3 Cycling Workouts to Help You Conquer Hills

Short Hills: Repeats

Marritt believes hill training involves building up strength.

"Lots of hill workouts I have my athletes do are strength training specific—they're doing their leg strengthening on the bike," Marritt says.

When riding up hills in the big/hard gears, your heart rate doesn't get as high and the work is a lot more muscular. These kinds of cycling interval workouts can supplement weight training in the gym and target more specific and relevant muscle groups.

Here's the best way to incorporate the hill workout sequence:

1. Find a steep hill that's only a few miles long with a relatively steady incline the whole way up.

2. Make your first ascent seated with your chain in the big front sprocket and a harder gear than you would normally want. (Your cadence should be slow, around 50-55 rpm.)

3. Concentrate on keeping your upper body relaxed and working your legs through a steady, strong motion, applying constant pedal pressure throughout the whole revolution. When you are done, cruise back down the hill.

4. On your next climb: Ride the whole hill standing up in an easier gear, keeping your rpms closer to 80.

5. Next ascent: Go up while seated in an easy gear, with nice, smooth pedal strokes and a steady cadence the whole way.

6. The final climb: Shift into the big ring in front with a harder gear in the back. Do 10 pedal rotations seated, 10 standing, and continue this pattern all the way up the hill.

7. Ride back down, and do at least a 30-minute cool down at a high cadence in easy gears, spinning out some lactic acid buildup in the legs.

"What you do at the end of your workout helps you recover for your next workout," Maritt says.

More: 7 Hill Cycling Tips for Flatlanders

Working With a Trainer

A great way to simulate hill climbing without being on a hill is with a trainer, but you have to be careful.

"A lot of people use harder gearing to simulate a hill, but they don't change the positioning of the bike," Marritt says.

Marritt suggests propping the trainer up so that the front wheel is raised. "This changes where the body is relative to the bike," Marritt says.

Simply increasing the resistance "doesn't recruit the same muscle groups as climbing -- it more closely resembles wind training," Marritt says.

If you prop up the front wheel, you'll engage the right muscles, which will help boost your ability to conquer those hills.


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