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This week coach Renee Eastman shares a classic workout for improving your maximum sustainable climbing power and pace. Climbing Repeats are featured in our climb, medium climb and long climb Training Plans.
Why This Workout is Awesome?
Athletes have been doing variations of this workout for decades, and in recent years technology has made it easier to quantify the effectiveness of the efforts. Whether you are training with just heart rate or both heart rate and power, it is important to complete these prolonged climbing intervals at the correct intensity. It makes sense that to get faster and stronger on climbs you need to spend more time climbing hills, right?
There are a lot of ways you can climb a hill. You can take it relatively easy and stay at an aerobic pace. You can use a big gear and low cadence to achieve a muscular endurance workout, or you can ride a more moderate gear at your maximum sustainable intensity to develop your climbing power at lactate threshold. These Climbing Repeats are designed to develop greater climbing power at lactate threshold.
If you’ve already completed the CTS Field Test, you can calculate your heart rate and power ranges for these intervals. You can also get a reasonable approximation of the correct intensity by monitoring your breathing and rate of perceived exertion. When doing a Climbing Repeat interval correctly your breathing will be deep but labored. If you transition to uncontrollable panting you are going too hard. On a scale of 1-10 where 10 is a maximal effort, a Climbing Repeat should be about an 8-9.
It should feel hard, but not like a full-on time trial effort.
The Purpose of Climbing Repeats:
Like any lactate threshold workout the key to Climbing Repeats is accumulating time at intensity. If you have 3×8 minute Climbing Repeats you’re accumulating 24 minutes at CR intensity. You could also achieve those 24 minutes by doing 4x6minute intervals or 2x12minute intervals. Generally, less experienced and less fit athletes should start with more, shorter intervals (4x6minutes) so that each interval can be completed at higher quality. As you get stronger – and as the training plans progress – the individual intervals typically get longer even if the total time at intensity stays the same. Recovery between intervals is typically half the time of the interval, or 3 minutes between 6-minute efforts, and 6 minutes between 12-minute efforts.
“Time-at-intensity” is important over the course of a week as well. You could do two or even three of these workouts in a single week. It’s not the single climbing effort that leads to improvement, but the cumulative impact of several efforts. But the payoff is definitely worth your time.
Here’s the Workout:
60 Minutes Ride time: 15 minute warmup, Interval Set 3×8 minute Climbing Repeats (32 minute interval set), 13 minute cool down.
Climbing Repeats (CR)
This workout should be performed on a road with a long steady climb. The intensity is around your lactate threshold power and/or heart rate, and it is critical that you maintain this intensity for the length of the CR. Pedal cadence for CR intervals while climbing should be 70 to 85 rpm. Maintaining the training intensity is the most important factor, not pedal cadence. Try and avoid interruptions while doing these intervals. Recovery time between intervals is typically about half the length of the interval itself.
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