Longboarding Uphill: How To Do It

longboarding uphill

As longboarders, we enjoy cruising and pushing on flat ground or carving down milder or steeper hills. However, most riders come across some uphill sections during their longboard commutes or freeride sessions.

So how do you longboard uphill? There are a few approaches for going uphill when longboarding, including pushing, pumping, and walking. Which is the most efficient depends on factors such as the kind of hill you’re facing, your riding goals, your setup, and your skills.

Pushing uphill requires stamina and good skogging techniques to distribute the effort across your body. It’s a skill fitness longboarders work on and develop. Uphill pumping is an intriguing art form as much as a physical skill. This technique also provides an intense full-body workout. Walking with your longboard is not as spectacular but can be a very effective and sporty option in some situations.

In this post, I look into the different approaches available to us for uphill longboarding, and discuss the best ones for each situation.

Why longboard uphill?

There are at least 3 reasons for longboarding uphill:

  • Climbing up an incline section on your commute path in between flatland and downhill sections. When commuting longer distances, you may come across inclines that you need to climb and reach a hump before finding yourself on flat ground or decline again.
  • Going back up following a freeride longboard run: if you’re into freeriding, you may often ride down long winding roads that you can carve and slide on. Once you get to the bottom, however, chances are you’ll want to go back up for more.
  • Long distance pushing: if you’re into longboard fitness or distance traveling, you may sometimes choose a path with a long winding upward incline for building up your pushing endurance and muscles. A type of fitness longboarding often referred to as “skogging“, short for skating and jogging.

Depending on which is your reason for longboarding uphill, you may choose the push, walk, or pump approach to climb up that hill. Let’s start with pushing.

Pushing uphill on your longboard

Pushing uphill is the most natural approach for many longboarders. When you’re facing a short uphill in between twoo flat or downhill sections, it’s typically easy to just kick push your longboard like you would do on flats.

On the other hand, for longer inclines – e.g. a low-grade 1 mile+ hill – you’ll need good endurance and technique to keep you from just getting off your longboard and walk up to the hump. Watch the following 10 seconds:

Skogging uphill

One important technique you need to learn is alternate pushing with both feet, aka skogging. In other words, you alternately push “normal” (kick with rear foot, front foot on deck) and “mongo” (kick with front foot, rear foot on deck).

Pushing with alternate foot allows you to evenly distribute the burden over both your legs and both side of your core muscles. Once you build up this skill, it gives you a lot more endurance and strength for longboarding uphill on long incline stretches. Skogging is also essential for long distance longboard traveling on flat ground.

Switch pushing uphill

Besides alternate feet, endurance uphill longboarders also practice pushing switch. This involves switching your stance, which is different from skogging. When switching stance, you go from a regular stance (left foot in front) to a goofy stance (right foot in front) or vice-versa. In contrast, when skogging you keep your natural stance (e.g. left foot in front if you’re regular), always facing the same side of your longboard, but you push with either the front or back foot.

Pushing switch is another way of engaging more muscles in your body as opposed to always the same muscles on the same side. Switch riding, however, requires practice, much more so than alternate pushing. I can skog relatively easily – although not nearly as effectively “regular” than “mongo” – but I’m still not really able to ride switch.

Going back uphill in switch stance is a great exercise and workout, and also forces you to place your weight better. It also improves your overall longboarding skills through balancing on your weakest and least natural leg.

Typically, you’ll first work on getting good at skogging so as to train your brain to use the other half of your body more naturally. Then over time, you’ll start practicing your switch stance. Progressively, you’ll be able to push up long inclines without any walking.

Pushing vs walking uphill

Your uphill pushing abilities depend not only on your physical abilities but on the incline you’re facing. Pushing up steeper hills is a great workout but may be less efficient in terms of speed and effort than simply hopping off your longboard and walking uphill.

Longboard pumping uphill

The second main approach to longboarding uphill is pumping. Longboard pumping is an intriguing and passionate topic I’ve covered in some depth in this older post. My focus here is on uphill pumping.

As explained in my other post, pumping is a fluid and powerful motion that creates stable momentum in your longboard through zig-zagging across the road induced by a specific continuous body motion.

Obviously, pumping is much easier on flat ground than uphill where gravity slows you down. So pumping is slightly different when longboarding uphill. The body motion required for flat pumping is generally slower and more relaxed, whereas uphill pumping involves putting more weight on the front trucks and doing shorter, faster, and/or more forceful rotations.

Tight quick pumps uphill

Your main challenge is to find the right balance between pump power and frequency. For some riders, doing tight carves and short pumps from the hips with limited upper body rotation works best for longboarding uphill. Indeed, on steeper inclines, very forceful pumps sometimes result in some loss of speed, while shorter quick pumps with your front foot on the bolts can yield better results, like driving a car in low gear. Check out the above clip for a good example.

And here’s another great 13-second example:

On the other hand, if you hit the incline with good initial speed, the momentum can carry you up part of the hill. As the momentum starts to fade, using wider, more pronounced pumps with broader shoulder rotation but lower frequency can give the results and limit speed loss.

Powerful deeper pumps uphill

Other rides find, however, find better success pumping uphill doing wider sweeps and focusing on more powerful pumps and aggressive carves. To do this, they forcefully bring the nose of the longboard in after each carve, dragging the front foot inward while simultaneously pushing the back foot out. The combination of the front foot’s inward pull and the rear foot’s outward push generates acceleration and thrust. Watch this amazing clip:

Aggressively ripping the board into and out of successive carves with both feet is also facilitated by running a turny rear truck, which gives your rear foot enough power for pushing and pulling harder opposite your front foot.

In this wide sweeps approach, the pumping movement initiates with the upper body and core muscles through powerful hip swings that propagate down your legs and through the feet in a wide, full-body movement. This high-power technique requires a lot of practice but can result in effective uphill riding – as well as super-efficient flatland pumping.

Arm motion for skating uphill

Arm motion is also important in uphill longboard pump efficiency. A combination of a “shadow boxing” and “rocking the baby” types of movements, as described in pavedwave, typically work well for pumping up a slight incline. A circling motion with the rear arm can also produce good results, like in this short clip:

Uphill pushing vs pumping

Generally speaking, on steeper inclines pumping takes a lot more energy and is typically slower than pushing uphill. Pumping, however, is an awesome skill and experience to acquire, and for some riders, a passion of itself. Pumping is also as much if not more of a full-body workout than pushing. Combining both skills can lead to an effective result when longboarding both on flat and uphill.

Longboard setup for longboarding uphill

Uphill pushing setups

The best longboard setups for pushing uphill are of course commuter-oriented longboards, which are typically low-riding (drop-through or drop deck) with a relatively large wheelbase for push stability, a bit of flex for energy when kicking, and a mellow concave for freedom of movement.

An example of a great popular longboard for long distance pushing is the Loaded Dervish Sama (Amazon).

See my post on commuter longboards for more info.

Uphill pumping setups

When it comes to uphill pumping, as mentioned earlier loosening the rear truck allows for more fluid and powerful pumps. Softer bushings, a bit of wedging, and a shorter wheelbase can also help with pumping uphill without hurting effectiveness on flat ground.

A narrower front truck like a Bennet 4.3″ can also make uphill easier on long gradual climbs – although a 5″ truck might be better-suited for “mixed” flat + uphill terrain (and 6″ for speed).

Smaller wheelbases and super turny trucks (like the Bennett) greatly facilitate pumping at low speeds, which is what uphill longboard pumping is really about. Popular decks for dedicated pumping setups include the GBomb Freewill 28″ and Subsonic Illuminati 28″ with bracket setups.

(photo: GBomb Longboards)

Decks which are higher off the ground give you better leverage over the trucks, especially the rear truck to really push at it in your uphill pumping. Uphill longboard pumpers often use slalom setups which are very high off the ground with risers.

One thing to note, though, is that since pumping uphill can sometimes be hazardous as it’s usually done at very low speeds so your board may not have enough momentum to pass over stones and other small objects on the road.

You want relatively small wheels (vs typical 80+mm LDP wheels) e.g. Orangatang 75mm In-Heats, and clean, efficient bearings when longboarding uphill.

Check out the setup section of my longboard pumping post for more details about choosing a pumping setup.

Surfskate trucks for uphill pumping

Carver C7 surfskate truck

A common question when it comes to uphill pumping setups, is whether surfskate trucks are a valid option. A longboarders getting into pumping may start with a Carver C7 truck combo. The C7 is great for learning to pump and has an amazing ability to pump uphill, including from a standstill. Watch this 13 second clip for an example:

Surf trucks like the Carver C7, however, are mostly good for shorter-distance, surf-style pumping. Although they can be very helpful for learning to pump – they virtually guide you through the motions – they can’t be taken very fast and are best suited for good fun at medium speeds, cruising medium distances, and riding up small hills.

C7 or similar surf trucks are a nice stepping stone toward a more high-performance board, e.g. with G-Bomb bracks and Don’t Trip Poppy for a front truck for really long distances and longer uphill runs.

Final words

As you can see, there are different approaches to longboarding uphill, which vary in terms of speed, efficiency, amount of effort required, and setups. When getting to the bottom of a long steep slope, however, your best bet will often be to simply hop onto a car or public transportation for heading back up to the top of the hill for your next run!

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Photo credits:
Featured photo “The Peak to Peak Highway” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by jaygannett

2 comments

  • Jesse, thanks a lot for your great site and helpful descriptions! Can you advise about pumping the GBomb uphill, like in the video above ‘Dark Matter pumping uphill’, about how many degrees away from 0 is good for the back truck setting? Thanks.

    • Hi Peter, a lot of pumpers wedge their rear truck 10-15 degrees as that seems to be the sweet spot e.g. for Vectors. You can also get some Khiro wedges (good quality hardware) e.g. a set of 2″ and 1 3/4″ so you can experiment with different riser angles.

About me

Big Kahuna

Hi I'm Jesse. All my life I've been passionate about the board riding lifestyle. Some years ago I got into longboarding, and in doing so, I discovered a whole new universe and a fantastic community. There's something for everyone in longboarding regardless of age, gender, size, and fitness level. Ride on!

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