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Best exercises for improving climbs?

Old 02-10-14, 07:30 PM
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amazinmets73
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Best exercises for improving climbs?

Looking to improve my speed and endurance on climbs (road bike). What leg exercises in the gym and running drills should I use?
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Old 02-10-14, 07:44 PM
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Originally Posted by amazinmets73 View Post
Looking to improve my speed and endurance on climbs (road bike). What leg exercises in the gym and running drills should I use?
Forgive this response. It is not intended in the snide or snippy manner that it may come across. But, the question should be: To what weight should I diet and what sort of climbing repeats should I do to improve my climbing speed and endurance?

Without knowing much about you, your level of experience, fitness, etc. it's a bit hard to provide a good answer to such a general and two part question.

Speed is one thing.

Endurance is another.

Which is the greater limiter?

Traditional periodization would have you first establish endurance. Then, move towards more specific speed work.

Modern reverse periodization might have you improve your speed. Then, attempt to build more endurance at that new faster speed.

As for drills and exercises. Gym work is largely power related, and usually only the domain of track riders and sprinters who can afford the additional mass. A climber would not be going to the gym for any leg work. And doing running drills up hills might not hurt your cycle climbing, but, it probably won't be nearly as effective as climbing on the bike. If weather and the ability to get outside is a limiter, try a trainer indoors or even elevate the front end.
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Old 02-10-14, 07:52 PM
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I've gotten the most bang for the effort from 3 drills: one-legged pedaling, 2 minutes/leg in a gear that has you crying for mommy, then 2 minutes spinning legs together, then repeat until cooked. Also long intervals at high cadence/high effort. Also long intervals at 70 cadence, high effort.
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Old 02-10-14, 08:11 PM
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How long is your longest typical hill (in minutes or KM)?

Your plans will be different if you are climbing mountains, versus 5-600 feet of elevation that is over in a few minutes.


EDIT.... Are you limited to a gym? I'm no expert, but a lot of research shows that strength-training and non-cycling activities do very little in transferring fitness to cycling (other than keeping you active in the offseason).

That said, how many of these can you do? If you can do zero now, but get up to 10 on each leg, you will be a better climber than you are right now.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hu-6ywxbu1A

Last edited by BikeAnon; 02-10-14 at 08:36 PM.
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Old 02-10-14, 08:18 PM
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amazinmets73
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The latter. I'm 5 11.5 164 pounds. Ideal weight is probably 152-155
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Old 02-10-14, 11:45 PM
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If you want to improve your climbing the most efficient way would be to ride your bike.

Here's an interesting read from Cameron Cogburn, an MIT grad student, whose won the Mt Washington hillclimb a couple of times: https://www.ccbracing.com/content/mt-...imb-case-study
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Old 02-10-14, 11:49 PM
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If it's endurance, ride a lot. Climb a lot. I always say that endurance starts when you start to endure. A 4-5 hour ride is ideal for building endurance, with at least 50' of climbing per mile. If you can't do that, work up to it. That'll help the weight, too.

Leg extension strength, like the one-legged squats, is helpful, but you need all your muscles, not just the push-down ones. If you want to do the squats, do them off a chair with one finger on a wall. You should be able to do sets of 20. But on the bike is best, unless you've done all the endurance work and the drills and the intervals and the hill repeats and still need something more. Then weight work has its place.
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Old 02-12-14, 10:49 AM
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go to the empire state building (or substitute similar) and walk up to the top. at the gym, incline that treadmil all the way and see what you can do before your heart explodes. only kidding, be careful. I once did that and thought I was doing great until I realized what an amazing stress that can be. WOW!
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Old 02-12-14, 11:00 AM
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I'm in the ride-your-bike school and do hill repeats. I set up a ride with ~3 good hills and then do each one 3 times, killing myself toward the top each time. For longer hills, strength is never an issue if you have proper gearing for the max grade on the ride. It's all about aerobic capacity and muscular endurance.
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Old 02-12-14, 11:27 AM
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In my more flexible days (40 yrs ago) one of our Army dreaded PT Drills was to drag a duffel-bag with sand bags in it for one mile through the pine needles on all fours - Latter I found that this drill really helped my climbs - But even then I was a masher and thats not really a good ridding style - Found this pic on the net to give you and idea...



Another is to put on gloves and then run up flights of stairs on all fours - This is more fun with buddies and beer but don't do it on steel or aluminum stairs (lessons learned)...

When you exercise on all fours its like a crawl - You are getting your upper body toned up and your butt up in the air as it should be...
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Old 02-12-14, 03:32 PM
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Originally Posted by BikeAnon View Post
How long is your longest typical hill (in minutes or KM)?

Your plans will be different if you are climbing mountains, versus 5-600 feet of elevation that is over in a few minutes.


EDIT.... Are you limited to a gym? I'm no expert, but a lot of research shows that strength-training and non-cycling activities do very little in transferring fitness to cycling (other than keeping you active in the offseason).

That said, how many of these can you do? If you can do zero now, but get up to 10 on each leg, you will be a better climber than you are right now.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hu-6ywxbu1A
after having jumped off my high school roof in my teen years, head on car accident where one knee dented the dashboard in my late 20s, and knee surgery for a torn meniscus in my late 30s, I'm not doing this ...
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Old 02-13-14, 07:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
I've gotten the most bang for the effort from 3 drills: one-legged pedaling, 2 minutes/leg in a gear that has you crying for mommy, then 2 minutes spinning legs together, then repeat until cooked. Also long intervals at high cadence/high effort. Also long intervals at 70 cadence, high effort.
This...

Balancing out your legs made a big difference. Plus, working on off-bike core exercises and "overpower" training - train harder than you would do in a race.

Plus, think about weight transfer - make sure your weight and COG is on the wheel. I use to be way too much forward!

(At 245 I need all the help I can get)
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Old 02-24-14, 10:17 PM
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You want to climb better? Climb More.

You want better Endurance? Ride More.

You want more speed? Ride Faster.

I know it seems a blunt response, but at the end if the day, no gym or drills will make you better than actually doing it. Climbing is all about being comfortable turning the gear under resistance
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Old 02-25-14, 09:05 AM
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Originally Posted by BikeAnon View Post
...

That said, how many of these can you do? If you can do zero now, but get up to 10 on each leg, you will be a better climber than you are right now.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hu-6ywxbu1A
I do a couple sets of these one legged squats most days of the week. I find it easier and helpful to do them on the bottom step of my stairs while touching the banister on either side (and the free leg tugged behind me rather than out in front). That takes the balancing part out of it and focuses on the muscle (but eliminating the balancing, while making it easier, also eliminates the training from juggling your balance).

Excellent exercises!
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Old 02-25-14, 09:15 AM
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Originally Posted by BikeAnon View Post
EDIT.... Are you limited to a gym? I'm no expert, but a lot of research shows that strength-training and non-cycling activities do very little in transferring fitness to cycling (other than keeping you active in the offseason).
If your gym or personal trainer has a sled, that can be very beneficial. Pushing the weight helps not only your arms but your legs. It's also a great cardio workout. Ideally, though, you'll use these under the supervision of someone whose qualified.
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Old 02-25-14, 02:08 PM
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Resistance training, more specifically barbell squats. Nothing else will work as good.
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Old 02-25-14, 08:44 PM
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Originally Posted by bigfred View Post
Speed is one thing.

Endurance is another.

Which is the greater limiter?
Exactly. Unless your legs turn into wet noodles on long climbs while you are not even breathing hard, strength training might not change anything.
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Old 02-26-14, 02:13 PM
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Climbing is pretty much all mental. Basically a climb is just a long hard interval. Try doing 3 minute threshold intervals. So on your next ride warm up for 20 minutes, and then ride hard for 3 minutes followed by an easy spin for 3 minutes. Rinse and repeat for a hour. Do an interval ride 2-3 times a week and I can guarantee you will become a better climber.
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Old 02-26-14, 04:57 PM
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Originally Posted by dm83 View Post
Resistance training, more specifically barbell squats. Nothing else will work as good.
...except for actually getting out and climbing. Nothing else prepares me better for climbing than finding hills and riding
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Old 02-26-14, 08:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Looigi View Post
I'm in the ride-your-bike school and do hill repeats. I set up a ride with ~3 good hills and then do each one 3 times, killing myself toward the top each time. For longer hills, strength is never an issue if you have proper gearing for the max grade on the ride. It's all about aerobic capacity and muscular endurance.
This is my recommended approach to improving climbing ability also, and I don't think neglecting to do this can be made up for in the gym or with any other exercise. However, if the OP is looking to supplement hill repeats with gym work and running drills, I'd suggest doing stair climbing, because yes, climbing is about aerobic capacity, endurance.
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Old 06-03-14, 11:05 AM
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Legs: squat, deadlift.

Upper body: bench, press. Possibly to add pull up and/or rows. You use your upper body to push/pull on the bar so it is just as important to transfer power into the bike.
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Old 06-03-14, 11:41 AM
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I'm a newbie at cycling, but I live in a great place to ride especially if you like hills! I've gotten much better at climbing, just by taking routes that have plenty of hills to climb. It's pretty satisfying when you see a hill you used to dread, and now just peddle over it on the way to next one. There is no need to be impatient, riding your bike will make you better at it. I do lift weights, but I believe strength training is important to overall fitness , same as cardio work, which is what got me cycling to begin with, never thought I'd get addicted to it.......
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Old 06-06-14, 10:11 PM
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I have found that leg sleds and squats at the gym this winter have helped increase my endurance and speed.
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Old 06-06-14, 10:17 PM
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
after having jumped off my high school roof in my teen years, head on car accident where one knee dented the dashboard in my late 20s, and knee surgery for a torn meniscus in my late 30s, I'm not doing this ...
that was one of my rehab exercises from a torn ACL+meniscus
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Old 06-06-14, 10:43 PM
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The best exercises for improving climbing: climbing and table presses.
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