Every rider struggles with hill climbs, no matter how experienced or how new they are to the saddle and, whether measured in metres or miles, every stretch of road crawling upwards is often the bane of every cyclist. But there are a few ways, not including avoiding them completely, to make them more tolerable during your next ride.
“Riding uphill is an integral part to riding outdoors,” says Chris Stanton,Third Space Performance Master Trainer and triathlete coach, who is on hand to share a few of his go-to tips. “Whether its conquering a local climb or suffering to the summit of Alpe d’Huez, here are a few tips to refine your training approach, overcome the forces of gravity and become a better hill climber.” Let’s get moving.
Increase Your Ability to Apply Force to the Pedals
“Ride on a static bike at an RPE of 7-8/10 or 85-95% of FTP (Functional Threshold Power). Your cadence will be 60-70 RPM and intervals will last four to eight minutes in duration,” says Stanton. “Increase your ability to ride the same power at a range of cadences, as following this approach will help you choose the right gear ratio to glide up any climb and gradient. Be sure to practice both Standing and seated riding.”
Don’t Neglect Strength Training
Perhaps surprisingly, it’s not all about time spent in the saddle. Rather, grinding out the reps in the weights room will help you during your next ride. “Strength training off the bike will train the muscles with a greater range of motion and angle of force,” says Stanton. “Target your glutes, quads and calves. These key muscle groups will generate the power and stablise your body under increased forces.” Here are a few exercies Stanton recommends:
Dumbbell Loaded Step-up
1) Whilst holding a dumbbell in your left hand, place your right foot on top of the box making sure the entire foot is in contact with the surface.
2) Drive your body up pushing through the heel of the foot that is on the box.
3) Lower yourself slowly back down to the floor, and repeat.
TRX Single Leg Squat
1) Start standing on one leg with a TRX handle in each hand and tension in the straps.
2) With your front leg flexed slowly sit down into a squat. Try to use the TRX as little as possible.
3) Once you have reached the bottom of your range of motion, press into the floor with your standing leg to drive yourself back up.
4) Repeat for designated number of sets and reps.
Marching Glute Bridge
1) Start on your back, with your arms and feet flat on the floor.
2) Contract your glutes and push your heels downward to raise your hips. Keep going until the hips are fully extended.
3) In this position, squeeze the glutes as hard as possible.
4) Taking care to keep your balance, lift one leg from the floor in a controlled manner.
5) Balance for a second, then return the foot to the ground and then repeat on the other leg. Continue alternating for the designated number of sets and reps or time period.
Work on Your Upper-body
It’s not all about the lower-body when it comes to more efficient and stronger cycling. “Your upper body and shoulders fatigue more quickly whilst climbing,” says Stanton. The two moves below will help address this, and only need a suspension trainer.
1) Start in a kneeling position facing away from the TRX with both feet in the foot cradles.
2) Get into a high plank position, ensuring your hands are stacked underneath your shoulders and you are forming a straight line from head to ankles.
3) Lower your chest to the floor, keeping your elbows tight to your torso.
4) Engage your pectorals/chest to push back up to your plank position. 5) Contract your abdominals to raise your hips toward the ceiling and pull your knees into your chest.
5) Lower your body back to the high plank position and then repeat for designated number of sets and reps.
1) Grab the TRX handles and walk your feet backward until there is tension in the straps. Lean back approx 45 degrees and riase your arms up in front of you. This is your starting position.
2) Retract your shoulder blades back and down, then pull the handles up wide overhead, whist keeping your arms almost locked out.
3) Lower your body back to your starting position and repeat.