Best workouts to increase climbing ability

Currently on the General Build, I attempted a sustained power build but switched as I came back from traveling and got smashed by them.

Climbing is the worst part of my cycling…currently only training for a few big sportives so no racing. Which workouts can help increase my climbing ability and at which cadence?

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That can depend on the specific climbs you have in mind. The following is likely obvious, but worth mentioning:

  • Short punchy stuff is well served by the Short Power Build.
  • Medium efforts are better served by General Build.
  • Long steady efforts are better served by Sustained Power Build.

Look at your need first, then pick according to that.

Cadence is another matter. Preferences range as wide as the types of riders and equipment. In general, faster is better for long term efficiency and longer efforts. Grinding is to be avoided when possible. If you are doing low cadence work frequently, it may be a sign that a change in gearing is worthwhile.

To state a range, 70-90 rpm is a decent range for sustained efforts. Getting into the 50-65 rpm range can work for some (especially when used in a mix of faster cadences), but is often a quick way to smoke your legs and glycogen stores.

Maybe a bit more info from you on your current situation and perceived needs can help is give more specific recommendations.

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bit about me.

34yrs old - 75kg - 234 FTP (planning to continue loosing weight, I was 78kg in feb)

started training again from last year after breaking my leg, increase this years FTP from 190 to 235 over the base build.

The climbs I am looking at doing at short / medium but tend to have spikes of 20% or so in them. The climbs here: at the location of Surrey / Dorking / Kent. These are the climbs I am attempting.

Is there a way to mix the 3 plans into one?

I would start with the General Build. It really is the “best of both worlds” approach and is the plan I suggest whenever people want to do a mix of events and efforts. You can look it over and consider which (if any) of the planned workouts don’t align with your desired efforts.

But GB has such a good mix of Threshold, Sweet Spot, VO2 and Anaerobic work that I think it is worth a try with no changes for the first 4 weeks to see how it goes.


awesome ill give it a go…thanks for the advice :smiley:

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Modify a plan to suit the length of climbs you’re after. There are TONS of workouts in the library…just simply following a plan as it’s built likely isn’t the best option here. Feel free to customized.

Specificity is key IMO. Have a 5 min climb you want to crush? Start crushing 5 min intervals.

I live in South London and know the climbs you’re talking about very well. In fact when I started cycling they regularly defeated me - I remember walking up Chalkpit Lane, pushing my bike and feeling very unfit and ashamed. A few years later, they now hold no fear for me, my Strava positions are respectable, and I even enter the Bec CC and Catford CC hill climbs, though I’m still some way off worrying the podium.

And if I was to give my most honest advice on how you can improve going up them, I’m afraid it’s simply this: get fitter.

Unless you’re planning to drive to the climb, go up it, then drive back, you’re always going to be partly fatigued before you begin the segment. Especially so if they’re coming in the middle of a sportive like King Of The Downs. Just getting to the bottom having expended fewer matches is going to make as big a difference as (for example) slightly increasing the percentage of your FTP you can do for 3 minutes.

So don’t worry too much about particular workouts. Just follow a plan and keep the FTP going up - and if you can, the weight going down. Join a club if you haven’t already (advert: if you’re in South London, Dulwich Paragon are great!). Going on group rides to those climbs with people at or just above your ability is a great way to get better at them.

You’re doing the right thing already. Like @mcneese.chad says, General Build is a good mix of workouts - so keep at it, and the rewards will come.

(The only exception I’d make with workouts is that you might consider including a few low cadence intervals. At 234 watts for 75KG, a 20% gradient is inevitably going to involve a bit of grinding.)


Thanks Martin great advice.

Where are you based in South London. I’m in Balham, I use to see the Dulwhich boys a lot when I lived in Blackheath. I’m currently a member of the RCC haven’t gone out with them that much apart from a few members.

I am planning on doing this route Sunday.

I was thinking of including some low cadence stuff, as like you said the higher grads will have grinding. Any work outs you feel would be great for the lower cadence work?

I will use a mix of normal, low, and high cadence in the longer intervals. I switch every minute or two between each cadence range in some cases. Then I work up to longer duration efforts in increments.

Make sure to listen to your body and be mindful of any twinge that signals oncoming pain or injury. Swap back to normal cadence before excess fatigue builds, which can lead to poor form and potential for injury as well/

Nice route! You’ll be riding some of the roads near Ockley we use for our club’s open time trial. Also, if you took a right turn and headed south for a mile or so at Newdigate towards Rusper Golf Club, you’ll find Tanhouse Farm Shop & Cafe which is a great mid-ride cake stop.

I’m personally in Camberwell. Club rides generally start at Herne Hill Velodrome or in Crystal Palace. This is our standard club run, and this a typical 100km longer Sunday ride. But people live over a fairly wide area.

It occurs to me that if you fancied hill repeats for training but were pressed for time, College Road between Dulwich and Crystal Palace, and Canonbie Road in Forest Hill, are both places you could get to fairly quickly. Beware though, the latter is brutal.

I think Chad’s advice about workouts for low cadence looks right. I wouldn’t do anything above sweetspot - a zone 4 or zone 5 effort at 50rpm will fry your legs very quickly.