How to Learn to Pedal Standing Up?

Hi everyone, yesterday I finished the 6 wk beginner FTP Builder. I was thrilled to have made it through and think that for me one of the best things about the program was being able to trust the program to not give me more than I could do. So when a segment was difficult, I thought, well, if they’re giving it to me, I must be ready for it. The strange thing though was the part, which popped up for the first time in yesterday’s workout: the super chatty format and riding out of the saddle. Where did that come from all of a sudden? I was terrible at it. I am (how shall I put it?) somewhat heavy for my power-output-ability.

I am newish to cycling and would love to hear some concrete tips on how to learn to pedal out of the saddle. The drill yesterday was 1 minute at 105W/65rpm seated, 1 minute at 105W/65rpm standing, and then I think the last one was 105W/90rpm seated. How do I not have my (significant) body weight not cause me to be stomping on the pedals. I’m not sure what cadence I ended up with, but the whole thing was super uncomfortable and jerky. I was glad to be alone because it was truly not a pretty sight. I love the idea that someday I might be able to “dance on the pedals”, but I need some doable beginner practice drills to get there from here. When I tried to shift into a harder gear to give myself more resistance in the hope of evening out the pedal stroke that way, my wattage output increased too much and the trainer automatically lowered the resistance. In order to make it through, I compromised by riding sitting up…

My guess is that I will have to learn to do this if I want to get beyond the beginner workouts and training programs… And besides, it looks so cool and graceful when done correctly… I’ve tried looking for videos, but none of them address how to learn or practice if you can’t do it at all. Thanks for any thoughts you all might have!

Look on YouTube. Global Cycling Network (GCN) has some videos that would help.

1 Like

As Paul said try you tube, the GCN video has good tips. I would also practice in a free ride rather than a workout because then you can just get comfortable with it without worrying about cadence or power output. In the free ride you control the resistance with your gears rather than the trainer adjusting to hit the required power output (assuming you have a smart trainer) which should make it easier to find a good resistance for standing. I generally go up 2 gears as I stand and my cadence drops from around 80 to around 60.

2 Likes

Hi Beth, I am an outdoor rider and don’t stand on a trainer. People who do are easy to spot in a group. There is a natural movement to the bike and rider that can’t be emulated by a bike fixed in an upright position and it is not something I want to mess up.

I encourage you to learn to stand outside. I think GCN has made videos on this topic and explain it much better than I ever could.

2 Likes

There are three main reasons to get out of the saddle.

  1. To exert more force through pedals in order to produce more power (sprinting, hill attack, getting over a steep ramp).
  2. To get some releif from sitting on the saddle and engage different muscles.
  3. To add some flair to your riding style!!

When riding IRL and out of the saddle the bike will sway side to side, see videos of Alberto Contador as an example. Obviously with a fixed trainer this is not possible. So you will need to adapt your style to more of an up and down motion.

It is still useful to practice out of the sadlde indoors as it will then not feel as strange when used outside.

Things to remember:

  • Change to a couple of gears harder when standing as this will account for the additional torque you can put through the pedals (keep same gear if transistioning from flat to a short steep ramp).
  • Hold the hoods of your shifters to make your grip as wide as possible. This will help with stability as you change your centre of gravity.
  • Engage your core. Losing the anchor of the saddle means your core will need to work harder during the pedal strokes. Some off bike core work is also useful.
  • Increase your arm and shoulder strength as your body weight will now shift forwards.

Like all things cycling (and any sport) it is all down to practice. Don’t be afraid to do it because it is a useful tool to have.

2 Likes

Thanks @Paul_Gallenstein and @David_Stark! I will have another look at the GCN videos and will try again in a free ride now that I am between training programs for a few days.

Thanks @_MissT and @Martyn_Kimberley_COP! I will enlist the help of my husband who rides outside most of the time and see whether we can fine a safe place outside for me to practice (We are in Houston and although he does it all the time, I am not going to ride on the street.) I’ll keep in mind the “things to remember” - that’s a helpful list!
Do you all think I want to try like three or four pedal strokes and sit, then three or four more until I have it? I need small bite-sized steps especially if I am outside because I am a bit of a klutz and have fallen over many times, so one part of my brain is usually worrying about getting out of the clipless pedal quickly if I have to. Practicing on hills would be super scary. But if I’m ever going to ride with my husband IRL, I have to learn how to do this!

A half dozen pedal strokes is a good amount. Anything less and you are kind of sitting down immediately. It feels much more natural on an incline too so best to practice there.
A really good thing to do is combine it with a little hill interval session. Find a hill that you can go up in a couple of minutes and do repeats up and down. You can vary your out of the saddle times and get some downhill practice for free!!

1 Like

Beth,

Martyn has good points above if you are talking about riding IRL and learning to stand on the pedals. The difference is in Zwift you would increase a gear or two to provide more resistance to “simulate” a hill (when on flat terrain). If you do this in a flat parking lot in real life then you may start going faster than you are comfortable with or the pedaling may be more difficult than necessary.

On the street, you’ll need to focus on your balance (at first) rather than your fear of falling over. If possible, I recommend changing your pedals temporarily to standard bicycle pedals with no strap or clip-in capability until you feel comfortable standing while pedaling. It takes a minute to become proficient with them, especially in real terrain or traffic.

Stay off the street if you don’t feel comfortable…especially in Houston! Speedy drivers there!!

Cheers :+1:

2 Likes

I usually go up three cogs or shift from the small ring to the big ring in the front. A good cadence is 55-60rpm. The other key as you’re learning to stand pedaling is: DO. NOT. COAST. when you sit back down. You want to keep pedaling as you transition back to the saddle and shift back to the gear you were using when sitting. Typically you can generate more raw power standing (it’s less efficient and that’s why you can’t stand for really long stretches) and if you coast at all, you lose that burst of powa you just got from standing.

To break that habit, I had to ride a fixed gear bike on the road for years; there’s no coasting on a fixie…

1 Like

Thanks again everyone! I just tried all of the tips on the trainer and am super excited about how well that worked! I might even see about going out this weekend and trying it outside. I had to go up several gears to make it work, but once I had it hard enough to counteract my weight it went really well and I put out (for 5 whole seconds apparently) more watts than ever before! How handy is that?! :partying_face:

2 Likes