Pedaling While Standing Up Kills my Quads

I’m wondering if I need to change my technique? Maybe I’m not getting my hips back?

When doing drills that require standing and pedaling, I’m trying to keep my hands light and the weight on my legs. But if I have to keep up my power in the sweet spot range, it just causes my quads to burn even if it’s just getting up and pedaling for 1 minute. I’d much rather sit and pedal to produce power at almost any cadence. When I’m outdoors, I usually only stand for very brief surges.

For clarity, you’re talking inside on a trainer?

  • Assuming a rigid trainer, the standing pedaling motion is a bit strange and different from outside.

Are you shifting into higher gears for standing efforts?

  • Usually, you need to shift up 2-3 gears on the rear (or small to big ring up front) to drop cadence to a normal range for standing (around 55-75rpm).

What is your standing cadence for these efforts?

  • See above.

Standing for a full minute can be a challenge, based on the issues above, but especially for someone who doesn’t do it normally.

  • I suggest working in smaller bites to get to those longer efforts.

Maybe the most important thing to consider (so why did I leave it to the end? :wink: ), do you need to practice these efforts?

  • “Train like you want to ride and race” is a common theme around here. The drills in TR are interesting and can be rewarding. But they should actually apply to your needs if you want to get something from them.
  • They are optional and second to the power in the workouts, so if you don’t like them or think you won’t need them, it’s fine to skip or modify them to suit your actual needs.

Thanks Chad.

  1. Yes, right now my TR training is all indoors.
  2. I usually slow and wait for the resistance to increase before I stand in erg mode. I prob should shift into a higher gear. I’ve been training in the small ring since the pedal pattern in riding in the small ring seems to hit a weakness I need to improve. I think I got too used to riding the momentum you can get while training in the big ring. For some reason my front derailleur has been bugging out on me, I need to get it fixed.
  3. Standing my cadence usually is in the 60 - 80 rpm range.
  4. I have to say that today, I wasn’t making it the full minute, I was usually back in the saddle after 30 seconds.
  5. I think learning to ride this way may be helpful even if I don’t do it a whole bunch. I also usually stand occasionally to take the pressure off from sitting during the recovery intervals. Also, I find that the drills are a good distraction that seem to help pass the time. I can skip it, but I’m just seeing if there’s anything I want to focus on.

All that sounds pretty good.

I might suggest trying with the light hands, but work to position your hips further back. For most of my standing efforts, my booty-hamstring area just grazes the nose of the saddle once per revolution.

I haven’t done specific efforts paying close attention to muscle loading, but if you are more forward now and getting heavier quad loading, this rearward shift may alter that and emphasize the rear muscles more.

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I’ll give it a shot.

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My 2 cents - indoor and outdoor standing are different as chad mentioned. Do you have the same fatigue outdoors?

My tip here is to make sure you have enough tension when you stand throughout the pedal stroke. If you’re in a too easy of a gear, it’s easy to blow thru the bottom quarter of your downstroke, and I find that super fatiguing. This is why chad recommends shifting up 2-3 gears.

Also, I just find my endurance to stand goes really quickly if I don’t ever do it - so practice that outside on your climbs too. Generally once you get the feel for it outdoors, then you want to figure out the resistance/cadence to repeat the same feeling indoors


Are you trying to pedal at a too easy wattage when standing? If I’m holding back my legs burn, say if it’s in the small ring at 100w for example.
At any level of effort it’s much more normal


In this more recent example, it was standing drills, trying to stay fluid (no knocking) pedaling at about 200 watts.

I’d say yes. On most climbs I usually try to stay seated and spin, I find I seem to be able to climb faster and I don’t fatigue as quick.

I am a bigger guy so standing it does feel like I can blow through the down stroke and trying to come up quickly to keep from knocking is fatiguing.

It may be that the resistance level where I feel more comfortable standing is above where I ride for sweet spot intervals.

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You are naturally using your muscles in a different way when standing, and those muscles are working in different proportions than sitting…so it’s going to feel different for sure. Different indoors and outdoors for me too. I have found that on the trainer I tend to support my weight more with my non-leg muscles (core/trunk and arms), I guess I’m trying to compensate for the weight bearing sit bones in a different way than putting most of that weight onto my legs, this helps me with a more fluid pedal stroke (maybe efficient too?) as well. I am also a little more squatted on the trainer than outside and that helps my knees.

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I’ve increased my ability to stand by committing to standing at the end of every SSB interval. That way, I always have a recovery valley coming up. I started out with the last 30 seconds and increase that depending on how I’m feeling, sometimes up to 2 mins. This way I can play around with my standing form and no matter what I know a rest is right around the corner.


The more I think about it, my standing form changes subtilely when my standing drills have different purposes.

  1. Increasing cadence while standing.
  2. Increasing power while standing.
  3. Sprinting.
  4. *not a drill, but practical application…just standing to reposition, relieve some sit bone pressure, use my muscles slightly differently to decrease fatigue

Experiment safely :+1:

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I am up to 50min of standing inside and i have to put the wattage up to sweet spot numbers to not have a dead spot.


Personally I have found that my preference between being seated and standing and RPE when standing is body weight dependent.

Basically what I found is there is a weight range where I prefer seated / standing climbing equally and both feel fine. Above that range I get more quad discomfort and RPE is significantly higher when standing so I would climb seated (99% ?) and only occasionally stand for 10-20s at a time and I would usually do it in z1 watts while stretching or z5+ to push up a hill but did not like how it felt in z2/z3/z4. Below that weight range I still spend the majority of time seated (70% ?) but feel much more comfortable standing for extended periods and even prefer the way it feels across all power zones.

On the trainer I almost always prefer seated just because the position and movement isn’t the same as outside. If I do stand I usually push my hips back further than when outside and the saddle is close to grazing the backs of my thighs.

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