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Hill Climbs for Cycling Power

Category : Uncategorized

 

One of the most important aspects of training a cyclist must consider is developing the needed strength and fitness levels to manage hill climbs. Said hills need not be the grade of the recent Vuelta a España but all riders must be able to navigate over challenging conditions and be accustomed to technical needs and safety when fatigued. The latter matter is of extreme importance because training must always translate to the broad scope of the sport and the complexities of the descent after a steep climb cannot be underestimated.

 

I should first point out that my approach to hill climbs is to first assume the rider can safely manage the descent. Though I know the typical approach is to discuss only the physical requirements of mounting a charge up a hill, failing to monitor technical growth of managing the descent can place a rider in a potentially dangerous situation.

 

While I believe there is a need to vary technical style and cadence rate, for this purpose longer seated hill climbs (other approaches to be discussed in a later article) with a stroke rate of eighty to ninety per minute is the most efficient and provides the optimal training situation.

 

Using the most straight forward approach, whilst always maintaining appropriate stroke rate on the saddle and without the need for gear change, calculate hill climbs via the required time from base to summit, followed by descent to starting position. The general time performed will then allow for ease of calculation including wattage, monitoring of total strokes and with technical proficiency of descent, more challenging gradients are introduced.

 

From this calculation intervals are created using a pyramid approach where you successively start sets higher on the hill with each repeats. In this manner (see below) the second set of hill climbs starts ninety seconds after the original start position. The rider descends as quickly as possible, in a manner suitable for their technical expertise, circles at a slow pace for upwards of two minutes before beginning their next repeat.

 

As an example and from an intermediate development plan of a relatively fit cyclist, using a hill that is longer in length but without extreme rise. The best type of hill condition for this training approach has three plus phases of undulation where it alternates from moderate pitch to a quick level before returning to a steeper climb. Only when an individual demonstrates complete control in the descent are steeper climbs engaged, thus ensuring the riders safety.

 

Set

Repeats

Rate

Time

(seconds)

Total Stroke

Total Time (minutes)

1

1

80

180

240

3

2

2

80

120

320

4

3

3

80

60

240

3

4

2

80

120

320

4

5

1

80

180

240

3

Total

9

1,200

17

 

This will serve multiple purposes of assisting power, work threshold and speed endurance but giving significant time of recovery on decent and allows the individual to adjust to skill requirements in a fatigued state.  Quite naturally the quality of the descent will vary with each rider due to complexity of the hill, pitch, switchbacks and technical ability but the key coaching point to consider is to maintain complete control of the course and not show signs of poor concentration. This basic template will vary considerably once the rider has established the ability to manage technical abilities within a fatigued condition and should only be considered as a starting base.

 

Written by John Davies
©John Davies Consulting Services, 2015
All rights reserved

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