Standing vs. Seated Pedaling Posture

To be a good overall mountain biker you have to be strong with both seated and standing pedaling efforts. However, each type of pedaling requires a different posture and pedaling technique. In fact, if you try to apply the wrong type of posture and technique to your efforts you’ll struggle to have the most powerful pedal stroke possible.

More specifically, most riders that I talk with say that their weakest area is standing pedaling – they can not stand up and hammer for very long before they have to sit down. The main reason for this is that the way they hold themselves and power the pedal stroke when standing is robbing them of power and making it harder to stay in position. By improving your posture you can instantly add power and be able to stand up and pedal longer. This is extremely important if you race DH of 4X since you spend your whole race standing up.

In this video I go over the 3 fundamental differences between seated and standing pedaling and how you can use this knowledge to get yourself into a better position to create a powerful, efficient pedal stroke. I also touch on how this knowledge can help you shape your training program to more effectively address your weak link. Apply these tips next time you are out on the bike and see how much of a difference improving your posture on the bike can make.

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  1. Flatlander says:

    Big thumbs up on the audio upgrade! Some lighting is your next step… Finally a logo/title screen and some on-trail VoiceOver clips will set these clips free!

    Reply • October 25 at 8:45 am
  2. Wade says:

    I’ve been trying to stand and pedal more but seem to have a couple of issues.

    First, it seems that I use a higher gear to slow my cadence down. (I get winded quickly if I try to use a fast cadence standing.) Correct or incorrect?

    Second, I feel like I use my body weight to push the pedal down. It seems if I was “sprinting” I would not be putting my weight into it as much? Seems like a stair machine would be an interesting workout…

    If your glutes are the biggest muscle in the body, why do I seem to get tired so fast standing or is that because of the way I’m doing it.

    (Seems like I have more chain stretch when I’ve been standing but that one could be debatable.)


    Reply • October 25 at 6:25 pm
    • bikejames says:

      Yes, you have to push a harder gear and get some tension on the pedals when standing up. While you want to drive your foot down into the pedals, using your bodyweight some isn’t totally bad. I have wide bars so I can leverage them and get my body behind my pedal stroke when I’m tired. Endurance is skill specific and standing up is a skill that has to be trained – just keep at it and you’ll get better fast.

      Reply • October 26 at 7:04 am
  3. Ole says:

    In your video you seem quite upright when you pedal standing up and therefore you can thrust as you would in a swing at the end of the motion. I like to have my bars a great deal lower then you and when I stand up I have to bend at the hips in order to reach down to the bars, or I would have to lean forward a lot and then my weight would be on my hands and not over the pedals. Its hard to be able to thrust then, since that would force my forward.
    Any advice on how to work from the hips when in a more racy position? Should I focus on using the glutes? Should I lean forward and have weight on my hands?
    When I look at roadies climbing they seem to have some weight on the barts I guess..

    PLease advice sir 🙂


    Reply • October 30 at 9:26 am
    • bikejames says:

      You have to put some weight on the bars when you stand up to climb, there is no way to get into the right position and not lean into bars. You also want to crank on the bars to help you gain leverage in the standing position – it isn’t a contest to see who can retain the “purest” pedal stroke. You want your hips over the nose of your seat, if not a little in front of it. If you keep your hips to far back it won’t work.

      Reply • October 31 at 11:55 am
  4. Ole says:

    Right.. Thanks, Ill try that on my way to work tomorrow.

    Reply • October 31 at 1:12 pm
  5. Kevin says:

    what do you mean by “crank on the bars”?

    Reply • April 25 at 2:42 pm
    • bikejames bikejames says:

      Pulling up and pushing down on the bars as you pedal…

      Reply • April 26 at 7:06 am

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