I understand that the pressure on my hands causes it. I also understand how the nerves run through my hand.

What I don't understand is how to implement the advise of, "Take the weight off your hands"

A fellow told me, "Put 90% of your weight on the pedals, 10% on the seat, and barely touch the bars with your hands." I dunno how to do this!

With the seat up in order to get a full pedal, the angle of your body is going to naturally push down on your hands. The only way I know to "put weight in the pedals" is to stand up.

Short of getting a raised handle bar or lowering my seat, how do you get the weight off your hands? Is there some kind of posture magic I can't figure out?

  • 1
    Move your hands!! This is one reason for having "drop" bars -- there are multiple hand positions. (But I have had good experience with several schemes to "rib" the bars or cycling glove palms, so that there is space between the ribs for blood to flow.) Jun 12, 2019 at 2:35
  • 2
    As this is tagged mountain bike, drop bars probably aren't an option. Ergonomic grips and bar ends might be (example: Ergon GP3, which I have on a hybrid). Also decent gloves that suit you. You can get surprisingly good ones cheap, but you might need to try a few pairs as some can put the padding in the wrong place
    – Chris H
    Jun 12, 2019 at 7:13
  • The 90/10 advise works when almost sprinting. It's unlikely you are able to sustain power levels that are so high most of your weight is supported by the cranks. However it is correct that you ought to reduce the load on your arms (see answers on core stability).
    – gschenk
    Jun 12, 2019 at 9:49
  • For how long have you been riding? What distance do you ride on average? Do you use padded cycling gloves?
    – Carel
    Jun 12, 2019 at 10:01
  • @ChrisH - From experience, simple padding doesn't do the trick. I once worked out the math, and if you put any significant pressure on the bar with your hands then it's enough pressure to cut off bloodflow. This leads to numbness. (Though padding does help with the sort of "micro-bruising" that can occur from vibrations.) Unfortunately, the brand of ribbed gloves that avoided the bloodflow problem for me has not been available for 20 years, though I did have good experience with an experimental setup of rubber caulk laid down in strips on the top of the bar. Someone should market this. Jun 12, 2019 at 12:14

6 Answers 6


You are correct that a leant-forward riding position will naturally tend to make a rider support some of their weight with their arms and hands. The more rotated forward the rider is, the more weigh the arms tend to have to support - which is one reason tri-bars have forearm rests.

Good core strength is what allows a rider to take weight off the arms. Strong lower back and abdominal muscles support the torso, taking weight off of the arms. You can try doing some core strength building exercises (which will likely make you a stronger rider and help prevent injury as well).

You should look at your fit on the bike, you may in fact have the bars too far forward and down. Raising and pulling them back may help while you build core strength.

  • 1
    Also consider the saddle fore-aft position. Let us assume perfect core stability. To fully take the weight off one's arms while leaning forward the centre of mass must be over a point between bottom bracket and contact point on the saddle. One may try this by standing and leaning forward. To remain standing one has to move their buttocks back. The centre of mass is directly over the feet.
    – gschenk
    Jun 12, 2019 at 9:57

You use your glutes (and maybe a bit of your erector muscles) to hold your torso up. If you're significantly forward, like an aero posture, then your hamstrings will probably be engaged too. The more pressure you keep on the pedals the easier it is.

Stand with your feet planted. Lean forward 45 degrees from your hips. You'll get tired eventually, but you can probably hold that for at least a few minutes. If necessary you can do exercises to strengthen your glutes.

One of the show-off things I used to do is run at a hill, then charge up it with my hands clasped behind me. It looks impressive, but it's actually easier to ride (bent over) without your hands on the bars if you're working harder, and especially if you're going uphill. :)


Fairly hard to answer and probably requires a play with bike fit - a visit to a bike fitter could be worth considering.

Geometry and size - some bikes are more likely to force you into a position that loads the arms than others. You can look to address this though adjustments such as bar height, seat position, stem length. Swept bars can also help reduce the effective cockpit length. Note the current MTB trend of super wide bars effectively lengthens the cockpit. Narrow bars might help - you can trial this by moving the grips (if the style allows it) and controls inboard before cutting bars down.

Riding style - When you ride are your shoulders and arms relaxed and guiding the bike, or tense and controlling it. Is your position correct (attack position, bent arms, torso level), allowing the bike to freely move around under you, or is it upright and tense, forcing you to move with the bike.

Fitness - whats you upper body stamina like? Hows you core strength? If you riding style is perfect, you can do a lot of riding without relying on brute strength, but few riders (I do not include myself in that group) have perfect style and a bit of fitness helps a lot.

One thing that will sap arm strength is gripping the bars - either holding on tight or brakes - poor brakes and over use of brakes. Either way the hands need to be relaxed on the bars, holding on enough to guide the bike and keep the rider connected (both physically and mentally) to the bike. Braking should be gentle and controlled (Ideally with one finger), not jabbing them on with the whole hand. If you holding too tight, it saps energy and you loose feel for the bike on the trail. Think of it as a soft touch in partnership with the bike rather than a firm hand fighting and controlling the bike.


Something that isn't mentioned in the other answers is the attitude of your saddle. If it's tipped forwards (front lower than back), that will tend to shift weight onto your arms. You might want it at a slight angle for, ahem, comfort down there, but it should probably be within a few degrees of level.


If you have the correct sized bike, correctly set up, with a pair of decent gloves, you'll need some saddle time so your body becomes accustom to riding.

However; if you really want to ease the pressure on your hands you will need to start engaging your core, you need to work on your abs/glutes and supporting muscles. While riding on a flat, even, quite road, make sure you're in the correct riding position and put your hands behind your back keeping your body where it is. See how long you can hold this for.

If you want to take this exercise to the extreme, use a stationary indoor exercise bike (spinning bike). Make sure you've got enough resistance to support your weight(need to look after the knees), stand straight up on the bike as if you're on a tough climb and slowly remove your hands from the bars, your abs should be supporting your upper body, you should maintain a proper pedal stroke. This exercise, if done correctly, will do two things; point out flaws in your pedal strokes and will force you to use your abs. If you have an 8/10 resistance and can transfer from a seated position to a standing position with no hands, no wobbles and no messed up pedal strokes you'll notice how much better your hands and shoulder/neck feels after long rides.


Go down to your local friendly bike shop and make sure that the bike is fitted correctly to you. There are so many variables at work here that it is difficult to pinpoint any one cause. The best place to start is at the beginning. After you have made sure that the bike correctly fitted to you, than you can work on a solution (if your palms still hurt). There are also many articles on how to fit a bike, if a bike shop is not readily available, perhaps they can help.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.