How To Climb Out Of The Saddle


– A la danser, they call it in French. Dancing on the pedals. Some people just make it
look so smooth and so elegant and yet some people dread it. Mostly because they find it pretty hard. Well, I think riding out of the saddle is 90% technique and only 50% effort. So, here is a guide on how
to ride out of the saddle as smoothly as a gazelle. (relaxing music) Let’s start from the beginning, why ride out of the saddle anyway? Mainly, it’s to generate more torque by adding body weight to the
force you exert on the pedals. That means you can generate more power for short durations at least. Not only does your body weight help move the pedals when you stand, you also recruit more muscles
in your arms and back, which contribute to the
force you can exert. That’s why riding out
of the saddle is helpful when the going gets steep. To generate more power for a short time, to get you over that steep section. It’s also why riders often get
out of the saddle to attack or to sprint in races. But in this video, I’m just gonna talk about climbing. Frankly, I think my
attacking days are over and I have never been
able to sprint at all. Another reason to ride out of the saddle is that many people find
it gives a bit of relief to their back and bum. Just standing up for short periods. Now, I used to hate long, flat races. Not just because I was rubbish at them, but also just because I found it really painful
to stay sitting down for hours and hours. (relaxing music) So, if riding out of the
saddle is more powerful, why not do it all the time? Well, because it’s harder work, because you’re supporting
your own body weight and you’re using more muscles. So, a lot of people find that their heart rate is actually higher when they’re riding out of the saddle. Therefore, use this technique judiciously, especially if you’re one of those people that finds it very tiring. You could for example, do just short bursts of 30
to 60 seconds on a long climb to relieve your back and do bear in mind, that it’s very hard to eat and drink while riding out of the saddle. So, if you do it for the whole time, you’ll probably end up
dehydrated and a bit hungry. (relaxing music) You should choose your moment to stand based on the gradient
and the road surface. Now, standing to ride, is most useful when you need most torque, IE, when the road is steep. But if the road surface is slippery, for example, wet and greasy or mossy, or there’s a load of loose gravel. Well, avoid that moment because as your weight
shifts forward to stand, you’ll momentarily have
a bit less traction under the rear tire. So, there’s a slightly higher
chance of slipping out. (relaxing music) If you’re out riding with a group, be aware of the people
around you before you stand. Now, it goes without saying, but if someone’s right next to you, you don’t want to veer sideways
into them when you stand up. Similarly, don’t suddenly
put out so much power that you ride into the back wheel of the person in front of you. And critically, because this happens a lot and some people don’t
even realize they do it. When you stand up, try to avoid kicking
the bike back like that. So, when you do stand, try to put down one harder pedal stroke to conserve the momentum
of your bike and body. (relaxing music) kickback is a problem in a group because it means you might
take out the front wheel of the rider behind you. So, before you start
standing in the group, practice on your own and a lot of groups like
it if you wave your hand behind your bum as a little
signal before you stand up. (relaxing music) It’s hard to hold a high
cadence standing, trust me. Although is can be a
fun training exercise. So, if you want to ride out of the saddle to relieve your back, but the road hasn’t got any steeper, you’ll want to change gears. For example, two sprockets
smaller at the back, so that you have a slightly harder gear when you stand up. A higher gear will also provide
a bit of extra resistance to prevent your feet from running away from you on the pedals. Now, if on the other hand, you’re standing up just to get you up a very viciously steep section of road, well, you won’t need to change gear, because your cadence will already be low and you’ll need all that extra torque just to keep turning the pedals. Also, it’s been said before, but I’ll say it again. Choose the right gears. Even standing won’t get you up the if you’ve opted for 42/23
as your smallest gear. You should try to hold your
weight as much as possible over the saddle. So, hold yourself backwards over the bike, rather than standing over the handlebars. This is because the more weight
you have over the back wheel the better traction you’ll have. So, it’s especially important if the road is wet and slippery or you’re on gravel. Now, I might not be the best
person to lecture about this because when I was racing, if I ever attacked on a steep, wet climb, my back wheel would always skid out. So, clearly I was doing it wrong. Ow. (relaxing music) Right, now onto what I
think is the key aspect of technique for riding out of the saddle. You should sway the bike and not swing your body. That’s because even if you don’t own an amazing light super bike, your bike will weigh less than you. I mean, maybe not if you’re touring with a lot of luggage, but apart from that, your bike will be lighter. It’s simply more efficient to move the bike than your body weight. (relaxing music) Practice it, keep your
body as still as possible when you’re out of the saddle and sway the bike. Just remember to try to keep
riding in a straight line. When I was racing, I would always do a bit of a slalom, which was also not very efficient. (relaxing music) Now, if you find riding out of the saddle really difficult and your
arms and shoulders get tired, and you find it hard to control your body weight swinging around, well, maybe you should consider
some core stability training because it’s really hard to
get away with a weak core when you’re riding out of the saddle. Switching a small amount
of time from your cycling to your core exercises
can lead to big gains. (relaxing music) As usual, practice makes perfect, so if riding out of the saddle
doesn’t come naturally to you well, make sure you practice regularly. Why not put in some blocks
of seating standing intervals on one of your weekly rides? (relaxing music) Hopefully this video will help you to tackle steep, long climbs
by riding alla danser, like a ballerina. Give us a thumbs up if you liked it and if you want to watch a video showing you specifically how
to train your core stability for climbing, click down here.


100 Responses

  1. Matheus Barbosa

    June 20, 2018 11:36 pm

    Super frustrating ride today. Friend dropped out early, shifting was way off, handlebars were loose and then I crashed and broke my new bar end cap and ripped my tape. Some days are not your day ):

  2. Pathfinder.Gregg

    June 21, 2018 12:19 am

    As someone who rode a bike as a kid, gave it up when I got a drivers license, and have only owned two bikes since (one beach bike and one mountain bike) and rarely rode either of those I find your tutorial videos very helpful. I find myself now owning a very e pensive touring bike and wanting a road bike for exercise. Thanks very much!

  3. Noah Mills

    June 21, 2018 12:32 am

    Love that Trek Emma! I ride out the saddle often. Couldn't agree with you more. I think body position fore and aft is under emphasized. Practicing riding out the saddle while not attacking or accelerating I've found to be particularly helpful as well.

  4. annette fournier

    June 21, 2018 1:03 am

    I don't understand why I have to sway at all. Is swaying the bike helping me put out more or easier power. I find I don't really sway. Is it less tiring to have the bike sway as opposed to no sway really in body or bike?

  5. Kevin Mills

    June 21, 2018 1:04 am

    Your bottle and frame colours don't match. You need to change the bike to match the water bottles!

  6. R6ex

    June 21, 2018 1:04 am

    Informative stuff! For me though, my legs give way faster than my core or arms when I'm out of the saddle; especially if it's immediately after following a bunch of riders who're faster than me on the flats. On my own, I'm fine coz I can pace myself out of the saddle for long periods of time.

  7. Barnaby Grant

    June 21, 2018 1:11 am

    I took some satisfaction from seeing Demare dropped and missing the time cut after this. I thought his weaving all over the road was what caused the congestion, which is where Cav got squeezed. Demare covered most of the road from left to right and back again in the last 100m!

  8. Steve DS

    June 21, 2018 1:33 am

    Great Video. One Question: Why do you need to sway the bike? What is the benefit of this? I find that when I am out of the saddle that my body stays relatively still. Cheers, keep up the good work!!

  9. MVProfits

    June 21, 2018 1:38 am

    My climbing out of the saddle or riding long & hard seated on the drops really improved while training these… inside during the winter! IDK why but that's where it drastically improved. Probably because we can focus on that and nothing else while doing it.

    A mistake I made a lot and still make sometimes is to sit back down while the climb is not over yet – that goes for short climbs obviously but I got that habit I had to overcome. Oh, and chain jumps are nasty while out of the saddle.

  10. John Carrington

    June 21, 2018 2:59 am

    I don't think you were climbing wrong on wet ascents, you are just so petite that no matter what you did there would not be enough weight over the rear wheel for the amount of torque you generated to keep it from slipping.

  11. Reid Wagner

    June 21, 2018 3:23 am

    Glad I'm not the only one who can't sprint or attack. I can do stints out of the saddle but it's just to look cool. Love your videos

  12. James Ginn

    June 21, 2018 3:40 am

    Great vid on a question I had put forward last week. But just wondering about the torque. Does it come predominantly from the leg muscles or from your body weight on the pedals ?

  13. Gone to Earth

    June 21, 2018 3:44 am

    Emma!! You're awesome! Really nice vid! Best part was your pedaling with a cadence of around a gazillion….ugh!

  14. Bob W

    June 21, 2018 3:55 am

    Is it my imagination or as Emma become the best presenter on GCN for technical riding…and by quite a wide margin?

  15. Matthew Lindauer

    June 21, 2018 5:06 am

    Is it unwise to change gears while riding out of the saddle? I actually really enjoy standing and pedaling, but have found that a standing gear change tends to have a pretty harsh transition. Assuming it’s better to sit back down and spin and then change, but was curious for a professional point of view. Thanks!

  16. Björn Hammar

    June 21, 2018 6:01 am

    I like how "to climb out of the saddle" can mean two things; the motion of going into a standing position on the bike, or riding uphill while out of he saddle.

  17. Evidence of a Fabulous Life-Shawshank

    June 21, 2018 6:45 am

    Good morning Emma, thank you for the video. I saw a video from a bike fitting guy some time ago that discussed the issue that many people blame their saddle for being uncomfortable, when actually they should stand up more (regularly) to allow blood flow and to stretch muscles out. I try to remember to do at least 25 pedal strokes out of the saddle every 15 minutes (mountain bike), especially when climbing. It really helps me and I often find that after gearing up two gears to stand, I can then only gear down one gear afterwards and sustain that for a period, before going back to my original gear, allowing me to climb faster. Using this technique has enabled me to regain many a lost wheel on a long, stony climbs. Ride on! Tim

  18. Taufik Abidin

    June 21, 2018 9:51 am

    tip no. 1. Be albert contador..I think the tip to be on your saddle is quite wrong for weight distribution is a bit wrong, I think it's more how to even out the weight. Putting your upper body weight more forward on the handlebars while maintaining your hips around the saddle is more true, otherwise you can fall off your but and or have your weight all distributed at that back wheel which in turn makes it harder to pedal

  19. rrobotman

    June 21, 2018 11:58 am

    Every video how to from Emma helps me improve just a little bit. Ever closer to some version of perfection! 😀💕

  20. Marty Wild

    June 21, 2018 12:03 pm

    I've never understood the 'rock the bike' when out of the saddle. What does it actually afford you? Ever since being a kid, I pulled on the opposite side of the bars when a foot went down if I was standing. So if I am doing a right foot downwards stroke, I pull up on my left hand. Me and the bike all staying level and feeling to me like I was extracting the most power possible. I have been trying to practice rocking the bike, but of course it just feels so unnatural. I am happy to listen to the Pros, would just like to understand the science behind it.

    Just searched up some track cyclists starting off from the blocks as it were, not seeing much rocking of the bike. Figured they would being great examples of out of the saddle efforts. Is there a difference between being on the flat and on a climb?

  21. Patrick Lindsay

    June 21, 2018 12:51 pm

    Another great video, Emma! You hit on all the reasons why my climbing is so poorly done, and what I need to do to improve it.

  22. Andre Wolff

    June 21, 2018 2:25 pm

    Well, I should be awesome out of the saddle. Bodyweight I have in abundance 😀
    Honestly now, nice video, kinda love Emma's videos!

  23. CONAN-FA18

    June 21, 2018 2:49 pm

    Very good explanation! Great technical content! Bravo, GCN! She is a keeper! Mad respect!

  24. Zed Atomic

    June 21, 2018 4:36 pm

    As expected – great video. One comment on swaying the bike. The purpose is to use the frame like a lever by swaying the frame/bike in the opposite direction away from the leg driving downwards. By doing this, you are effectively pulling the crank upwards adding more power – at least that's the theory I am familiar with…

  25. maryjanepierce

    June 21, 2018 5:05 pm

    Thanks, now I have some specific things to look for when I ride and some hints on things to try in training!

  26. An Doli

    June 21, 2018 5:27 pm

    She is so far more advanced than she gives herself credit for. Thank You for all the tips. Beautiful country to ride as well.

  27. Mohd Farid Abu Bakar

    June 22, 2018 7:40 am

    Emma said she always did it wrong when she was racing, but she still managed to won race? irony

  28. Diogo Almeida

    June 22, 2018 9:12 am

    Great video! Congrats.
    I've found that many newcomers to cycling have a really hard time riding out of the saddle specially those that come form gym spinning classes. I think it's because on the gym you cannot sway the bike when you stand and devolop a different technique. Sometimes with a lot of vertical movement of the body. When they try it on the road it just doesn't work. Any ideas on how to grasp with this?

  29. Eat your Vegetables

    June 22, 2018 5:42 pm

    Its hard to believe that people dont know how to ride out of the saddle. I was doing perfectly ever since i was a kid

  30. They Live We See

    June 22, 2018 7:49 pm

    I've seen people riding out of the saddle by moving their body up and down while their bike remains still LOL

  31. Cliff Voller

    June 22, 2018 8:44 pm

    Whatcha out you old duffers that Emma is developing a rather good presentation technique

  32. daisy180709

    June 23, 2018 1:50 am

    Contador had a crazy rhythm out the saddle , which basically went against all the rules , but still managed it for 20 mins at a time.

  33. laurelrunlaurelrun

    June 23, 2018 2:38 am

    got passed by a gazelle on my local climb today. looked effortless and he was f'n smashing it. a gazelle!

  34. Angular Square

    June 23, 2018 5:28 am

    Interesting. I tend to use it to get back up to speed after a junction. Also to get some blood back into the bum. Not really on hills as it's too energy expensive for me.

  35. EasternCompetition

    June 24, 2018 3:39 pm

    Wait,  what? 90% Technic, 50% effort… you are definitely and over achiever! #badass Emma

  36. Rigo Velasquez

    June 24, 2018 3:46 pm

    A woman showing how to ride out of the saddle that’s preposterous! GCN please stop this nonsense.

  37. Richard Stephenson

    June 26, 2018 12:10 am

    GCN has always been fantastic advice and fun, and the addition of Emma takes it up another notch. Let us know when you're coming to Colorado.

  38. Chawanat Nakasan

    June 27, 2018 3:45 am

    IMO, Emma and Matt are two of the best when it comes to the calm, technical, and efficient demeanor, very suitable for tutorials.

    I wish GCN could produce more videos, especially for near-absolute beginners who just got out of the "red phase" (safety) and jumped into the "I want to ride now but I'm not sure what to do" phase.

  39. loopie007

    June 29, 2018 4:22 am

    Emma really hits it home for me at 6:45. When I am climbing, I often stand up for a short interval to practice my technique. I used to hate standing. (I'm too big) But after doing some short and not to difficult intervals, I became much more comfortable and now I stand all the time, even if it's just to show I can do it. The more I practice, the easier it gets. Give it about six rides or two weeks. I try to think about the pace I climb stairs and try to match that pace and effort. Then it feels like climbing stairs!

  40. Dulcineigha

    July 2, 2018 6:47 pm

    Thanks to you, Emma, I am now beating my boyfriend up hills on a consistent basis. Oh it feels SOOOO GOOD!!!

  41. baris bolat

    July 18, 2018 1:45 pm

    I think u guys can afford an electric motorcycle for video shooting purposes, so we don’t need to hear the engine over the presenter.

  42. Armynyus

    August 24, 2018 7:11 pm

    Funny: Wifey delivered bike to my office yesterday, all parts, except one: Seatpost… => Just rode nearly 50km without a saddle – and now youtube suggests this (great) video, spooky….
    Btw: It did actually work very well, was afraid that after 10km or so some body part would quit, but no, legs kept going very well, only problem maybe the hands, they got a bit stiff with all the weight on flat and downhill sections. And yes, on the flat sections I was significantly slower – but only because you just can't have the same cadence, so I was basically missing gears. But on the hilly part I noticed that I could comfortably do 2 cogs higher than usual – which I found very interesting. Maybe I do it again, just for fun but in any case I try to ride out of the saddle far more often, seems to help with the legs recovery.

  43. Vikings are better

    October 9, 2018 3:07 am

    Honestly people who need a guide to this probably shouldn't be riding around in traffic on a bike to start with….

  44. Jean Franco Cammardella

    November 19, 2018 2:48 pm

    Riding out of the saddle on a uphill is extremely hard to me, i feel a curious pain on my muscles and i'm not sure if i should ignore it and resist the pain or not.

  45. Antonio Santos

    November 27, 2018 4:32 pm

    Hi I got into road cycling just early this year (2018) and I must say I love climbing and this includes the suffering but since then I always have a hard time climbing out of the saddle, it feels very unnatural to me and is like I'm just wasting juice for nothing. Whenever I'm pedaling out of the saddle, it feels like the crank arm is short especially when I reach the 6 o'clock position (I'm using 170s crank arm length). I am 167cm or 5'6"; any chance that I should have been using a longer crank?

  46. Edene Beserra

    December 23, 2018 4:26 pm

    Hello friends of GCN. My name is Edene, I'm from Brazil and am an amandor cyclist. I like the channel a lot, I see all the videos I can. I enjoy your games and the teachings. I'd like to know how to get a GCN uniform. Thank you

  47. Paul Williams

    January 15, 2019 4:10 pm

    Should you ever ride out of the saddle on a trainer given the advice about swaying the bike. I must admit I feel completely awkward when "dancing on the pedals'…….

  48. Obriquet

    March 23, 2019 8:57 am

    Even standing won't get you up the what? I even turned on captions to try and get the name of it but its not there!

  49. Thomas Fero

    April 12, 2019 9:03 am

    Which is the right position of the center of the body during pedal out of the saddle? Near the saddle, in the middle or in the front near the bar?

  50. Dean Cooper

    May 12, 2019 5:02 pm

    emma is a pint size like me ,, in my younger days i did dance on my pedals,,but the saddle is taking a bum check nowadays

  51. Greg Oxenham

    August 15, 2019 10:23 pm

    Oh Emma we really miss you. You are an inspiration. Surely Switzerland has less attraction than the GCN Office in Bristol

  52. Paul PcP

    October 2, 2019 10:02 pm

    If there needs to be a video of how to ride out of the saddle, you shouldn’t really be on a bike 😂


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