Cycling standing up can be great fun. But what benefits does it carry? This post will give you a primer on benefits of riding your bike while standing on the pedals.
Cycling is a great sport both for recreational and competitive purposes. And just like any other sport, it comes with its own unique features that must be well understood before one can get started on it. What's more is the fact that to enjoy cycling and avoid crashing one too many times, you have to have a little mastery. One of such areas that require mastery for enjoyment in cycling, is pedalling.
In order to cycle well, you’re expected to be well balanced on the seat and pedal at a consistent cadence. But, that’s not where it ends. Standing whilst pedaling can feel like an entirely different activity, and like taking part in another activity, in comes with its own benefits. To some, pedaling whilst standing can be quite difficult, but don’t let that get in the way of you enjoying a whole new experience in your cycle journey.
If pedaling standing up is something you don’t do at the moment, this is a good day to start – even if it’s for just a few minutes at a time.
Here are 10 reasons why you should cycle standing up (in no particular order):
Aids Blood Flow to Your Lower Region
Have you ever maintained a static posture for long while? Think back to a time you sat or stood in a single spot for a long time. What happened to your legs afterwards? You may have felt an uncomfortable pull on your leg muscles, as though your legs were refusing to work. Sometimes this sensation is barely anything to your legs, and at times the pain is unbearable. (That’s the human body for you.)
Basically, we’re designed for mobility – we’re not expected to maintain a single posture for very long periods of time. Think about it, even when you sleep you unconsciously switch sides. In the same vein, when you’re cycling, it is advised that you switch from cycling while sitting, to cycling standing up. This ensures that your legs and lower region receive as much blood flow as possible.
When seated, the process of blood circulation, to and from the lower region, is greatly reduced. Hence, switch from sitting to standing once in a while so that your lower torso can take part in the blood circulation process. (And if you sit at desk a lot during the day…take regular brief breaks to stand up and walk around.)
Builds Endurance and Strength
A handful of cyclists find cycling while standing is uncomfortable and unsustainable for any significant period of time – this is particularly true among beginners and casual cyclists. So, if you want to increase the strength of your legs, and overall endurance while cycling, then you should consider standing while cycling.
Don’t complete a cycle ride without taking a few opportunities to ride your bike standing up. While there may be an initial discomfort, your legs will eventually adapt and you’ll be better for it. After all, there’s no gain without pain. (But you know, in moderation. Please don’t hurt yourself!)
Relaxes Your Knees
Technically, cycling leaves your knees bent for a long period of time, and that places too much pressure on them. That is aside from the fact that it restricts blood flow across the knees. When you cycle standing up, you relieve the pressure off your knees, and that makes you feel a little more comfortable.
Please note that you’re not expected to cycle standing up the entire day! Just like your knees would feel pressured from maintaining the same sitting position for long, your legs would feel the same pressure from standing for long. Hence, switch often. You’ll know when to switch when your knees begin to feel uncomfortable.
Bumps on the road
Not all cycling routes are smooth. While you may expect stumps, bumps and dirt off-road, there’s the nightmare of potholes, bumps, debris and the likes on tarred roads. You definitely don’t want to ride over any of these while seated. Your best bet would be to ease into them cycling whilst standing to minimize the shock.
Also-just in case you’re wondering, the best way to curve into bends and sharp corners, is to cycle while almost-standing. This way, you’ll hardly lose speed and balance unlike when you’re seated. You don’t want to stand up straight; just lift yourself off the seat, while maintaining your posture, to improve your aerodynamics.
For someone who cycles recreationally, speed may not be all that important. But there is a thrill to accelerating that some just cannot deny. Be it recreational or cycling in a race, there’s a method to accelerating, and that’s rooted in standing while cycling.
Think about it: when pro cyclists begin a sprint, virtually all of them begin by cycling standing up on their pedals. This is because when you cycle while standing, you apply more pressure to the pedals which results in acceleration.
What’s more is that (assuming you’re technically sound!) you’re a lot more balanced standing up to allow better control of the accelerating bike.
You’re cycling and a car zooms out of nowhere heading straight for you, what do you do in that split second? Swerve out of the way sounds like the best option, but you won’t be able to pull that off easily whilst seated. But when you’re standing, you have more leverage, you’re able to apply more force to steering, and that means potential for a faster reaction. Making sharp turns and breaks are best achieved when cycling while standing.
Normally when cycling while sitting, your vision tends to be restricted to a few meters ahead of you. This is due to the fact that you’re crouching low and leaning forward. While this may seem as though you’re focused, you’re actually not getting the best view. To have a wider field of vision, stand while you cycle.
Of course, if you’re riding a comfort bike, you will have a better field of vision than if you’re on a road bike. But that increased field of vision could still increase slightly by standing, which would also allow you to better scope out your surroundings.
Relax Your Butt
Sitting for too long can be a literal pain in the butt (have you seen what seats look like on race bike??? Literal torture devices. I’m kidding, they’re made to be comfy and good on your back for long rides. But still, you know what I’m saying.).
Spice things up a little by switching from sitting to standing while you cycle. That way, the pressure can be taken off your butt, and your lovely backside can enjoy the breeze for a bit. In the same vein, your lower back and spine would receive some relieve when you switch sitting and standing on your bike.
Seeing as you apply more pressure to the pedals when you cycle while standing, it – overtime – strengthens and shapes your quads. Cycling while standing is a great option to consider for leg workouts.
Depending on the type of rider you are, there are two great ways to cycle up a hill – one is high cadence pedaling, and the other is standing on your pedals and grinding your way up (realistically, you’ll do a mix of both).
My personal preference to ride standing up for the most part, this ensures that I can apply more pressure from my legs to the pedals, and pull harder on the handlebars to generate more force, to push the bike up the hill.
There are many reasons to cycling while standing up, but it all boils down to you. Standing at intervals will help you enjoy your cycling a lot more than maintaining a single posture for long.
And it’s certainly worth mentioning that there is actually a proper technique to riding while standing, and while you may not be an instant pro in cycling while standing up, it’s worth the exercise.
Also. It just looks really cool.