How a weak core limits your ability to climb hills faster
Most cyclists have problems climbing hills well because they either have a weak core or ride in a position that is not optimal for hill climbing. When riding your bike uphill you’ll want to avoid sitting straight up on the bike. In this position, you are not engaging your core, glutes, hamstrings and lower back. Functional strength on the bike involves recruiting not only your legs but all your structural stabilising muscles in your core and lower back. By training these groups of muscles together functionally you’ll be able to develop more power, enabling you to climb hills faster on the bike with more comfort and with greater ease.
Most cyclists don’t address their functional strength weaknesses off the bike, which results in poor form and strength on the bike. Pre-season and base-building phases of your cycling program will be enhanced if you are able to spend some of your time building good functional core strength off the bike. Once the season is underway then a regular top-up every week is all that you need to maintain this core functional strength on the bike. And… it’s this that will make a considerable improvement to help you climb hills faster.
On the bike climbing tip to climb hills faster
To engage more functional core strength and recruit good stabilising core strength, try sliding back a little on the seat and stretching out your body. This will provide you with more leverage on the pedals to produce greater force while opening up your rib cage to enable you to breathe better.
Taking a firm but not tight grip on the handlebars, use your strong core and back to help you pull up and push down on the pedals during those demanding steeper sections of the climb. When pedalling, practice developing a full circle pedalling stroke. One way to do this is to focus on “scraping chewing gum off the soles of your shoes”. Remember to keep it fluid and relaxed and you’ll climb hills faster. One thing to note is that when you are going uphill, your cadence will naturally drop due to the need to push harder on the pedals. In fact, it’s a good idea to try and keep your cadence around the same as when riding on the flat (around 90 rpm).
Strength training is a great way to build up your cycling fitness and strength but it must be done correctly. It’s important to train in the right way, especially if you want to avoid injury. If you are just starting out, it’s a good idea to spend a few weeks on a basic strength routine that focuses on bodyweight exercises such as squats and lunges. Once you have built up your strength and are ready for more, it’s time to add in some free weights like dumbbells or barbells. To make sure you don’t over-train or injure yourself, it’s important to remember these three steps: warm-up, do the exercise slowly and with control, and then cool down with stretching. Once you have been strength training regularly for a while, try adding in some intervals at the end of your workout which will help make sure that all those hard work sessions don’t go to waste! Strength training will definitely help you climb hills faster.
Interval training to help you with your hill-climbing
Interval training is a great way to help improve your performance and strength when it comes to climbing hills. It’s also a great way to build up your cardiovascular fitness and burn calories. Interval training involves short, intense periods of exercise followed by periods of recovery. For example, you could sprint up the hill for 30 seconds and then recover at an easy pace for 1 minute. After that, repeat the process again until you have reached the top of the hill (or until you can’t go any further!). The great thing about interval training is that it can be done anywhere and is easy to fit into a busy schedule. It can also be varied depending on your fitness level and the intensity of the exercise you are doing.
Interval training isn’t just good for hill climbing but also has many other benefits including:
– Improves your cardiovascular fitness
– Improves muscle strength
– Improves your performance in endurance events
– Burns calories and helps with weight loss!
Check out Hill climbing intervals sessions here
Other articles of interest:
Cycling Heart Rate Zones Explained – How To Use Heart Rate Monitor And Zones To Improve Your Cycling
How To Work Out Your Cycling Heart Rate Zones
Introduction To Cycling Power Zones
[VIDEO] – Why it’s important to ride your bike through winter
How To Get Back On Track With Your Winter Training – Winter Cycle Training Tips
The Thermal Base Layer – Your Secret To Staying Warm While Out Riding Your Bike This Winter
Our Leaner Cyclist Program
Off-the-bike strength training for cyclists
Check out our training products