Training for a six-minute climb

Let’s have a little fun hopefully. I just finished up race season and am ready to tackle my second goal for the year. I want to go sub six minutes on a semi-local climb. I can’t train on it because it’s a two hour ride away or I have to drive somewhere near it and start from there.

My last two times up it this year have been 6:12 and 6:04. I know 6:04 is close and some would say just ride about 1% harder and you’re fine. Trouble is that I’m punching way above my league here. My eyes are crossing, my legs are on fire, and my lungs are giving up on me towards the top. I don’t want to just simply push harder and hope for the best.

The climb is 1.7km@8%. The last 0.5km are 12-14%. My FTP is 270 and I last rode the climb at 379. If I run a couple of those calculators I think I need to be closer to averaging 400.

So, would you run a VO2max block for three weeks? How about a suprathreshold block? What about just creating a workout just under what the climb looks like and repeat that a couple of times and then just mix in endurance work. What about just running the specialty plan for Rolling Road Race and mark the event four weeks out?

Any input would be appreciated. Thank you.

There’s been threads on similar subjects before. I forget what they say but they may be of help, this is one of them:

To contraditct the requirements of the climb - volume and z2. My best 5min power (6,2 W/kg) was combination of increased volume + 2x threshold weekly, building tte and then hitting it with vo2 max block. I was flying on the bike and even without Vo2 max work my 5min power was up by 30W, vo2 max block added 10W.

Caveat for me and vo2 max is they do not work without proper aerobic engine, not to mention that without proper volume and lot of aerobic riding I fail many vo2 max workouts as I am fading towards end of workout and whole block (so I can do 4x4 but 5x4 is hard).

So my recipe would be ride more or add proper threshold work with a lot of TiZ (build upto 80min so something like 4x20 is endgoal).

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To be honest I’m amazed you can do 379W for 6 minutes with an FTP of 270W. That’s 140% of FTP! If your FTP is accurate I’d think you’ve pretty much already maxed out your 6 minute effort and need to go back to building a bigger base to give a foundation for further increases.

I’d be more inclined in the short term to look at optimising conditions and equipment. Study the weather and find a day with a good tailwind. I think (I’m sure TT specialists will correct me if I’m wrong) that you also want low pressure, low humidity, some heat (but not hot enough to impact performance). Save weight where you can - lose any bottles, cages, saddle bag, wear your most lightweight kit, nothing in your pockets. See if you can convince somebody to give you a lead out!


I love this and to me is what makes sports fun!

Just a few thoughts from a track & field coach…

  • With such a short window (3 weeks) I would go with anaerobic work. 30 seconds to 1 min, very hard efforts (400+ w). However if you have not done this you can be very sore and risk hurting your performance, so don’t over-do it.
  • Make sure you go as light as possible on the climb. No need to carb up or “fuel the ride” for an all-out 6 min effort.
  • Get lots of sleep and rest up at least 3 days before your event but don’t get rusty with a whole recovery week.
  • Get a really good warm-up in but don’t over do it with “race primers”
  • Weather matters. Choose a good day to get your PR!
  • Watts don’t matter… the clock does!
  • Measure out the course, put out cones every 400 meters (for example) and make a “race” plan.
  • Here is the biggest one…You need to pace this climb. Think of it like a mile race with 4 laps and break it into 1/4 segments. First “lap” you need to start hard the first few seconds to get your speed and momentum up. You want to push the first 1/4 but not go anaerobic. Time early is not time in the bank. Second 400 you need to focus on keeping your speed up. Settle into your pace but realize you are going to need to put in more effort to just maintain. Third 400 is going to be a grind and the hardest. This is where you need to focus and go in. Often it is this part where athletes lose the most time. Last 500 is all out. Pick up the effort with 500 to go… then again with 300 to go and then empty the tank the last 100. If you feel like you are going maintaining pace you are slowing down. If you feel like you are slowing down you are done.
  • Bring a friend to cheer you on at the point in the hill you need it most.

Best of luck!!


Agreed. This is the approach I’ve taken this year and I recently PR’d a ~6min climb that I have 300+ recorded efforts on over the last 15 years… and I just turned 50. However, not sure if 3 weeks is long enough to reap the benefits of Z2 volume, so I’d do Z4/5/6 workout once or twice a week and surround it with as much Z2 as you can fit in. Then just make sure you show up to the climb well-rested and properly warmed up… a strong domestique to lead you out would also help. Good luck!

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Curious if this is “do whatever you can for a sub 6” or is this “man vs. mountain?” If the later I would say gotta do this solo.

I would just do this one workout once per week for 3 weeks, then go do the climb.

2min at 450w x 2-5 reps with 10min recovery in-between each.

Just do normal riding the rest of the week and you’ll be golden

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Lots of good advice here. Thank you! And thank you for that other thread - I was trying various searches looking for something like that but just couldn’t find something similar.

I’ll add some more info - this is definitely a solo ride. A domestique would certainly help but I wouldn’t feel good afterwards :wink: Once I crack six minutes, I am never riding this climb again :joy:

I only brought up the initial three-week window since it seems like people do their VO2max blocks for three weeks. I can push out further if I have to or if it makes more sense. I have two weeks to plan this before I start the program.

Going super hard on intervals doesn’t bother me but it does take a few extra days for this 47yo to recover. I don’t have trouble running the hard-start interval workouts like the 6x3 @ 110%. They’re hard but I get through them and then need two days to recover. I can also run the one minute intervals at 400+ watts without a whole lot of trouble. This is my wheelhouse - 60-90s max efforts.

I normally train about 7-8hr per week with an average TSS of 500. I don’t know if these numbers help or not but I’m throwing them out there anyways. I do think my FTP is realistically set. AIFTP has me at 270 and has me at 260 (20min power curve).

In the past, I mentally split the climb in two parts rather than four. The first part I ride close to FTP or just above to hold my HR in a reasonable zone. The second part it’s about upping the effort but saving enough for the final 150m. Four parts could make more sense. I also dropped my water bottles this last time but not the saddle bag. I guess that can go next time.

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To add to what Jolyzara said, I’m also a track coach. All the best 1500m/mile running times are run with the first and last 1/4 a bit faster (and similar to each other) with the 2nd and 3rd a bit slower (and also similar to each other). For a world class runner, this could be something like 55-57-57-55. As Jolyzara says, the third quarter is generally the place where people lose the most.

bear in mind this is a one off effort, so in training, you are not concerned with repeatability. so take lots of rest in between efforts. you need to produce power, with lots of fast twitch recruitment, therefore lactate and acidity. in training, drip feed sugar because you never want to compromise the ability to generate lactate. that is your power indicator. clearing the lactate and acidity is another matter. Bi carb could be worth a try.

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So for me would be part of aerobic base - at least in my case this is the sign of it. One, most tangable sign of good aerobic engine is also improved recovery after hard efforts, especially I have seen it vo2 max block.

Your volume pretty high (my highest was 10-11h) so I would focus on pushing it a little bit to create overload and push the tte into the right with long threshold and sst work (build the duration quite aggresively - with threshold start with 30min TiZ and with sst around 50-60min and progress for 3-6 weeks, depening where you are athe moment). You can alsot try workouts that gave me a a lot - 3h ride with threshold/sst sprinkled in time (for example 4x15 or 3x20 where every effort has 20-30 min z2 between). Those gave me a lot durabiliy.

Then hit it with vo2 max. If concetraed 2 weeks of 6 workouts should do the job, but remember that vo2 max block is extremely hard and requires a lot of recovery during the block. Given your age, maybe try to spread vo2 work.

Rest after one week at least.

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Tom vd Salm on X: “Van der Poel heeft de andere 7 Nederlanders inmiddels gelost bij de volgende doortocht. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: #Glasgow2023” / X (

Hey, @electrontornado, it’s great that you want to go sub six minutes on a semi-local climb!

We may not have a training plan for this type of Event, but I can provide some advice!

  1. Strengths & Weaknesses:

Analyze your current strengths and weaknesses on the climb, focusing on where you struggled during your previous attempts and think of ways to overcome them.

  1. Workout Library:

You can use our Workout library to find the right VO2 Max workouts you are looking for.

  • VO2 Max: This could involve short intervals at high intensity, such as 3-5 minutes at 110-120% of your FTP, with adequate recovery between intervals.

  • Suprathreshold: Intervals of 8-15 minutes at around 95-105% of your FTP can be effective.

  1. Workout Creator:

You can also design a workout that mimics the demands of the climb using the Workout Creator. This workout can help you adapt to the specific challenges you’ll face on the climb.

  1. Rest and Recovery:

Adequate rest and recovery are essential to allow your body to adapt and improve. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep and paying attention to your nutrition.

  1. Tapering:

As the day for your challenge gets closer, reduce training volume and intensity to ensure you’re well-rested and ready to perform at your best.

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Finally about ready to start. It’s been a crazy 2.5 weeks so I haven’t gotten back to this. Thank you again for everybody for the advice and input. Here’s what I’ve decided to do.

I’m going to push the test out to mid-November. I originally thought about three weeks because that was a typical VO2 block. I have no real reason I can’t push this plan longer. I’m going to do a four-week block of build work with weekly sessions of SS and threshold/suprathreshold followed with at least two longer endurance rides. I’m closely following the SS progression plan some have laid out in the SS progression thread. I hope to extend my TTe. After a month of this, I’m going to switch to a couple weeks of VO2 work which will include some very specific six-minute efforts. Then I think I’ll take a lighter week of high intensity, shorter rides before the official test.

A couple of these endurance rides will include trips to the climb to break the climb down into four parts to make the timing easier.

Finally, I will be ditching anything excess except for water bottle cages for the actual test - water bottles, phone, saddle bag, snacks, and taillight.

I’ll report back once I actually get through this and let you know how it goes. Thanks again to everyone for the advice!


This is the kind of stuff that makes this fun. Best of luck and looking forward to hear how it goes!!