7 Tips for better climbing with your mountain bike; that way you go uphill faster

Published on:
This post contains affiliate links, and we will be compensated if you buy after clicking our links.
Read our review guidelines
MTB climbing tips for uphill

What could be more fun than riding a mountain bike uphill? Driving downhill is probably the answer. But to drive downhill, you have to go up the mountain first, unless you live on a hill…

To enjoy a nice descent, it is best to have some reserves in the tank after a long climb. How to get better at cycling uphill I’ll explain that to you based on these seven tips:

7 Tips to improve your climbing with the MTB

Tip 1: Don’t start too fast and find a comfortable rhythm with a high cadence

The most important thing on a long climb is to divide your forces. If you drive too fast initially, you will soon run into yourself. Therefore, look for a rhythm that you can sustain for a long time and where you can still cycle comfortably and with a high cadence. It is better to start too slow and still be able to accelerate towards the end than the other way around.

When it gets steeper, try to maintain your high cadence and shift down a notch. If the weather is a bit less uphill, gear up if possible, but invariably keep a high cadence. A high cadence ensures that your legs do not acidify too quickly, such as pedaling much too hard.

Tip 2: Position on the bike and distribute your weight

Climbing is almost effortless when you stay in the saddle. You are then in the most aerodynamic position. If it gets steeper, you can consider climbing standing up, although this is a lot more tiring and you will use a lot more energy. Try not to do this for too long at one time.

It is also important to distribute your weight well, especially on the steepest parts. This is definitely recommended when you climb off-road. If your front wheel lifts off the ground, shift your weight slightly forward by bending your body more towards your handlebars. If your rear wheel slips, then shift your weight backward.

Tip 3: Ride with clipless pedals

With clipless pedals or not, it is a matter of preference. But by being stuck, you can “pull” on your pedals, which gives you an advantage not to be underestimated when you are driving past obstacles or on very steep parts.

Make sure that your clipless pedals and cleats are properly adjusted to prevent ailments and sore feet or knees. Via the link below, you will find out how you can easily do this yourself.

Adjust Clipless Pedals and Cleats >>

Tip 4: Keep eating and drinking while climbing

No matter how challenging the climb is, you will expend a lot of energy. It is essential to replenish the energy consumed in time. Otherwise, you may not reach the top. When you’ve found the right rhythm, you don’t want to stop to eat or drink. That’s why energy gels and sports drinks are the ideal food and refreshment while climbing. When you have finally reached the top, you can eat a tasty bar.

energy during climbing with mtb

Tip 5: Wear a heart rate monitor

If you wear a heart rate monitor while mountain biking, you can keep a close eye when you need to adjust your pace. If your heart rate is skyrocketing, it’s time to slow down. Therefore, when climbing, you should look for a heart rate that does not blow up. Try to maintain a comfortable heart rate, so you can climb for a long time without bumping into yourself.

You can have your maximum heart rate determined by a doctor or a testing center. Using the following formula is simpler and cheaper: 220 – your current age. This is not 100% correct, but then you still have an indication. Then cycle with a heart rate between 70 and 80% of this value, and reaching the top will not be a problem.

Yes, you can monitor heart rate in different ways. A chest strap is the most accurate. If compatible, you can synchronize this with your GPS device or smartwatch.

If you don’t have a heart rate monitor, keep riding in the rhythm where you can still talk while cycling.

Order a heart rate monitor >>

Tip 6: Watch where you drive

Just like with technical parts, you have to look past obstacles, roots, and the like. It is also important to look ahead on a climb and where you are going to ride. So don’t look at your front wheel all the time. Look far enough ahead to see what is coming, so you can switch in time, adjust your rhythm, and choose the right line….

Tip 7: Make sure you and your bike are in good order

Make sure that your bike and equipment are in good order and make sure that you are fit and healthy before you start a tough trip. Make sure your weight is correct. Every kilo that you weigh too much is an extra kilo you have to take up the mountain.

View maintenance tips >>

Especially when you start mountain biking, climbing may not immediately seem like the best aspect of mountain biking, and you would rather only ride the most incredible and coolest singletrack. Mountain biking without climbing is unfortunately not possible, especially if you occasionally want to ride a nice challenging descent.

Below I explain how you can properly prepare for many altimeters:

Training uphill cycling

The best way to get better at uphill cycling is to cycle a lot uphill. That is easier said than done since we don’t all live in the mountains. However, that doesn’t necessarily have to be a problem. Below are some tips for good climbing training:

Mountains and hills

Find an area near you with some hills or steep sections and connect them to get a circle. You can then drive this round an x number of times in succession so that the climbs follow each other. Only do this if you really want to train specifically to climb better. Driving in circles often gets quite dull if you prefer to go purely for fun and nature.

Training uphill cycling
Example of a short circuit of 13 km with 213 altimeters.

Fitness bike

If the weather is terrible or you don’t feel like a long workout, you can cycle in the fitness. It is easy to simulate climbing on a fitness bike by, for example, increasing the power or selecting a preset interval program. The options are usually quite extensive. If you alternate with this regularly, you can train well uphill.

A smart bicycle trainer can also be beneficial, especially in combination with, for example, software such as Zwift. You can even climb the Ventoux or Alpe d’Huez from your living room or cellar!

Do you like to ride uphill or do you already have some experience in the mountains? Please let me know in a comment at the bottom of the page.

Photo of author


Geert is a marathon mountainbiker who is also a bike maintenance graduate. Besides mountain biking he likes going on hikes and he loves an occasional trail run.

Leave a Comment