How Much Does Body Weight Affect Climbing Speed? GCN Does Science
100 Comments


we often talk about the importance of power-to-weight ratio when you’re going up a climb but just how much difference does it make if you lose a big chunk of your body weight well I’m Matt and I’ve come to Andorra on a real world climb we’re gonna do some real world powers which is in different real-world wait and see what the difference is yeah it’s some real GCN does science and the tests we’re going to carry out or as follows we’re going to ride 5k of this climb two runs each the first run we’re going to have a 5 kilogram rucksack on our backs we’re then going to ride at set power so I’m going to ride at around 275 watts and Dan is going to ride it two to five watts we’re then going to have a little bit of a lie down to rest recuperate and then do the run again but this time without the rock sacks but at the same given power so two to five and 275 to see what the difference is both of us will be using power tap p1 pedals with power tap dual GPS plus head unit to measure our wattage my canyon ultimate complete with full bottle power meter cetera comes in at 8.1 kilograms my bag weighs five point one three five and I including all my kit come in at seventy four point four that’s a grand total me on run one of eighty seven point six three five my bike including a full bottle camera and power meter weighs an eight point three eight five my bag weighs in at five point zero for me with my full kit helmet shoes weighs in at seventy five point one kilograms giving a grand total of eighty eight point five to five kilograms so run number one we’ve both got around five grams of weight in our respective rucksacks down to the off first because he’s going to be riding at slightly less watch than me at two to five remember down just go steady it’s not race I’ll try remember alright ready three two one Calabar oh dear okay so it’s my run now if you want to count me in please Nick as if I’m clipping he’s in first time look at tell you what it’s a bit warm my elapsed time 230 what 25:56 so that’s run number one done I’m absolutely covered in sweat as you are Dan what was your time 25:56 I have is 230 watts in the end I tried keep into two to five but the gradients a star are quite severe right now so even in 3628 especially this rucksack oh and I was struggling to keep down to two to five so he cadence was pretty low when I went partial my time was 21 minutes and 41 seconds and my average wats were 278 well I think before we even get to the conclusion about the way there’s two things that we conclude already both dissuade ourselves got over 500 grams in sweat so number one keep hydrated kids also 278 Watts versus 230 48 what’s different doesn’t sound huge I guess it’s over 20% still but a four-minute difference and a LaVon what’s really and I we roughly the same way toward your own told aren’t we so that’s incredible how much difference it makes hashtag wats matter right well Matt and I now freshly hydrated to the point where we now weigh the same as we did for the start of run one this is run too obviously without the 5 kilograms of extra weight in the rucksacks I’m really interested to see how much difference is going to make but firstly I think it’s gonna be two minutes this time you caught me rather quickly go on in two minutes it is right we ready 3 2 1 he’s off oh I took me just as long to clip in as last time here we go remember it’s not a race map okay well we’ve spent the last two hours with a calculator yeah and we think we’ve got our head around the results but before we get on to the raw numbers we are going to state that we quite deliberately use that weight and also those powers so there will be some of you who can do more than 280 watts for that sort of Eurasian and there will be others of you who can’t do 230 but that kind of band judging doesn’t come as a lot of regular riders power output yeah and in relation to the five kilograms it is actually quite feasible amount of weight for many people to lose especially when you look at me and you I’m actually six kilograms or six or seven kilograms above my Raceway yeah I’m almost exactly five kilograms above where I raised back in my days at the Civello testing well enough enough of that yeah on to the results themselves so my first run 25 minutes and 56 seconds my second 24:40 so that is a saving of 1 minute and 16 seconds which doesn’t sound like a whole load but if you wait on the side of the road for a minute in 16 seconds quite a long time to hang about well I the difference in my runs was 1 minute and 33 seconds my first run was 21 41 and my second one was 2008 I did ride it too what’s difference but still a considerable time saver yeah I didn’t say actually I did one watt more on second one versus the first one so as you might have expected before we even start this video losing some weight from your body does make a significant amount of difference on a climb and this was just five kilometres at gradient of around about 7% albeit not steady all the way up the magic you did more yeah over just 20 minutes of riding now if you think about 150 kilometres sporty for example 50 kilometres of climbing it’s far too for free by about it’s a saving of a round about a quarter of an hour and that’s just from losing the weight as well imagine if you also increased your FTP from 230 Watts up to 280 to us whilst losing five kilograms then you were saved on this climb close to five minutes Dan straight off the back of that for a video on how to improve your FTP how about clicking just up here I’ve got another relevant video just down there is how to lose weight through cycling climbing and to subscribe to GCN click on the globe under you point to it because it never put it where I point don’t forget to share and like this video as well

100 thoughts on “How Much Does Body Weight Affect Climbing Speed? GCN Does Science

  1. Its all about how much upper body weight the legs must carry up the hill. The majority of the best climbers have low BMIs. Its quite obvious that carrying a hundred pounds up a hill will be much harder than carrying fifty pounds.

  2. This test isnt really scientific because its different to weight actually 5 kgs more body mass than you put backbag which is 5 kg on you. If you lose 5 kg and maintain your strenght which you had before losing weight then you will be faster. You need more power to maintain same speed if you have extra weight, this is basic physics. The most significant difference with extra weight and no extra is that you have to do more work against gravity uphills. Rolling resistance is also higher if you weight more.

  3. The aero penalties (i.e. drag) of wearing a backpack could be also a contributing variable.
    Perhaps the additional weight should have been placed in a weighted water bottle/seattube/BB

  4. The reason this test doesn’t work correctly is because out of know where u are 5kg heavier and ur body is not used to it maybe if you had the 5kg heavier for a month to have your body stabilize then it would be more accurate

  5. You will lose some muscle when you lose weight though. Probably 50/50 at best. So 2.5 kg of muscle gone. Will affect your power for sure.

  6. I currently weigh 50Kg more than the weights in this video, so intrigued by how much a faster I would be

  7. It is not a "body weight" unless there is muscle included in it. So you cannot do it just by putting rocks on your backs wtf.

  8. It does make a huge difference! I went really out of shape and climbing became a torment, now with 17kg less (81kg-1,83m) life is much easier going up. I'm not sure how it goes in the physiological aspect, but I started training again with 98kg and I believe my legs got use to produce more power…

  9. Light body weight isn't only an advantage for climbing. It's an advantage for all areas of cycling because of more efficient oxygen utilization you retards.

  10. i went from 17stone, to 16stone 4lbs and found I was going a lot quicker up hill. so it doesnt take much weight.

  11. Your tests are so bad. More weight isn’t a 5kg bag on the shoulders, it’s a general bigger amount of muscle mass and more fat. You should do the test with a gap of 1 year gaining weight and going to the gym.

  12. Right. I used to climb 6km 6% loop in 32 minutes at 83Kg weight Avrg. Now I am 3 Kg more and my time is around 35 minutes

  13. Bike weight vs body weight depends on the distance. A track cycling sprinter is sure not in hell going to climb mountains lol, he can ride up the mountains but his body muscle will actually be his biggest problem. 2 people with identical cycling skills 1 at 70 kg and 1 at 60 kg but the 70 kg rider is on a 6.8 kg bike an the 60 kg rider is on a 14 kg bike who has the advantage ? The 70 kg rider has a massive advantage even though he is 10 kg heavier. For every pedal push the 60 kg rider has to push an extra 7 kg of weight on every single leg movement!!! even though he is still lighter 60 + 14 vs 70+6.8 he will be using much more watts .

  14. the bit at the end though – if you're 100kg you'll claw back some of that time with greater downhill and coasting duration.

  15. My passion is boxing, but I love cycling to as a way to improve my stamina. I weigh in at around 95kg. Sounds as if I'm gonna go down to cruiser weight (~90kg)…

  16. Remember: body weight is NOT the same as just weight!
    If you lose fat, you also get a better blood flow (and more!). If you lose muscle, you get lighter but weaker too.

  17. I have noticed a lot of heavier dudes buying super light bikes so they don't have to drop 20 lbs lmfao! I noticed the heavier the guy the more expensive and lighter the bike is lol.

  18. What this video DOESN'T explore the fact that most people experience power loss when they lose weight as they get down to 10% body fat and below.

  19. I have that pack with 5kg weight too, it just happens to be attached around my mid section, and doesn't come off very easily.

  20. Clydesdale here, weighing in (bike, accessories, togs, rider) at 163.6 kg. This explains why it's such a challenge for me to climb anything at all. Grateful to live in a flat urban area!!

  21. reality is that your weight is distributed around your body and not on a backpack, that would make a difference, also if you gain 5kg weight, it does not happen overnight, your body and muscle will adapt. So I'd say in real life, the difference would be smaller than what you guys showed here.

  22. I weigh about 98kg and my bike is around 10kg (Steel frame)
    On average, I climb about 10,000ft(3,000Meters)a week.

    Once I reach my goal weight, And switch to a slightly lighter bike, It’s game over. I’ll be climbing at a steady 15mph average speed at least!

    FollowMyIG: RidesandRoxy

  23. Please do a test with 2 water bottles placed in the rider's jersey pockets vs 2 water bottles placed on the bike's frame!

  24. The experiment would be with the bag empty in the second run because bag make aero drag, so not all the savings was for weight difference.

  25. Im 180 cm and weigh 82 kg. Ideally should drop 3 more. I'm riding an 8.0 disc brake carbon bike and I am considering buying a 7.4 kg carbon bike. Guess I have some wrong priorities; Thank you GCN

  26. i used to weigh 72kg but my body fat percentage was kind of high now i weigh 86kg but my body fat percentage is low around 10% and my lean muscle mass percentage is much higher from hitting the gym and i climb better than i ever used to so i think it depends a lot on what is making up your bodyweight

  27. People say if you want to climb better, lose some weight, not true. I dropped from 625lbs to 580lbs that's a whole 45lbs and it made no difference at all.

  28. I take delivery of my bike in a few days. I’m 33, 350lbs and haven’t cycled in 10 years (I was about 225lbs too!) I’m motivated to get the weight off and running is out of the question due to my rugby knees. Hence why I chose cycling. I am absolutely dreading the hills! Luckily I live on the coast and it’s pretty flat apart from one hill which I must climb at the end of my ride. Wish me luck!

  29. 90 kgs plus my bike, plus my bag that I always carry. I'm built more for Rugby than cycling. But I still love it…Oh and I'm fast as hell in descent 😉

  30. It would be interesting to see how two cyclists with the same watts/kg but with much different weights would compare on different grades of climbing.

  31. I’m sorry the US never made it to the metric system . Please speak back in the Stone Age area of inches, feet, miles, so I can more or less under stand.

  32. 5kg difference seriously? How can a climber losing body weight from 70kg to 65kg without losing watts….

  33. Regardless of a persons weight Power comes from the knees and thigh muscles. A 100 pound man expends a relative equal amount of energy as a 200 pound man of the same physical conditioning.. GRAVITY !

  34. I'm a 53kg rider but I really wish I was bigger. Having an ftp on only 210w, I really struggle on the flat.

  35. Its not only the weight, its about if the weight is fat and/or muscles. 90 kg body with more fat than muscles or a 90 kg body with more muscles and less fat?

  36. Another great video! You guys even account for sweat loss and get your body weights back on par. Awesome, yet simple, data driven approach.

  37. Love the videos, but not sure what this one was supposed to do?? Pretty sure everyone guessed that y’all would ride faster without a bunch of extra weight…

  38. I will race you both at my weight lol 90ish kg thanks guys great video as usual and I am having a salad for lunch now

  39. I'm not entirely clear on the math and all that, but I weigh about as much as the two of you blokes put together, that means I should be twice as fast as either of you, at least on a descent, true enough?

  40. And the difference for the extra weight is greater for other people because they have to overcome the fat effect on their bodies. Fat interferes with the efficiency of oxygen transfer to the tissues. These two guys have low fat and high efficiencies.

  41. It’s power to weight ratio that’s important in my opinion. You can be heavy and weak or heavy and strong. There’s no magic formula. All Depends on your stamina. It’s a conundrum.

  42. I believe the study is flawed. A ruck sack isn’t part of your physique, it doesn’t include power producing muscle tissue. Dropping weight could help you. But if you’re already lean, it may not affect climbing speed too terribly much imho

  43. Great to see!
    Started cycling at 128kg as it would not neg effect my knees.
    I am now 117kg with a goal of 80kg..
    Let's see how it goes!

  44. I told my wife that I need to spend some serious coin to get a lighter bike to climb better. She looked at my waist and told me there's a cheaper alternative.

  45. A year ago, i was 325 lbs (147 kg)….and hills were impossible. I am now under 300 lbs (135 kg)…through lifestyle changes and tons of biking these days…. but Hills are still tough for me. I just completed a very hilly, 150 mile weekend charity ride, and was the slowest out there because of the hills. I can hold my own with most folks on the flats, but get smoked on the hills. Working toward an additional 50 lb (25 kg) weight loss to be able to hang with friends on hillier terrain!

  46. 5kilos…why not 10 kilos. 5 kilos is practically to large bottles…most of us are 10 kilos too heavy. That would be more real.

  47. Hey, you have not accounted for the additional wind resistance of the backpack. 5kg of a paunch is way more aerodynamic than a backpack 😉

  48. Does a rucksack really work as a good simulation of bodyweight though? Even pure fat carries a function, and if that weight is muscle it can be beneficial. And on the other hand, bodyweight carries a metabolic tax.

  49. get a beach cruiser for the fat…you will never see a fat person on a bike it will break and you cant put a handicapped sticker on it.

  50. If I remember correctly my best climbing weight was at 137 lbs or 62.27 kg. My bike back in those days weighed 20.5 lbs or 9.31 kg.

  51. I'm going to go out on a limb and say there might be a GCN video that won't help my ride.
    I haven't found it yet, but I'm still looking very diligently. Thank you, guys, seriously.

  52. Thanks for this video – great information. I know I need to cut some KGs and that I also need to increase my strength/endurance. This is my first season as a 'cyclist' (as opposed to young recreational bike rider), and I'm already seeing some great improvements all-round. I've got my next bike selected for next year – higher end, but not carbon – and plan to incorporate a garmin to display more real-time data.

  53. Adding 5kg on a backpack is a terrible way to test how adding 5kg of muscle would affect climbing. 5kg of muscle makes you heavier, but also adds power. Would need a totally different experiment to test for that.

  54. Small people benefit so much for road cycling, I need heavy bikes so I don't break them because I'm 285lbs and 6.5'. I' sure the drag doesn't help

  55. Common sense just look at professional athletes. Do you see any heavy pro cyclist? If carrying more body weight was an advantage they would look like Sumo Wrestlers. How many short professional baseball players do you see in the NBA? How many heavy Marathon winning runners are heavy? Enough said!

  56. I’m guessing someone else mentioned it, but those backpacks also carry a wind resistance penalty. It’s not huge considering you’re going uphill, but for accuracy’s sake, it should be considered.

  57. Power to weight ratio. In real life, when you drop 5kg you will also lose some power, so you will need specific training to offset this effect.

  58. My daily bike is 14.5 kg so that means one of their bikes and the backpack together. I can keep up and even fly by many bike weight weenies lol.

  59. Can you do a test on the air resistance on Matt's ears? I love the guy, but I think he's losing a few ks with those ears!

  60. Their bags didn't consume more oxygen as a fat person needs…so basically weight affects more than what they have shown.

  61. Depends where the weight comes from. Either from fat or muscle. Muscle can support WAY more than it's own weight so body weight isn't an exact science.

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