4 Tips to Transform Your Cycling Weaknesses

CLIMBING

Are You a Natural?

Good climbers often have a light frame and strong muscles that aren't bulky. They also have robust aerobic capacities, efficient form and high power-to-weight ratios.

Self-Test

See how you stack up to a database of riders of all levels on Strava.com, where you'll find premapped climbs in your area and times of others who've ridden them. Log your rides and use the site to track long-term improvements.

Lab Test

A power meter can help you figure out your power-to-weight ratio. Visit this power-to-weight chart that ranks power outputs from "untrained" to "world-class."

More: 11 Climbing Tips for Cyclists

A VO2 max test can reveal your body's ability to process oxygen—a higher number suggests a greater capacity for climbing. If you want to know how much dead weight (fat) you're hauling up the hills, get a body-composition test.

Get Better

Do threshold intervals on a 3 to 8 percent grade. Threshold is the hardest effort you can sustain for about an hour; you should be breathing hard but not panting. Add two 5- to 10-minute intervals (recover five minutes after each) to a ride once every 7 to 10 days for a few weeks. Once that feels manageable, add another interval, building up to four.

Key Skill

Practice shifting on the climb, aiming to change gears before the terrain rises. Shifting too late will sap your energy—and slow you down.

3 Simple Ways to Climb Better

ROLLING TERRAIN

Are You a Natural?

Riders who do well on this kind of terrain recover quickly from short bursts and punch it up small hills. But they don't tend to win sprints or be the first up a long climb.

Self-Test

Try to stay at the front of a group on an undulating ride and hold your pace as the terrain changes. If you're always fighting to catch up, this type of riding may not be your strength.

How fit are you? Try these DIY Fitness Tests to find out.

More: 15 Training Tweaks to Improve Your Speed

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