Indoor Cycling Workouts To Improve Your Climbing Ability

Cycling Workouts to help you be a better climber

For many cyclists- you can either climb, or you struggle when the road starts to go upwards

For many riders climbing is a natural ability. They are often exceptionally slim and have excellent power to weight ratios to allow them to really power up climbs. However for many of us that ability is not present and we really need to concentrate on our workouts to develop our climbing abilities.

You need the right cycling workouts for when the road goes upwards

A Langdale Cycles rider climbing in the East Midlands Divisional Road Race 2012.
A Langdale Cycles rider climbing in the East Midlands Divisional Road Race 2012. | Source

Great indoor cycling workouts to improve your climbing

When it gets dark, cold and wet outside it can be de-motivating. By settling up a structured periodized training programme for cycling you can add focus to your cycling year. You can implement cycling workouts to devlop your climbing abilities throughout your whole training year- especially if you consider your climbing to be a weakness.

Below are a selection of indoor cycling workouts to help you develop your climbing abilities for when the road goes upwards.

The great thing about these workouts are that they can be completed on a stationary exercise bike, a spinning bike or a bicycle fitted to an indoor trainer

You need to be able to climb for mountain biking

Mountain biking can involve lots of rolling climbs to prepare for- whether you race or do it for fun at the weekends
Mountain biking can involve lots of rolling climbs to prepare for- whether you race or do it for fun at the weekends | Source

Indoor Cycling Workout 1- Rolling Climbs. (Pyramid Climbs)

This workout is a great as part of a spinning workout with the right melodic deep base music with a moderately quick beat.

Alternately set up your racing bicycle on an indoor bike trainer with a moderate resistance level.

Work intervals for pyramid climbing

Start in an easy gear at a cadence of 80-90 rpm while sat in the saddle pedalling

Every 15 seconds increase the work load by either increasing the tension on the spin bike or shifting up a gear on your bicycle.

Continue to remain seated until you can no longer maintain a pace of 80 rpm sat in the saddle. Once that becomes difficult- stand up and continue increasing the pace every 15 seconds.

Continue until you can no longer maintain a cycling workout cadence of 80 rpm. When you can no longer do so.

Every 15 seconds take off a little bit of tension off the flywheel of the spinning bike or drop to an easier gear if you're riding your road bike on an indoor bike trainer.

Return to starting workload

Repeat 5 times in total.

How your pyramid climbing workout should look

Time (cumulative)
Description
Gear
Cadence
Difficulty
0-10 mins
Warm Up
Progressing from 39x21 through the cassette
90-120 rpm
Easy up to moderate
10:15
Starting climbing seated
53x21
100 rpm
Moderately easy- feels like an easy climb
10:30
Continue seated
53x19
95 rpm
Starting to get a little harder
10:45
Continue seated
53x18
90 rpm
Moderate workload
11:00
Continue seated- getting harder
53x17
85 rpm
Getting harder
11:15
Feeling harder to remain seated
53x16
80 rpm
Difficult maintaining cadence, ready to stand
11:30
Stand up and pedal
53x15
90 rpm stood
Stood up- feels easier than seated
11.45
Continue stood pedalling
53x14
85 rpm stood
Getting harder
12:00
Starting to be difficult to maintain 80 rpm
53x13
80 rpm stood
Really hard
12:15
Drop down a gear and remain stood
53x14
80 rpm stood up
Hard to continue. Difficulty pedalling
12:30
Continue stood pedalling
53x15
85 rpm standing pedalling
Still hard but easing
12:45
Easing off stood up pedalling
53x16
90 rpm pedalling
Easing but hard to keep going
13:00
Drop back into saddle
53x17
80 rpm seated
Easing, now ready to sit
13:15
Starting to feel easier
53x18
85 rpm seated
Easing, can now pedal fluidly
13:30
Easing off seated
53x19
90 rpm seated
Easing
13:45
Easy seated
53x21
95 rpm seated
Easy pedalling
14:00
Restart Interval- 2
 
 
 
18:00
Restart Interval- 3
 
 
 
22:00
Restart Interval- 4
 
 
 
26:00
Restart Interval- 5
 
 
 
30:00- 40:00
Cool down
Drop down through gears 39x 15 and getting lower
100+ rpm
Moderate going down to easy workload
An ideal on how your pyramid climbing (rolling climb) workout could look. Based on riding a bicycle trainer with a prgressive level of resistance (Such as a Kurt Kinetic Magnetic Trainer). Values are a guestimation and therefore will depend on the ex

How your pyramid training might look visually

Graphical representation of a pyramid climbing workout
Graphical representation of a pyramid climbing workout

Indoor cycling workout 2- Climbing the big mountain passes

When you watch cyclists in races like the Tour De France or Tour of California- the climbs aren't over in a few minutes like in workout 1. They go on for mile after mile. Therefore when you're in the mountains you have to be able to get in a rhythm as the kilometres tick away.

Whether you're implementing this into a spinning bike workout or a training session on your turbo trainer this is a relatively straightforward workout that needs minimal adjustments to the resistance throughout.

Climbing in the high mountains is a highly aerobic cycling ability to train. Therefore this workout focuses on aerobic threshold to enhance the ability to use oxygen to power your riding as the road heads upwards.

Cycling workout recipe for high mountain climbing success

  1. Warm up for at least 10 minutes. Start relatively easy and build up to a moderately high intensity with your heart rate peaking at the high end of your aerobic zone. Keep cadence high at 100-120 rpm
  2. Complete a 6 minute seated work interval pedalling at around 80 rpm. This may feel un-natural at first, however will becoming more natural during the course of the workout. Heart rate should be mainly aerobic throughout however there's nothing wrong if it pushes slightly into your aerobic zones- simply ease off slightly
  3. Recover for 3 minutes in an easy gear, spinning the legs at around 100-120 rpm. Heart rate should be steadily decreasing throughout your recovery interval
  4. Repeat step 2 a further 5 times, recovering for 3 minutes after each interval.
  5. Cool down for 10 minutes minimum after your final work interval.

How your climbing workout should look

Time (mins)
Description
Gear
Cadence
Difficulty
0-10:00
Warm Up
Progress from 39x21 through the cassette
100-120 rpm
Easy towards moderate to preapare for hard workout
10:00
1st climbing interval- Seated
53x15
80-90 rpm
Moderately tough yet remain aerobic
16:00
Recovery Interval
39x15
100-120 rpm
Ease off pace and let legs spin to recover
19:00
2nd seated climbing interval
53x15
80-90 rpm
Moderately tough yet remain aerobic
25:00
Recovery Interval
39x15
100-120 rpm
Ease off pace and let legs spin to recover
31:00
3rd seated climbing interval
53x15
80-90 rpm
Moderately tough yet remain aerobic
34:00
Recovery Interval
39x15
100-120 rpm
Ease off pace and let legs spin to recover
40:00
4th climbing interval
53x15
80-90 rpm
Moderately tough yet remain aerobic
43:00
Recovery Interval
39x15
100-120 rpm
Ease off pace and let legs spin to recover
49:00
5th climbing interval
53x15
80-90 rpm
Moderately tough yet remain aerobic
52:00
Recovery Interval
39x15
100-120 rpm
Ease off pace and let legs spin to recover
55:00
6th climbing interval
53x15
80-90 rpm
Moderately tough yet remain aerobic
61:00- 71:00 (and finished)
Cool Down
Slowly lowering gears from 39x15
100-120 rpm
Steady recover back to easy pace
 
 
 
 
 
An ideal on how your high mountain climbing workout could look. Based on riding a bicycle trainer with a prgressive level of resistance (Such as a Kurt Kinetic Magnetic Trainer). Values are a guestimation and therefore will depend on the experience a

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We're always looking for your feedback. Please feel free to leave a comment below- positive or negative.

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Many Thanks

CyclingFitness

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dobo700 profile image

dobo700 3 years ago from Australia

Thanks for the tips, I'm new to cycling and looking to improve my riding.

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