Advice on training for 8 minute hill climb

Hi everybody. I’m a long-term TR user looking to improve my performance on a popular local climb. The segment is 3.65 km at 4.2%. I have found TrainNow very helpful over the last 3 months, mixing in sweet-spot and VO2max work, but not following a very strict regimen. My FTP is at an all-time high of 322 which puts me at about 4.4-4.5 watts per kg. My calculation is that I need to average 375 W on the climb to break 8 minutes, which is my primary goal. At present I can hold about 365 W. Obviously this is VO2max territory. Does anybody have any suggestions about a training strategy or plan to tackle this goal within 6 weeks? I’m currently training about 6 hours per week, mostly indoors (we are in lockdown in Sydney and can’t ride far from home).
Cheers!

For 6 weeks? Maybe cut your endurance rides to 90-120min max, have two easy 1hr recovery days, and do two days a week of intervals at 370-375w. You don’t just want to get time in zone, you want to train that goal pace.

something like 4 x 6 or 3 x 7min on 4-5min rest (target 370) or efforts of 6 x 4min on 4min rest, or 8-10 x 2min on 1min rest (target 375w for the 4 and 2min efforts)

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VO2max intervals and race-like efforts with plenty of recovery. On a recent Strava segment I did 117 % FTP for 6:50 and I still had gas left in the tank. So for 8 minutes a goal could be 115 % or so, which is 370 W at your current FTP. Put another way, I think it is entirely doable.

Also, if you know the segment, you might want to have a look at how to pace it properly. Perhaps it has some kickers where you need to dig in deeper.

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For the last two weeks, you might swap one of the zone 5 race-pace days for a day of really hard 1min efforts. Tuning up anaerobic capacity a few times will help you dig deep if there is a steep pitch, or in the last 1-2min of the climb.

(basically, look at how a rower would tune up for a 2k with 6 weeks to go – your effort is about 2min longer, but it’s the same basic game)

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Have you gone and tried hitting 375 on the hill yet? With an FTP in the 320s, I’d bet you could hit that in a single effort if you’re fresh, properly rested and motivated. You won’t be at VO2max either, just you will have some serious legs of fire.

Otherwise, I’d do some higher power repeats. Depending on your anaerobic abilities, smash some 45s-1min intervals around 600W on full recovery. My thought here is that the limitation may be that you don’t know truly how deep you can really go.

If that’s not a problem, then it’s just about training for the specific effort.

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I appreciate the constructive suggestions. In recent weeks I have achieved times of 8:02, 8:17 and 8:12 with average power outputs of 366, 349 and 363 watts respectively. Pacing is a big part of it. I paced best in that first attempt and it paid off. I think that’s as fast as I can go on my current fitness. I have been a rower in the past and I know how to go deep for 6-8 minutes. I feel if I can find that extra 10 watts I will be able to crack into the sevens.

@RobertK I like the idea of doing intervals at the goal power, gradually building up duration from 1 min to 2 and 3 with equal rest periods. So far I’ve done Baird and Bluebell fore the 1 min intervals and they feel good. Not sure how quickly I can ramp up to 2 and 3 min intervals without causing too much fatigue. They’ll be a ‘stretch’ on the TA algorithm so I’ll build them up.

@kurt.braeckel I like the idea of the anaerobic work. There are no ‘pinches’ on this climb - it is pretty much a steady grade. I can complete it spinning in the saddle at a comfortable cadence. But I think I will sprinkle those higher power intervals in as well.

Thanks for you advice and encouragement guys.

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Another thing: try to experiment with your cadence. I find that I do better at “normal” cadences for VO2max work, i. e. at about 100 rpm on the trainer for me, which is my natural cadence on the flats. The reason is that lower cadences reduce the load on your cardiovascular system, but increase to the load on your muscles. Depending on which system is stronger, you can try to tax that more.

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Um. Wait for a strong tailwind?

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I find there’s something about momentum, when I am spinning comfortably with a tailwind (it can be minimal 4-7mph) I can easily find that extra 10w :+1: Break that momentum and it becomes a grind :-1:

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If the gradient steepens, stand and spike watts, then sit and settle. Repeat this on every increase in gradient. It should improve your time meaningfully without additional training. If you struggle w the spikes while riding vo2, try to train them

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Good point, I have used Mywindsock.com to get a heads-up on upcoming dates with favorable conditions.

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This is for me somewhat strange with AT. It builds really slowly so you work very below your abilities. 1min vo2 max workouts are useless as vo2 max workouts. Do 3 min intervals (go max each one), do not care about the power and review after. Then you have a point of reference what to do next. Would they cause fatigue? Yes, a lot but this is their purpoise:) vo2 max should not be “progressed” - turn on resistance/level mode and ripp them, gasp for air and repeat.

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If you opt to try those long bombs, give yourself a couple of days to recover (longer if older). They take a lot out of you and you probably won’t be able to give another good strong effort for two or three days. I sprinkle these throughout my training season and they just make everything feel a bit easier.

My proposed target power was based on my power profile at your FTP. Reality is you should go as hard as you can for 45s - 1min repeatedly on 5 min recovery spinning (or even longer).

Others may have mentioned it, but if it’s not a mental or pain tolerance thing as you said, it might be time for some intensive VO2max work to raise the ceiling. See the hard start VO2max thread here.

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That sounds interesting. I’ll try this.

I’d look at best bike split to validate your assumptions on wattage.

This sounds like adding more and more time at VO2 is the key - i’d look for workouts that add more time and more ‘on’ intervals over time. Starting from those 30s on/30s off, going up to 3 min.

The 8 min FTP test is the final tune up ride :wink:

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