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,
Pushing uphill requires stamina and good
In this post, I look into the different approaches available to us for uphill
Why longboard uphill?
There are at least 3 reasons for longboarding uphill:
upan 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:
One important technique you need to learn is
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
Switch pushing uphill
Besides alternate feet, endurance uphill longboarders also practice pushing switch. This involves switching your stance, which is different from
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
Going back uphill in
Typically, you’ll first work on getting good at
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
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
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
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
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
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
A common question when it comes to uphill pumping
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
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!