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Training on Climbing / Climbing TIPS(16 posts)

Training on Climbing / Climbing TIPSblondepower
Mar 24, 2002 2:49 PM
I seem to have a knack for climbing but need some advice. When climbing, I tend to spin 85-90rpm's but find my heart rate pushing 190bpm. I can sustain this for some time, then need to stop for a couple of minutes to stretch my legs and take a breather. I can get right back on the bike and continue with out a problem.
If I push bigger gears my legs cramp up to fast. Is there a methodology behind this maddness or any recomendations???
re: Training on Climbing / Climbing TIPSCT1
Mar 24, 2002 3:19 PM
There are as many techniques to "successful" climbing as there are riders. However, what you describe sounds quite inefficient. Without more info re your physical size, background training, monthly and yearly mileage, etc. it would be difficult to make any VERY specific recommendations.

However, I suspect you need to slow down your cadence and just develop a more "relaxed" and "powered" approach to your climbs. You should absolutely NOT use your race/rest approach as it's really got to be overloading your system and will not make for good times up a hill. It may take a bit of self discipline and time but I suspect you can adopt to a slower and more measured "pace" and load.

Common approaches are to sit for the majority of your climb and spin in as low a gear as you have and then occasionally "stand" and power in higher gear. The combined approach of sitting for the majority of your climb and standing occasionally will likely be the most rewarding method for most people. Individual variations in terms of body weight and muscle type will skew the seated/standing ratio one way or the other.

good luck and try not to blow a gizzard at 190bpm. Ouch!
JohnG climbing 10K feet per weekend right now.
re: Training on Climbing / Climbing TIPSblondepower
Mar 24, 2002 4:03 PM
I am a 160lb rider and put in about 200 miles a week. When the weather permits. Right now I guess that I am out of shape because of being lazy in the winter months. I ride flats during the week and try to climb on the weekends.
I guess that I get impatient and try to climb to fast and wind up getting fatiged to soon. I climb by myself and probably need climb with someone thats experienced and can help pace me. There is a mountain that I want to climb and its only 5600ft but I want to climb it.

I also need to find a way to lower my heart rate. Any suggestions???

re: Training on Climbing / Climbing TIPSCT1
Mar 24, 2002 4:51 PM
You didn't mention your age so I'm not sure if your 190bpm is out of norm or not. You might do a search of this site as there was a longish thread on max heart rate. If I remember correctly the consensus was that max rate was pretty much a genetic inherited value.... with the caveat that the # decreases as one ages.

200 miles/week is certainly a decent level and should be OK for a base. However, your climbing ability will also be a function of your TOTAL miles over the last several months. So when you say you're "out of shape" perhaps you're either being hard on yourself or you really do just need some more miles.

**** I think you might have answered your own question re the "impatient" part. Note that even the pros will "blow up" when they push into the red zone for too long. The bottom line here is that climbing strength and endurance takes lots of 'saddle time' and you can't just attack a hill without a lot of serious base/hill mileage.

It sounds like you already have the HR monitor deal under control but I'd also get a good altimeter (I like the Nike) and start timing yourself up your "standard" hill. REALLLY try to slow down your cadence and try to keep your heart rate at no more than 90% of your max (85% if you can). The 85% # would probably be more consistent with a steady "moderate" climb and the 90% could be touched when really pushing it. If you do get to the 100% level I doubt you'll be able to recover without stopping. That's probably what's happening re you previous comments.

If you keep a journal and keep hacking away at it I would be VERY surprised if you don't see big improvements. I also don't think you need any team effort for your climbing days. It's likely that whoever you team with will have different styles and speed than you will. My personal experience tells me that this is a Darwinian sort of learning experience. You'll find the "right" answer for you just by doing it. The flip side of that answer is that Darwin might take you "out" if you keep pushing that HR like you mentioned. ;)

good climbs
re: ..speaking of altimiterscyclopathic
Mar 25, 2002 3:32 AM
Specialized SpeedZone Pro are very reliable. Several my riding buddies use them and at the end of "climbing" century diff in reading less then 100'
Just noticed you're in SoCalCT1
Mar 24, 2002 6:11 PM
Or at least you rode the Solvang Century. right ???

Anyway, you might want to set your sights for the "5 county" century late this year. It's put on my the LA Wheelmen club and IMHO it's the best "organized" century around. VERY low key and homey compared to Solvang. It's got 8K feet of climbing and it's a nice pretty route. Really not too hard actually and it would be a good goal to train for if you're interested in climbing. There are also plenty of other more "serious" organized climbs around if you're interested.

ride on
Just noticed you're in SoCalblondepower
Mar 25, 2002 7:39 AM
So when and where is this "5 County" ride???
re: Training on Climbing / Climbing TIPSmoots
Mar 25, 2002 7:55 AM
Try to slower your breathing. Take longer deeper breathes in. You should feel like you have a beer gut as you exhale out. The key is to empty your lungs as much as possible so you can bring more oxygen in.

This helps me bring my hrt down a few beats and takes my mind off the climb/pain.

Good luck.
re: try to pace yourselfcyclopathic
Mar 24, 2002 4:38 PM
you can't attack long climbs the same way as short.
try to start climbing slow then sprint up last 2-3min.

with respect to pushing gears you need to ride at low RPM to make your legs stronger. Try this: on gradual hill push tall gear at 40-50rpm for 20 revs then drop down and spin ~40sec, repeat; maintain constant speed heart rate in Zone 2-3 good luck
"I seem to have a knack for climbing" ???onespeed
Mar 24, 2002 5:29 PM
It really doesnt sound like it. If you have to pull over and stop for a "breather," you dont have a knack for climbing. Slow and steady wins the race but not if you stop halfway up a hill.

I would suggest some serious hill training. Remember you have gears, use them.
Basic easy improvement.tempeteKerouak
Mar 24, 2002 6:20 PM
Find a good steady hill (one or two km long is way enough)
Use a hr monitor.
Climb the hill (seated if it suits your style) within you limit, ie; force yourself to stay at (assuming 190 is/close to your max hr) 160/170 until the top, then launch the attack! Near or at the top, stand and accelerate, bring the hr up and get out of the hill with speed. (instead of stopping!!!!!)

Then, eventually, do it the way you used to (all out all the way as it seems) and compare you time and sensations.

What's best?

From what you claim, you seem to lack distance and endurance... Tough to say with limited info.
Basic easy improvement.blondepower
Mar 24, 2002 7:05 PM
I appreciate everyones input and will take it into consideration!
I am 30 and live in So. Cal and did finish the Solvang Century.
I need to learn how to read/analyze my HRM monitor settings. I have to Polar S710 and have no clue on how to read or determine my weaknesses. Except for the fact that my heart rate could be evened out. I guess one reason why my heart rate is so high, is because of my high cadence. I am trying to much to be like Lance :)
I have a friend that climbs hills in big gears and complains the whole way up. I on the other hand spin and coast right by him. I notice though that I begin getting short of breath and thankfully the hill is not that long and I can recover on the descent. Its only on the longer hill that kill me.
Spinning vs grindingMcAndrus
Mar 25, 2002 5:58 AM
The others have made some excellent suggestions. I would add this as well.

The fact that your friend grinds up a hill and you spin up does not, to me, mean your spinning style is superior, just that you're a better natural climber. Ullrich is one of the best climbers in the world and he grinds up hills at 70rpm and less. Lance is one of the best in the world and he spins up at 90rpm.

Others have said when they pick up the cadence their heart rates zoom. I disagree that cadence causes the increase in heart rate. I can pedal at 120rpm (flat or hill) with a low bpm on the HRM and I can pedal at 60rpm (flat or hill) with a high bpm. It depends on effort, not cadence.

From the research I've done and my personal experience, the question of cadence is not related to effort but to efficiency. That is, in certain situations, a high or low cadence is more efficient.

Most people use a higher cadence on the flats because it is a more efficient way to consume your body's fuel while reducing consumption of muscle glycogen. Most people drop their cadence as they climb because your legs can produce power more efficiently at a lower cadence (by using more muscle glycogen).

Absolutely totally fundamentally personal opinion: you're pushing too hard, too fast. Ease up a bit. (This opinion is subject to persuasive arguments from other posters. :-))
Spinning and low HR= I agree.tempeteKerouak
Mar 25, 2002 8:29 AM
Efficiency is the point. Finding a cadence, a speed that will let you control your body and not let you go into the "red".

One should experiment with timing on a loop. Like I said, if you climb spinning and have to stop at the top, this is as bad as grinding too big of a gear. Both will bust your cardio and waste energy.

Time yourself on such a loop doing what you do every time (spinning up and busting) then time yourself again but this time try to hold on to a cadence allowing you reach the top with extra hoompf to actually place a fu*!!ng bomb right there and kick away.

Because, racer or not, if you start ahead of me and spin away only to bust at the top, I will reach up to you after you crest and then show you what aerobic capacity is. Then, later in the day once you arrive, I will explain again that you need distance and power intervalles.

Ease up and use and spend wisely. ; )
S710 should give you some very good data to work with. . .js5280
Mar 25, 2002 3:38 PM
I don't own a S710 but it's one of the reasons I'm thinking about getting one. Since it tracks HR, distance climbed, speed, and can report/plot that information, I would think that you could get some really good data that will help you figure out your max efficiency for a given grade and/or climb. I think the important part is "your" max efficiecy because it differs from person to person, just like Lance and Jan differ in their climbing style.

Sounds like you have regular hill you climb so try different approaches systematically (e.g. 100% spin, 100% mash, 50% spin then 50% mash, 50% mash then 50% spin) . Get a representative average for each method, which hopefully cancels out day to day performance changes, and see what works best for you. From there, fine tune the process even further into particular gears, sub-sections of the hill, etc. Basic scientific method stuff. . .

I remember hearing some commentary about Lance and the Tour de France, and I have little doubt that Lance (and probably most of the other racers as well) and his performance coaches have an incredibly good idea of what his best efficiency is for a given grade, distance, and probably even have compensations for wind. Lance is a gadget and tech freak so I'm sure he's pushing the envelope in this area. The science of sports/kinesiology is pretty well developed and you can probably find more information than you could ever want on the subject.

I think the S710 really allows for the average cyclist to start doing these sorts of analysises. It's probably why you plunked down the $300 for it when you could of got a $100 one, right?

I'm curious, any other S710 users out there pouring over their data and finding some really benefitial information they'd used to increase their performance? If so, do tell. . .
re: Training on Climbing / Climbing TIPSDINOSAUR
Mar 24, 2002 8:26 PM
I don't have a HR monitor, I live dead in the middle of the Sierra Nevada foothills and I can't get away from the hills.

If you do enough climbing you will find what works best for you. I time myself occasionally over a ten mile distance on one of my rides. I've found if I use my higher gears such as the 24 and 27 and spin, my time will be faster than if I was pushing a larger gear.

Keep note of your times over a given distance on your climbs, and try using different techniques. I don't stand that much, I like to remain seated. Standing is a way for me to get out of the saddle and stretch.

The idea is to ride as fast as you can without blowing up and without wrecking your knees.

The whole idea is to experiment, what works for someone else might not work for you.

And some guys are natural climbers, and some guys need to work at it, lots...