Sprints, Intervals, Sustained climbs, and Hill repeats



EvilGoodGuy

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Jul 31, 2004
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Do hill repeats and sustained climbs (i.e., 20km at 5 - 6%) replace sprint intervals (30sec sprints) and longer intervals (i.e., 2 x 20min)? and visa versa? Will I get the same benefits? Perhaps I'm missing something here...

I have not attempted intervals while training (atleast by the definition I have in my mind, 2 x 20min on flatroads), all my "hard" training is done through hill repeats and sustained climbs since I live in a hilly area. Am I missing out on anything?
 

frenchyge

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Apr 3, 2005
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EvilGoodGuy said:
Do hill repeats and sustained climbs (i.e., 20km at 5 - 6%) replace sprint intervals (30sec sprints) and longer intervals (i.e., 2 x 20min)? and visa versa? Will I get the same benefits?
Pretty much. The body's adaptation is primarily a function of 2 things -- intensity and duration (and even duration can be a function of intensity). A 30-second hard fast climb can replace a 30-second sprint if the intensity is similar. Likewise, a long sustained climb near threshold can replace a 20-minute flat threshold interval.
 

Lonnie Utah

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Aug 21, 2004
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I don't know about you guys, but I find hills more usefull for this stuff as you can't "cheat" as easily...

L
 

frenchyge

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Lonnie Utah said:
I don't know about you guys, but I find hills more usefull for this stuff as you can't "cheat" as easily...
Get a powermeter, cheater! :D
 

dm69

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Lonnie Utah said:
I don't know about you guys, but I find hills more usefull for this stuff as you can't "cheat" as easily...

L
Me too, plus I love climbing anyway :D . To answer the OP there is no difference doing intervals on a hill instead of a flat if you have the same intensity. I would recommend vo2max intervals of 15-30 seconds (the hardest type of intervals IMO) up a hill because you know if your slacking when you get to the top. Roll down the bottom of the hill again have a minutes rest and repeat for 5-10 reps.
On longer intervals such as kilometer ON kilometer OFF where the intervals are over a minute to complete I recommend flat ground, do this interval (1 kilo all out 1 kilo recovery) for upto 20-60km's (10-30 hard kilometers) by the time you get to the end you start swaying around the road at 18km/h so you get more rest between intervals lol!!!

I also recommend that you already have an established base before you do these intervals as endurance will be the determining factor as to how well you can complete these drills. The pro's all do it that way and they manage to beat the hacks who go intense all year round.

Here is my month to month, month, month plan (very rough)

base & weights (gain fat and muscle), base (drop to race weight),SE & base, SE and TT's (start racing), TT's and intervals and race, INTENSITY (all hard exercises) incorporate more sprints and race, RACE more sprints less km's, RACE, RACE, little break before preparing totally on that BIG race you want to win, then finally we come to month 12 give yourself a little break (1-3 weeks) do a bit of X-training and put some weight on that now skinny frame (dont worry it will come off in the base period :D )

You ask if you are missing out on anything? Here is my advice do everything between 5 second sprint intervals and 35 km TT's in little gears (spinning),big gears (mashing) and normal cadence this way you should have speed and strength on race day.
 

EvilGoodGuy

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Jul 31, 2004
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Thanks everyone for the advice!:D

Excellent! I have had this odd feeling that the hill work wasn't enough. Similarly to other posters, it seems that hills weed out the slight possibility of "cheating." On a couple of the hills around my house, I have to go all out to make it to the top. If I cheat, I'll fall over...lol. I think there is something psychologically easier about pushing myself on a hill versus a flat road.

Not to complicate the issue at hand, but what if my target race is very flat? Would I be better off training on flat roads (i.e., specificity)? Further, will the muscles needed to race fast on the flats be different than the muscles I've trained to climb hills during my repeats and sustained climbs? In short, if I've trained to be fast on the hills, will I be fast on the flats?
 

Billsworld

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Sep 6, 2005
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Dont you need to sprint to the finish from time to time.? In my experience the position on the bike and cadence is a bit different on a sprint vs. a climb. I think its a different skill
 

RapDaddyo

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May 17, 2005
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EvilGoodGuy said:
what if my target race is very flat? Would I be better off training on flat roads (i.e., specificity)? Further, will the muscles needed to race fast on the flats be different than the muscles I've trained to climb hills during my repeats and sustained climbs? In short, if I've trained to be fast on the hills, will I be fast on the flats?
If your race is on the flat, your power is going to be extremely stochastic as the paceline surges on and off. This can be initially disconcerting, where you're averaging X watts, but with a +/- variance of 100-150 watts. If you don't have a chance to ride a fast paceline practice ride, you might want to do some highly stochastic L4 intervals (e.g., FT+100W for 10s, FT-100W for 10s, repeat ad infinitum). These actually result in NP=AP=FT, but they're a little freaky mentally. I had to do some to believe that the physiological stress was equivalent to a constant ride at FT.
 

palewin

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Billsworld said:
Dont you need to sprint to the finish from time to time.? In my experience the position on the bike and cadence is a bit different on a sprint vs. a climb. I think its a different skill
Billsworld is correct, and raises the points all the other posters skipped. If your goal is purely to train power, flats and hills make no difference, as long as the powermeter reads the same watts. But climbing uses different, and as I understand it, more muscles, than riding on the flat. That's why CTS set their power targets higher for climbing repeats than they do for flat-land steady state intervals (i.e. in their opinion its easier to hit higher numbers climbing than on the flat, and at least for me that is true). Secondly, most of us climb at a lower cadence than we ride on the flat, so the muscular training of the two is different, even if the pure power may be the same.
 

WarrenG

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Sep 8, 2003
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EvilGoodGuy said:
Interesting point Palewin and Billsworld, I am curious about other's thoughts....

These two have it right. On a hill the pedal stroke is slightly different. Less help from momentum in the weaker portions of the pedal stroke. This is one reason my coach has me do almost all of my threshold and above training on hills. It is also a little bit closer to the effects of wind resistance at race speeds at these intensities. Some use motorpacing for some similar reasons.

For me, and for others who have mentioned it, slightly higher power (~5%) is available on hills at a given intensity (HR, PE) so this should be accounted for in the training plan/objectives.

Sprinting on a hill requires maintaining relatively higher force (and the resulting lower cadence) than a sprint on the flat. Hill sprints are good for extended one's sprint. On the flat you can perfect the techniques of getting up to high speed/cadence, then settling into the saddle to finish out the sprint. On a hill you may never get your cadence high enough to warrant sitting down to finish the sprint. This can be useful training too.
 

snaps10

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Apr 26, 2006
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also remember that there is alot of technique involved in riding. you ride different (not necessarily harder) in the hills than on the flats.