Cycling Uphill Tips – UPDATED – How to Cycle Up Hills Faster?
When you challenge yourself by riding uphill, your bike and body are competing against resistance. The resistance when riding uphill helps build your quadriceps and hamstrings. Not only that it can help improve your V02 and lactate threshold. However, what is the other benefits of cycling uphill? And how can you bike uphill without getting tired?
In this article, we look at the best cycling uphill tips to help you conquer even some of the hardest climbs.
Cycling Up Hills Benefits – What Are They?
There are many benefits to including more hills in your training. Some of the benefits of cycling uphill are:
– Increased lung volume
– Increased leg strength (glutes, quads, and calves)
– Improved lactate threshold
– Increase in aerobic fitness
– Improved efficiency
– Improves cardiovascular fitness
So, cycling uphill regularly can provide beginner cyclists with improved cardiovascular fitness and leg strength. For the more serious cyclist, some of the benefits of cycling uphill can include an improvement in lactate threshold power, aerobic fitness, and efficiency on the bike. However, just riding uphill regularly won’t allow you to see large gains unless you vary the intensity and time and/or duration of the time spent on the hills.
That means to get the benefits from cycling uphill, you will need to work on some specific uphill workouts on the bike.
So what are some of the best cycling uphill tips for workouts?
First to help improve your aerobic and cardiovascular fitness, try to incorporate one long ride per week. This long ride should be long and slow, with an emphasis on riding hills. The goal of this ride is to get volume rather than intensity.
During the week is where you want to be more specific. This mid-week uphill workout is great for improving lactate threshold and v02 max. This type of session also helps to replicate real-world climbing.
– Find a climb that is at least 10 minutes long. Start 100m before the climb and settle at your lactate threshold power or heart rate. Hold this effort for 6 minutes and then the remaining for minutes increase the power to just above your threshold power or heart rate. Hold for the remaining 4 minutes, then turn around and head back to the start of the climb.
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Cycling Uphill Muscles – What Muscles Are Used?
Since cycling requires your legs to propel you forward, it’s not strange that your legs are the primary source of power on a bike. But does this change when you cycle uphill? Actually no. The cycling uphill muscles used are no different than riding on the flat. However, the percentage of muscles used will vary more.
The four main muscles used when cycling uphill are the quadriceps and gastrocnemius, followed by the hamstrings and calve muscles. However, there are plenty more muscles used when cycling up a hill, these include:
– Gluteus Maximus
– Semimembranosus (Hamstring)
– Biceps Femoris (Hamstring)
– Vastus Medialis (Quadriceps)
– Rectus Femoris (Quadriceps)
– Vastus Lateralis (Quadriceps)
– Gastrocnemius Medialis (Calves)
– Gastrocnemius Lateralis (Calves)
– Soleus (Calves)
– Tibialis Interior
As you can see there are a lot of muscles used when riding a bike up a hill. This just shows you how much work is needed to propel the body up a steep or long climb. Check out our article on how cycling affects body shape.
Some more cycling uphill tips:
Knowing what muscles are used when cycling uphill can also help you work on strength. That means spending 2-3 days per week in the gym to help strengthen the above muscles. But just like cycling training, make sure you vary the workouts, intensity and volume.
How to Cycle Up Hills Faster?
Just like with everything, if you want to get better at something, do more of it. If you want to cycle up hills faster, you will need to start incorporating more uphill cycling into your training plan. As we have already explained in this article, adding a hilly long ride and a mid-week specific uphill workout can help you cycle up hills faster.
However, it is important to understand that while riding more and more hills will help you improve you uphill riding, once your body adapts to the stress you place on it, you will start to plateau. So, knowing that, it is wise to vary your workouts by changing intensity, duration, or recovery time. That way you can continue to see improvements in the future.
Naturally, you need to improve both your v02 and your lactate threshold to be able to cycle uphills faster.
Last but not least is your weight. As a cyclist, your power to weight is an important figure to improve. If you can improve your threshold power or lose weight and keep the same power will see your power to weight increase.
How to Bike Uphill Without Getting Tired?
For most people, lack of fitness is the culprit of making riding a bike up a hill hard. As you naturally become fitter, riding uphill at the same speed as before will naturally become easier. The body will become more efficient and because of that needs to work less.
So, the key how to bike uphill without getting tired is to improve your cardiovascular fitness. This will allow you to feel more in control and allow you to cycle up hills without getting as tired as before.
Just like with any training, consistency and the right training will help you improve. However, just because you get fitter and stronger, doesn’t mean riding up a hill won’t make you tired. You will naturally just become more efficient at slower speeds, meaning that if you were to ride at the same hr as before, you will most likely be as tired, you will just be going much faster.
Other things like nutrition and hydration are important when climbing. Fueling correctly will help prevent you from feeling tired when doing multiple hills in a row or hills at the end of a long ride.