Best tip for improving hill climbing?

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by newlew, Aug 17, 2013.

  1. newlew

    newlew New Member

    Jul 28, 2013
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    I started cycling several months ago and I'm currently riding 3 to 4 time a week - 20 to 40 miles per ride averaging 16 to 17 mph. I live in the Texas hill country so climbing is part of my day. I know the easy answer to improve my hill climbs is to keep riding but what is the better training technique, to keep fighting up hills or to work on increasing my cadence? My natural rpm is around 80. I have read some info lately suggesting that if I want to improve hill climbs I need to get off the hills for awhile and work on increasing my cadence to 110+. (I assume building muscle memory). Is this good or bad advice? I've fell in with a good group of club riders recently and I feel I'm doing fine for my limited experience until we hit the hills. Then I get dropped quickly. I expected to be dropped but It opened my eyes to my biggest weakness. Thanks in advance for any help, btw you never understand why someone would spend so much money, time and energy on a bike until you actually do it once.... Man this is fun!!! Mike

  2. Felt_Rider

    Felt_Rider Active Member

    Oct 24, 2004
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    For starters it sounds like you are doing pretty good based on just starting cycling a few months ago. Others that have better wisdom on training may chime in. From my perspective and reading your description being dropped on the hills has more to do with fitness than it does for cadence. Improving your fitness will help you endure those surges on the hills.

    I came off the hills for a different reason and that was to sustain effort for a longer duration. When I was riding with friends/groups on rolling hills and uploading my power data after these rides all my efforts would not count much for training endurance were just a few minutes long and sometimes not even a minute long. Once we crested the hill effort would go to zero watts coasting down the other side and then on the flat while drafting the watts were lower intensity even though the speed could be high. For me those type of group rides were not helping me improve endurance and in fact I started to get worse because I got into a trend of being too sore and fatigued from those repeated match burning efforts that I could not training for a number of days following. I was forced to change and made the hard choice to go to a style of training that some of the guys here would recommend and it involved more solo training time.

    By going to flatter roads I was able to get into a certain training intensity and try more for what is called SST or Sweet Spot Training. It is in this spot where I began to see improvement or I may go out and do a flattish route for 4 to 5 hours at a lower intensity and go for greater volume for that particular day. Not all group rides are bad, but for me I was not progressing in my particular group because there is rarely moments of sustained effort, but every few weeks I will rejoin my group of friends just to keep my legs tuned to those hard short surges on the hills and to keep my bike handling skills in tune.

    I have spent the last couple of years with a focus on raising my ceiling of functional threshold (endurance/fitness) and it has worked in comparison with those same group of friends. Not only am I not getting dropped, but I am right there in the front. When there has been a break away I am now in that group. This is happening after this 2 years of focused training and while I have been doing this another aspect has been happening and that is my bodyweight continues to drop a little more at a time. With this sort of focus one can potentially get a great double bonus if handled right and that is watts/kg or the amount of fitness in conjunction with bodyweight. It is much harder for me personally to increase the watts portion so I focus primarily on that aspect and let the training reshape my body into something lighter and more endurance oriented.

    In a nutshell that would be my two cents - Sustained power output and bodyweight (watts/kg). There are other threads here that get into to the details like the first pages of the "it's killing me thread."

    By the way having a fast cadence is certainly a good thing, but my cadence is much slower than yours and I am still doing okay now days holding in the group because of better endurance. I do cadence drills, but it is not my primary focus.
  3. vspa

    vspa Active Member

    Jan 11, 2009
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    if you ride 4 times a week, one day being your club ride, then you get 3 training rides: 1) one day use it for endurance training where you can ride for at least 2 hours in the 70% to 80% Heart Rate zone 2) another day use it for interval training, where you go close to 90% Hear Rate for short or long intervals, short being 3 to 5 minutes and long being up to 20 minutes each, (total ride between 1 and 2 hours) 3) the final training day before the club ride see how you feel and mix in endurance with higher efforts here and there p.s. in the endurance training day try to hit the upper limits, closer to 80% heart rate p.s. training with a powermeter is more accurate but it is also divided into training zones