Did you know that by simply bending your elbows you can improve your climbing power and control, thus improving your climbing performance?
In this video you can see both myself and Valverde using the bent elbow technique to battle for victory on the climb of Monachil during the Vuelta de Espana.
Why do bent elbows while riding help your climbing?
First, by bending your elbows you bring your chest forward and lower over the front of the bike, placing your pelvis in better position over the bike for an incline. This improves the angle of your previous upstroke and downstroke to one that optimally produces power. Ultimately translating to a new ability to create higher power with less effort.
Second, when you bend your elbows, you engage your core into the pedal stroke. This is best done by bringing the elbow on the downstroke leg in at the top of each downstroke. The core helps you use your upper body language require to navigate and balance on the steep gradient into creating more power into the pedal stroke.
You can start practicing this by trying the bent elbow approach in short efforts that use climbing zones, like threshold intervals. Then as you become more comfortable with the new position, you can try for longer periods of time on longer climbs.