So which technique is best, and can that question even be answered?
I know a few cyclists (in fact it is probably the majority of cyclists I know) who struggle with riding out of the saddle. Now this may be because it just does not feel right or could be that he/she once read that seated riding is more efficient or it is even quite possible that, as late-comer to cycling, they feel "out of control" and unbalanced when riding out of the saddle.
If you find standing technique unsafe and/or unstable, you should consider spending some time with a good technical skills coach who will be able to give some guidance about balance and connection with your bike. Countering bike movement with a fluid (counter-active) body motion is the key here and takes a little time to master.
For others, it is more a matter of being mechanically efficient, whether you are in the saddle or out. We have all been told at some point about "pedalling in circles", that magic trick where you are able to apply significant drive force to the pedals at all points of the circle. Most cyclists understand (at least the theory anyway) this and can apply elements of when seated on the bike. But once standing they usually default to a stomping motion that all but completely destroys any notion of a through or up-stroke. These riders will feel more efficient in the saddle and fatigue quickly when they stand.
When next out riding, watch the rider in front, especially when they stand up. Do they "bob noticeably up and down, or worse still, seem to almost lunge from pedal to pedal? The key to efficient standing technique (just as it is whilst riding in the saddle) to to improve pedal smoothness (pedal in circles). Focus more on the up and through stroke when standing, come smoothly "over the top" and try to de-emphasise the downstroke. Here is a little drill: head out to your local climb, ride it in a bigger gear than you otherwise would. REALLY focus on the upstroke (almost pulling your knee to your chest) and come smoothly over the top. Try to keep your hips from bobbing excessively up and down. With the rise in popularity of power meters, we have been able to measure pedal smoothness improvements in standing technique and many of our riders have become quite good at riding out of the saddle.
If you are a rider that usually notices an increase in Heart Rate (for the same climbing speed / power output), chances are, you are less efficient. Improving your standing technique will give you more options and variation as a rider and maybe just improve your performance.
Please feel free to contact us at Bubba's Bikelab if you have any questions about this or any other cycling matter.
Without quality rest, you are going nowhere....FAST
Most riders these days understand the importance of recovery. Many will obsess about utilising their "30 minute windows", tuck into protein shakes and injest pre-weighed portions of carbohydrates. Most have read the script and rely on this post-ride ritual to ensure they will be able to rip out some more Strava PRs again tomorrow. Whilst post-exertion re-fueling is important, there is a LOT more to recovery than protein and pasta.
When a cyclist trains, each ride creates some stress (in most cases this is good stress) in the body. When repeated, the stress stimulates adaptation within the bodies physiology producing biochemical, hormonal and even anatomical changes. These adaptations are felt as increased fitness; speed, power, endurance etc are improved in accordance with the type of riding performed. Sounds great (and fairly simple) doesn't it? Well (as always) there is a catch; ALL cyclists require periods of relative rest (lower to MUCH lower training loads) in order for this adaptation to occur. If stress continues for too long (without planned rest periods), the adaptaive process is significantly impaired and the rider will start to go backwards....bingo.....over-trained. The strange-sounding paradox is that "your body gets fitter / stronger / faster, WHILST YOU ARE RESTING and NOT whilst training". Of course the training has to be performed first and training HARD is critical.
The key to to know the optimum ratio of work to rest and then build a training structure around this knowledge. Riding experience, age, gender and physiological profile, are all part of this complex story. A good coach or some smart research will be worth the money/time investment and almost certainly save every rider many hours of wasted effort. Do yourself a favour and get tested, or at least discuss these things with a coach. You will save many hours, almost certainly some $$ and start to see some results that will NEVER come with repeatedly beating yourself up.
Building endurance fitness takes time, effort and patience. There is no doubt in my mind that rest is the missing element for most amatuer riders. Getting the correct ratio of training load / duration / rest is priority one, without it, you are heading around in circles.
If you would like some more information regarding this or any other coaching topics, please contact us at Bubba's Bikelab
Brian Bubba Cooke
Exercise Physiologist, coach & cycling tragic for 30 years. Love the freedom, reward and sense of achievement that one can only experience in our amazing sport.