Seated vs. Standing Specific Cardio

I realized the other day that there were very specific differences in how your body creates the pedaling motion in the seated versus standing positions. In fact, I think that we have been missing out on a big component of mountain bike specific cardio training by not better understanding the impact those differences have.

While I will be writing an article on this in the near future I got some of my thoughts down on this podcast so you can start to take advantage of this new way to look at designing your cardio program.


You can visit http://mtbstrengthcoach.podbean.com/ to find the downloadable MP3 file or if this player is not working.

-James Wilson-

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  1. Jade Jenny says:

    Couple of thoughts here. I’ve been mixing up my intervals between and seated and standing. I definitely notice a difference in the muscles I hit, but in general the standing intervals are considerably harder. According to the bike a produce on average 125 more watts when standing, this means more power being exerted (I think), which would mean your nervous system is working harder. Is that correct? Also with the standing and pedaling your also having to support your body weight which makes the whole thing considerably harder. So in regards to riding in general I would say people like to stay seated because it is considerably easier for those reasons. Now a question for James. If I am doing my intervals standing, should I be standing and pedaling during my active rest time, or is it okay to be seated during that time?

    Reply • February 17 at 1:55 pm
  2. bikejames says:

    You can produce far more power with full hip extension than you can with partial which is the primary reason you are stronger standing up. You are also using more muscles to support your bodyweight which would mean that your nervous system is working harder.

    I think that people just spend so much time seated that they avoid the standing position because they are not used to it. And it is more efficient so during long rides you certainly need to sit a lot, you just need to be able to endure while standing as well since you can avoid it on the trail.

    As for your question, I would say that being seated during your rest is fine. You want to be able to give max effort in the standing position and sitting down will help you recover better and be able to go harder.

    James Wilson

    Reply • February 17 at 2:16 pm
  3. t-bone says:

    very good observation. I can say I agree with you in what you said in your podcast. Thanks for the info.

    Reply • February 21 at 6:55 am
  4. bikejames says:


    I’m glad I can help you guys out. I’m just trying to look at the specific demands of each facet of mountain biking and ways to design programs around those demands. Stuff like this may not seem to matter too much on the surface but I think that it will make a huge impact.

    James Wilson

    Reply • February 21 at 9:34 am

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