4-week Hill climbing training plan

4-week Hill climbing training plan

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Our 4-week hill climbing plan is designed for intermediate/advanced riders who want a climbing specific conditioning block prior to a hilly or mountainous sportive.


Week 1-4 of the Hill Climbing Plan

View the Hill Climbing Plan on TrainingPeaks

Who is it suitable for?

Our four week hill climbing plan is aimed primarily at riders who have completed our Pre-season plan or, at the least our Off-season base builder plan, and are looking for a final hill climbing block in preparation for a hilly or mountainous sportive.

If you have not been following one of our plans but have a hilly sportive coming up, this plan could still be suitable for you. You will have however needed to have trained consistently through the winter and built a solid strength and endurance base. Don’t be tempted to leap into these relatively high intensity workouts as a get fit quick short cut. If you haven’t put the base work in over the winter, you will be risking potential injury and slipping into a state of overtraining. You should look to invest time in a structured plan to build the required base, such as our Off-season base builder plan, and target an event later in the season.

What will it give me?

The plan is designed to fine tune the physiological requirements for strong climbing. It focusses on strength, raising threshold and some higher intensity work for those steep ramps. There is also a strong endurance component to this plan.

How much training is involved?

The peak volume of this plan is ten hours and twenty minutes. If you have been following our Pre-season plan, you will be used to this level of training. The volume builds steadily through the first three weeks of the plan and then is significantly reduced for the final recovery week.

Do I need to adapt the sessions at all?

The general guidelines for the Saturday rides often specify to find a rolling route without significant climbs. However, as this is a climbing plan, you should be seeking out the hills and aiming to complete the specified efforts on suitable climbs. If necessary, ride repeats of the same climb.

Is it all cycling?

Like all the British Cycling training plans, you are given the option of a cross training session. It is important that this session complements rather than compromises your bike workouts. This is a fairly demanding plan and although strength training can definitely benefit cycling, it could be too draining on your legs for this four week block. Instead you should look at non-impact and restorative activities such as yoga, pilates or swimming. You also have the option of an additional rest day and, if you are feeling tired, this could well be a more productive option. More isn’t always more.

What equipment is involved?

Accurate pacing and monitoring of intensity is essential to successful climbing, especially over a route with multiple climbs. If you have been following the Pre-season plan or Off-season base builder plan, you will already be familiar with using either heart rate, power or a combination of them both. A power meter does represent a significant investment but, as long as you take the time to learn how to use it and interpret the data it provides, it can be invaluable. For higher level efforts especially, where heart rate lag can be an issue, a power meter ensures that right from the first pedal stroke you are riding at the correct intensity.

What if I don’t live in a hilly area?

If you don’t live in a hilly area, you can use an indoor trainer to simulate the demands of hills for the midweek sessions. As long as you are hitting the specified cadences and intensities, you will be getting the desired training effect. However, for the weekend rides, there is no substitute for getting out on some real climbs. Your position on the bike is slightly different, your pedal stroke altered and remember descending ability is as important as climbing fitness. Consider driving to a hillier area or, if you have a couple of smaller hills, adapt the sessions and ride reps.

How flexible is the day to day structure?

With at least two rest days and the potential for three, there is plenty of scope for adjusting the day to day structure to suit the demands of your life.

Always try to schedule in a rest day before and after any of the sessions. The only exception to this is the longer weekend ride where a steady paced ride follows the harder Saturday effort. If you think you will struggle to get out twice at the weekend, prioritise the Saturday ride. Quality is more important than quantity, so don’t be tempted to try and squeeze all of the workouts in if you can’t allow the corresponding amount of rest and recovery time.

What happens at the end of the plan?

The final lower volume week should deliver you feeling fresh and ready to climb, you can substitute either of the weekend rides with your target event. If you feel you require a longer taper, follow Week 4 with the event week session from our In season plan. You should also follow a tough event with the post-event week session from the In season plan before starting to build again.

If you are keen to keep working on your climbing and haven’t got a specific event, you can keep rotating through the plan. Compare your performances on the different sessions to the first time you worked through it and use this to track your improvement.

There is no need to complete the threshold test every time you go through Week 1 but you should aim to re-test every eight-to-12 weeks.


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