3 Workouts to Improve Your Hill Climbing
By Winston Endall
You don't have to ride the Tour de France to want to be the best hill climber possible. One most rides, it's the hills that cause the splits in the group. Improve your hill climbing and stay at the front of the group. With the right training and getting rid of excess body weight (fat), you will optimize your power to weight ratio and develop the ability to ride up hills like you've got a motor. I'm kidding. Just like Greg Lemond said, " It doesn't get any easier, you just get faster".
The three keys to good hill climbing on a bike are cardiovascular capacity, muscular endurance and core strength. Improve all three and you are on your way to flattening out even the biggest hills. The following workouts will help you develop the
Medium Cadence 4X4 Intervals
4 X 4 Intervals are hard efforts of 4 minutes with 4 minutes of recovery between efforts. The effort level is 120% of your Functional Threshold Power or as hard as you can do. The first two minutes you get up to maximum cardiac output and the last two minutes you hold it there. The twist with these is that you aim for a cadence of 75-80 rpms rather than the usual 90-100 rpms. This way you are over loading both the cardiovascular system and muscular endurance of the legs.
The easiest way to accomplish this is to find a hill that takes at least 4 minutes to climb and do repeats on it. Start with 3 repeats and build to 8. Add one per week and you will see increases in fitness for both hill climbing and flat riding. You can also do these repeats indoors on your bike trainer. Just choose a gear that makes you work your butt off at the specified cadence.
Out of the saddle hill climbs
This simple workout improves both your hill climbing and core strength. You need to be outdoors for this one as the indoor trainer is stable so you don't get the core activation of riding hills outside. The workout is very simple, just ride each hill you hit out of the saddle from bottom to top. You can do repeats on a given hill or just get out of the saddle for each hill you hit. Keep the time out of the saddle to 1 minute per hill in the beginning if you have long hills and increase the time out of the saddle a little each week. On the first workout do 6 hills this way. Each week add another hill until you are doing 15-20.
Headwind Time Trialing
If you don't have long hills, you can use headwinds to simulate them. Aim your bike into the wind and start riding away. You want to do 15-20 minute repeats at your Functional Threshold, but keep your cadence about 10 rpms below what you normally ride on the flats to mimic the muscular load you get when riding uphill. Start with 1 or 2 repeats and build up to 4. You can do these on the trainer, just adhere to the load requirements. These are hard but build both cardiovascular fitness and muscular endurance in the legs. Over time you will become one of those hard riders that can keep on the gas without burning out. Increasing your fatigue resistance will do wonders to your overall riding.
Getting better at hills is simple but takes a lot of work. Keep at it and before you know it you will be one of the good climbers in your group.
It's in you to become a better cyclist. Helping you get there is my goal. Equipment, riding skills, fitness and nutrition all have to be dialed in to reach your potential. To take your next step on that journey visit http://www.cyclecambridge.com
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