What workout (plans) to use to develop strength endurance for steep climbs?

I live in the south of Germany near the Alps where we have many steep climbs, approx. 20 - 40 min length.

I’ve done Sweet Spot Progression for the past 8 weeks and soon wanted to go on to SSB2 and then Build.
I’ll be riding more outside again from April or so on and until then I’d like to develop some more muscular strength or strength endurance for those steep climbs - many of those I’ll have to grind at 55 - 70 RPM and my spindly legs will fatigue quite quickly on those which is my greatest weekness.
So I guess, I should do some kind of prolongues intervals at low RPM - but when should I start with those, and during what workout plan!? Not sure if I should do it right now with SST Progression, or during base/build (build will probably be too hard for low cadence), or another SST block with low cadence after build? Thanks for your tips!

Do you really have no other gearing options? Putting yourself through 20-40 minutes of low cadence grinding doesn’t sound like much fun…

1 Like

I don’t think I have a choice at 10-18% climbs :wink:

SSBII includes some workouts like Clark which specifically include some high force/low cadence “stomps”, which is a good starting point for this kind of strength endurance.

I have some 2 minute hills near where I live, so I will typically do hills repeats of those at 120% (in substitution for the VO2Max workouts you get in Sustained Power Build) at low cadence. The first week I will do them at 70 rpm, the following week at 60 rpm, then 50, then 40 (the last step may take a couple of weeks). Each repetition I will try to alternate between seated and out-of-the-saddle efforts.

Sure, 18% is harsh but for sections more like 10% there’s little reason to grind, depending on your power/weight and how fast you want to go … what’s your smallest gear at the moment?

If I worked at sweet spot up a 10% grade I’d do about 10kph, which I could achieve at 70rpm with 34/30 gearing or 79rpm with 34/34.

1 Like

Thanks, but that’s not really the point of this discussion :wink: need those strength endurance gains.

@mcalista rhanks, I’ll try to work in some low cadence intervals during ssb II. Any tips regarding timing? When should I start with low cadence?

From your posts, it would seem that you will be doing SSB2 in February/1st half of March (with some of those force stomp workouts like Clark), and SusPB in March/April, which hopefully will line up with when you want to start riding outside again anyway. Not sure how early in April some of your target steep roads are open??

That sounds about right.
Those roads will be open by April easy - they’re not exactly the epic Alpine passes :wink:
But it’s not like I have to be fit by date x - it’s more that I would like to better be able climb those steep hills in my area this summer.

This is one of the segments I’m talking about:

Especially the last 3k which are constantly above 12% and up to 20%.

1 Like


I signed onto trainer road for almost the exact same reason you did, working to improve performance in LONG and steep mountain climbs, my personal bugbear is a local climb to me that is roughly 10km at 10%, with ramps to 15-21%, its a bugger. I used plan builder and the road race climbing discipline for my pre event phase, taking me to the end of March, it has me doing sustained power build LV as the last piece, which seems to have lots of VO2 and threshold work in it . I also must grind up anything over 10% at around 60-70 RPM, using a 34-32, and found that at this stage of the program, I’m already stronger at these efforts than I was last year, but still a lot of progress to be made before they dont destroy me utterly (I accidentally went up a 3km stretch of torture yesterday that averaged 10%, without being remotely mentally ready for it, it wasn’t fun). I dont have anything smart to add on the training front as I’m a rank beginner at structured training, but just wanted to wish you the best in your efforts and give a shout out to another member of team spindly legs/no power :slight_smile:


Also just to say that segment from strava looks revolting, congrats!

What gearing do you have? When I set up my road bike for gravel, I paired 50-34 cranks with an 11-40 cassette, and used a Wolftooth roadlink to extend the range of my derailleur.

Unless you have already done something like this, you likely have room for easier gears. If you don’t want to grind as much, change your gearing.

That said, I ride a lot of mountains also. In pretty much every sweet spot workout I do, I add intervals of low cadence. My go-to sweet spot workouts right now are 60 mins at either 85% or 90%. I’ll ride the last 20 mins at 60-70 cadence.