride better too.

For pedaling skills that will change your life, check out the Pump Up the Base off-season training program.

Have fun out there,


Know more. Have more fun!

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2 replies
  1. Anonymous says:

    James Wilson is grinning his teeth. Those guys also did a test on clip less pedals vs flats. This standing pedaling test seems to support it, that there is no difference. I hope they do one on low VS high cadence.

  2. JoeG says:

    I dig what GCN is doing with their videos. The only suggestion that I have for them is to use non-pro people on these type of videos. As Lee mentioned, most people do not have that type of form. Most people also do not have their fitness which will yield differences in blood work tested. What’s good for pros does not mean it’s good for tje rest of us, no matter what marketing tells us.

    I can use some work on my out of the saddle pedaling efficiency. I tend to mash my pedals when standing. I will check out you Pump Up the Base book.


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