Climbing economics, sitting or standing

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by Releeuw45, Jul 27, 2009.

  1. Releeuw45

    Releeuw45 New Member

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    In a artical from one of the team managers from AG2R it was stated that climbing standing on the pedals was more efficient.
    This statement throws all my beliefs upside down, thinking that sitting down was more economic independant of the length/steepness of the climb.

    Anyone like to share his vision about why a team manager would say something like this? Is there any truth about it?

    Rene
    Netherlands
     
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  2. jhuskey

    jhuskey Moderator

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    It depends on the individual rider. Smaller riders seem to be able to maintain standing on the pedals at a high cadence for longer ,while others with more upper body mass are more comfortable grinding it out seated.
    Making a generalized statement lke that has no logical basis to me.
     
  3. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

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    As long as I can remember folks have been debating whether to attack long sustained climbs seated or out of the saddle. There have always been climbers (the Columbian grand tour riders come to mind) that seem to stand forever on long climbs that most riders climb seated.

    Conventional wisdom says that lighter climbers, especially lighter climbers with very little upper body mass can excel on long climbs by effectively "running on the pedals" but that larger riders especially those with more upper body mass do better to let the bike support their additional weight.

    When physiologists have studied the subject the results are mixed or don't really favor one method for moderate climbs (up to 10% grade) but that standing is preferred for steep grades. Here's some links to studies on the subject:

    Seated versus standing cycling in competitive road...[Can J Appl Physiol. 1996] - PubMed Result
    Seated versus standing position for maximization o...[J Sports Sci. 2008] - PubMed Result
    Effect of cycling position on oxygen uptake and pr...[Eur J Appl Physiol. 2007] - PubMed Result

    So I'd say the quote from the team manager reflects either his own opinion or the personal preferences and strengths of one or more of his riders but I don't think it applies in general to all riders on all climbs.

    -Dave
     
  4. Piotr

    Piotr New Member

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    I don't manage a professional team, but can make ignorant statements with the best of them. I'm a smaller rider, a climber of 56kg who rarely stands while climbing, because standing while climbing is less efficient. :p :)
     
  5. longfemur

    longfemur New Member

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    I'm about 58 kg... not a racer, but I do like to challenge myself. I think the answer to your question depends on the individual. For a person like myself, standing is more powerful but it's best kept in reserve to top off a climb that I've been sitting on most of the way up, or to get up little crests along the way up. I say this, because once I'm spent from standing, I have nothing left... but if I climb as much as I can sitting, then I still have some standing left that I can use.

    Standing gets me up faster, but sitting lets me go longer. So, if I'm going up a long climb, I'll sit for as much of it as I can. On the other hand, if it's a short climb and I want to go up fast, I'll stand the whole way. The "which one is more efficient" question begs another question, "efficient for what?".
     
  6. Releeuw45

    Releeuw45 New Member

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    Thanks guys for the respons.

    Longfever has a point there. Maybe I should try to mix my sitting style with some standig up for the best results. Normally I do all my climbing sitting. This seems to be the easest to do with my 6 ft 4, 80kg body.

    I agree that it also depends on the individual. Independant of my 270 Watt FTP, I like spinning up the hill more then grinding my way up. Spinning below 50 revs per min. feels less efficient an depletes my reseves faster.
     
  7. frenchyge

    frenchyge New Member

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    If you use a power meter then you're ahead of many others who question which works better. Some informal testing at the same wattage in one position or the other should give you an idea whether one works significantly better than the other, or whether there is little difference *for you*.

    If you find there is little difference in the ability to sustain the same wattage in either position, then I'd say it would be a matter of preference, or that a combination of the two (to alternate between different muscle groups) would be the way to go.
     
  8. swampy1970

    swampy1970 Well-Known Member

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    Many folk may think that sitting while climbing is more economical because that's what they do most of the time. Go out and spend more time climbing while standing and it'll hurt for a while but you'll get used to it.

    "Economics" only really applies if you can get up the hill with the best of them. For the rest of us it's just doing whatever you can to stay with the guys at the front of which ever group we're in. The AG2R guys need to be able to climb for days on end, unlike us mere bods who, at best, hack it out at a race or two at the weekend.
     
  9. alfeng

    alfeng Well-Known Member

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    Let's think about this based on results ...

    Given that Grand Tours are often lost on the mountain stages ... and, presumably can therefore be won on the mountain stages ...

    Given the AG2R manager's postulation that standing while climbing is more efficient ... one should presume that he tells his riders to stand while climbing because of the advantage he believes they will have by doing so AND they presumably would comply.

    To over simplify the analysis:
    If the-proof-is-in-the-pudding, then show me the AG2R's Grand Tour champions.
    While climbing while standing may be 'more efficient' with regard to (short) distance traversed for a given wattage output, it probably isn't as sustainable by anyone (except perhaps for individuals like Pantani because of physiology or pharmaceuticals) for the full length of a climb ...

    Even Contador sits when he is not attacking.
     
  10. Felt_Rider

    Felt_Rider Active Member

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    That is the mode I am in right now and have been working on that specifically for the last two weeks and plan on keeping it in the plan.

    I seem to do better sitting. During the week I have been doing standing / seated intervals on the spin bike because that type of bike can handle my weight better than my bike on the trainer. The first few days were discomforting, but I am kind of starting to like it now.

    I suppose I am in that "train your weaknesses and race your strengths" even though I don't race.
     
  11. Piotr

    Piotr New Member

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    Spoken like a true PC'er. :) Yeah, eventually it will hurt less, but the question remains, will you go faster and for how long? Efficient cyclist does more work with less muscle. More work with more muscle works, but it's not efficient and never will be. Call me bold, but instead of drugs Pantani could have chosen to just sit down. :)
     
  12. Felt_Rider

    Felt_Rider Active Member

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    But sometimes I just need a attitude adjustment.:)

    I find that I excel at things I like to do, but need to work on the things I do not like to do. Perhaps it is more sports psychology (gotta get your mind right) than sports science. :)

    Actually I am poor at climbing either way so I guess I should just shut up. :)
     
  13. mitosis

    mitosis New Member

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    Power meter will only tell you your power output. Won't tell you how much you are energy you are expending getting it to the pedals. So won't give you any useful feedback about the most efficient position.

    Most strong climbers alternate between sitting and standing because it doesn't come down to just expended energy but to recovery of muscles. Alternating allows you to reach high levels of lacate in muscles used when sitting then allow them to recover (to some extent) when you stand and vice versa.
     
  14. Piotr

    Piotr New Member

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    Experience tells me that the only muscle that recovers while standing on the pedals is the taint muscle. :)
     
  15. frenchyge

    frenchyge New Member

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    By testing over a set time period you can effectively translate the power numbers into energy. If you can sustain more power in one position or another, then you can make some informed decisions about which works best for your body without having to measure the body's efficiency directly.

    IOW, if you're climbing faster for longer, it doesn't really matter why (ie, what your efficiency/economy is at the time).
     
  16. swampy1970

    swampy1970 Well-Known Member

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    I think a lot of it is dictated by how you train. It's more natural to sit, so more people do. I've seen lots of people stubbornly sit and grind a gear out whilst looking like they're about to rip the bars off the front end of the bike. That's a true WTF moment. Get out of the saddle lad!

    Armstrong sat most of the time (1999-2005) unless he was attacking and all of his big attacks were big gear, out of the saddle efforts. Same with Pantani, same with Herrera, Dopage Virenque. Even Hinault rode out of the saddle lots when attacking... but while we like to look at these guys and try to emulate their style I believe it's not really applicable as they have to go race for 20something days on end - we should be looking more at what the good Classics riders do as those one day events typically offer a similar profile albeit with a much longer length.

    I still remember the first 1st Cat only race that I ever did in the hills. It was like I was being mentally and physically f#$ked over. You're not supposed to be going up 10%+ hills in 42x18 and 19... It wasn't so much of a wake up call, it was more like having your home broken into and woken up with a couple of guys beating you with lead pipes... There was no way possible that I could generate that kinda power sat down and to be honest I'm kinda glad that I didn't have a powermeter on the bars back then. I think my brain would have rebooted...
     
  17. mitosis

    mitosis New Member

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    If you want to get an immediate feedback on level of exertion on a bike you should be using a heart rate monitor. Seems like too many cycle coaches have forgotton these in favour of power meters. HRM's are still the most reliable way to measure overall exertion.
     
  18. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

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    Righhhhhht, like "immediate feedback" for the intensity of a sprint or the first five minutes of a time trial when your HR is still playing catchup to your efforts.

    Been there, done that for nearly 2 decades, no thanks....
    That's simply not true and there's lot's of data to demonstrate the ways that HR can be a very misleading measure of exertion.

    -Dave
     
  19. hod65

    hod65 New Member

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    its dosnt do any harm to use both technices. the more standing you do when climbing obviously you will get stronger and better at it rather than sitting all the time ,i found i got much stronger at it fairly quickly actualy even on short climbs you may not have to change geer if you have built up good strenght standing ,and allso it gives your backside a bit of a break out of saddle on long runs...
     
  20. longfemur

    longfemur New Member

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    Like I've said before, if it's a long climb and you don't want to end up walking, use whatever gear is appropriate to allow you to stay seated. Sit farther back on the saddle and grab your drop bars on the tops or the hoods. Tops is good for better breathing. Hoods is good too. If you need some muscle relief as you go up, drop down a gear or too (to a harder gear) and stand for a while.

    For short climbs, stand and dance all the way up with your hands on the hoods. You can even do it in the drops if your handlebars are higher. You will go up much faster, but you will tire more quickly too.

    It's more efficient to stay seated in terms of endurance. It's more efficient to stand in terms of speed (but more short-lived).
     
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