Love riding your bike but always find the climbs a bit of an uphill struggle? You’re not alone! Cycling coach and SG Brand Ambassador, Josh Brandwene, shares some top tips to help you embrace your inner mountain goat and improve your climbing.
Elevation? Bring it on!
Josh Brandwene: Top Tips to Improve Your Climbing
Work on your aerobic base
Fighting against gravity is an added cycling challenge. Developing your base aerobic fitness will help to make you more resistant to fatigue while you’re climbing. Plus, it will also give your body the tools it needs to be able to recover faster between climbs on hilly rides. Try incorporating more steady endurance rides into your schedule to establish a solid base of aerobic fitness. These important sessions are often skipped or reduced; I can’t stress enough how important they are!
It might sound obvious, but the more time you spend climbing the more strength, fitness and experience you’ll get. Knowing what it feels like to fight against gravity at different gradients and over different distances will help you to gain the fitness and the knowledge to get up those inclines efficiently. Climb more regularly and you’ll soon see the gains. That climb you hate right now? Keep chipping away and it’ll soon feel, dare I say…enjoyable!
Try to do a weekly threshold effort
That burning sensation in your legs when you’re riding up a hill? That’s lactate accumulating in your muscles. And a great way to develop higher power and become more efficient at tolerating lactate, is to do an appropriate amount of your weekly training at a higher intensity.
When we talk about threshold, we don’t mean flat out 10 second sprints. Functional Threshold Power or FTP generally refers to the maximum amount of power (or effort) you can theoretically sustain for around an hour. FTP is not a metric you need to constantly obsess about, but that’s a conversation for another time. A typical threshold session will usually be done just below your FTP. For example:
Zone 2: 4:30mins
Zone 3 burst: 30sec
Zone 2: 2:30mins
Zone 4: burst 30sec
Zone 2: 2mins
7-11min at 94% of FTP
1-5mins Zone1 recovery
Repeat 3 times
The length of the threshold and recovery blocks in the main set should based on your current Zone2 foundation and your previous experience with threshold training.
These threshold efforts can be done either on your indoor trainer, or outdoors if the conditions are safe and favourable. By completing this type of session once a week, you’ll build strength and power which will help you to become a stronger climber.
Not trained using zones before? Check out this Training Peaks article for more information on training zones and what they should feel like!
Find your climbing style
This is where practicing climbing more often comes into play. You’ll only learn through experience how you personally climb the most efficiently. Some riders perform better opting for a higher cadence, spinning their legs and staying seated. Meanwhile others find they’re better off pushing a bigger gear and getting up out of the saddle on a frequent basis. Try both methods and see what suits you best.
Resistant the temptation to get overexcited. If you go too hard, too early and try to bank time or distance – it’s a sure fire recipe to blow up and it’s going to make the rest of the climb miserable. Trust me, I’ve been there! Pace yourself and learn to climb at tempo. By starting off steady, you’ll most likely end up getting to the top faster than if you go too hard and end up on the struggle bus to the summit
Get the gear(s)
Give yourself the tools you need! If you’re struggling up the climbs and grinding your gears, there’s absolutely no reason to be ashamed of adding a rear cassette that’s going to give you more gears so you can climb more efficiently.
So there you have it Herd, some top tips to help you show those climbs who’s boss! Let us know how you get on, and make sure you follow Josh Brandwene on Instagram and check out his website for more cycling tips.
ESSENTIAL TRAINING KIT
Feeling inspired to make 2023 your strongest year on the bike yet? We’ve got the kit you need to rack up those miles in comfort and style. Whether you’re braving the winter weather, or getting it done on your indoor trainer. Check out some of our top picks to help you through your winter training.
Men’s Mango Alpine Epic Jacket£190.00
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Women’s Pink Kiko Waterproof Jacket£140.00
Men’s White Kiko Bodyline Long Sleeved Base Layer£50.00
Women’s White Kiko Bodyline LS Base Layer£50.00
Climb & Conquer Winter Cycling Gloves£40.00
Orange Kiko Cap£25.00
Fluoro Green Merino Cycling Socks£19.00
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Ronny 750Ml Water Bottle
Mens Black Ibex Bodyline Bib Shorts£100.00
Womens Black Ibex Bodyline Bib Shorts£100.00
Mens Race Team Ibex Bodyline Base Layer£40.00
Womens Race Team Ibex Bodyline Base Layer£40.00
Mens Norton White Ibex Bodyline Base Layer£40.00
Womens Norton White Ibex Bodyline Base Layer£40.00
Ronny 750Ml Water Bottle£10.00