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Become a Better Climber w/o Hill Repeats-Part 1

September 10, 2009

I recently asked our online followers what their goals were and how we could help them achieve those goals.  I received quite a few responses concerning hill climbing.  The general consesus from fitness cyclists was they wanted to improve their climbing performance, but did not want to do hill repeats to do it.   As someone who has limited time to ride and does not ride for performance I can definately relate to this request.  Here are a few things that I have done to improve my climbing.


Climbing is really a matter your power to weight ratio.  You will notice that most great climbers are long and lean.  I heard one time that to be a great climber you should weigh twice your weight in inches.  So for me, I would have to weigh around 150lbs.  Well I can tell you right now that’s not gonna happen.  However, that doesn’t mean that I can’t cut a few pounds.  Like many busy professionals I got in the habit of eating out for convenience.  Unfortunately it conveniently gave me a gut and good start at some love handles.   After one week eating healthy I have lost 3lbs. and have a lot more energy.  While I do not plan on getting down to 150lbs., 175lbs. will go a lot faster uphill than 190lbs.


First and foremost you should be comfortable and relaxed.  Make sure your arms are bent and your shoulders are hanging as oppossed to to reaching for your ear lobes.  I like to position my hands a little wider on the bars.  This opens my chest and allows me to breathe easier…or pant easier.

Slidding back on your saddle will give you some leverage on the pedals, increasing your efficiency.  Lastly, try and keep your upper body as still as possible.  You can pull up on your bars as you peddle (right foot down, pull with your left hand), but try not to sway from side to side.

Cadence & Tempo

Optimally you should shoot for a cadence somewhere between 70 and 80 rpm when climbing.  The best way to measure this is with a cadence sensor.  If your bike computer does not offer cadence you can count the number of times your right knee hits the top of your peddle stroke in 10 sec. then multiply that by 6.

Tempo is also very important.  Make sure you ride at your own speed.  If you hammer to hard on the front of the climb trying to hang with the other riders you’ll blow up and get spit out the back.  If you can conserve your energy at the base of the climb and concentrate on your cadence and your breathing you may be able to increase your effort as you reach the top.

Stay Seated

On shorter climbs this does not matter as much, but for longer climbs is always a good idea to try and spin it out.  While standing will offer you greater power it will take more resources, resources you may need as you reach the top of your climb.  Sitting in the saddle will allow you to use the seat as a fulcrum and rest your abs and back muscles which get more use while standing.  If you find yourself on Big View you may choose to alternate between a seated position and standing position in order to use different muscles groups.

To be continued…

You guys work on this and I’ll post up a few other tips concerning climbing next week.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Jessica permalink
    September 10, 2009 4:57 pm

    Thanks, the cadence and tempo section helped a lot!

  2. roostertx permalink
    September 10, 2009 5:02 pm

    Your welcome Jessica,

    I suppose I should clarify that this is geared more towards road cyclists. Activities like Cross or Moutainbiking where you will surely meet obstacles in your path have some different rules and techniques.

    I will try and touch on those in Part Deux.

  3. jeffro permalink
    September 10, 2009 5:16 pm

    how much will a Triple setup vs. a Double come into play on the climbs? i’ve got a double, and have found a few areas where i wish i had the triple. should i get a smaller chainring to help out?

  4. roostertx permalink
    September 10, 2009 6:29 pm


    Great question. This could probably be a separate article. I’ll put something together and get it out shortly.


  5. January 18, 2010 12:59 pm

    Great site. Gives me the motivation to lose weight this year. I hate being fat lol

  6. March 30, 2010 12:40 am

    I am wondering where to purchase the Acai Berry pills with out risking the possibility of receiving a ridiculous on-line bill later on. Can you purchase them at a health food shop? Sam’s Club? Costco? Walmart? Drug Mart? I heard they have incredible wellness advantages besides just weight reduction.

  7. March 31, 2010 11:47 am

    I love climbing 🙂

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