“Good climbing is as much mental as it is physical,” says Tim Pelot, CSCS, performance director at Velocity Sports Performance, in Burnsville, Minnesota. “You need to prepare your mind as well as your body to enjoy the challenge and excel.” Here is how it’s done.
2. Practice Two Days a Week
In order to improve at climbing, you need to climb. Do one of these workouts, ideally twice a week.
- Over-the-top hill attack
- High-low push
Condition yourself against fading towards the top of a climb. Warm up with a 15- to 20-minute ride to your favourite, or most dreaded, 10- to 20-minute incline. Start climbing at your lactate threshold (or LT; it’s 85 percent of your max heart rate, or 100 percent of your max sustainable wattage, the average wattage for the last 20 minutes of a 30-minute time trial). Three-quarters of the way up, jam on the pedals, staying seated if possible, and ride the final quarter of the climb at max effort, standing and kicking it to the top for the final metres. Work up to two to three of these efforts with full recovery between.
Improve your speed and power by jumping back and forth over that redline of sustainable power. Warm up with a 15- to 20-minute ride to a steady grade that takes 10 to 20 minutes to climb. Ride just below LT – about 80 percent max heart rate or 90 to 94 percent of your LT power – for three minutes. Then, for one minute, push above threshold at 90 percent of max heart rate or 105 percent of LT power. Come back down for three minutes. Repeat all the way up the climb.
Put more power into each pedal stroke with high-cadence, low-gear drills. Warm up with a 15- to 20- minute ride to a low-grade (about 4 percent), 20-minute climb. Start ascending at an 80- to 85-rpm cadence. Click to the next hardest gear and maintain your cadence for two minutes. Shift back to the easier gear and recover for two minutes; alternate gears to the top.