How do I improve my climbing?

A light bike doesn't replace good fitness.

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Tapeworm
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by Tapeworm

Big gear efforts, single leg cycling, convoluted programming... "Hello, 1950's here, we want our training back."

There is no real magic for improving climbing performance. Watts to kilogram (w/kg) ratio is king for climbing. Either reduce the kilos or increase the watts... or ideally both.

(ref: chart from Alex Simmons of RST http://s220.photobucket.com/user/ASimmo ... a.png.html)

Unless the hill is a 200m screamer the effort will likely be aerobic which means the training will be pretty much the same for a 1km hill or a 20km mountain.

Anything that will build aerobic power will help here. Read through the forum for some er... less complex methods of building power.
"Physiology is all just propaganda and lies... all waiting to be disproven by the next study."
"I'm not a real doctor; But I am a real worm; I am an actual worm." - TMBG

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devinci
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by devinci

Agreed, why make it complicated, when it is so simple?

AFA
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by AFA

If it were that simple as power to weight everyone would be equal. Power to weight is very important but is only part of the equation. Having a superior power to weight does not guarantee that you will be the best climber. At lower cadences, pedaling efficiency plays a big part in how well you climb. If you aren't producing power through the dead spot your speed/inertia oscillates which kills you on long climbs.

Big gear/low cadence and one leg drills improve your pedal stroke. If you have a less complicated way of improving your pedal stroke, post it up.

Big gear/low cadence improves your cycling specific strength, again if you have a less complicated way to improve cycling specific strength, share it with us.

Yes most long climbs will be aerobic, but there may be situations where you need to go anaerobic for extended periods if you don't want to get dropped or you are trying to drop others. If you improve your power at threshold you also improve your aerobic power and your power to weight.

Spinervals 16 may seem complex, but it is not. The beauty of Spinevals 16 is it deceptively easy, you are basically doing a sweet spot workout that feels easy. Sweet spot training is very effective and efficient.

This may be 1950's training, but I know for a fact it works.

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devinci
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by devinci

Efficiency has nothing to do with so called pedaling ''efficiency''. What is cycling specific strength? You may be refering to power more then anything else. It is simple: power to weight, strong aerobic engine for the climb duration, bingo. When you are climbing at a high pace for several minutes and then need to hang on during a hard surge, a lot fo the energy produced comes from aerobic metabolism and some of it from anaerobic glycolysis.

The last thing I would bother with is pedaling technique and ''strength''. Power, aerobic adaptations, specificity, win!

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Tinea Pedis
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by Tinea Pedis

AFA wrote:This may be 1950's training, but I know for a fact it works.

*for my own, anecdotal, performances.


Unless you have some studies to support it? Which would be would be great to read.


If it were that simple as power to weight everyone would be equal.

It's not the sole determinate, but it sure plays an enormous role in it.

Only need to look at professional racing to see this.

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Tapeworm
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by Tapeworm

AFA wrote:If it were that simple as power to weight everyone would be equal.


Uhhhh... sure. Everyone can put out 5.0 w/kg.

Power to weight is very important but is only part of the equation.


Correct. Aerodynamics and rolling resistance play a part (ref to the chart I linked). Otherwise it's pretty much w/kgs.

Having a superior power to weight does not guarantee that you will be the best climber. At lower cadences, pedaling efficiency plays a big part in how well you climb. If you aren't producing power through the dead spot your speed/inertia oscillates which kills you on long climbs.


I assue you - put two riders of equal weight against each other and the guy who puts out more power will win. Inertia oscillation? Hmmm I would have thought that would be more significant though low pedal velocity.

Big gear/low cadence and one leg drills improve your pedal stroke. If you have a less complicated way of improving your pedal stroke, post it up.


Track bike - sprints at 180rpm. And generally riding. A lot.

Overall, seeking "improvements" to pedal stroke are largely a waste of time. The studies that have looked at changing pedalling stroke or things like independent cranks (virtual single leg cycling) show a decrease in pedalling efficiency.

Big gear/low cadence improves your cycling specific strength, again if you have a less complicated way to improve cycling specific strength, share it with us.


Strength is not a limiter for the vast majority of cyclists (maybe a Granny getting into cycling??). Can you walk up a flight of stairs? Then you have the requisite strength to produce a lot of power. If you want strength - go do squat and deadlifts. But most cyclists don't actually want strength - they want power. And the limiter to this power is usually things like gas exchange, oxidative capacity, removal of metabolites etc etc. You get this from, ya know, training 'n' stuff.

Yes most long climbs will be aerobic, but there may be situations where you need to go anaerobic for extended periods if you don't want to get dropped or you are trying to drop others. If you improve your power at threshold you also improve your aerobic power and your power to weight.


You cannot go anaerobic for long extended periods of time, by definition. Best thing for repeated anaerobic efforts is to have a good FTP.

Spinervals 16 may seem complex, but it is not. The beauty of Spinevals 16 is it deceptively easy, you are basically doing a sweet spot workout that feels easy. Sweet spot training is very effective and efficient.


Usually that which feels easy - probably is. Sweet spot does work, to a point. Only doing a sweet spot will have diminishing returns.

This may be 1950's training, but I know for a fact it works.


This is due to... experience? Data? Have you tried something else? Did you adopt this approach because "that's what everyone else does" or do you have valid physiological reasons for these methods?

Here's some reading:- http://www.aboc.com.au/tips-and-hints/w ... ce-anymore" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
"Physiology is all just propaganda and lies... all waiting to be disproven by the next study."
"I'm not a real doctor; But I am a real worm; I am an actual worm." - TMBG

TomHelly
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by TomHelly

Not sure if any of you guy read this a few weeks back, but it's definitely food for thought..

http://cyclingtips.com.au/2013/09/climbing-and-time-trialling-how-power-outputs-are-affected/

Gives credence to the idea that spending more time climbing will lead to improvement in movement economy and thus performance, irrespective of whether W/Kg improves.

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Rick
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by Rick

Tapeworm wrote:I assure you - put two riders of equal weight against each other and the guy who puts out more power will win.

I think that would sort of be the very definition of who was going faster over a given course.
But the real question would be, "Why are some people capable of putting out more power when climbing vs when spinning on flats?" It would at first seem like a cyclist should be able to just ignore the gradient, set his gearing for "maximum power cadence" and then ride the same on hills or flats. But in practice it never seems to work that way.
Inertia oscillation? Hmmm I would have thought that would be more significant though low pedal velocity.

Those differences, and the paper alluded to by TomHelly, are describing changes in "mechanical impedance". By analogy to "electrical impedance", as any electrical engineers can corroborate, power supplies and amplifiers really can put out different maximum powers when the impedance of the load changes. The mechanical impedance is not simply adjustable through gear-ratio (which would be electrically analogous to "transformer turns ratio"), which is why virtually all cyclists use a lower cadence when climbing....hills represent a much "stiffer" mechanical impedance.

But this is a huge subject, because it is not even really "mechanical impedance", but it is really "biochemical-mechanical-impedance". ....and it simply hasn't been studied much that I am aware of. But I am an electro-mechanical engineer with lots of exerience doing the math and tests, so I know this stuff is real. :) But I don't have the funding or inclination to do an academic study. Most exercise physiologists doing these studies are apparently not familiar with these analysis methods. But I garauntee you that some day it will be studied, and you will think back and say "Hey, that nutty guy was right!"

Track bike - sprints at 180rpm. And generally riding. A lot.

I have never seen anyone go up a hill at 180 rpm. So what is that supposed to improve ?
By analogy, that might be like driving a very low frequency, high impedance circuit with a high-frequency. low-impedance source resulting in low transfer efficiency. You could produce the power, but burn up the battery in a very short time. :)
I do agree with "riding a lot". :beerchug:
Overall, seeking "improvements" to pedal stroke are largely a waste of time.

Wouldn't that also invalidate 180 RPM drills ?
I would not be so quick to pronounce them a "waste of time", because you know how difficult it is to really even discern small percentage differences in these types of experiments. And a small percentage differences is often the difference between being at the front of the pack or slightly off the back.

This may be 1950's training, but I know for a fact it works.

This is due to... experience? Data? Have you tried something else? Did you adopt this approach because "that's what everyone else does" or do you have valid physiological reasons for these methods?

I most forms of science, people observe what works FIRST. Then science comes along and explains WHY it worked. So traditional "observing what the winners do" seems to make a lot of sense to me.

kulivontot
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by kulivontot

The physics is there... The exercise science is there... It's not really that complicated. Guys who can put down steady power in a TT can typical climb well, provided that they don't weigh a whole bunch. Lucky for you, pretty much every bit of research written is focused on improving sustainable power over a 40k TT.

stefanot
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by stefanot

Being efficient when having to stand up out of the saddle is also an advantage.

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Tapeworm
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by Tapeworm

Rick wrote:The mechanical impedance is not simply adjustable through gear-ratio (which would be electrically analogous to "transformer turns ratio"), which is why virtually all cyclists use a lower cadence when climbing....hills represent a much "stiffer" mechanical impedance.

But this is a huge subject, because it is not even really "mechanical impedance", but it is really "biochemical-mechanical-impedance". ....and it simply hasn't been studied much that I am aware of. But I am an electro-mechanical engineer with lots of exerience doing the math and tests, so I know this stuff is real. :) But I don't have the funding or inclination to do an academic study. Most exercise physiologists doing these studies are apparently not familiar with these analysis methods. But I garauntee you that some day it will be studied, and you will think back and say "Hey, that nutty guy was right!"


There IS a difference in cycling on a gradient or on the flat or a trainer (with a variable inertia load). Here's a good article about it. http://cyclingtips.com.au/2013/09/climb ... -affected/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

I have never seen anyone go up a hill at 180 rpm. So what is that supposed to improve ?


You haven't seen/heard of anyone of recent times doing high cadence/high threshold efforts returning to slightly below threshold on mountains? No idea what high speed fixed gear cycling does?Hmm.

The high cadence efforts on a track bike, as for what it is to improve - split second neuromuscular coordination, as well as maximal muscle fibre recruitment. Additionally any major imperfections are rapidly made apparent to the user - excellent proprioceptive feedback.

By analogy, that might be like driving a very low frequency, high impedance circuit with a high-frequency. low-impedance source resulting in low transfer efficiency. You could produce the power, but burn up the battery in a very short time. :)


We are not batteries. We do generate more heat with a higher cadence but power output is power output. If the thermal stress is manageable then the power will chug along just fine.

Overall, seeking "improvements" to pedal stroke are largely a waste of time.
Wouldn't that also invalidate 180 RPM drills ?


Largely and for many, yes. But if you're going to do something, might as well do what works.

I would not be so quick to pronounce them a "waste of time", because you know how difficult it is to really even discern small percentage differences in these types of experiments. And a small percentage differences is often the difference between being at the front of the pack or slightly off the back.


Have a look the studies on pedalling techniques and efficiency and see what you come up with. There are more than couple to look at.

In most forms of science, people observe what works FIRST. Then science comes along and explains WHY it worked. So traditional "observing what the winners do" seems to make a lot of sense to me.


Actually probably one of the worst things. A lot of winners win in spite of their training, not because of it. I'd rather take practices which have been proven, rather than simply because "that's what pros do" - without knowing the reason why.

Though to slightly contradict myself, one should observe (not copy) what Team Sky do and their approach to training. Do they nearly take the path of previous winners doing what has always been done, or rather forge their own path (sometimes with errors) by using the best science available?
"Physiology is all just propaganda and lies... all waiting to be disproven by the next study."
"I'm not a real doctor; But I am a real worm; I am an actual worm." - TMBG

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Rick
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by Rick

Tapeworm wrote:There IS a difference in cycling on a gradient or on the flat or a trainer (with a variable inertia load). Here's a good article about it.

Yes, that is the article TomHelly linked to and I alluded to. :noidea:

Tapeworm wrote:
Rick wrote: I have never seen anyone go up a hill at 180 rpm. So what is that supposed to improve ?

You haven't seen/heard of anyone of recent times doing high cadence/high threshold efforts returning to slightly below threshold on mountains? No idea what high speed fixed gear cycling does?Hmm.

The high cadence efforts on a track bike, as for what it is to improve - split second neuromuscular coordination, as well as maximal muscle fibre recruitment. Additionally any major imperfections are rapidly made apparent to the user - excellent proprioceptive feedback.
Tapeworm wrote:Overall, seeking "improvements" to pedal stroke are largely a waste of time.
Tapeworm wrote:Though to slightly contradict myself, one should observe (not copy) what Team Sky do and their approach to training.

I know you seem very interested in the scientific side of training, but your numerous self-contradictions, combined with your signature line, always make me wonder if you are trying to make a specific point, or are just sort of being a "contrarian". :)
Tapeworm wrote:
Rick wrote:By analogy, that might be like driving a very low frequency, high impedance circuit with a high-frequency. low-impedance source resulting in low transfer efficiency. You could produce the power, but burn up the battery in a very short time. :)

We are not batteries. We do generate more heat with a higher cadence but power output is power output. If the thermal stress is manageable then the power will chug along just fine.

Actually, we are biochemical batteries in many ways and biochemically generated heat is a loss of power, very analogous to a battery. That is why people "shiver" when cold....to generate heat. You may not notice it when exercising, but the power must come from somewhere (your body).
Tapeworm wrote:
Rick wrote:In most forms of science, people observe what works FIRST. Then science comes along and explains WHY it worked. So traditional "observing what the winners do" seems to make a lot of sense to me.
Actually probably one of the worst things. A lot of winners win in spite of their training, not because of it. I'd rather take practices which have been proven, rather than simply because "that's what pros do" - without knowing the reason why.

I never said "...simply because that is what the pros do" or "...without knowing why". And I didn't say "copy"....I said "observing"....just like you later said when contradicting yourself. :noidea: Observation *IS* the basis of "science".

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devinci
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by devinci

what's so complicated?

The OP asks how to climb faster. Climb more, at high(er) power output, rest adequatly and repeat.

Training ain't rocket science, unless you want to make it sound that way. People seem to puzzle the whole training variables way too much at times, then get lost in the concepts and approaches and forget the basics: stress, rest, adapt.

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Tapeworm
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by Tapeworm

Rick wrote:
Tapeworm wrote:There IS a difference in cycling on a gradient or on the flat or a trainer (with a variable inertia load). Here's a good article about it.

Yes, that is the article TomHelly linked to and I alluded to. :no idea:


So you did read it then. Any mention that low cadence drills are the way to go? How about perfect pedal strokes? No? Anything about which drills improve this the most? No?

Tapeworm wrote:
Rick wrote: I have never seen anyone go up a hill at 180 rpm. So what is that supposed to improve ?

You haven't seen/heard of anyone of recent times doing high cadence/high threshold efforts returning to slightly below threshold on mountains? No idea what high speed fixed gear cycling does?Hmm.

The high cadence efforts on a track bike, as for what it is to improve - split second neuromuscular coordination, as well as maximal muscle fibre recruitment. Additionally any major imperfections are rapidly made apparent to the user - excellent proprioceptive feedback.
Tapeworm wrote:Overall, seeking "improvements" to pedal stroke are largely a waste of time.
Tapeworm wrote:Though to slightly contradict myself, one should observe (not copy) what Team Sky do and their approach to training.

I know you seem very interested in the scientific side of training, but your numerous self-contradictions, combined with your signature line, always make me wonder if you are trying to make a specific point, or are just sort of being a "contrarian". :)


Right back at you chief. You're the one that interjected to the discussion with objections with no rationale or evidence to the contrary.

What's your point Rick?

You have read the article, and hopefully the one I linked early about the strength endurance training. Are you saying we should do low cadence drills? If so, what's the physiological basis? What are the adaptations being sought? And do they actually occur?

My point about Sky's methods was their mindset:- don't take the training of pros or whoever at face value, actually do some research, not just observation of what has occurred in the past.

As devinci said, it's not really complicated. Train, rest, adapt. Repeat. And yet there is a perception that "perfecting" a pedal stroke and following complex drills is the key or whatever other fluff is out there.

Tapeworm wrote:
Rick wrote:By analogy, that might be like driving a very low frequency, high impedance circuit with a high-frequency. low-impedance source resulting in low transfer efficiency. You could produce the power, but burn up the battery in a very short time. :)

We are not batteries. We do generate more heat with a higher cadence but power output is power output. If the thermal stress is manageable then the power will chug along just fine.

Actually, we are biochemical batteries in many ways and biochemically generated heat is a loss of power, very analogous to a battery. That is why people "shiver" when cold....to generate heat. You may not notice it when exercising, but the power must come from somewhere (your body).
Tapeworm wrote:
Rick wrote:In most forms of science, people observe what works FIRST. Then science comes along and explains WHY it worked. So traditional "observing what the winners do" seems to make a lot of sense to me.
Actually probably one of the worst things. A lot of winners win in spite of their training, not because of it. I'd rather take practices which have been proven, rather than simply because "that's what pros do" - without knowing the reason why.

I never said "...simply because that is what the pros do" or "...without knowing why". And I didn't say "copy"....I said "observing"....just like you later said when contradicting yourself. :noidea: Observation *IS* the basis of "science".


So, on your observations, explain why low cadence drills work and what exactly is a perfect pedal stroke and what is the optimal way to train the body for the demands of climbing?

So again, what's your point Rick?
"Physiology is all just propaganda and lies... all waiting to be disproven by the next study."
"I'm not a real doctor; But I am a real worm; I am an actual worm." - TMBG

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Rick
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by Rick

----sigh---
:roll:

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