What Muscle Groups Should I Train To Make Bicycling Uphill Easier?



MingMeng

New Member
Jun 21, 2015
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Hey guys,

I'm having a serious problem! I just got back into biking for fitness (I spent most of my time just biking casually around my neighborhood), and I've realized that I'm definitely not as good as I used to be. Everything's fine, but when I start going uphill, my leg muscles scream in agony! And it's especially weird when I see other cyclists going up the same hill with ease.

The funny thing is, the hill I'm trying to get up isn't even steep. It's pretty simple, so I can tell that my time off has deteriorated the muscles in my legs - as this used to not be a problem.

What muscles groups should I exercise / what exercises (or routines) can help me get back on track?
 

Uawadall

Well-Known Member
Jun 14, 2015
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MingMeng said:
Hey guys,

I'm having a serious problem! I just got back into biking for fitness (I spent most of my time just biking casually around my neighborhood), and I've realized that I'm definitely not as good as I used to be. Everything's fine, but when I start going uphill, my leg muscles scream in agony! And it's especially weird when I see other cyclists going up the same hill with ease.

The funny thing is, the hill I'm trying to get up isn't even steep. It's pretty simple, so I can tell that my time off has deteriorated the muscles in my legs - as this used to not be a problem.

What muscles groups should I exercise / what exercises (or routines) can help me get back on track?
You can do weight training, but it isn't really necessary in the beginning. As you've said, "you just got back" into it, these things take time.Give it a couple months and you will see progress. If anything, doing additional weights at the very beginning may do more harm than good. Increase your effort gradually and you will see big improvements.
 

jhuskey

Moderator
Oct 6, 2003
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I know this is not what you want to hear but do more climbing. Eat right, sleep well and your body will figure out which muscles to target. Weight lifting is a great thing but is not what you need to be great climber.
 
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Corzhens

Well-Known Member
May 26, 2015
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From what I remember, my informal mentor said that climbers need not only strong leg muscles but also strong thigh muscles. And his solution is the knee-bend exercise. Your hands on the nape and fold your knees until your leg touches your thigh. Do that for so many times with increases every day. That will give you the armament to be trekking uphills.
 

maydog

Well-Known Member
Feb 5, 2010
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Everyday cycling is not a strength activity. Climbing requires sustained power and which starts with good cardiovascular fitness. The pain and burn in the legs is due to depletion of energy stores, continued cycling will help you to adapt and be able to produce power efficiently.

Use your gears to maintain a steady cadence up the hills. 80 to 90 rpm is the often reccomended cadence for riding with slightly slower cadences on climbs being the norm.
 

swampy1970

Well-Known Member
Feb 3, 2008
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Ride up hills more and keep the effort to a tollerable level in a gear where you can keep your legs spinning at a reasonable rate. If you're at 60rpm or less in bottom gear the either avoid the hills until you get fitter and/or lose weight or get some lower gears fitted to your bike.

Unless you have your seat in completely the wrong place, just riding the bike will get the job done.
 

CAMPYBOB

Well-Known Member
Sep 12, 2005
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To do better on hills...better do hills.

Ride more. Climb more.
 

ZXD22

Member
Mar 21, 2015
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USA, MA, Cape Cod
Do more hills and possibly work out on your thighs and calves. Do squats and stuff that will add more muscle. More muscle = more power for those treacherous hills. Maybe some weight training would benefit you as well.
 

DancingLady

Member
Mar 9, 2015
226
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Try to engage your gluten and back of the thigh as well as the quads. You will distribute the effort more easily around the leg that way and get more power. Your flutes pull the thigh under you. One thing I think of is the idea of driving through the heel, even though your heel isn't actually what is on the pedal. It's just a way that seems to help me engage all the muscle groups better and not depend overly much on the quads.
 

BikeBikeBikeBike

Well-Known Member
May 19, 2015
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Just ride more!
Don't forget to get a good nights sleep to ensure your muscles recover and heal properly.
If you want to do strength and resistance training, simply make a list of all the muscles that were sore after your first ride. These are the ones you will want to focus on.
I am going to guess your quads (front of leg) hammies (read of leg) really need the work, Your glutes (but) and core (abs) need some work too.
Classic time tested weight lifting movements are going to be your best friend.
Squats, dead lifts, lunges and planks.
 

kermitFrost

New Member
Jul 9, 2015
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Going to the gym doesn't only help with cycling, but also with day to day life. Not to mention it makes you look and feel so much better.
You should do Barbell Squats, as they work nearly all the muscles in the legs and they basically make you stronger in every possible way.
Find a great balanced routine that includes Squats at least once a week and in a few months you'll see great results in the legs.
 
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Vickeree

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Mar 11, 2015
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You can strength train focusing specifically on exercises like squats but you really only need a base level of strength and the rest should be geared towards specificity... So if you want tobgwt better with hills then do more hills. Try varying the intensity with intervals on some days and easy rides on the other days
 

srock

New Member
Jul 14, 2015
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Nobody has mentioned core strength. People rarely do when it comes to bikes but core strength is important for all the body's movement. Strong back, abs and oblique muscles will support your posture and the power of your legs. If you're just getting back into fitness, likely your core is not very strong.
 

531Aussie

Well-Known Member
Apr 11, 2004
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DancingLady said:
Try to engage your gluten and back of the thigh
Your flutes pull the thigh under you.

Hmmm, i've never thought to use grain protein and wind instruments in these ways to help my riding
:D
 

joshposh

Banned
Apr 16, 2015
265
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Some people will get technical with you on how to strengthen your leg muscles for your scenario. Other will make it real complicated. But it's real simple. You want to hit the hills harder and be efficient at it? Then ride more often. That's the best advice anyone can give you. It's just like anything in life, you want to get better at something, you need to practice it more. You want to be bale to drive a manual transmission car, then practice on a manual transmission more often. I would tell you to hit the gym and work your wrist more so you can shift better, thats just stupid.
 

GemmaRowlands

Member
Aug 3, 2015
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The first thing that you need to remember is that there is no rush, and you shouldn't worry about not being able to do as much as you might like right away. Secondly, though, without a doubt you need to work on the power in your legs if you want to be able to achieve anything major, so this is something that you should be thinking about quite a lot. Try weight training on the days you don't get to cycle, but make sure you don't push yourself too hard, as this is only going to bring a negative effect in the future.
 

andy76

New Member
Aug 27, 2015
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I would definitely recommend you hit the gym and do some weight training. You need to strengthen your thighs and legs. Also don't get disappointed, get in your nike as often as you can . You're just starting again and it takes some time to find a rhythm again. Some other tips that could help you are not to leave the saddle or your heart will go up and then you'll have two problems instead of one.Relax and don't forget to breathe properly.
 

Keyan

Member
Jul 7, 2015
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I had the same question before. I focused on my cardio exercise and strength training because I think these will help me push harder when I climb uphill. It would not matter much if you have great leg muscles that would not deliver. The stamina will push you forward.
 

sunshiney

Member
Aug 19, 2015
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The only thing that really helped me improve on climbs was forcing myself to do as many as I could.
It's hard when you're first starting out but if you keep with it you should see your climbs improving within a few weeks, maybe a month depending on how often you ride.
I did a lot of mountain biking as well, which involved lots of steep trails. It kicked my ass but it made me a much stronger rider.
Stick with it, that first time you conquer a hill you've never made it up before is an amazing feeling :)
 

elvisish

New Member
Aug 1, 2015
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I would try riding slowly at first to warm up and wait a good 10-15 mins of mid tempo riding before trying taking it even a mild hill/slope, if possible. That way your leg muscles have a good chance to warm up before any real strenuous exercise. Perhaps even do some stretches once you get home just to keep the muscles and tendons flexible and relaxed. Besides that, just keep doing them till you get better! :)