How do you train for hills when you have no hills to train on?

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by JoelTGM, Nov 22, 2011.

  1. JoelTGM

    JoelTGM New Member

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    I don't have any real hills around here to train on, so I've been wanting to find a way to build my muscles for that with some workouts. So I figure I'll have to do weights and also I'll be getting an indoor trainer soon. So by riding on the trainer for a couple hours a day practicing cadence stuff and also higher resistance riding, then doing some squats, will that help me at all with hill climbing? I need to get my quads, or I guess my legs in general, a lot bigger for track sprinting, but are your quads also important for hill climbing? Not really sure what to focus on in my workouts. Like I would think a trainer would help a lot because you can do high resistance riding as if you were on a hill, but hey I have no idea because I've never had to ride up a hill for more than 2 minutes around here.
     
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  2. lanierb

    lanierb New Member

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    In my experience you don't need to train specifically for hills. I find that training on hills does not necessarily transfer to performance on the flats, but training on the flats transfers directly to performance on the hills. In order to train for hills you simply train for the right power level. E.g., if you want to train for 5 min hills, work on your 5 min power on the flats. If you want to train for 60 min hills, work on your 60 min power on the flats.

    Definitely don't bother with squats.
     
  3. JoelTGM

    JoelTGM New Member

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    Oh I see. Thanks. Hmm, what about attacking on hills, like riding off the saddle? Is that it's own thing, or does that use the same muscles I will already be building? And you say don't bother with squats, but doesn't that help with sprinting? Like if squats don't help with hill climbing that's okay, but shouldn't I be doing them regularly anyway just to build my legs? The riders at the velodrome all have huge legs and go to the gym regularly, so I don't see how else I'll get my legs anywhere close to their's without doing some kind of weight exercise.
     
  4. scartissue22

    scartissue22 New Member

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    If you want to get into track and get big legs, get a trainer and start doing intervals using big gears. Also get protein shakes.
    The only time trackies go to the gym is when they've hit their peak ability and just want the extra weeks before racing season starts to maximise their power output.

    If you want to get into road then the best thing, if you dont have any long hills around you, would be like lanierb said and just focus on 5 minute intervals in the area you have access to.
     
  5. jhuskey

    jhuskey Moderator

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    I agree with the intervals and the big gear. Unfortunately the best training for hills is done by training on hills.
     
  6. swampy1970

    swampy1970 Well-Known Member

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    Joel,

    The biggest factor going up hills is power/weight. That's an easy one to deal with on any terrain. You can kinda/sorta replicate the effort of climbing by changing up a gear or three and riding into a brisk headwind at whatever your preferred pedalling cadence is when climbing.

    If you have a two minute hill, that's more than enough for an extremely hard interval - ride it all the way out of the saddle if you are concerned about technique.

    The only think you really miss out on with not having hills is descending.
     
  7. jhuskey

    jhuskey Moderator

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    The reason I say that you need hills to train for hills is that very few individuals have the discipline to push a trainer as to simulate a 14 mile 8% gradient. The road makes you work as opposed to a trainer that allows you to step off at any time.
    Not saying it can't be done but it take a lot more mental effort.
     
  8. lanierb

    lanierb New Member

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    I totally disagree with those saying you need to train hills to be good at hills. I actually think the opposite is true. People who live in the hills often can't keep the power up on the flats. Never met a flatlander who couldn't maintain at least his/her same flat power output on the hills.

    The only thing I can possibly think of that you can get from training on hills is that when doing hills in races it pays to have some experience so that you know how it feels to dig deep and you know what you're capable of. This is all mental not physical though.

    Of course on hills it pays to be light, as swampy said, so you might want to also lose weight if possible. But other than that basically power on the flats is completely transferrable to the hills.

    Also, for those of you are talking about pushing 8% for 14 miles being hard, are you talking about holding a low cadence or the fact that 8% for 14 miles would take a while (say, 75 mins)? If it's the low cadence you can solve that either through gearing or by training a low cadence (even on the flats but seems silly when you can just change your gears). If it's the second, then you can solve that by doing hard efforts of >75 mins (again, even on the flats). For those of you who've read my other posts you will know that I'm a big fan of long hard efforts, e.g. 120 mins at 90% of FTP, and I do these on mainly flat ground.

    Also, I'm speaking from experience on this one. I've lived in both mountainous areas (in CA) and flat areas (Toronto and various east coast US) and I've done lots of hill climb races (including Mt Washington twice, and Mt Greylock on the east coast, as well as Diablo and Tam and lots of smaller local hill climb races in CA) and in my experience I actually think I've been a better cyclist even on the long hills when I'm forced to do a lot of training on the flats.
     
  9. lanierb

    lanierb New Member

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    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jhuskey .

    The reason I say that you need hills to train for hills is that very few individuals have the discipline to push a trainer as to simulate a 14 mile 8% gradient. The road makes you work as opposed to a trainer that allows you to step off at any time.
    Not saying it can't be done but it take a lot more mental effort.

    OK I'll give you that. If the argument is that you can't mentally train hard for 90 mins without a 90min hill to climb then I suppose there's some value in using a hill for training. I guess my counterpoints would be:
    (1) in that case there's nothing inherently special physically about hill climbing. It's just mental.
    (2) I bet you would find that if you were forced to train on the flats you could work up to doing hard 90 min efforts on the flats, and
    (3) I bet you would actually be a better cyclist for it.
     
  10. An old Guy

    An old Guy Member

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    If you have a trainer and you do, it should not be hard to set the resistance and cadence to match your climbing goals. Figure out your power numbers for the length of time your climb will take. Figure out the speed for your climb. Look at the gears you have and select a gear/cadence pair that will achieve the speed. And then sit on your trainer at your training power for a length of time - for that goal.

    While real climbs are more interesting, a trainer is not much more boring if you have a goal.
     
  11. JoelTGM

    JoelTGM New Member

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    Okay cool, I know what I'll be doing then. And as for the mental part of it, I know I'm up to it because it is what I want out of my body so I'm not going to get off the bike until my legs don't push anymore, and after like 10 years of this I'll be happy I worked as hard as I did. This should be interesting.
     
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