Stand on the Pedals or Sit in the Saddle?


Contador_Alberto_SanLuis13_st6-1It’s the questions I hear from thousands of cyclists…..when climbing a hill, should I stand on my pedals or sit in the saddle?

We watch pro cycling and get excited when we see people like Alberto Contador dancing on his pedals as he makes his way up a big climb.  Yeah, I’m not a fan of Alberto but you just gotta love the way he moves out of the saddle.

But for regular cyclists like us, what’s the best way to get up a hill?

I’m of the opinion that it is very rare that you should have to jump out of the saddle and dance.  Yep, I strongly believe this…..and it’s for good reason.  When you get up on your pedals, you’re using far more energy than you would by grinding it through on your seat.  Plus, in the long run you’ll get there faster by staying in the saddle.

I don’t mean to be modest, but I own quite a few Strava KOM’s and none of them have been by climbing a hill on top of the pedals.

With that said, there is a point where all that goes out the window and I need to get out of the saddle if I’m going to make it.  This happens every day on the way up to my house.  If you’ve seen my Grenada cycling video, you already know that this climb gets up to 27% and I have to dance my way up there.

Even if you don’t believe me, I want you to try it yourself.  The first few hills might be tough and you’ll be tempted to jump out, but keep grinding your way up.  Do this on at least 8 to 10 rides and then let me know what you think.

Grind it up, don’t Dance.

Photo c/o VeloNation

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5 Responses to “ Stand on the Pedals or Sit in the Saddle? ”

  1. j. d. kimple on December 19, 2014 at 10:58 pm

    Which way works for me for climbing? Both. Usually a short steep climb I’ll stand. Longer climb or 10 percent or less incline (roughly) I sit. And climbs of over a half mile, probably I will switch back and forth. Sit most of the time, when my legs start to hurt I’ll stand and use some different muscles. Also I shift to a harder gear when standing and use my weight to help push down the pedals. Shortly after I may start to tire while standing so I shift to an easier gear and sit back down.

    Seated is certainly more efficient for the majority of cyclist so I would expect most folks (myself included) to be seated 80-90 percent of the climb. Don’t burn those matches unless you have to.

    • Rebecca Olds on December 28, 2014 at 10:03 am

      That’s pretty much my approach, too. I’m not super strong so my percentages are more like 95% seated to 5% standing, but my local hills may not be as steep as yours. 🙂

  2. j. d. kimple on December 19, 2014 at 8:24 pm

    Best way to get up climbs? Whatever works best for you.

    • Darryl on December 19, 2014 at 10:42 pm

      Exactly right, JD. What works best for you? Have you tried both ways?

    • Paul Kirby on December 20, 2014 at 9:47 am



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