Today’s question is about the proper time to stand when riding your bike…


I spent the winter months doing spinning classes, where 30 minutes of a 50 minute class is spent in standing position. Now I’m outdoors on my road bike (3-4 times per week) and mountain bike (one time per week). When do I stand? Is it only when necessary or should I be planning it out for certain spots? At present, I tend to stand only at steep, short parts of hills (often near the top) and sometimes on the flat to relieve my butt. I have yet to do much group riding this year to see what strategy works there. Some advice, please.

Planned Stan

Hi Stan,

It sounds like you’re pretty much on target right now!

Don’t be fooled by your experience this past winter. Real riding is nothing like most spinning classes; in real life, you’ll spend the vast majority of your time seated. It’s different for everyone, but even the real skinny climbers that stand a lot, still spend most of their time seated.

Seated vs Standing

Basically, riding seated uses less energy, which is good for saving energy to finish a race strong, but not so good when a spinning instructor wants you to burn tons of calories. That’s why there’s such a big difference between the sitting vs standing times when you compare the two.

If you want to really compare the two, check out the “Keep It Real” ebook about spinning classes. In it, Jennifer Sage discusses how most spinning classes don’t actually help your real-life cycling.

When to Stand on a Road Bike

Anyways, about good times to stand:

Short, steep hill climbs are a good place to stand. You’re better off just powering over them and being done with them quickly.

Along with the short hill climbs, the other popular place to stand when on the road is right out of corners, since it helps you get back up to speed faster.

Other than that, you’re usually standing when you want to stretch out your legs and use your muscles a little differently to prevent fatigue. And to relieve pain in your butt from staying seated! 🙂

When to Stand on a Mountain Bike

When mountain biking, standing is usually done in order to navigate obstacles. In those situations, you usually know when you need to stand. For example, you won’t be hopping many logs while staying seated!

But if you’re on fire roads or mild trails, be sure to stand every so often to stretch your legs, just like on the road.

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