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Old 05-17-14, 02:24 PM   #1
BionicChris
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Hill climbing question

I've never been a good climber, but have been steadily improving over the last 2 years as my general strength and fitness improved.

In Mallorca this year it hit home just how much I can still improve my speed. In the past week I have been cycling to a local hill, climbing it 4-5 times (all I can fit in before the sun sets)

The pace was consistent (.5mph drop off) and my times are about 1.5mph off my PB. I'll use a friend as a target and chuck in a sprint to ensure I match their pace to the top.

So with the background out of the way, is doing a climb at 80-90% of my PB the best way to improve my hill climbing speed, or do I need to be pushing to breaking point and resting between climbs?

Am I helping by throwing in sprints when doing these climbs, or should I just stick to a pace ?
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Old 05-17-14, 03:18 PM   #2
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How steep is the hill? If it isn't that steep, and you're going up it at over maybe 16-17 mph, 80-90% isn't really pushing that hard. If it's steep enough that you're doing 10 mph, 80-90% of your personal best is probably good.

Why? Because if you're going fast enough that wind resistance plays a big part in determining how fast you go, going only 80% as fast means your power could be down by almost as much as 50%.

Assuming, of course, you just about killed yourself to get that personal best.
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Old 05-17-14, 05:01 PM   #3
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How long is the hill in time?
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Old 05-18-14, 12:04 AM   #4
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The hill is 0.8 miles long, average gradient 6%, and my fastest time is 4 minutes 29 seconds.

Achoo, there is a section in the middle where the gradient flattens to 3-4% and this is the only section where I would say wind resistance plays a factor, the rest of the hill is between 5 and 14%

My (average mph) results this week were:

9.4
8.5
8.3 (x3)
8.1
8
7.8

FTP is 300 and I did these climbs at 259w to 327w.
Max HR I have ever seen is 185, and these climbs are average 160-171bpm.

I just need confirmation that I am not doing these repeats wrong and wasting my time, so any advice would be greatly appreciated!
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Old 05-18-14, 08:34 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by BionicChris View Post
The hill is 0.8 miles long, average gradient 6%, and my fastest time is 4 minutes 29 seconds.

Achoo, there is a section in the middle where the gradient flattens to 3-4% and this is the only section where I would say wind resistance plays a factor, the rest of the hill is between 5 and 14%

My (average mph) results this week were:

9.4
8.5
8.3 (x3)
8.1
8
7.8

FTP is 300 and I did these climbs at 259w to 327w.
Max HR I have ever seen is 185, and these climbs are average 160-171bpm.

I just need confirmation that I am not doing these repeats wrong and wasting my time, so any advice would be greatly appreciated!
Nice hill. I don't think hard hill repeats are ever a waste of time. I would ignore my PB. Suggest you do them at over FTP. Best is probably to do 5-6 at 310-320 watts. You'll have to concentrate and shift as the gradient changes. Or do a set of 3 at ~330 watts. Ignore HR during these short intervals, except that you should be over threshold by the end of each. Stop the set if you can't maintain your watts or on the first rep if you can't hit your numbers. I've had best results from the higher rep count, but being older, I have to be very careful not to overcook myself with it, this not being the only hard workout of my week.
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Old 05-18-14, 03:31 PM   #6
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Ok, I'll go towards the 9mph point where I'm around 300 watts and see how things go. Certainly not doing hills tomorrow, 4000 feet in the baking hot sun today was not fun.
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Old 05-18-14, 06:44 PM   #7
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Ignore your speed, too. Totally, as they say. Hold a high cadence and shift to stay over FTP. Yes, it hurts in a way, but I kinda think it feels good to get to go hard. If your FTP is correct, that's an hour, right? This is only 5 minutes! Nothing. Warm up well first with some solid zone 2 and a couple very hard efforts, way over FTP, minute, minute and a half, near your limit. If that gets you tired, back to mileage.
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Old 05-18-14, 07:19 PM   #8
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OP, your power numbers look suspicious. I do Torry Pines hill in SoCal that is 6% grade 2 miles (approx) and average 10 to 11 mph at 260 to 270 watts but I weigh 170 pounds. You may weigh more. I do not know what my HR is going up that climb because once I trained with power I only use my HR for interval work to monitor recovery.

I cycled in Mallorca and the climbs are much longer there. How did you like the climb to Formentor lighthouse?

If I had an FTP of 300 watts, that is IMO, a lot of power, I would declare victory.

However, 4:29 minute efforts are in the range of VO2Max. I would suggest you do the climb as hard as you can go at constant power (106% to 120% of FTP) and do 6 to 8 of them with 5 minutes rest in between and take 10 minutes of rest at the midway point. Have fun.
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Last edited by Hermes; 05-19-14 at 12:00 PM.
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Old 05-18-14, 07:21 PM   #9
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BTW, speed matters. The more speed you have the better. Power is like a currency that you use to buy speed and there is a cost for the speed. You can increase power or reduce cost to increase speed.
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Old 05-19-14, 01:29 AM   #10
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Thanks for the input.

I'm 185 lbs and the FTP has come from a Time Trial I did last week - 315 watts for 20 minute peak, x0.95 = 300 watts.
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Old 05-19-14, 07:57 AM   #11
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Thanks for the input.

I'm 185 lbs and the FTP has come from a Time Trial I did last week - 315 watts for 20 minute peak, x0.95 = 300 watts.
BTW, I corrected my post above. VO2Max is 106% to 120% of FTP. Based on that formulation, a good climbing power would be 330 watts of average power for the climb. And you can try these at different cadences. For example, if your self selected climbing cadence is 75, then do some at +10% and -10%.

And you can do them at lower power if you like. There is no right or wrong way to do these and IMO, riding 80 rpm on flat terrain and 80 rpm climbing at 300 watts is the same. Climbing just makes it easier to keep the power up.
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Old 05-19-14, 11:51 AM   #12
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Thanks for the input.

I'm 185 lbs and the FTP has come from a Time Trial I did last week - 315 watts for 20 minute peak, x0.95 = 300 watts.
Measured with a power meter, I presume?

If you do have a power meter, just ignore your times up the hill and look at power.
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Old 07-01-14, 05:48 AM   #13
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Just to bump this near Zombie thread - thanks for the comments everybody. I went for an all out attempt to see what I could do now I had been doing repeats and cycled from London to Paris... New Personal Best of 4 minutes, so a full 29 seconds quicker than when I started this thread.

bit lost as to where I find another 50 seconds to be the fastest person though!
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Old 07-01-14, 07:06 PM   #14
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A few minutes with Kreuzotter says that you increased your 5-minute power something like 15%, which is huge. More gains are going to be hard to come by. Genetically talented folks are just plain faster, shockingly, crazily, unbelievably faster.

Good job!
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Old 07-05-14, 12:08 PM   #15
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Should have stated I've lost 3lbs as well so the power increase isn't quite as high as predicted in your post. 3lbs isn't much, but 185 to 182 is still a difference.

Just waiting for my next TT to get a true FTP test done, doing it on a turbo trainer just isn't real. Hopefully I can come back in 2 months and I'll have a few more gains to speak of.
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