It’s no secret that you get the most power for hills and sprints when you stand up on your bicycle. But, if this is true outside on the road, is it still valid when you are inside, riding on your trainer?
Can you stand up on a bike trainer?
You can stand up on a bike trainer similar to how you would on a normal outdoor ride. However, you should know the pros and cons of standing up on your bike trainer and how to stand up safely. If you can do so without falling, damaging equipment, or getting injured, then you can ride while standing up on your trainer.
In this article, we’ll talk about if you can stand up on a bike trainer. We’ll also take a look at the risks of standing, the pros and cons of standing versus sitting, and if you really should stand up on a bike trainer or not. But first, let’s take a look at the risks of standing on a bike trainer.
Risks of Standing Up on a Bike Trainer
On a Zwift group ride, I stood up to sprint and muster as many watts as I possibly could. But before I could hit the final banner, over went the trainer, the bike, and me, dumping my pride and me onto the hard cement floor. What just happened?
I sprinted too hard and knocked the trainer over. Knocking over your entire trainer setup is just one of the risks of standing up on your bike trainer. Some other risks are:
- Damage to the trainer. If you knock your trainer over or throw your bike around hard, you can break parts off of the trainer.
- Damage to your bike. Knocking your bike over could undoubtedly damage the bike. But even rocking the bike too hard in the trainer can put too much stress on the bike frame and other parts of the bike. Likewise, too much stress from standing up can lead to cracking and damage.
- Injury. Standing on a bike trainer can mean potential harm, especially if you fall. For example, you could pull a muscle or cause damage to your knees but standing up and sprinting too hard because the bike does not naturally move underneath you as you ride.
- Risk of falling. If you knock your trainer over, you’re probably going to fall, especially if you are clipped into the pedals.
If you are careful, you can minimize these issues. But, of course, you need to follow a few safety protocols so you can stand up on your trainer more safely.
How to Stand Up on a Bike Trainer (More Safely)
If you are going to stand up on a bike trainer, you need to do so safely. Follow these steps to ensure the safest ride possible.
- First, make sure your trainer is set up correctly. Next, check your owner’s manual to make sure you are using the correct parts. For example, if you are using a wheel-on trainer, you’ll want to make sure you have the right skewer, so your skewer doesn’t break and so that it fits in the stand correctly. You also need to make sure all hinges are locked into place, bolts are tightened, and the bike is not loose.
- Do a bike check. Even on a trainer, you need your wheels to be adequately inflated. Clean and lubricate your chain. Make sure your shifting is smooth.
- Anticipate changes in terrain. Just like you would outside, anticipate when you need to shift, stand, or sit. Anticipating these changes will help you to avoid jamming up your gears and throwing your chain.
- Don’t throw the bike around! It’s normal when climbing and sprinting outside to rock the bike back and forth as you push down the pedals. While some say it wastes energy, others say it gives leverage. However, you can knock over the bike, knock your bike loose from the trainer, or break your equipment on a static trainer if you shake the bike while standing.
- Stand up smoothly, pedal smoothly while standing, and gently sit back down.
- If the bike wobbles or feels loose, ease up and check your setup. It isn’t worth a crash, even an indoor crash!
Even if you can stand up safely on the trainer, is it worth it? First, let’s look at the pros and cons of sitting and standing so you can decide for yourself if it is worth it.
Sitting vs. Standing on a Bike Trainer (Pros and Cons)
Pros of Standing
- Higher sustained power. Most of us can put out a much higher power for sprinting or climbing when we stand up to cycle.
- You can mash harder gears. If the incline is steep, you might need to mash those hard gears to get up the climb. Standing lets, you do this with a lower cadence.
- Opportunity to change position and alleviate saddle pain. Saddle pain from sitting in one position is common on indoor trainers because you don’t move around much on the bike. Standing allows you to move around and reduce the pain.
- Ability to use different muscles to alleviate fatigue. If your muscles are getting tired, standing up lets you change positions to use slightly different muscles.
Cons of Standing
- Risk of falling. Standing up changes your center of gravity, and when sprinting hard, you could easily fall.
- Risk of damage to bike or trainer. Standing and throwing the bike around risks damage to the bike and the trainer.
- It isn’t the same as standing on a bike on a road because you can’t throw the bike from side to side. Likewise, although you can stand on an indoor trainer, it isn’t the same as standing and riding on the road because you can’t move the bike naturally.
Pros of Sitting
- Utilize a higher cadence, which staves off fatigue. If your legs get tired, sitting gives you a higher cadence and less muscle fatigue.
- Gives you opportunity to practice a smoother pedal stroke. Standing pedal strokes are not as smooth as sitting, so you can practice pedaling when you aren’t standing.
- Easier to text, watch a movie, listen to a book when sitting as opposed to standing. It’s hard to multitask when standing and mashing or sprinting like you would if you were sitting and spinning.
- Good practice for TT or triathlon. If you are working towards a TT or a triathlon, you might want to sit anyway since that’s the position you’ll be using.
Cons of Sitting
- Difficult to sprint sitting. You probably can’t get as much power when you are sitting as when you are standing.
- Difficult to climb when sitting. If the climb gets too steep, you might not make it to the top without standing.
- It can cause saddle pain. Staying in a static position can cause seat and saddle pain.
- It can cause muscle cramps. Using the same muscles can cause you to get cramps and standing can help alleviate this discomfort.
There are benefits to both sitting and standing on a bike trainer – so which should you do?
Should You Stand Up on a Bike Trainer?
You should stand up on a bike trainer if you can do so safely. If your trainer is sturdy and your bike is stable, you can stand up on a trainer. You should stand up on your trainer if you can do so to feel more comfortable or put out some extra power without falling or knocking your trainer over.
However, if you cannot stand up without rocking the bike back and forth, if your trainer is not sturdy, or if your bike and trainer are not set up correctly, you shouldn’t stand up on a trainer.
Is your bike trainer creating a noise that it’s making you worry it might disturb your neighbors? If so, then check out my article Are Bike Trainers Loud (and How to Reduce the Noise)?.