Getting back to Vegpedlrs question on pedaling uphill, upon further input from him, I found that he is mainly referring to those long uphill climbs wherein the cyclist is seated and cranking away on the pedals.
He is not trying to sprint up the hill; he’s just trying to make steady progress.
It’s really a long slow grind uphill, though just because the bicycle may be moving slow, do not make the mistake thinking your pedaling must be slow too.
There are actually a lot of factors that can come into play that may help a cyclist pedal up a long hill.
These same ideas also apply to riding a bicycle into a headwind.
The effect of both is that terrain and/or weather conditions can slow you down and cause the cyclist to drop down a gear to make pedaling easier.
Now, with bicycles we have cogs or sprockets in the back and a chain-ring or sprockets in the front.
The language of changing gears on a multiple-speed bicycle can get confusing for some, because the combination of the front sprocket with the back sprocket gives us a particular gear ratio.
And that determines whether the pedaling gets harder or easier.
Just be aware that in referring to dropping a gear I am talking about selecting a gear ratio that makes pedaling easier.
And if I say shift up a gear, it means select a gear ratio that makes pedaling harder.
If we maintain the same pedal cadence or wattage output as we shift up a gear, we go faster.
Pedaling a bike takes more strength and strength endurance when faced with a headwind or an uphill climb than does a nice level path with little to no wind.
Training for hill climbs or headwinds is a specific part of bike riding plucked out of the entire bike riding experience.
It’s a very specific thing, so we need to not only engage in general physical preparation for bike riding but also sport-specific training for this one particular area.
Anything we add to our training that has a negative impact on our sports performance needs to be deleted.
What if we don’t seriously engage in any one sport or maybe we’re just a recreational cyclist?
Well, the same thinking really applies to many things, like other outdoor activities or even our occupation.
Our training exercise selection and program design can impact our ability to back-pack, hike, canoe, play tennis or work as a Tactical Officer, EMT or construction worker.
Any exercise or method of training will have one of three effects:
- It improves sports, recreational or occupational performance and other everyday activities.
- It decreases the above. Any injury caused by training falls into this category.
- It has minimal or no discernable effect on performance.
Thus, in looking at training to improve our ability to pedal a bicycle uphill we need to look at things that may help.
Some things are pretty easy to rule out, while others we may need to test out for 4-8 weeks to really ascertain whether it helps or hinders performance.
Everyone is different, and what helps one person may not help another.
One cyclist may have great midsection and upper-body strength and another may be lacking in this area.
With that in mind, something like the suitcase deadlift or suitcase farmer walks may be very beneficial for one cyclist but not so much for someone else.
You have to determine what are your weaknesses.
Then, will training that weakness actually help your performance in a given sport?
For example, a 1.5 to 2 times bodyweight deadlift may help a cyclist. It probably would.
But developing a 600 pound deadlift is not going to help a cyclist.
With any method of training there comes a point of diminishing returns.
We have to learn how to weed out ideas and training methods that may not work for us or that would hurt our performance in a certain activity or area we need or want to improve.
Yet at the same time we must keep an open mind to the possibility that something odd, strange or new to us may help.
I bring this up because I will often think outside the box and look at unrelated areas to see if some principle is transferable to the current problem.
Sometimes it works and other times not so much, lol.
Outside of sport-specific training, like an Olympic Weightlifter practicing Clean & Jerks, be aware that there is not one coach or trainer in the world who can emphatically say with absolute certainty that a particular exercise is a must for all athletes.
It may be a common to a particular group of athletes, which should tell us something, but it may not be for us as an individual even though we are competing or active in the same sport.
Kettlebell swings may be a great exercise for many athletes and people in general, but it may be absolutely contraindicated for some people.
So stating that something like skipping rope cannot help a sprinter improve his sprinting performance cannot be absolutely proven true across the board.
It may and can help some sprinters and yet be of no benefit for others.
Thus, as I share ideas, exercises and all sorts of thoughts on training, keep in mind the thoughts in this article.
Learn to decide for yourself when to dismiss something, when to test something out and when to immediately run with an idea.
If you’ve got a broken ankle that’s pinned and frozen up, then skipping rope is no bueno (no esta’ bien).
If we’ve always had lower back issues, a slipped disc or whatever, no matter how much someone may scream at us we need to do heavy back squats:
Well, no we don’t!
Beware of those who emphatically state that their way of training is the only way.
Back to bicycles, I share several ideas for training uphill climbs on a bike in this video:
It may be useful for some and not so much for others.
Regardless, I’m sure you will find some interesting connecting thoughts when it comes to bicycles, and I’ll be sharing more as we go along.
Thanks for reading!