climbing

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What Makes a Hill a Climb?

A lot of discussion in cycling revolves around the awesome climbs that separate race winners from also-rans.  Amateur cycling is no different with Sunday group rides and Tuesday Night Worlds all being known for the discussion of the “brutal climbs” on the routes.  But everyone seems to have a different definition of what constitutes a “brutal climb” these days.  So what makes your local hill an actual “climb?”

Read along and see if your regular leg buster is indeed a legitimate climb or if that monster is, by definition, just a bump in the road.

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Ride Stronger: VO2 Max Workouts

Among the many weapons in the armament of the cyclist who wants to ride stronger, one of the least practiced and most important is VO2 max repeatability.  The ability to accelerate and push your body to the limits, recover at threshold and repeat that process over and over is one of the most versatile and important skills for a cyclist to possess.  It's also the one that's almost always lacking in the cyclists that I consult with or coach, and it's one I drill home in my training plans.

The real question most people follow up with is “why?”

Before I answer, first let's delve into VO2 max a little bit.  For our purposes, a VO2 max level effort (or a Zone 5/Z5 effort) is a suprathreshold effort that is sustainable for around 3-8 minutes (depending on the intensity of the effort.)  It is a mixture of aerobic and anaerobic energy production and is most often used in pursuits, attacks, bridging small gaps and short climbs.  By the numbers, it's an 8 to an 8.5/10 on an RPE scale, 105%-120% of Functional Threshold Power and >105% Lactate Threshold Heart Rate.

After the jump, I'll give you some more detailed information and a couple workouts to help you build your Zone 5 Repeatability (Z5R).

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Ride Stronger: VO2 Max Workouts

20090906000556_bicycle-racerAmong the many weapons in the armament of the cyclist who wants to ride stronger, one of the least practiced and most important is VO2 max repeatability.  The ability to accelerate and push your body to the limits, recover at threshold and repeat that process over and over is one of the most versatile and important skills for a cyclist to possess.  It's also the one that's almost always lacking in the cyclists that I consult with or coach, and it's one I drill home in my training plans.

The real question most people follow up with is “why?”

Before I answer, first let's delve into VO2 max a little bit.  For our purposes, a VO2 max level effort (or a Zone 5/Z5 effort) is a suprathreshold effort that is sustainable for around 3-8 minutes (depending on the intensity of the effort.)  It is a mixture of aerobic and anaerobic energy production and is most often used in pursuits, attacks, bridging small gaps and short climbs.  By the numbers, it's an 8 to an 8.5/10 on an RPE scale, 105%-120% of Functional Threshold Power and >105% Lactate Threshold Heart Rate.

After the jump, I'll give you some more detailed information and a couple workouts to help you build your Zone 5 Repeatability (Z5R).

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Coaching: Rolling A Climb

Most people think a climb is over when you crest the top.  That's just not true.  In fact, the top of any climb is just the beginning of something else.  And that something else can be one of the greatest tricks in your arsenal.

To put in perspective how you can add a powerful weapon to your climbing quiver, let me ask you a question: How many times have you seen someone crest a climb, only to drop their head and soft pedal (or worse, coast) over the crest?

Let me ask you another question: How many times have you seen determined chaser manage to close a big gap by driving through the crest of that climb?

I know I've seen it all the way from the Pro Tour ranks down through the smallest group rides.  And I know that the guys riding out the crest of the climb are getting a lot of extra speed that the soft pedalers are missing out on.  I'll also tell you something: the physiological cost of that speed is really, REALLY small.

Read more about getting bonus speed in the hills after the break:

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FREE High Intensity Trainer Workout: The Berg Buster Climbing Workout

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[dc]S[/dc]hort, sharp and steep climbs are a tough thing for many people to conquer.  I see people have trouble with them all the time.  When a group ride or race hits a small “wall” there's always a contingent of riders who get spit out the back, then have to chase back on, which is no fun at all.  To help you become a stronger climber, I built a workout based on the small “bergs” featured during the spring classics, which are the most brutal of races.  Designed to build power for short climbs, this FREE workout will train the necessary physiology and techniques to go from last to fast on those little kickers!

To get the free “Berg Buster” workout, all I ask is that you like or share this workout with your friends, and challenge them to become a berg buster!

After the jump, you can pick up this free workout:

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