Cycle through the pain

If you are more of a fair weather cyclist, you’ve probably built your training base but might be struggling on the climbs.

Climbing requires strength, a high aerobic threshold and a mindset for suffering. These tips should help you find your climbing legs in no time.

From a cardiovascular perspective, climbing repeats are probably the most important way to increase your lactate threshold. Start by finding a hill that will take you 6 to 8 minutes to climb. The base of Rist Canyon and the hills around Horsetooth Mountain Open Space are a perfect place to do this workout.

It should be done on a steady grade climb. Try to keep a cadence between 70 and 85 rpm. You should be working hard enough that your breathing is labored but still remains deep and in control. If your breathing is short and labored, you are going too hard and should back off a bit. Give yourself 6 to 8 minutes of recovery once at the top and repeat this two or three times total for the workout.

You need a strong core, particularly strong lower back, glutes, hamstrings, quads, calves and triceps to excel on the steepest of climbs, especially climbs like Rist Canyon or the dams on Centennial Drive on the east side of Horsetooth Reservoir. Since we are in the midst of cycling season, you’ll want to keep your weight in check and increase your repetitions, focusing on muscular endurance.

The deadlift is a great exercise to strengthen your lower back and hamstrings. A proper squat is great for the glutes, quads and hamstrings. The key is you have to do it right and squat deeply to get all the benefits of this exercise. To achieve proper form, your rear end should be below your knees at the bottom of the squat. Look at yourself in the mirror or have a knowledgeable coach help you master this exercise.

Calf raises will help prevent your calves from fatiguing on long, steep climbs. You can do these on any step. Do as many repetitions as it takes to feel the burn.

You also can do dips just about anywhere such as on a step or a chair. Do as many of these as it takes to feel the burn. I also recommend doing pushups. These work your core and your triceps if you keep your arms closer to your body.

Climbing takes mental commitment. If you are riding in a group or in a race, remember everyone is hurting and it is whoever hurts the most that will likely make it to the top first. Most of all, don’t forget that the sooner you make it to the top, the sooner your pain will end. So dig deep and suffer to make it over the crest.

See you out there.

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