How to do Hill Repeats on the Bike
Adding hill repeat workouts once a week to your training regimen is an excellent way to build strength and power on the bike. I ignored them for a long time, but then noticed that some of the friends I ride with who were doing these workouts were really improving. So, I decided to put hill repeats back in my routine too. Here is how to do them:
First, do a warm-up for at least 10 minutes, and ideally between 20-30 minutes. The warm-up should be mostly aerobic pedaling in Zone 2 at a high-cadence like 80-90 RPM.
Once you are warmed up, add a few openers to get your blood flowing and your heart rate up. To do this, do a few hard 30-second reps building your heart rate towards you lactate threshold so you get above your functional threshold power.
Now, to do the your hill repeats, you’ll want to find a hill that has at least a 6% to 10% grade and that takes at least 2 to 3 minutes to climb. If you can’t find exactly the right size hill, any large hill will work. You just need to set your watch or timer to 2 or 3 minutes so that you will know when to stop and go back down to the bottom. When you begin doing hill repeats for the first time, start with 4-6 climbs. This doesn’t sound like a lot, but if you’re doing them correctly, you won’t need much more than that. If done correctly, these short climbs should really break you down and help you get stronger. Every week, try to increase your repeats by 1 until you can do 8-10.
When you do the hill repeats, try to build yourself up into Zone 5. Once you’ve gone up for 2-3 minutes, your rest ratio should be 1-1. So, for example, if you’ve climbed for 2 minutes, you should rest for 2 minutes before starting the next climb. In terms of gearing, I like to alternate between different gears. So, for example, I might do a few climbs at a low cadence of about 50-60 RPM mashing a huge gear, then do a few repeats at a higher cadence rep of about 70-80 RPM in an easier gear. I may also throw in a standing rep, or do a standing sprint in the last 30 seconds of each rep to push my heart rate into Zone 5 before resting.
That’s it. Hill repeats are an excellent way to get in a high quality 1 to 1.5 hour workout. Make sure you can in a recovery day the following day, such as doing a Zone 2 workout.
*Please consult your doctor before engaging in any exercise to determine if it is appropriate for your personal health condition.