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p != b
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In order to try and improve one of my biggest weaknesses (I'm a cat 5, I've got plenty), I've been climbing a fair bit. Usually two climb-rides during the week, plus racing (or additional climbs if it's a flat crit) on the weekend.

I had been mostly hitting an easier climb, usually ~90 minutes, 22 miles. I feel strong on this one, and am able to push myself at more of what feels like a climbing (in a racing sense) tempo - pushing hard, but still spinning pretty quick (usually no slower than 80 rpm on the steepest parts, which are at the end).

A teammate (whose advice I'm not entirely sure is that great) says that I should be doing a different climb instead - a little less than 20 miles, still takes about 90 minutes. One of the biggest differences is the fact that the steepest section is pretty close to the beginning, and I never am able to feel 'good' riding it - almost anywhere that it gets a little steeper turns into a 40-50rpm slogfest.

I've just been doing the harder climb more recently, but wonder if that's the right decision. Is spending this much time in the low-cadence/high-power region really going to help me climb faster in races? Obviously it'd be great if I could ride the harder ride with a higher cadence, but I simply can't with my leg strength and gearing (34x50, 12-25). Advice?
 
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bopApocalypse said:
In order to try and improve one of my biggest weaknesses (I'm a cat 5, I've got plenty), I've been climbing a fair bit. Usually two climb-rides during the week, plus racing (or additional climbs if it's a flat crit) on the weekend.

I had been mostly hitting an easier climb, usually ~90 minutes, 22 miles. I feel strong on this one, and am able to push myself at more of what feels like a climbing (in a racing sense) tempo - pushing hard, but still spinning pretty quick (usually no slower than 80 rpm on the steepest parts, which are at the end).

A teammate (whose advice I'm not entirely sure is that great) says that I should be doing a different climb instead - a little less than 20 miles, still takes about 90 minutes. One of the biggest differences is the fact that the steepest section is pretty close to the beginning, and I never am able to feel 'good' riding it - almost anywhere that it gets a little steeper turns into a 40-50rpm slogfest.

I've just been doing the harder climb more recently, but wonder if that's the right decision. Is spending this much time in the low-cadence/high-power region really going to help me climb faster in races? Obviously it'd be great if I could ride the harder ride with a higher cadence, but I simply can't with my leg strength and gearing (34x50, 12-25). Advice?
You need to be spending yur climbing workouts on smaller hills where you can do hill repeats and work on interval training on the hills.

Do continual repeats where you can vary you cadence, your power, sit, stand, etc.

Get to the top turn around and do it again.

Over, and over and ............

Hill workouts don't cover a lot of territory, they just take a lot of time.
 
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bopApocalypse said:
How long do you suggest? 1 minute? 2? 5? 10?

tia.
I did a climbing clinic last weekend with a former pro.

The interesting thing from it was that none of the drills he had us do had "on" for more than 1 minute.

The drills that had us "on" the gas either by effort or cadence for as long as 1 minute were followed by 2 minutes of recovery.

He suggested that many of the drills should last no more than 10 minutes, wherever you are on the hill a that point, turn around, go back down and start again.
 

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bopApocalypse said:
In order to try and improve one of my biggest weaknesses (I'm a cat 5, I've got plenty), I've been climbing a fair bit. Usually two climb-rides during the week, plus racing (or additional climbs if it's a flat crit) on the weekend.

I had been mostly hitting an easier climb, usually ~90 minutes, 22 miles. I feel strong on this one, and am able to push myself at more of what feels like a climbing (in a racing sense) tempo - pushing hard, but still spinning pretty quick (usually no slower than 80 rpm on the steepest parts, which are at the end).

A teammate (whose advice I'm not entirely sure is that great) says that I should be doing a different climb instead - a little less than 20 miles, still takes about 90 minutes. One of the biggest differences is the fact that the steepest section is pretty close to the beginning, and I never am able to feel 'good' riding it - almost anywhere that it gets a little steeper turns into a 40-50rpm slogfest.

I've just been doing the harder climb more recently, but wonder if that's the right decision. Is spending this much time in the low-cadence/high-power region really going to help me climb faster in races? Obviously it'd be great if I could ride the harder ride with a higher cadence, but I simply can't with my leg strength and gearing (34x50, 12-25). Advice?
I'd suggest quit spinning up that hill.

Whats your HR going up it? 150?

Your probably not working hard enough.
 

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90 minutes seems very excessive, id take the advice of these blokes here it works for me. Im no expert, but i dont feel much of a difference between a 5-10 min to a 30+ climb of similar gradient( i just find a rhythm if and keep going), only point is that the longer depletes the energy stores more and that is it. I choose to throw in smaller repeats like these blokes have advised, working on my sustainable power at near maximum on these, or do steeper hills.
 

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it depends what your goals are with the training. Hills are a good place to work on power at threshold since it's easier to spend blocks of time there at or near threshold (measure it with either power or heartrate). The point with that is to spend at least 20minutes at/near threshold per work (repeated 3+ times) (see other posts for sweetspot/threshold discussions).

As a cat 5, this is probably good to work on since a limiter is likely aerobic endurance and a day or two/week focusing on this is good (midweek if possible).

The one minute intervals people are discussing don't really have to be done on a hill. Other forms of anaerobic capacity training are similar. These are fine but don't make it the exclusive part of your climbing work.
 

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hmm, i suck at hills as well. i had been wanting to ask on here about them as well, but ill post it right in here in case you might have a similar problem...

i know my fitness isnt top notch yet since i dont have a regular traiing routine, but i feel a big part of being bad at hills is my power. im fairly light at 150lbs, but most of that is my upper body (used to weight lift). my legs are pretty damn skinny, especially the calves. i think i need to gain strength in that area. hmmm
 

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Dr. Flats a lot
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the grind

Now there are folks that climbing just comes to. They just smoke it going up. That ain't me. It's always been my weak spot. I've tried to get better at it for awhile. Used to just hammer it over and over through the biggest pitches I could find. It might have gotten me fitter but it didn't make me faster.
Tried just working on my strenths and figured I could use my big diesel to chase folks down on the flats.....nope. You lose the pack and you're bent.
What really has helped is working on my pedal stroke and using muscle tension. Basically to keep constant pressure on the pedals all through the pedal stroke, concentrating on the top and bottoms of my stroke. Keep it slightly overgeared and rpm's around 70. I try not to just hammer my lungs and get to my max heart rate 200meters from the base. Instead try to calm down at the start lock my upper body and just concentrate on the pedals and breathing. Best case scenereo start the climb from the front so you're less likely to get dropped if you fall off the pace. When it flattens a little spin it up and use the high rpms to cycle the lactate out and recover.
 

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Domestic Drivin' E-Thug
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Variety is the key to making a good climber. You need to do every kind of climb. Personally, I live in a very mountainous area in NorCal. We have every kind of climb, and all of them help my climbing ability.

During the week, I do 8 intense intervals with varying grades, none of these intervals being longer then 7 minutes. On the weekend, if I'm not racing, I'm doing much longer climbs on mountain passes. I'll do 4, 30 minutes climbs with high cadence followed by 1 30 minute climb in the 53x21. The first 2 climbs are in Zone2, the next 2 are steady state, while the last climb is all out. This stresses both my muscular endurance as well as my cadence and stroke.

The best way to become a good climber is to climb A LOT, but really mix it up. If all you're ever doing is Zone4 20 minutes climbs in your most comfortable gear then you're never going to feel like you're really breaking through.
 

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Serious suggestion: get (or borrow) a singlespeed mountain bike and go hammer some local trails with short, punchy hills.

I'm primarily a mountain biker but this does wonders for my climbing on the road bike. After you have faced a steep wall of roots and loose dirt with only one gear, you don't even think twice about an 8% grade on the road.

The best part is you don't have to think about varying your "intervals" because the terrain does that for you. Every short, steep hill becomes a red line effort. You will be forced to mash, spin, stand, heave, crawl and basically do anything you can to make it up that hill. You will also develop strong back muscles from hauling on your bars with all your might.
 

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I agree with the SS mountain bike suggestion.

I can't remember where I read an interview with Lucien van Impe about his hill training. He grew up in a famously flat country (Belgium), but still became a legendary climber. He said his dad, who was his early coach, simply had him do hill repeats on the biggest hill in his neighborhood.

I think there are two ingredients to climbing. One is simply power to weight ratio. But since the gradient always varies, the other ingredient is the ability to go anaerobic (for the steepest sections) and then be able to recover enough for the next bout.
 

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Long-time student of climbing. I live where there are many many great climbs with lots of variety. Just this season I made some small but noticable improvment in my rather lackluster climbing...I am pretty big at 6'1" and 165#, so I've struggled, but I love the climbs, so I keep working at it..

A US Nat. champ who's a teammate is a killer climber, so I've been trying some of his workouts. He does a couple of leg-strength drills every week where he *really* lugs it. I mean like 40rpm cadence in his big ring on a 8% climb.. I began putting in some time like that, usually about twice a week, and it seems to be helping. I even 'won' a climb-fest with club guys who've always taken me before.

Also, the "concentrate on your pedal stroke" advice: I've been doing that as well on the climbs, making sure I apply force evenly around the pedal stroke. Which one of those things is responsible for my improvement? Maybe both. One caution: Be watchful of any knee pain if you incorporate those slow cadence/high force drills. It's not good to irritate your knees during the season..
Don Hanson
 

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pretender said:
One is simply power to weight ratio. But since the gradient always varies, the other ingredient is the ability to go anaerobic (for the steepest sections) and then be able to recover enough for the next bout.
Sustained power (aerobic fitness) and recovery from suprathreshold efforts are the same thing.
 
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