The usefulness of hill reps?

Chatting to a friend she suggested that I do hill reps as a way of getting better / faster / more stamina in order to train for my Everest challenge. Today I did my first hill reps, but I don’t see that they are useful in any way.

I did a 1km stretch on a local hill five times. The actual hill is 5km in length. My NP for both the hill reps and the total climb (when I last did it) was about the same. The distance covered climbing is the same with 5km of hill reps or doing the entire 5km hill.

So what have I gained by doing hill reps in comparison to the entire hill in this case?

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hill reps are like intervals. The idea would be you would do the 1km rep at a much higher wattage than the 5km rep. Therefore you exercise that threshhold and even perhaps vo2max system rather than just tempo.

If you do the 1km rep at the same wattage you do the 5km rep at, the 1km rep would actually be less useful because you would be resting in between each rep.


In this case, you’ve gained nothing and actually lost something. Since you did the same amount of work but added in 4 recoveries for an easier workout.

The benefit would be if you went harder on those shorter climbs. I.e. instead of doing a ~15 minute climb at ~105% FTP, you did 5 x ~3 minute climbs at ~120% FTP. Still not necessarily a “gain”, but it’s at least providing a different training stimulus. A 5km climb is typically more like threshold or suprathreshold training, 5 x 1km climbs are typically VO2 Max training.


3mins v hard up a climb…roll down easy…repeat…= V02 intervals.


Depending on the gradient of this hill these 1k reps are probably 3-5 min and the whole climb would be about 20min. Therefore, these reps would be like VO2 and the whole climb is just slightly suprathreshold. So you should basically finish each 1k rep gasping for air and then recover on the downhill plus some and then hit it again. So for example, if you do 300W for the whole climb then you should probably be doing those 1k reps at something like 330-350W.

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Also, you reference that the NP is the same for the 1k as the 5k. I would avoid looking at NP for efforts of this length. Due to the length of the power smoothing in the NP calculation it really isn’t that useful for efforts under 15min or so.

And I took a look at your ride and I think the reason that you didn’t feel these were that different than doing the whole climb is because you spent about half of each climb at Endurance/Tempo power and only 15% at V02 power. So these reps are taking just over 6min which is a long and painful interval length but you should probably still be at about 110% for these when instead you are averaging about 88%.

Here is the trace and summary of the first rep:

And here are all of the intervals:

I think you just simply aren’t going hard enough.

PS You haven’t had a week of under 500TSS since mid March. So consider that you may be fatigued and it’s keeping you from going deep enough to make these intervals productive. I would take a recovery week of 400TSS at most and then get back after them.


Hill reps are a way of doing (probably) vo2max intervals. Basically the old style way from before power meters and HR monitors. Depending on the length of the hill, and how hard you go, it can be vo2max, or threshold on longer hills.

Without going hard (ie, ride in the right zone), the hill won’t do anything.

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Many thanks for all of your replies - They make a lot of sense. To get the benefits then of hill reps I was not going hard enough today.

Here’s the thing though… I am training for an Everest challenge, where of course I’ll be climbing for hours, but will be at a much lower power % than on hill reps. My question therefore is whether for this type of training hill reps are going to be effective or I just do as much longer climbing as I can.

Ideally, going hard repeatedly will make it easier to go long at a lower pace. I’m working on prepping for an ~8 hour Everest after my A race this summer and doing repeats near threshold for about half the time to extend my tempo time later.
Here is what I did for one session. Harder each rep than I plan on going, but that will make a lower percentage easier. GL

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I would not build my training around hill reps. I think a lot of endurance riding is the most important, but it definitely would help to add efforts to your training to make sure your top end is maintained.


@russell.r.sage Agree, and forgot to mention that in my post. I know you’re not referring to me specifically, but my example was a session designed to specifically replicate conditions for the upcoming attempt on order to test fatigue and performance degradation, as well as fuelling strategies-which are just as important to do, but not as a consistent training method.

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I was interested in any gain over 5x1km hill reps as opposed to the actual complete 5km hill.

I have just completed the century specialised plan and will be doing it again before the Everest with a sustained power build in between. I do like hill climbing (just as well!) so I’ll probably kick regular hill reps into touch as I do find it hard to work at a higher level outside and just continue on my general climbs but trying to go faster all the time.

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You would probably get the same gain as just doing regular VO2 intervals. Which are an important part of any training. I think for everesting the biggest reason you should do hill reps (and I mean more like reps of longer 10+ min hills) at target pace would be get used to the slightly different muscle firing patterns and potentially a lower cadence if the hill you choose is steep.

When you get closer to your event those small changes can make a big difference. Especially over 10+ hours of everesting.

So I think hill reps are important but I would make them a bit more specific to your goal. So maybe just do reps of the entire climb and around your goal pace. Even better if you can do them on the climb that you intend to do your everesting on.

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Are you doing hills reps to force your body to adapt and improve or to simulate the mental strength needed for everesting?

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If you’re training to Everest, how about doing the entire 5km hill five times? That could be a nice hard SS workout. Those 1km repeats would be great V02. You could do the entire hill twice for threshold. Ride it easy for endurance, or very easy for recovery. You could pack an entire pyramidal training plan into that one hill.


Hill reps are VO2max intervals. Depending on the length of the hill, that means you go full gas for 1–5 minutes.

Typically you should not extend the duration of your hill rep much beyond 5 minutes, ideally it is 3–5 in my opinion. So doing 5 km in one go is too long.

Doing hill reps as part of your structured training (!) contributes to raising your FTP. So even though you Everest at a much lower power, I reckon 50–60 % of your FTP, raising your FTP allows you to raise your power here, too.

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I think your training plans are good preparation for everesting. I also think that time spent doing aerobic rides as well as some sweet spot will be more important that VO2 work. For training, I would keep the climbs as long and continuous as you can when doing the lower intensities.
Good luck, and be sure to post a report on how your’s goes.

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I did them because a friend said I should - I am not a training expert as you can see. Neither is she but she has trained before for taking part in the Warrior games. But what I am doing is very different to what she did (track racing) so I thought asking you guys was a good idea :grinning:

It all makes sense - Thanks guys. I like the idea of using the whole 5km hill stretch for different workout types. It’s a shame that the hill I am going to use for the event is about 1.5hrs away so I will go and recce it soon. Around my local hills, I do have them but none that would be very suitable for an Everesting attempt.

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