How to Become a Better Climber – Lesson 1

Ever wanted to climb the hills faster? I bet you have. Like any other rider, you can see the clear benefit of riding faster uphill.

This post is the first in my series:

How to Become a Better Climber

Know what you are preparing for

When I make an individual training program, I always consider the race profile. What are the decisive points in the race you prepare for? Is it a short, steep 500m hill, or is it a long, steady 4km climb? It’s essential to keep in mind what kind of hill you want to ride faster because some differences in the physiological requirements will affect your training.

Some hills require to focus on threshold power, others on VO2 max, anaerobic or sprinting power. Of course, body weight and bike weight should always be a part of your planning, but I have to emphasize that it’s not just a question of Watts per Kilogram. I will come back to that later.

If you expect a specific hill to be the decisive moment in a cycling race you prepare for, you must optimize your training for it.

Describe the hill as detailed as possible:

  • Finishing time (length)
  • Steepness
  • Standing /seated pedalling
  • Gear choice
  • Drafting opportunities (tactics)

When you’ve made a detailed description of the hill, it’s easier for you to plan your training. So stay tuned for my next post in this series!

4 thoughts on “How to Become a Better Climber – Lesson 1”

  1. Thank you Jesper! I’ve been waiting for this series for a long time. Looking forward to read your tips on climbing.

  2. A critical topic that needs more clarification, most surely. Another aspect of just simple climbing and it’s involving elements, need be explained regarding cycling up hill, where the actual Force on Pedals or Power used up hill, is of different quality all together. The engagement of the force on each leg is lengthier in duration, so there is a feeling of “Sticky Resistance”, so to say, comparing it to flat pedaling where you Push and have a little “ease” of the force felt on the leg (which is possibly subjective, but we still feel it I believe). I guess, that even applying smooth pedaling technique the same persistent Sense of prolonged resistance on the Legs is observed while cycling up hill.

  3. I’m a newbie cyclist and have been working hard to build up my training. I have what may be a dumb question, but it’s something I need to know. When I get to the bottom of steep hill and I begin to climb, how should approach shifting down? Should I hit it right down to the smaller chain ring? Or shift down on the cassette several times? Does it even matter? What do you recommend?

  4. Aaron

    I am also a relatively experienced cyclist although I have raced cars/hillclimbed them! My experience is while you are still in your seat/saddle it is most effective to change down in stages but once you reach a balanced situation in terms of gear and challenge, stick to a gear and stand up. Changing down while standing up I find disruptive to my rhythm. I too would be interested to hear others thoughts on technique.

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