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UPDATED March 1, 2012

BY The TDA Team

IN Silk Route

2 comments

UPDATED March 1, 2012

BY The TDA Team

IN Silk Route

2 comments

Coach Rob – Lesson #2 – Climbing Secrets

Welcome back to another article! I hope you found the last article on Pacing Strategies helpful in thinking about how you can ride smarter and more efficiently.

One of the most often sought out tips from the Positive Performance Coaching web site and the Cycling360 podcast is how to improve climbing. The query usually starts with “How to be a better climber” or “How do I climb faster”.

These are actually two very different concerns but both of them depend on many of the same variables:

Weight of the rider and bike
Grade of the climb         
Length of the climb       
Force
that a cyclist can apply to the pedals        
Gearing of the bike  

There are many more variables including weather, hydration and nutrition that can play an even bigger role in how we as cyclists fair during tough rides. However I want to focus on the list above as we can deal with the most common concerns.  

To get over a hill or a mountain at the fastest possible pace we need a light bike and a light athlete. Not every cyclist strives to become a climbing specialist but we can all learn a few things from these specialists. Such as weight loss and training regimens that address climbing weaknesses.

  

Dropping a few pounds is a must and the first place to start is with YOU! Not the bike. Making some simple changes to your eating habits can pay off with big weight loss. Eating frequent smaller meals will help keep our metabolism stoked. Eating clean will also help you avoid processed foods that are loaded down with empty calories and toxic ingredients.  

Knowing how much to eat maybe the biggest key to your weight loss success. Couple calorie counting with proper energy expenditure (Training/Riding) you will loose weight. What I am talking about is learning how much you need to consume in calories. This is done by discovering what you Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) is.  

Weight Loss Tips         

Eat small meals every 2 hours, 5-6 times a day        
Eat clean, whole organic produce and lean meat
         
With meat think “The less legs the better”
         
Schedule a consultation with a nutritionist to learn your RMR         
Plan to lose no more than 1.5-2lbs a week to stay healthy
 

Knowing your climb
can be one of the most important aspects of climbing. Are you going to tackle a long steady mountain route that only has 4-6% grade? Are you going to have to tackle a short punchy climb that is less than a couple of miles but has a grade above 16%? What about those longer climbs that are anything but consistent? These climbs will give you mile after mile of 8% grades along with short descents and kick up again with an even tougher grade.  

Force is a training factor that athletes spend time developing in the offseason. Force is what is required for cyclists to push down on pedals and move forward. Moving forward up a hill requires more force.  

So how do we improve our force as cyclists? By utilizing a combination of resistance training, core training and on bike strength training cyclists can make big improvements. Any cyclist can improve their force production with some simple workouts a couple times a week.  

Work Outs

Classic resistance training has meant spending time in the gym lifting weights. Today athletes have several options for performing resistance training with out having to lift a single weight other than body weight. Please consult your physician before attempting any exercise routine.  

Try these body weighted resistance workouts

Bodyweight Squats

o        Week 1 – One set five reps
o        Week 2 – Two sets of five reps
o       
Week 3 – Three sets of five reps
o       
Week 4 – Three sets of five reps         

Single Leg Squats

o        Week 1 – One set five reps
o       
Week 2 – Two sets of five reps
o       
Week 3 – Three sets of five reps
o       
Week 4 – Three sets of five reps

Try these core workouts              

Plank

o        Week 1 – One Rep 30 Seconds
o       
Week 2 – One Rep 60 Seconds
o        Week 3 – One Rep 90 Seconds
o       
Week 4 – One Rep 120 Seconds               

Side Plank                   

o        Week 1 – One Rep 30 Seconds
o       
Week 2 – One Rep 60 Seconds
o       
Week 3 – One Rep 90 Seconds
o        Week 4 – One Rep 120 Seconds

Try these balance ball workouts               

Bridge

o        Week 1 – One set five reps
o       
Week 2 – Two sets of five reps
o       
Week 3 – Three sets of five reps
o       
Week 4 – Three sets of five reps               

Reverse Crunch

o        Week 1 – One set five reps
o       
Week 2 – Two sets of five reps
o        Week 3 – Three sets of five reps
o       
Week 4– Three sets of five reps

Try these on bike workouts               

Hill Repeats

o                     Find a hill that takes 3-6 minutes to ride
o                    
Warm up for 10-15 minutes (light gearing high RPM)
o                    
Ride up the hill seated using light gearing (No Standing!)
o                     Spin up the hill with a cadence of about 65-75 RPM
o                    
Soft pedal coming back down to recover
o                    
Repeat the hill climb 4-6 times
o                    
Cool down by soft pedaling for the last 15-20 minutes
o                    
Do this workout 1-2 times a week              

Big Ring Ride

o                     Head out on your favorite rolling terrain
o                    
Warm up for 10-15 minutes (light gearing high RPM)
o                    
Ride the rest of your hilly route in the Big Ring only
o                    
Stay seated (Use good form!)
o                     Cool down by soft pedaling for the last 15-20 minutes
o                     Ride for 1-3 hours this way on a midweek ride and on a longer weekend ride 

                   
Strategies and Techniques

Remember that when you have climb after climb day after day that making smart decisions on how you climb can mean the difference of finishing strong or taking a ride in the back of the truck.                

Know the route and where climbs will occur on the route and ride conservatively before getting to the climb. Finish Strong!               

When riding in a group, take turns drafting so that everyone spreads the work out before reaching a climb.              

Climbing seated is the most efficient use of force. Climbing standing is great for when you just need to get your bottom off the saddle or need to stretch your legs.             

Separate your climb into smaller segments and plan on how you will ride each segment. Ride part of it on the back of the saddle part of it climbing part of it on the nose of your saddle.               

When riding a climb that changes grade frequently do not be afraid to shift up to a harder gear when the grade flattens out. This way you don’t spin your legs out when the climb kicks back up.  

I hope you found this article on climbing helpful and if you have questions related to this or other articles please feel free to email me.   Have a great ride,   Coach Rob  

Coach Rob Grissom is a competitive cyclist, runner and duathlete who coaches both competitive and recreational cyclists. Rob is also the owner of Positive Performance Coaching and the co-host of the popular Cyling360 podcast.

When Rob isn’t racing, training or coaching he can be found spending time with his wife and two children at their home in Central Kentucky.   

Related articles

How tough is your favorite climb?

Tip: Use more of your saddle when climbing

Tip: Break up with your climb  

Related Podcasts

The Climbing Show

Weight Maintenance For Cyclists  

2 Comments for "Coach Rob – Lesson #2 – Climbing Secrets"

I have done two previous TDA tours and several other tours
which have involved climbing – i.e. Tasmania and Ethiopia.
I am reasonably fit year round and do many triathlons during
the year. My concern is that I live in Florida which is flat as can
be. Even training on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Western North
Carolina will only give me 3-5 thousand feet climbing training.
My concern is altitude and the Andes. Can I acclimate from
Cartagena which is sea level to climbing fitness required in the
Andes? I can train on stationary bikes at our YMCA and set them
for alpine but this doesn’t factor in altitude. Any suggestions?

    Hi Bob

    Your training plan sounds good to me. The altitude gain should be slow enough that it won’t be too bad in terms of acclimation.

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