Road Bike, Cycling Forums banner
1 - 20 of 25 Posts

·
aka Zoo
Joined
·
763 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I know it takes lots of miles to get good at hill climbing, this is my second year of actual training and racing and need some advice. What do I do for my climbing endurance? If there's a fairly large hill with a gradual gradient I normally don't have too many issues, but if it's long then I can usually make it about half way up and then my legs don't want to do anymore work. And if the climb turns steep then my HR max's out and it's like hitting a brick wall for me. I live in NH so I have plenty of hills to train on and I rarely take the easier route, the bigger the hill the more likely I'll be riding up it, I ride hill after hill and am have been training this year starting in January and am up to about 450 miles on the bike for April and am gonna try to step it up in a big way to like 600+ miles for May. The only positive thing I can say is that I recover extremely fast now once I get to the top of the climb which I could not do last year. I have no problem on flats or rolling hills but any sustained climbing and I'm doomed, this was my biggest weakness last year and I'm trying to make it a strength for this year but I don't know what else to do. I ride as many hills as I possibly can on my training ride and I have been doing some hill intervals. I've also lost 40+ lbs from last year so I feel a lot better than that but still have some more weight to lose, I'm 5'7" 160lbs, just to give you an idea of how much weight I'm pushing up the hill.

Also, will weight lifting help at all with climbing?

Thanks.
 

·
Power Napper
Joined
·
2,853 Posts
Arnie Baker

One of the best sources I have ever found for climbing traning is Dr. Arnie Baker's "ACE training" ebook. ACE stands for Altitude Climbing Endurance, and it was originally written as a training program for cyclists attempting the Death Ride in the Sierra Nevada Mtns in California. But it has great info for anyone wanting to get better at climbing. I think it is available off of the Roadbike Rider website.

As a whole your approach is good since to get better you just have to do it. At this point in the season I wouldn't focus on the weight room, work on building on-bike strength. Try the weight room next winter.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,838 Posts
theBreeze said:
One of the best sources I have ever found for climbing traning is Dr. Arnie Baker's "ACE training" ebook. ACE stands for Altitude Climbing Endurance, and it was originally written as a training program for cyclists attempting the Death Ride in the Sierra Nevada Mtns in California. But it has great info for anyone wanting to get better at climbing. I think it is available off of the Roadbike Rider website.

As a whole your approach is good since to get better you just have to do it. At this point in the season I wouldn't focus on the weight room, work on building on-bike strength. Try the weight room next winter.

He has definitely progressed.. He just seems to need to finish it off some how.

My bike is finally starting to feel lighter underneath me on the hills again.. which is definitely a good sign (I'm must be starting to lose weight too!)

I think Chris Carmichael would definitely recommend some sort of periodization..
 

·
Game on, b*tches!
Joined
·
13,528 Posts
But you don't want to do it EVEYTIME OUT. You'll burn out. Pick some hills that you can interval train on and rest in between them. NH should be fairly easy to do this in; PA is good for this. Rest the day after that(ride easy). Repeat.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,555 Posts
Two thoughts.

...but if it's long then I can usually make it about half way up and then my legs don't want to do anymore work.
It looks to me as if you're having a problem pacing yourself on longer hills. Many less-experienced riders attack hills at the very bottom as if sheer inertia, guts and willpower will carry them to the top at high speed. The first few minutes of a long hill climb should have you consciously hold back a bit - you need to reserve some of your finite energy for the last half of the climb. It's mentally a very difficult to do, especially when other riders pull away from you.


...this was my biggest weakness last year and I'm trying to make it a strength for this year
I don't mean to be negative here, but it's extremely difficult to pull a worst-to-best-climber training scenario off. The best hill climbers are physiologically extremely gifted for doing just that - they are "made to climb." Unless you are as well, it might be best to concentrate on limiting your losses up a long hill. Learn to pace yourself, and using your excellent powers of recovery, take a couple of short breathers during the climb by easing off the pedals for a few crank revolutions. Once near the top, you might have enough energy left to reel a couple of riders who frantically powered away from you at the bottom part of the hill - a sweet feeling.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
15,996 Posts
My advice is a little biased, since I'm 6', 138lbs, but as long as you're just talking about climbing compared to yourself, not winning races, there's some advice I could give you.

First, It's great that you're willing to continue to push up climbs that are hard for you.

If you're blowing up halfway through the clmb, my suggestion would be to spin a higher cadence, especially at the bottom. If the climb is over 3k, start at the bottom in your LOWEST GEAR, even if that's ridiculously too low. Spin it up to 100rpm, and upshift if it's sustainable to do so. On your hard days, force yourself to attack the CREST, the last 500 meters, of each climb.

Just keep doing it; you'll learn your limits better and probably lose more upper body weight.

Stay in the saddle unless it gets really steep, and keep your upper body relaxed!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
30 Posts
Argentius said:
...
If you're blowing up halfway through the clmb, my suggestion would be to spin a higher cadence, especially at the bottom. ...
i'm the opposite. cadence for me is the killer.

it seems like i can keep lactic acid from pulling the plug on my legs if i grind up the hill under 70rpm. spinning it up brings the legs to a bloated death.

i'm really working on spinning this year, however, as i finally got a cadence monitor; keeping >90rpm is uber hard though. long before my heart and lungs die, the legs become timber and i am done.

hopefully interval training will help me to change my muscle type?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
108 Posts
great thread. love it.

But, whenever i hear people say that staying in the saddle is better, i feel weird. i assume people recomend that becazuse it is harder for most riders to remain seated while climbing. I personally, just die whenever i try to stand on a bike. i just need to sit and spin fast even on the steepest climb. To the extent that a friend of mine was trying to convince me that i need to learn how to stand on the bike.... am i stupid? (I am 6foot and around 92kg)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
192 Posts
Perception & willpower

play a huge part in climbing. In my petty and limited experience most people mentally talk themselves out of climbing well. Before I was injured I could outclimb men I know for a fact were fitter and lighter than I. But I have a peculiar problem - I am the worst bike handler you can imagine.On the decents I would be dropped for dead if I was next or near an average cyclist. I got fed up with this and used the uphill sections to gain time before the decents.
I never even thought conciously about this - I just suffered like a dog so that I wouldn't be humiliated on decents. We have a 200K hilly event here every year. And every year I was the only guy going into it who was more concerned about the decents ! So my conclusion is that your state of mind plays a big part in you ability to climb - put simply - how much are you willing to hurt?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
21,832 Posts
Standing

fouadaswad said:
But, whenever i hear people say that staying in the saddle is better, i feel weird. i assume people recomend that becazuse it is harder for most riders to remain seated while climbing. I personally, just die whenever i try to stand on a bike. i just need to sit and spin fast even on the steepest climb. To the extent that a friend of mine was trying to convince me that i need to learn how to stand on the bike.... am i stupid? (I am 6foot and around 92kg)
The general guide is that people under 140 lb/65 kg are often better off standing more, while those over 160 lb/75 kg are better off remaining seated, only standing to stretch or to respond to attacks/very steep sections. It takes more energy to ride standing up as you are having to support your weight with your legs instead of sitting on the saddle. For heavier riders, the penalty for standing is relatively higher.
 

·
chamois creme addict
Joined
·
1,479 Posts
Depends

fouadaswad said:
great thread. love it.

But, whenever i hear people say that staying in the saddle is better, i feel weird. i assume people recomend that becazuse it is harder for most riders to remain seated while climbing. I personally, just die whenever i try to stand on a bike. i just need to sit and spin fast even on the steepest climb. To the extent that a friend of mine was trying to convince me that i need to learn how to stand on the bike.... am i stupid? (I am 6foot and around 92kg)
Whether to stand or not involves a lot of variables. Length of climb, steepness of climb, preferred cadence (spinner/masher), and physical size and fitness all come into play. In general, short climbs that are steeper, say 1-2 minutes long with grades above 8% are often climbed faster out of the saddle despite the higher energy cost. Longer climbing efforts, the best plan is to sit as much as possible, keep the leg speed up and stand periodically to use different muscles and also to respond to changes in gradient and/or pace.

In terms of physical size, Kerry is right in that the smaller riders will pay less of a price in energy consumption when they climb out of the saddle. But at the same time, in a racing situation on a short but steep climb, a larger rider can sometimes have the advantage based on pure power alone. After a certain amount of time climbing, it becomes a power to weight game but for punchy climbs of 1-2 minutes, sometimes the little lightweight climber guys can have problems. To give an example at the Euro Pro level, it is why a relatively big guy like Tom Boonen (or Johan Museeuw before him) can drop anyone on the short steep bergs in the Tour of Flanders, yet on longer climbs like those found in Liege-Bastogne-Liege the scale tips back to the smaller, lighter yet still explosive riders like Bettini, Rebellin, Boogerd et al. And when it comes to the long climbs found in the Grand Tours, the pendulum swings in favor of riders who have a tremendous aerobic capacity to climb for long periods of time at a high speed while at the aerobic/anaerobic threshold. This is totally about power to weight. Of course there are anomalies, such as Miguel Indurain being able to climb in the high mountains with the best at 6'2" and 78-80 kg. Too bad the power meter was not really a popular tool in Indurain's days, as I'm sure his sustainable power for 1 hour was an impressive number.
 

·
It's all ball bearings
Joined
·
5,285 Posts
fouadaswad said:
I personally, just die whenever i try to stand on a bike. i just need to sit and spin fast even on the steepest climb. To the extent that a friend of mine was trying to convince me that i need to learn how to stand on the bike.... am i stupid? (I am 6foot and around 92kg)
Man, I am completely the opposite. When I'm climbing seated, its all I can do to resist the urge to just get up. I think it's important to do whatever feels right to the individual, but at the same time I make it a point to focus my training on the things that I am bad at; I force myself to stay in the saddle more than I would normally be comfortable doing when training, but when it comes to race day I just do whatever feels right at the time.
 

·
Windrider (Stubborn)
Joined
·
22,029 Posts
No one has mentioned......

relative effort in all this advice. I'm surprised.

When I have a long climb.........I try to target a heartrate about 10-15 below my LT and try to do the first 1/2 to 2/3's of the climb in a gear and cadence that keeps my heartrate in this zone (especially if it's not late in a long ride)....for me this is 167 to 172 (My LT is 182). I train to be able to do 1+ hour efforts in this range. When I get to the last 1/3 of the climb, I'll up my tempo eventually reaching slightly above LT for the last 10% or so of the climb. This method ensures that there is enough in the tank to not only finish the climb but also the ride. I also do mostly seated climbing, but on long climbs I'l stand intermittantly just to change the muscle groups and cadence.

Of course, this assumes that you have the right low gears for your fitness level and are not worried about speed. Everyone does long climbs at their own pace.

I live in the flatlands & use intervals into the wind to build my power at high heartrate to get ready for mountain climbing. I do find though that a weeks vacation in the mountains improves my climbing measurably.

Len
 

·
Scary Teddy Bear
Joined
·
14,801 Posts
Len J said:
relative effort in all this advice. I'm surprised.

When I have a long climb.........I try to target a heartrate about 10-15 below my LT and try to do the first 1/2 to 2/3's of the climb in a gear and cadence that keeps my heartrate in this zone (especially if it's not late in a long ride)....for me this is 167 to 172 (My LT is 182). I train to be able to do 1+ hour efforts in this range. When I get to the last 1/3 of the climb, I'll up my tempo eventually reaching slightly above LT for the last 10% or so of the climb. This method ensures that there is enough in the tank to not only finish the climb but also the ride. I also do mostly seated climbing, but on long climbs I'l stand intermittantly just to change the muscle groups and cadence.

Of course, this assumes that you have the right low gears for your fitness level and are not worried about speed. Everyone does long climbs at their own pace.

I live in the flatlands & use intervals into the wind to build my power at high heartrate to get ready for mountain climbing. I do find though that a weeks vacation in the mountains improves my climbing measurably.

Len
Agreed, I'm a relative newb and at 6'0" and 210#, I am definitely a clyde, but I think of myself as a climber...I think, as with most of this sport, a large part of it is mental. Instead of thinking, I sucked at climbing last year, and I'm going to try to do better this year, just think, I'm going to climb.....keep it simple. I am able to keep up with many of the better riders on the longer climbs and short steep climbs within reason.....the 20+% graders notwithstanding. I simply refuse to think of it as something that I am bad at, or that I can't do because of body size. I will sometimes pay for it later, but to me, I am a climber, and I am a clyde.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
291 Posts
Another vote for Arnie Baker's ACE book. It is one of the most common sense easy to read and follow books on cycling I've ever read. Everything you want to know about climbing is right there with the experience and coaching knowledge to back it up. You can get lots of good advice by scouring the forums, but the book puts it all in front of you. The ACE book made a huge difference for me. Best part is you can order it online and get it as a PDF almost instantly.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,506 Posts
Your almost there!

You're riding the climbs. If you really hated them you'd go out of your way to miss them. AND, you have the desire. It sounds as if you are really just going too hard to maintain that effort. You probably just need to A.) Either slow down and maintain a pace that will allow you to complete the climb, or B) Work to extend the time that you can maintain the pace you're riding now. I'd do some of both.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
15,996 Posts
Sounds reasonable

I'm just under your artificial weight break (where'd you read that, BTW?) and find that, for sustained climbs I climb shallow-to-moderate pitches (5% or less) better seated, and steeper stuff I stay out of the saddle.

When I started out, I was like fouadaswad -- standing for more than a dozen pedal revs burned the legs. I was obviously less conditioned and 20 lbs heavier at 158 lb / 72 kg. Now standing is more "comfortable" than sitting oftentimes.

But sitting v standing in detail is another thread.

Basically, I feel the benefits of standing only come when you're going less than, say, 20k/hr. Because of the exponential aerodynamic penalty, when I'm going up a 4% grade but working hard and going 25 k/hr, I still find it worthwhile to stay fairly aero.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
94 Posts
Keep on truckin man.
I was in the same boat last year and years past(last year seemd the worse though).
I'm 5'9'' and dropped from 170 to 145 and it has made a big difference getting over the hills. I also like to sit and get a comftorable cadence while focusing on breathing.
Good luck
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,240 Posts
At 6', 200lbs, I am hardly a svelte lightweight climber. But I find that my technique seems to keep me in touch with the group I am racing against.

First, on short, non-steep, fast rises, I move myself to the front of the group, to prevent place dropping when the attacks come on.

Second, on short, steep climbs (>10% grad., less than 1mile in length), I do a spin-out to the highest cog I have, a 25, and then criss-cross the road. I manage more pedal strokes, and probably longer distance than the guys going straight uphill, but I get there quickly. For a man my size, more than a 10% gradiant can be a killer.

Finally, on long climbs, more than say 3-4-5 miles, with differing gradiants, I tend to stay in the saddle on the lesser grads, and then stand with a high cadence on the steeper parts. There is one reasonable climb near my house, up Peavine Falls Road, at Double Oak Mtn State Park(more like a foothill), that travels about 4 miles, straight up. No gradiant really larger than 11-12%. Patience is the key for us bigger boys, as another poster eluded to.
 
1 - 20 of 25 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top