Lower RPE when standing? What’s wrong with me?

I experience a lower RPE on any interval, sweet spot or above, when standing vice seated. What’s wrong with me???

(I looked around to find this topic and didn’t see it, but please include a link if I missed it)

From what I can see, it seems like I experience the opposite of what others feel when conducting intervals while standing. For most, it seems that RPE goes up when standing. Quite the opposite for me, I will often use a couple minutes of standing to reduce the RPE in the middle of an interval. From what I can see, my heart rate stays pretty consistent, and I don’t notice significant extra fatigue. However, if I feel myself getting close to giving up, I will shift up and stand for the remainder of the interval.

For reference, I’m 5’6” and 143 lbs. I would say I’m pretty strong pound for pound. I lift 2-3 times a week and enjoy heavier sets at 6-8 reps. My current ftp is only 230, and I’ve only spent two months on TR. I have trained indoors in the past but made up my own plan which was roughly polarized.

A few questions:

  1. Am I weird or do others prefer standing too?
  2. Is this bad? I can hear coach Jonathan saying “seated power is king.”
  3. Should I allow RPE to guide me in sitting or standing or is there a clear winner in terms of what is better for training?
  4. Bonus. Can I stand during an FTP test?


Standing allows you to use different muscle groups and take a break from the saddle. HR is naturally going to change as you are moving your body in a different position and using those different muscles too.

Having said all that…it sounds like you’re doing extended standing periods, and to that I would ask, “is that how you ride outdoors?” As for the FTP test, I’ve always seen advice to stay seated.

  • Per TR, you’re not supposed to stand during their Ramp Test.

  • But I’m not aware that any of the other typical tests (1x20m, 2x 8m, 1x60, Kolie Moore, etc.) give any restriction.

    • I know I would toss in a few short standing efforts purely for saddle comfort per my usual indoor habit. I’m up roughly every 3-8 minutes most riders for 30-60 second breaks usually.

I definitely do this too.

One little addition to my previous comment. I do know some people will stand and sprint for the finish, and I’ve seen people say not to do this either.

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As @Pbase asked, this is all about your outdoor riding.

If you don’t ride outside, stay weird! Stand up all you want.

Since you’re more compact when you stand compared to me (over 6ft), you should have less of an aero disadvantage. Aero loss verses power/TTE gained would be something to look at, though.

Group riding is another area to consider. There’s a good mountain bike rider that frequents our road ride, and he’s always in and out of the saddle, generally all over the bike. I just don’t follow his wheel quite as closely as others and it’s fine. Training to extend seated efforts may help you be a better group rider. I wouldn’t worry about that too much though. Throw both elbows out before you stand if you’re in a compacted group.

Besides aero and group dynamics, I’m sure there are more reasons to train your seated position.

However, it sounds like you must have great standing efficiency, so defo use it when it makes sense outdoors and stay weird.

  • Ditto. If a rider has enough gas in the tank to kick at the end of a test, they paced incorrectly.

I think this is a key thing people overlook when it comes to the seated / standing discussion. Size. I’m 5’9", when I’m 160lbs+ staying seated is lower RPE and standing is higher RPE. Once I start getting below 155, especially < 150 I start to prefer standing much more and RPE differential decreases. I think a lot of people who find standing to be higher RPE are bigger / heavier (relatively speaking) but that isn’t often considered in the discussion.

Not weird

No its not bad. Ideally one would be comfortable with both seated and standing and do what is appropriate based on the need at the moment.


Nothing (At least nothing there :wink: ) I find standing up is often lower RPE wise but I quite often tell myself that its slower in the real world, especially on flat TT’s where seated power is important and stay seated. But its less so on a short sharp climb (although staying seated may be more sustainable on a long climb or repeated climbs). I’m training for TT’s so I want to develop my sustainable seated climbs and work around a FTP that lets me stay mostly seated (ideally for me I’d stay seated all the time in training IMO given my goal, TT’s) but there’s no harm in mixing it up IMO either, especially if your outdoors riding involves short sharp climbs).

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Totally with you on this.

Thanks for the reply. Good question on the outdoor piece. I certainly prefer standing when I’m climbing. On a group ride, I like to add short standing efforts when I’m grabbing back onto the wheel. On long flat rides, I find that I do like to take some standing breaks, but it seems like I need less of them if the effort is tempo or below.

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Thanks Chad. Seems like I do remember hearing about no standing on a ramp test. Maybe I won’t have to take one for a while with FTP detection.

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Very interesting! I’ve never thought about this. I do feel like I need to work on seated efforts above threshold in general, but I wonder if size has something to do with RPE.

I feel seen.

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