Whether you’re an experienced cyclist or a new one, there’s no denying that climbs are some of the hardest parts of cycling. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) mountains, hills, and inclines come with the territory. You may not be the best climber right now, but with time and hard work and by following these best tips, you may just significantly improve your inclination for inclines.
Do Hill Repeats
Practice makes perfect, and you will need a lot of it to improve your ascents. The most effective way to practice is to get on your bike and ride hill repeats.
Hill repeats, or hill reps, mean climbing an incline (on your bike) over and over. The cyclist rides as hard and as fast as they can going up and cycles at a leisurely pace going down, to recover. This sort of exercise helps build muscle strength and endurance, as well increase the rider’s power and speed.
Be careful about over-straining yourself when doing hill reps. For short sprints, stick to climbs with 30-second distance and 10-minute distance for long hauls.
Losing weight can make a difference in your performance, especially during sustained climbs. Extra body fat weighs you down. Shedding off several pounds can give you additional “gravity” resistance, reduce the energy you need to expend on the pedal, and increase your speed and endurance.
When you lose weight, make sure that you’re not losing your muscle mass too. You need powerful, lean muscles to conquer those mountains, hills, and inclines. Further, every human has a specific limit to how much healthy weight they can lose before it causes harm to the body.
Cycling over inclines consumes energy rapidly. Speeding your way to the top is not the best idea if you want to have enough energy to finish the race. While some inclines need to be conquered as quickly as possible (notably, the short and steep ones), others will require proper pacing to climb over.
Learning how to maintain the right pace will keep you from burning off mid-race, so you have enough power and energy to finish. Knowing when to speed up or slow down is just as important as building your muscle strength and reducing weight to improve your ascents.
Measure Heart Rate and Power
Knowing your heart rate and power is essential to proper pacing. You can accurately judge how much effort is needed to ascend an incline when you keep track of the heart rate and power for such climb.
Your heart rate will tell you how much strain you’re putting on your body and how close you are to reaching exhaustion. However, the heart rate can be affected by other variables, like emotions and external factors, and it takes time to accumulate. That is why you should measure cycling power along with heart rate. Power is more precise, and it’s rarely affected by outside factors.
Conquering Those Inclines
There’s no shortcut to improving your ascents. It takes time, determination, and tons of practice to get to the top, literally and figuratively. However, all the hill reps you did will be paid off when you can successfully climb a hill or mountain without wheezing all through the way. Just remember not to rush and over strain yourself; otherwise, you’ll be hobbling instead of breezing all the way back.