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Five Tips on Becoming a More Efficient Climber Over The Winter Months

It’s no surprise that every triathlete and cyclist wants to become a more efficient climber. With that in mind, I hope you will find these 5 tips beneficial as you practice your cycling skills over the winter months. During this time, many of you will develop a special bond with your trainer, which makes it the perfect time to focus on specific skills that will enable you to ride more efficiently as you transition towards hitting the pavement again.

1. Strength training and strength-based rides

Your training plan should include strength training 1-3 times a week, focusing on lifts that target the core cycling muscles: glutes, quads, and hamstrings. In addition, you should complete one strength-based ride per week that centers on working the pedal stroke at a lower rpm (50-65 rpm). During these rides your attention should be on pulling back in a semicircular motion to engage the hamstring and calf muscles.

2. Practice being efficient using different cadences

In an effort to prepare for hilly race or training courses, you should also work at high (90-100) and low (60-75) cadences during training sessions. Doing so allows you to better manage the change in different gradients.

3. Set respiration rate

When simulating indoor cycling set your respiration rate to allow for deep inhalations rather than short shallow breaths. Deep inhalations allow the body to adequately get oxygenated blood to the working muscles which increases stamina and decreases time to exhaustion. So, find your rhythm, whatever is comfortable for you, and keep your heart rate from skyrocketing.

4. Train different body positions

Let’s face it, no one stays in one position for the whole duration of their outdoor bike rides. You go aero, upright, and yes, sometimes you even stand. And just because you’re on an indoor trainer doesn’t mean you shouldn’t practice those same skills, especially standing. Use your powerful, lower body muscles as if you were cresting a hill. Practice standing for 1 minute intervals while focusing on keeping your core tight and engaged. Limit rocking your upper body from side to side and keep your hips aligned with a strong push and pull though the pedal stroke motion.

5. Incorporate rides into your training using a virtual training app

Does just the thought of a long boring ride on the trainer make you squirm in your saddle? Consider using a training app to make those miles, and time, fly by. Zwift is one of the best apps to use if you want to simulate riding hills while you’re indoors on a trainer. There are several courses that have varying terrain that will challenge your climbing skills. One of my favorites is Alpe Du Zwift which allows you to climb consistently for 3,399 ft. It’s a tough climb so work up to it and let it be the icing on the cake!

Keep us posted on your cycling endeavors and let us know if you need help as you #rideon!