Let’s face it, no amount of cycling indoors can entirely replicate the bitter sweet physiological, and emotional effort (and glory) of climbing a hill on your bike. But in can certainly ease the sting.
One thing’s for sure, integrating specific sessions on the Wattbike will help to make you more efficient when the road starts to turn upwards, making you more able to cope with the duration and intensity of the climb. In essence, you’ll be quicker and better off for it.
Many cyclists replicate hill climbs indoors using the traditional method of repeated short intervals - grinding round, out of the saddle at high gears and low cadence. These workouts feel hard so they must be doing some good, right?
The truth is, probably not! The traditional method can ‘hurt’ your muscles, hampering your recovery, making injuries more likely. It also compromises your pedalling technique making you less effective and likely feeling like things are getting a bit sticky.
At Wattbike, we’re convinced there is a better way to replicate climbs indoors, so we tasked our Sport Scientist, Eddie Fletcher, with analysing the data of multiple top athletes to devise some effective climbing sessions for the Wattbike.
What did Eddie find? Interestingly, we might not even need to get out of the saddle.
“The best combination for physiological adaption, muscle activation and pedalling technique is to produce power at low gears, with high cadence, staying seated,” says Eddie.
The most important thing for hill climbing is to keep ‘on top of the gears’ - a higher cadence with an equally sufficient power output will ensure forward momentum.
“If you are not used to leg speed work, it may take some time to adapt to higher rpms,” he explains.
“On the road, with a suitable hill, intervals can generally be of longer duration with greater recovery between reps, but leg speeds are more difficult to maintain at the high levels.”
Instead, Eddie has suggested these top training sessions for the Wattbike to keep you smiling high into the heavens:
20 seconds on 40 seconds off, low gear at 120-130 rpm
15 seconds on 45 seconds off, low gear at 130-140 rpm
10 seconds on 50 seconds off, low gear at 140-150 rpm
40 seconds, 45 seconds and 50 seconds maintain steady 90 rpm
10-30 second intervals – in sets of 10 with 5 minutes rest in between sets
Get the phsyc
Climbing hills is as much mental as it is physical. Intervals will help you to break the hill down into achievable segments, and plan your effort accordingly.
Tricks like using the edge of hairpins can also help, where the gradient slackens.
Use Wattbike Polar View in training, to help keep your focus on pedal technique on the road, concentrating on the smooth pull and push of every pedal revolution to take your mind off the tarmac.
Eddie believes that dedicated training on the Wattbike is a particularly powerful at adding value to your training when it’s not always possible to prepare for - or replicate - the kind of events or future rides you have in mind, especially if you don’t live near any hills.
He recalls what a cyclist and training client based in the US, once confided to him:
‘It’s usually the hills that kill me and make me afraid of being dropped and have to kill myself to catch up,” the client said.
“But they were no problem at all. I was asked, ‘where did you learn to climb?’, which caught me off guard. They thought maybe out west or somewhere in the Rockies.
“I said, ‘on my bike’. Little do they know I was taught to climb on my sunporch on my Wattbike under the exacting tutelage of a someone from the UK, via email.”
Want more tips on tackling tough climbs? Read our recent blog 3 ways to become a better climber.