Climbing out-the-saddle vs in-the-saddle: pros and cons of each approach

Are there advantages to climbing out of the saddle or is it better to stay seated?

Male cyclist riding out the saddle
(Image credit: Future)

Have you ever noticed that some riders seem glued to the saddle while others seem to be endlessly dancing on the pedals? Are there advantages to climbing out of the saddle? Or is it better to keep your bum planted?

If you’re looking to improve your climbing - whether it’s to snatch yourself a Strava KOM, improve your time up a prominent local climb, such as Box Hill, or as part of a general cycling training plan to improve your average speed of your rides -  you might be wondering if there’s anything you can do to optimise your riding technique.

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James Spragg

James Spragg is a sports scientist and coach, working both in research and applied settings. When not working with athletes James can be found skiing, climbing, cycling or drinking coffee!

Alongside Dan Lorang and Peter Leo, James runs Intercept Performance Consultancy. Over the last 8 years in various roles, as coaches, performance consultants, performance managers, and sports scientists, Dan, James and Peter have played a role in helping athletes achieve more than 10 World Championship titles, several Olympics medals (including a Gold and Silver Medal in Tokyo 2020) and several Top 5 results in some of the biggest sporting events on the planet (Tour de France, Olympics, World and European Championships). Our single focus is on improving performance in all settings.