Pedaling Exercises for Hill Climbing
When your cycling route brings you to a climb, you have two options: ride or walk. Don’t let that hill intimidate you. Stay on your bike, pedal strong and use your leg muscles to pedal to the top. Improve your abilities with weekly training sessions that include various climbs, or stay indoors and use a stationary bike to simulate a challenging climb. Either way, you’ll improve your mental and physical climbing skills and quickly ascend that hill during your next outdoor ride.
Cycling uphill compared with flat-road biking has many benefits. Not only do you improve your cardiovascular endurance and leg muscle strength, your overall leg power improves, so you become more efficient with each pedal. Your muscular endurance also improves to allow for faster speeds and smoother cadences. Spinning.com also cites mental health benefits such as improved focus and concentration.
In a seated position, the saddle supports more of your weight so that you use less of your energy. You also use the larger glute muscles to push the pedals. Find a small hill, one that takes 15 to 30 seconds to climb. Use a light gear and maintain a cadence of 90 revolutions per minute, or pedaling slightly faster than one push each second. Maintain your speed until you reach the top of the hill. Turn around, coast down and repeat the hill two or three times. On an indoor bike, increase your resistance to simulate a 15 to 30 seconds hill, then take off the resistance as you coast down for 10 seconds. Repeat your hill two or three times.
A standing climb is useful when the hill is long and steep, as your body may need a break from a seated position. The standing position uses different muscle groups as you push and pull against the pedals. To practice standing climbs, find a long hill or a series of hills. Select a light gear and maintain a cadence of 70 to 80 RPM as you climb the hill. Push down and pull up on the pedals as you exercise to use all of your leg muscles. If cycling indoors, gradually increase the resistance with each minute as you pedal up a 10-minute-long hill. Aim to maintain your cadence with each resistance increase.
Hill intervals improve your endurance by simulating short, powerful speed bursts. Find a hill that is not too steep and is between 1/4- and 1/2-mile long. Cycle uphill with an easy resistance that allows you to maintain a cadence of approximately 100 RPM. Coast down the hill, and then increase your gear to keep a cadence of approximately 50 RPM. Coast down and repeat the hill with the easier gear. Continue the pattern for four to six climbs.
Use the same pattern on an indoor bike. Increase the resistance and stand or sit as you pedal at 100 RPM for one minute. Decrease the resistance for 30 seconds, and then increase the resistance again. Maintain your 50-RPM cadence for two minutes as you climb. Repeat the pattern for five to 10 minutes.
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