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Can you simulate steep hills on a trainer?(35 posts)

Can you simulate steep hills on a trainer?rtyszko
Aug 11, 2002 3:52 PM
I need to find out whether it's possible to simulate a steep incline while using a trainer. Can you lust set the front wheel up high? Will that do it or does anyone have suggestions (other than the obvious one of finding hills to climb!).
re: Can you simulate steep hills on a trainer?jtolleson
Aug 11, 2002 4:11 PM
Well, anything that increases resistance. Most mag trainers have a resistance setting; use that in conjunction with pushing a big gear and it does a nice job. Wind trainers are less effective (IMO) because generating resistance requires high cadence... which although good training is harder to maintain steady resistance as fatigue sets in.
yeah, put a few books under front wheel blockcyclopathic
Aug 11, 2002 4:58 PM
and use high resistance/high gear. I would not reccomend out of saddle, sitting works fine.
revision to questionrtyszko
Aug 11, 2002 5:36 PM
Actually what I'm trying to do is to strengthen/condition my lower back to handle steep long climbs. Will propping up the front wheel and turning a high gear (because I'm in a position that simulates the grade of the climb) help?

The answer is yes.Sintesi
Aug 12, 2002 6:28 AM
Raise the wheel and this will put the accent on a different group of muscles than when flat; i.e. climbing muscles. Got that from Chris Carmichael - Lance's coach.
I've heard this before & I don't get it.Len J
Aug 11, 2002 5:39 PM
If I'm seated on a bike, no matter what angle the bike is, My three contact points (Butt,Hands & Feet)are the same as if I were level. How does this simulate hills & work climbing muscles? I agree with the High resistance building strength, I just don't get the angling of the bike issue.


I've heard this before & I don't get it.capnjim01
Aug 11, 2002 6:39 PM
I believe it simulates the effect of gravity as you slide back on the saddle and uses your muscles in a different way. sorry, can't remember where i read that.
I've heard this before & I don't get it.aeon
Aug 11, 2002 8:17 PM
I think it should matter. You aren't pedalling straight down anymore, you're pushing kind of foreward. It makes it harder to spin properly. But anyway, it makes sense that if you want to emulate climbing you should raise the front...
Still don't get it.Len J
Aug 12, 2002 3:24 AM
You are using the exact same muscles (due to being in the exact same position on the bike). How does raising the front give you any benefit that increased resistance wouldn't give you? (assuming seated riding).

I thought the same as you, Len, but I'm becomingbill
Aug 12, 2002 6:12 AM
convinced that the position relative to gravity could matter. You do sort of pull yourself up on a climb with your arms, which raising the front could help simulate. I suspect that you don't really use your muscles the same as when the bike is flat.
This actually would be the same principle, more or less, that would argue that your position relative to KOPS would matter, something I questioned publicly and stridently just a short time ago.
Muscle use.Len J
Aug 12, 2002 7:06 AM
I must be missing something, I don't see the muscle use any different & I've tried both. I can "Pull myself up with my arms" weather or not my bike is flat just by concentrating on it.

Relative to KOPS, I think that If you are in the same position relative to KOP both when the bike is flat & when the bike is inclined, (Which you should be if seatd) then you are using the exact same muscles, (How could you not be?).

I must be dense, I still don't get it.

I'm not entirely sure I get it, either, but I'm thinking that ifbill
Aug 12, 2002 7:20 AM
your center of gravity moves from some distance ahead of the BB to some distance nearer the BB or even behind the BB, as it would if the front were lifted, then your position on the bike (or, maybe more precisely, the muscles used to keep your position on the bike) would change. How much effect and how significant would be the effect I don't know; I've just got to the point where I could see that there would be some effect.
I've started thinking this because I shortened my stem a little and am finding that my balance on the bike is such that I am using my upper body differently. I don't think that it's just that the cockpit is shorter; I think that moving the center of gravity back has effected what parts of me/muscles/movements I use to balance. If moving the center of gravity back matters, than moving the center of gravity back by raising the front wheel ought to matter, too, right?
Position does change.aeon
Aug 12, 2002 11:48 AM
The position relative to kops does change. As an example, if you measure a line straight up from your bottem bracket, and find the saddle is 5 cm behind that line, and then you raise the front end and do the same measurement, the saddle will be further back. It's kind of like riding with the saddle all the way foreward, then moving it all the way back. It does make a difference; you should feel some change.

Putting the saddle further back uses the butt muscles more, while putting it foreward uses the quads more.
Doesn't matter!Len J
Aug 12, 2002 12:21 PM
I'm not putting the saddle any further back from the pedal spindle when my leg is in the normally level wsith the bike position. Remember, you apply power at positions relative to your body angles, not the ground. Since you are not changing your body angles and your application of power relative to these body angles, I don't see where angling the bike changes anything. (As long as you butt position in the saddle doesn't change.

Whats in Carmichael's bookPhatMatt
Aug 12, 2002 12:22 PM
Pg 86. (I just happen to have it here at work)

"Muscle Tension Itervals
Goal Develop cycling-specific st=rength for climbing
Where A long, moderate 5-8% climb, or on a trainer with your front wheel set to a slight incline 4 to 6 inches above horizontal plane, to simulate your climbing position."

INHO htis is saying when you raise the fornt og the bike yor position will change slightly. think anout the angle of you torso in relationship to the TT. this angle should decrease (or close a little) causing a change in the muscles used.

Whats in Carmichael's bookLen J
Aug 12, 2002 12:30 PM
"INHO htis is saying when you raise the fornt og the bike yor position will change slightly. think anout the angle of you torso in relationship to the TT. this angle should decrease (or close a little) causing a change in the muscles used. "

If the only difference were the angle of the torso to the TT, I can acheive that just by leaning forward (Get in the drops).

I have read that same thing from Carmichael & I can see how it would work different muscles in a standing climb, but I think he is specific about staying seated. The reason I am so hung up on this is that, living on the Eastern Shore, I have had to experiment with different ways of preparing myself for hills. Being a seated climber (primarily) I have found that muscle tension intervals on flat ground have improved my climbing strength dramatically. I am using the exact same muscles when I do seated "real" climbs (or at least it feels like it). This winter I tried the "raise the bike" trick & even after a hard workout, felt no fatigue different than using a level bike (other than the arms).

Maybe at the end of the day it is the arm workout that is important.

Whats in Carmichael's bookPhatMatt
Aug 12, 2002 1:02 PM
I am not sure I am just thinking about it out loud. I think I may try it some day when I buy a traininer.
Me either....Wannabe
Aug 12, 2002 7:52 AM
So your position may be changed a little, the power needed to turn the pedals is still the same.

The power, yes. But, when you are exerting the forcebill
Aug 12, 2002 7:58 AM
through your legs, there has to be an equal and opposite force, right? That equal and opposite force, through much of the most powerful segment of the pedal cycle, is your weight. Gravity on your body. Without gravity forcing you down, as well as holding your butt in your saddle, you couldn't push the pedals anywhere. Change the center of gravity, though, and the equal and opposite force is going to be just a little bit different -- it will come on a slightly different angle from a slightly different place.
Like I said, I'm not sure of the size of the effect of the change in the center of gravity, but there has to be some effect.
Equal and opposite?Wannabe
Aug 12, 2002 11:27 AM
Okay, I haven't had physics since H.S. but I do remember those little force diagrams. Never ceased to amze me how many little arrows there had to be. Maybe that's why I went on to get a liberal arts degree! :)

Anyway, you said:

"there has to be an equal and opposite force, right? That equal and opposite force, through much of the most powerful segment of the pedal cycle, is your weight. Gravity on your body."

You cannot forget that you, your pedals, gravity, your bike are not the only things exerting force here. So is the earth and the trainer. When you are on level roads, the force coming up from the earth equals gravity. When you are on a hill, the force coming up does not equal gravity, and you roll down the hill (backwards unless you apply power to the pedals). However, let's say you add a trainer to your bike on the same hill. You no longer roll backwards because the trainer is counteracting the force of gravity. Gravity has become a force that you no longer have to overcome because the trainer is doing it for you. This is why I don't buy into this "just tilt your trainer up" bit.

"Change the center of gravity, though, and the equal and opposite force is going to be just a little bit different -- it will come on a slightly different angle from a slightly different place. "

This is pretty much what I am saying. The angle may be different, but the power is the same.

I guess I can see tilting up a trainer to isolate muscles (but not sure about this either since the geometry of you bike has not changed), but actually increasing the difficulty? No, I don't see it.

Some physics person want to help us out? Hate to have to bother my brother in law with this one but I may just have to!

I agree with you that, because you can't slip back on a trainer,bill
Aug 12, 2002 11:40 AM
you are not fighting gravity in that sense. You are, however, pedaling through different oppositional forces with a change in incline.
Look at it this way. If you were to stand your bike completely vertically, how much force could you apply to the pedals? None. You'd slide right off the saddle. That's the gravity that I'm talking about (a stupid example in some ways, but go with it).
If the plane changes not 90 degrees, but, say, 10 degrees, then the force vector keeping you in the saddle changes its angle (not its strengh). When that force vector changes its angle, then your oppositional forces to pedal, even in a circle, are going to be applied a little differently, because you would be balancing that gravity force vector just a little differently.
I see where you are going with...Wannabe
Aug 12, 2002 12:07 PM
...the wall thing but I think that if you fixed my bike to a trainer, I clipped in, held onto the handle bars, and somehow we managed to get the whole rig vertical, I would have no more difficulty turning the pedals. It would still take the same amount of effort to turn the pedals over. My arms would get more tired as I try to keep myself from falling off the back of the bike though! I can see strains in the legs being defferent as I try to stay "over the saddle" as well. But it is still no harder to turn the pedals over because the resistance in the trainer has not changed. The trainer is holding the bike, preventing it from rolling down the wall. That is a force I do not have to overcome by applying power through the pedals.

Maybe I'm just dense. I'm shootin' this question off to the brother-in-law. If he finds time to tackle it for me, I'll be sure to post back.

Now, if one really wants to simulate a hill while using a trainer, tilt the front of the bike up, and INCREASE the resistance in the trainer. That's how you can simulate a hill.

re: explanationcyclopathic
Aug 12, 2002 10:24 AM

the pedal motion is a result of 2 forces applied: gravity and force produced by your legs. skewing angle changes the direction in which gravity pulls; it is equivalent to rising bars and changing seatangle. Yes, you still use same muscles, in different way and proportion. Climbing 8% grade would rise your bars by 3" and move saddle back 4".
re: explanationLen J
Aug 12, 2002 10:55 AM
So this slight change in angle would cause me to use different muscles in enough to make a real difference?

If I seperate the pedal forces into gravity (The "Pull down" on the pedals) and force applied by your legs, it would seem to me (especially at a reasonable cadence, that the majority of the energy (say over 95%) comes from your legs & only a minor part comes from gravity pulling down on the pedals. Since it is only the angle that gravity is pulling down that changes (instead of from 12 to 6 it might be from 1 to 7) and the pedal force applied portion is using the same muscles (and is in fact the 95% contributor) the effect of raising the angle the bike has a minimal effect on a minimal portion of the energy transfer.

This strikes me as an urban myth. I suspect that for someone trying to scratch out the last gain (for high level racing maybe) might get a miniscule gain from this, but I can't imagine that it would be measurable for a recreational cyclist.

I'm willing to learn if someone can 'splain it to me in a way that even I can understand.


no!! not that gravity!!! the gravity that keeps your butt in thebill
Aug 12, 2002 11:32 AM
seat!!! that's the gravity that matters, not the weight of your legs.
When the gravity force vector against which your legs push changes by 10 degrees, I have to believe that the change creates a substantial difference in the way that the opposing force (through your leg motion) is applied.
Make any more sense?
Sorry, No.Len J
Aug 12, 2002 12:17 PM
SorrIt doesn't make sense.

My "Force vector is still the same. If my power application on a level bike is say 12 to 4 o'clock and I tilt my bike front up slightly I only change my force application (Rellative to someone standing level) to maybe 1 to 5 o'clock, nothing else changes (except arm energy to hold my butt in the same place on the saddle).

If I was vertical (to use your example) my power application would change to 9 to 12 o'clock. I don't see any change in leg muscle use (as long as I remain seated).

Sorry backwards, s/b 11 to 3 o'clock not 1 to 5. nmLen J
Aug 12, 2002 12:35 PM
Sorry, yes. Len, I'm not saying that raising the frontbill
Aug 12, 2002 12:54 PM
wheel is the same as going up a hill. It's not. It's not by a long shot. For the very, very significant reason that you are not moving your mass up a hill, it's very, very different.
But that's not what I'm saying. I'm saying that, because you have to hold your butt in the saddle in a slightly different way because of the different effects of gravity (yes, the force vector is at a 10 degree different angle on a 10 degree incline), you're going to work your muscles a little differently. Your feet are still going to go in little circles, but your weight is going to be oppositional at a slightly different orientation, which means that you are going to work your muscles slightly differently.
I don't think that it's huge. But I think that it's there.
I can see that.Len J
Aug 12, 2002 12:59 PM
But I don't think that it is significant to anyone other than someone trying to eek out the last bit of training gain.

Then again, I've been wrong before.

An incline works on a treadmill but ...Humma Hah
Aug 12, 2002 5:16 AM
... You do get extra exercise out of a treadmill if you set it to incline, providing you don't use your hands to hold the railings, because you have to keep moving or you'll fall off the back.

If you used a bike on a treadmill, you would also get the equivalent of climbing.

But on any contrivance that in any way holds the wheel so it can't slide back, there is no benefit at all. Driven rollers at a sufficiently steep angle might qualify, but that's not a typical trainer.
Try RollersKillerQuads
Aug 11, 2002 8:06 PM
Rollers might be better for hill simulation. If you back off or coast, you lose momentum and risk falling. There is a lot of incentive to maintain a fast pace. Once you get good, you can interval train by pedaling briefly at max speed (even climb out of the saddle), then pedal at recovery speed, and repeat.

Why do you need to ride a trainer in the middle of Summer? I get my kicks finding new hills to climb.
re: Can you simulate steep hills on a trainer?firstrax
Aug 11, 2002 8:34 PM
How steep and how long? Are you training for anything in particular?
Firstrax and Killerquadsrtyszko
Aug 12, 2002 5:54 AM
The reason that I'd need to augment my training is because I'm training for the NH Mt. Washington Hillclimb. It's 7.6 miles at an average of 12.% (yes that's 12.5%) grade. I have enough hills around where I live, but nothing that long or nearly that long to really get into the groove to simulate the aspect of sitting a spinning for that long.

re: Can you simulate steep hills on a trainer?waynebo
Aug 12, 2002 8:47 AM
Here is a personal account--I have an older Computrainer (Nintendo) and I've designed a hill that would be more difficult than the one I'd climb for a Time Trial (Snowbird in Utah, 10.3 miles gaining 3500 ft). My "hill" is 10.5 miles gaining 5000 ft. I figured I could do the climb in the low 50 minute range (winner typically goes middle 45 minute range). I finished in 61 minutes. According to my Computrainer, I can go 350+ watts but for some reason I can't do the hill. It probably has to do with the fact that I just can't get warmed up properly at 7:30 AM as opposed to 4PM when I do my Computrainer. I also put my front wheel up about an inch to add to the simulation. So, I think you can simulate but you really need to ride long climbs to get a real feel.
pull trainer with tow rope behind bike up steep hill...JS Haiku Shop
Aug 12, 2002 11:37 AM
wool socks, booties, tights, long sleeved jersey, balaclava, thermal gloves, lights (front and rear). we're talking about winter workouts here, right?

pusing big gears (somebody said "muscle tension intervals") and riding into wind help. otherwise, hill repeats--even of small hills--in a big gear will help. single speed riding has helped my (geared) climbing tremendously.