Out of Breath, on the up hills.

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Out of Breath, on the up hills.

Postby Nedlam » Thu Dec 09, 2010 10:18 pm

I'm now back on the bike, but after a few months, the good ol legs are getting there, its just the lungs running out of breath.
Really struggle up some of the smaller but long hills.

Besides keep riding these, is there more i can do to build this quicker, as i'd like to ride the hills more, but this does keep me away at times?
Currently, run out of breath, pull up, catch breath then off again, usually a few times on a big hill, but on a small hill, once usually.

Thanks in Advance
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by BNA » Fri Dec 10, 2010 11:06 am

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Re: Out of Breath, on the up hills.

Postby DanielS » Fri Dec 10, 2010 11:06 am

Well the short answer is 'ride them more', of course :)

To give a better answer, a few questions:
- Are you talking about short sharp hills, or longer climbs in the hills (that take 5+ mins to get up)?
- How many hours a week do you ride? How many days per week? How consistent has that been over the past few months?
- Do you have weight to lose?
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Re: Out of Breath, on the up hills.

Postby hannos » Fri Dec 10, 2010 11:20 am

What gearing are you using to climb?
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Out of Breath, on the up hills.

Postby nutsack » Fri Dec 10, 2010 12:28 pm

What's your age, weight, height and smoking history?
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Re: Out of Breath, on the up hills.

Postby Nedlam » Fri Dec 10, 2010 5:52 pm

Thanks for getting back to me, I guess i have left out the important info
I try to get out as much as i can.
I commute on nice days, 15kms each way, in the evening i throw in a hill one being short but steep.
Then on weekend i try to manage a quick ride maybe 30-60kms, usually flat unless with the group.

I do need to lose weight, i weighed 100kms b5 but haver around the 95kgs, Possible lack of sleep and good foods also.
Never smoked, been around smokers though. not heaps but i guess it counts.

I cant remember but the web says "Cassette: Shimano 105 (12-25T)". i had the wheel set upgraded to Pinarollo Wild Cat wheels so i guess the cassette stays the same.
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Re: Out of Breath, on the up hills.

Postby you cannot be sirrus » Fri Dec 10, 2010 6:01 pm

Just keep riding Ned. I had the same problem when I started, ran out of puff before running out of legs. Find a stronger rider to ride with and stay with him, just gotta keep pushing yourself a little more each ride.
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Re: Out of Breath, on the up hills.

Postby foo on patrol » Fri Dec 10, 2010 7:24 pm

Also do plenty of deep breathing while you have you lungs opened up. :idea:
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Re: Out of Breath, on the up hills.

Postby ft_critical » Fri Dec 10, 2010 9:21 pm

Nedlam wrote:the good ol legs are getting there, its just the lungs running out of breath.


Nope, you have stated the problem above. Reverse it and you have your answer.

Do some hills. Try to keep your HR/Perceived Effort low, pushing a bigger gear to get strength. IMO you have a perceived climbing rate based on a previous level of fitness. To achieve that same Vertical Ascent Speed you are increasingly using your cardio system rather than sharing that work with your muscular endurance.

In short, you lack the strength to climb at the rate you want to.
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Re: Out of Breath, on the up hills.

Postby ireland57 » Sat Dec 11, 2010 7:50 pm

ft_critical wrote:
Nedlam wrote:the good ol legs are getting there, its just the lungs running out of breath.


Nope, you have stated the problem above. Reverse it and you have your answer.

Do some hills. Try to keep your HR/Perceived Effort low, pushing a bigger gear to get strength. IMO you have a perceived climbing rate based on a previous level of fitness. To achieve that same Vertical Ascent Speed you are increasingly using your cardio system rather than sharing that work with your muscular endurance.

In short, you lack the strength to climb at the rate you want to.


A couple of experienced riders told me the same thing in the last two weeks. For me pushing a big gear with dickie knees is a bit "risky" but spinning hurts too.
One rider said spin 250 metres, grind 250, and so on and repeat the hill. So I did.... at a much slower pace and it worked well.
I was trying to go up too fast. It didn't feel like it (going too fast) but I run out of legs and/or lungs at various places on this hill.

So how does one build leg strength and save knees at the same time? I am trying to spin at 50-ish rpm (when I'm pushing a gear) to do repeats of this one hill.
When I'm in the rest/spin phase it's more like 70-ish rpm.

I've been using 70-ish for ages and there's been no real difference in leg strength....a bit but not much.
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Re: Out of Breath, on the up hills.

Postby ft_critical » Sat Dec 11, 2010 8:08 pm

ireland57 wrote:So how does one build leg strength and save knees at the same time?


Jan (Ulrich) wonders the same thing. What I mean is; that is the perennial climbing question.

Spin or grind. Who knows?

Most people who I have come across who know what they are talking about indicate that when the pressure is on, you will always pedal your natural stroke.

I think that before you stress yourself, especially the knees doing bigger gears, you must get a bike fit. After that, you just need to listen to your body. If it is hurting then back off.

Cycling, really is not that complicated a sport. If it was, it wouldn't be so popular with old buggers.
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Re: Out of Breath, on the up hills.

Postby trailgumby » Sat Dec 11, 2010 9:57 pm

I tend to spin in an easy gear and up the RPM. It's easier on the knees, the legs don't burn, and I usually pass the grinders who flew past at the bottom of the hill about 2/3rds the way up. :lol:

60 is much too low for me - I'd do that out of the saddle on short pinch climbs. Up longer hills I spin (or should I say spun, haven't had cadence on my speedo for over a year) at about 80-100rpm.
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Re: Out of Breath, on the up hills.

Postby ireland57 » Sun Dec 12, 2010 7:23 pm

I've had bike fits done on my mtn and roadie by a professional bike fitter so I hope all is ok there.

I mostly race a mtn bike on XC races but will do road races/crits/hill climbs in 2011.
On my mtn bike the climbing cadence is around the 85-100 rpm on long hills. On the roadie sitting on climbs it’s around 65-70 rpm (with a triple x 12-27 gear) topping at 85rpm.
Standing on the (roadie) it’s around 50 - 70 rpm up the real steep ones.

I've been spinning for about a year since I found it was a good thing to do but my legs have not gotten much stronger. The shape of them has changed (they look like bike riders legs - hairy) but not much else. I still find spinning easier but I need to get faster, fitter and stronger to achieve what I want to.
So I decided to strengthen the legs and knees…..and mostly on the road bike.

It sure looks complicated from here. :oops: :D
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Re: Out of Breath, on the up hills.

Postby DanielS » Mon Dec 13, 2010 10:53 am

Nedlam wrote:Thanks for getting back to me, I guess i have left out the important info
I try to get out as much as i can.
I commute on nice days, 15kms each way, in the evening i throw in a hill one being short but steep.
Then on weekend i try to manage a quick ride maybe 30-60kms, usually flat unless with the group.

I do need to lose weight, i weighed 100kms b5 but haver around the 95kgs, Possible lack of sleep and good foods also.
Never smoked, been around smokers though. not heaps but i guess it counts.

I cant remember but the web says "Cassette: Shimano 105 (12-25T)". i had the wheel set upgraded to Pinarollo Wild Cat wheels so i guess the cassette stays the same.


Hi Nedlam -- despite the posts above, I would say don't worry too much about your cadence or building 'strength' in your legs. I do not think that is your limiting factor.

I think that the #1 thing you can do to make the hills easier (without necessarily requiring any extra training effort) is to lose weight. From a riding perspective, just keep riding as much as you can. If you can get out for an extra hour dedicated training ride once or twice during the week you would start to see big gains. And if you want to get better in the hills keep riding them.

Hope that helps.
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Re: Out of Breath, on the up hills.

Postby Grant. W » Wed Feb 02, 2011 8:34 am

OK so here is a question.
For training I usually ride a fixi. On my rides I climb Old Razorback Rd which is about 3.8k's first 2/3rds is 5% and the rest ave 10% its a slow tough grind to the top.
Don't get me wrong i feel fitter and stronger on the 10sp now, but the question is this.
when I climb the same hill on the 10sp in a gear and cadence the same as the fix bike my power out put is low...say around the 190w mark and HR just below threshold and my climbing speed is around 18-19k's
using a higher gear and cadence around 80 with a HR on threshold the power output is around 300-320 and the speed is only 1-2 k's/h faster. Yes it feels easier on the legs and the lungs hurt. But why the power difference?

I also find this on our crit track. on the flats and slight up hills i can punch out over 350-400w over short bursts but on the slight down hill across the back where I want to pick up the pace and the cadence is steady around 90 but I can't seem to get the power over 250???

Is this a lack of high cadence work to increase VO2 or a combination of both strength and vo2 in different riding situations?

Cheers,
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Re: Out of Breath, on the up hills.

Postby sogood » Wed Feb 02, 2011 9:28 am

Lower you gear, avoid mashing, lower the speed and your aerobic system would be able to cope better. Of course, the aerobic system will develop over time and you'll get faster.

Mashing with big gears will rapidly send you into the red zone and put you out of breath. Avoid.
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Re: Out of Breath, on the up hills.

Postby Sweeper59 » Wed Feb 02, 2011 10:25 am

At 95kgs, I struggled to keep with my mates on hills, as I was giving away 10kgs or more to most of them. I tried to keep with them on hills, but found I was working much harder and tiring much quicker than them. I decided I needed to get fitter and lose a couple of kgs, so I started mixing up my cycling with some extra training, including 2 spin classes a week at the gym and a bit of running. I've been doing the spin classes after work (and occassionly a morning class if it's too wet to ride) for about 2 years now, and it's certainly helped my strength and fitness. The best part is - my cycling mates still aren't aware of all my extra training, but regularly comment on my improved riding. These days, I actually enjoy riding the same hills that I use to make excuses to avoid.
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Re: Out of Breath, on the up hills.

Postby sogood » Wed Feb 02, 2011 10:40 am

The effect of weight on hills can be best appreciated by loading a backpack and try carrying it on a ride. 10kg is a lot of performance sucking weight!
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Re: Out of Breath, on the up hills.

Postby silkishuge » Wed Feb 02, 2011 11:09 am

Nedlam wrote:I'm now back on the bike, but after a few months, the good ol legs are getting there, its just the lungs running out of breath.
Really struggle up some of the smaller but long hills.

Besides keep riding these, is there more i can do to build this quicker, as i'd like to ride the hills more, but this does keep me away at times?
Currently, run out of breath, pull up, catch breath then off again, usually a few times on a big hill, but on a small hill, once usually.

Thanks in Advance


How hard are you pushing yourself up these hills. If I attempt the climb to achieve the best time I can, I can be huffing pretty hard towards the end of the climb. If I aim to just climb the hill, I can spin on a comfortable cadence and get over the hill without gasping for air and can engage in some conversation.

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Re: Out of Breath, on the up hills.

Postby clack3rz » Wed Feb 02, 2011 2:15 pm

sogood wrote:The effect of weight on hills can be best appreciated by loading a backpack and try carrying it on a ride. 10kg is a lot of performance sucking weight!


I appreciated this when I was basically off the bike for several months purely due to lack of available time to do proper training.
During this time I focused on intensive running.
I think I dropped around 8kgs during this time and when I returned my focus to cycling again I immediately noticed the difference in avg speed and hill climbing.
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Re: Out of Breath, on the up hills.

Postby human909 » Fri Feb 04, 2011 10:35 am

Do you grind on the flats? No. Then why grind on the hills? Spin your way up them unless they are really short.
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Re: Out of Breath, on the up hills.

Postby heay » Fri Feb 04, 2011 9:16 pm

Increase your lung compacity. This will help in the long term.

This is what I did when I was running but have not done it for some time now:

Drinking straw from Macca's, put it in you mouth, and only breath in with it for say 30sec. NO MORE.....
Do this several times a day, over time you can increase not only the time frame but change to a smaller straw. You are working your lungs harder to get the same amount of O2 into your body some it will increase it.

NOTE: this may not be everybodies cup of tea but it helped me.

Cheers, Matt.
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Re: Out of Breath, on the up hills.

Postby Livetoride » Tue Feb 08, 2011 8:52 pm

heay wrote:Increase your lung compacity. This will help in the long term.

This is what I did when I was running but have not done it for some time now:

Drinking straw from Macca's, put it in you mouth, and only breath in with it for say 30sec. NO MORE.....
Do this several times a day, over time you can increase not only the time frame but change to a smaller straw. You are working your lungs harder to get the same amount of O2 into your body some it will increase it.

NOTE: this may not be everybodies cup of tea but it helped me.

Cheers, Matt.


Can you explain this please....
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Re: Out of Breath, on the up hills.

Postby easty » Thu Feb 17, 2011 9:17 am

I have had the same problem, and I am actually in the middle of making myself "love hills" rather than "hate hills". I would much rather sprint from some lights for a predetermined period than take on a steady gradient hill.

A trick I use, is put your head down, and do your ABC's in your head...takes your mind of the pain, and stops you from looking at the top of the hill (which never seems to get any closer when your bonked).

Another one is, as has been mentioned above, take deep breathes, think of it as goodness for your muscles.

Change your hand position every now and then, go from the tops, to the hoods, to the drops if your comfortable there. Stops you from keeping your upper body tensed up which you will pay for later.

But really, the short answer is, keep jamming over those hills. I would recommend not stopping at the top, but instead pedal light to keep the blood pumping through your legs, your breath will recover soon after you hit the top.

Good luck.
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Re: Out of Breath, on the up hills.

Postby jules21 » Sun Feb 27, 2011 9:35 pm

Nedlam wrote:Currently, run out of breath, pull up, catch breath then off again, usually a few times on a big hill, but on a small hill, once usually.

Thanks in Advance

i used to have this problem too but then i discovered that riding more slowly cures that a treat :mrgreen:
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Re: Out of Breath, on the up hills.

Postby gururug » Sun Apr 03, 2011 12:15 am

take it steady, embrace the climb, it's a state of mind.

climb with strong control, you have to change a gear in your head when climbing, don't attempt to get to the top as quick as possible, try to get there as efficiently as possible.
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