Should I avoid doing workouts on a long climb?

I live at the bottom of a climb that takes me about an hour to do.
This lets me start the majority of TR workouts I do at the bottom of the climb and finish before I run out of road. The scenery and the lack of traffic and lights is nice.

However, works seem to get progressively harder the further I go.
VO2max workouts are basically too hard to finish.

The climb goes from about 420 meters to 1,100 meters. Things start to get hard about halfway up, so I guess around 760 meters.

Is this enough altitude to make intervals significantly harder, or is it just in my head?

Since I can’t do any workouts over an hour long on this climb, I wonder if I shouldn’t do workouts somewhere else,. Or maybe I should just turn around and go back down during rest intervals.

I just wanted to say you are so lucky! I’d love to have that so close.

I don’t do outside workouts, but from following Jonathan and Alex they seem to always do them on hills.

I think as long as you are hitting your power numbers you are only helping yourself, unless you are only competing in flat TTs or track or something.

Regarding the altitude, I think it plays a part. Enough to notice? Not sure. Probably has more to do with the fact that you’ve been climbing for half the workout.


One downside is that you have to spend 15-20 minutes doing a fairly hairy descent, so it’s not quite as time efficient as indoor training. Hehe.

For VO2Max intervals, the recovery intervals are pretty important, in that they allow the muscles to recover before the next effort interval. I haven’t fully explored the TR library, but generally it seems VO2Max workouts generally recommend 50% or less for recovery intervals. And it may be difficult to keep your effort at less than 50% on a climb like that. My guess is that the issue is really the cumulative effects of going too hard on the recovery intervals catching up with you about half way through, rather than altitude at 760m.

All that said, ready access to a climb like that sounds excellent for extended sweet spot efforts.

A number of potential suggestions:

  • easier gearing to allow you to climb at easier efforts
  • use the Alternates functionality to select a similar workout with longer recovery intervals (eg. while the plan may prescribe 3 mins at 120% efforts followed by 3 mins recovery at 50%, select a workout with 3 mins @ 120% and 4 mins recovery.
  • do the VO2Max workouts on the indoor trainer/another road, and keep that wonderful climb for sweet spot or threshold efforts.

With my gearing, it’s not so steep that I can’t grind at a reasonable recovery power.
It might have simply been a very hard workout that was going to be mentally tough regardless. Especially since I haven’t been training consistently…


Plus you wear out those brakes!

Are you kidding me?!? Having such a long climb in close proximity makes you super, super lucky. I’m strongly limited by topography as regards to the type of workouts I can do outdoors. I can do shorter VO2max stuff, but I can’t then necessarily vary the rest interval as intended.

Assuming there are no or very few breaks (traffic lights and intersections) you can basically do anything: long threshold efforts, VO2max, etc. IMHO unless you are doing endurance work, it is usually better and safer to do hard efforts at inclines: your speeds are slower than on flatter terrain and often there is less traffic.

I wouldn’t worry about effects of altitude, in my experience they start much higher, 1,500 m–2,000 m. Even if you feel any, you have plenty of other advantages such as much better cooling.

The only thing to pay attention to is the gradient and your gearing: your gearing should allow you to spin easily during rest intervals. Personally, I prefer a lower cadence at lower power, but at some climbs you need to put out a minimal amount of power in order to stay upright.

1 Like

One downside to training on a climb is the constant temptation to turn around and make the pain stop. At least with a flat loop you still have to pedal to get home.

Theoretically, by the time I get up to about 900 meters, I’m down about 5% on power. That means 120% intervals are about a bit over 15 watts harder than they need to be. This was about point where I pulled the plug yesterday. There was no way I was getting through another 8-10 30s intervals at 120%.

Can’t you adjust for that “by hand”. I don’t think I have ever done a TR VO2max workout outdoors, but the ones I have tried gave a wattage range rather than a number. Wouldn’t that work?



Turn that around, metaphorically at least. The good thing with a climb that long, you can push right to maximum and get the best out of a workout and free wheel home (not worry about bonking). With a flat loop its no fun when you bonk on a flat loop and still have to pedal home

I wouldn’t worry about that anyway, VO2 max intervals are more about an oxygen based zone rather than a power based zone. Just do what your maximum is just now and in future it might be the same or more than a power based target anyway.


I do all my sustained effort training on climbs. I have an HC climb 25mins ride from my house, so I can warm up and do up to 60mins FTP effort. The descents are welcomed break. Make use of the climbs!


As the others have said it would be better to spin easily for recovery. It sounds like you’re grinding at low cadence instead - likely tiring your legs out further. With intervals of 2mins or longer I’d advise you turn around and grab some recovery.

It sounds like you are doing 30/30s though, so I wouldn’t bother turning around. By time you get your bike facing the right way it’ll be time to turn around again. For
VO2 work like that if your HR is hitting the right zone for those sets >90%, I’d ignore the power drop off. You would be doing excellent work anyway and the goal of VO2 is to trigger cardiovascular system adaptations by getting you heart and lungs working hard, the power targets are more of a guide.

Edit @HLaB got there before me :smile:.

1 Like

There is often one open-ended rest interval where I could turn around and lose a few hundred meters of altitude in a few minutes. Of course, the temptation to regain Local Legend status of this climb is also…uh, tempting.


Keep pushing so! :laughing:

I’m deeply envious of your proximity to a decent climb. I’ve got to travel about an hour (by car) to get anything longer than 10mins.

1 Like

Where is the evidence that spinning is better than coasting for recovery? At least for me, the easiest spinning helps with just not ceasing up, but nothing more - I need all I can get for the next interval.

I’m not sure where I’m supposed to have suggested that. :sweat_smile: I was comparing easy spinning to slow grinding.

Having said that, if you take a look at Billat 30/30s (designed for running rather than cycling) you vary between VO2 and tempo (instead of recovery/endurance pace). Supposed to be very effective. I’ve only made one attempt at the set, it was absolutely brutal - you’d want to be fresh taking it on.

1 Like

Doing a quick search got me this article which unfortunately didn’t point out the exact references they based their conclusions on.

In this article there are also references to research performed on the matter.

haha I wasn’t insinuating, was just wondering what is recommended.

I was slightly facetious though as for these climbs where I am, 30/30s would be too difficult to use. I always use a long flat stretch in that case. Otherwise the recovery segment is well, a torque fest.

I can just say that my strength being my endurance engine, this has benefited a lot from using climbs for efforts as there is no avoiding gravity. Nature wins! :smiley:

1 Like

Haha no worries, we got our wires crossed it seems.

All hill work is good work, I reckon :muscle:.

1 Like