Climbing out of the saddle is an important skill to master on the bike. While it seems easy, I see athletes make these common mistakes that cause unnecessary fatigue and will also slow you down!
Here are my Top 2 “Don’ts” when riding out of the saddle on your bike:
- Holding the Bike Static. Often athletes are rigid when they come out of the saddle on the bike. This is a mistake. No movement loads the quads and shuts down the gluteals. This creates a huge load on the quads because the tension is too great through the bottom of the pedal stroke. The gluteals should be the initiator of the force on the pedal stroke. If proper technique is applied, the gluteals take up the load and to a lesser extent the quads. Quad fatigue is heightened if there is a running like action on the pedals.
- Too Much Pressure on the Hands. If you do have the forward running style when you are out of the saddle then there is also too much pressure on your hands. With a shift slightly forward the added pressure on your hands is also heightened. Palm pressure not only radiates through the shoulders and upper back but increases the tendency to oversteer the front end. With less pressure the bike will flow!
Now here’s the fix:
Practice on a Flat Surface. Coast on your bike and come out of the saddle while pushing your bike with the heel of your hand so the tip of the saddle presses into the direct bullseye of your butt. Hold it there and notice that the bike can “wag” about 30 degrees to the opposite side. For example, the right glute feels the saddle tip and bike swings to the left.
Pedal a few revolutions and try the other side. The purpose is to begin to sense the bike shifting left and right at 5 o’clock position in each pedal stroke. This allows your gluteals to initiate the force at 3 o’clock and off load at 5 o’clock
Try soft, smooth and not leg pressing strokes. Sit back so the tip of the saddle is just below your inner thigh. If you are ahead of your saddle with your hips this loads the hands and causes you to steer the bike.
Here is the practice sequence to try during your rides:
- Stand up smoothly at 3 o’clock and keep your weight back
- Keep your hands light like typing on your keyboard
- At the 5 o’clock pedal stroke position push lightly on the inside heel of your right hand and allow the bike to wag to the left.
- At bottom dead center or 6 o’clock position begin to shift weight to the center and repeat to the other side.
- Practice with a bigger gear on the flats and make sure the RPM’s on the hill are not too fast – causing you to run on the pedals.
- Keep your back held at a 45 degree angle so there is light flexion in your elbows and your head and neck are in a neutral position.
- As you get more confident, try to shift your hips to the opposite side (just keep shifting one way so the right hip is on the left side of your saddle.) I teach this skill to enhance the exaggeration of the bike wag and hip shift.