Need More Power to Climb?

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Need More Power to Climb?

Postby Trackspecialist » Wed Aug 10, 2011 10:55 am

Am a 38 y.o. recreational road cyclist, just started riding my road bike since 14 months ago, I can do a flat course with average speed of 28 kmh for 90 minutes with average HR 148 bpm and avg cadence 72 rpm (and a bit of lower back pain).

When I climb (4% avg gradient for 4 kms), my cadence is as low as 50 - 55 rpm and HR about 150 - 162 bpm and no lower back pain, BUT the speed is really really slow & can even catch up with others.

My training regime (on my trainer) is normally high cadence (90-100 rpm) and high HR (> 150 bpm) for 45 minutes, so I assume that low power coming out from my legs (if measured by a power meter).

So if change my training with low cadence (55-60 rpm) and high HR (> 150 bpm) for 45 minutes, would it help in enhancing my climb-ability?

Does it mean that my weaknesses is with my legs (quadriceps & gastrocnemius)?
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by BNA » Wed Aug 10, 2011 11:03 am

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Re: Need More Power to Climb?

Postby BarryTas » Wed Aug 10, 2011 11:03 am

you cadence needs to be MUCH higher when you climb. stay seated, put it in the granny gear and spin!!!!!!! aim for a cadence no lower than 85 when climbing. Although saying this it took me about a year the get there. check that cadence thread
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Re: Need More Power to Climb?

Postby BarryTas » Wed Aug 10, 2011 11:09 am

i would suggest two things in general

1 - if you have a sore lower back then go the your local bike shop and get your bike refitted

2 - if your cadence is 72 on the flat, then it should be higher ( i doubt that you are a naturally low cadence rider due to your high cadence on your roller) Put your chain in the low chain ring in the front and ride when you ride to practice high cadence till your legs get used to it.
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Re: Need More Power to Climb?

Postby Trackspecialist » Wed Aug 10, 2011 11:36 am

Thanks for your quick response and inputs. It's much appreciated.

I already use the granny gear when climbing and yet the cadence is still as low as 55 rpm (too embarrassed to admit, but I want to get better). Is it because I don't have power to push the pedals? If that's the case, how could I improve my legs muscles?

A couple time, I tried to increase the cadence and consequently my HR just jumps above 168 which I could not stand it for a longer time.
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Re: Need More Power to Climb?

Postby Daccordi Rider » Wed Aug 10, 2011 12:17 pm

I don't think it is a power problem but a fitness problem if you say your heartrate jumps but you can average 28 odd on the flat. Climbing is about cadence so the others are right. For flat rides minimum 90 rpm and build up that aerobic capacity. On the hills try keeping the cadence over 80 for as long as you can, recover, repeat. You will get there.
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Re: Need More Power to Climb?

Postby BarryTas » Wed Aug 10, 2011 12:32 pm

Daccordi Rider wrote:I don't think it is a power problem but a fitness problem if you say your heartrate jumps but you can average 28 odd on the flat. Climbing is about cadence so the others are right. For flat rides minimum 90 rpm and build up that aerobic capacity. On the hills try keeping the cadence over 80 for as long as you can, recover, repeat. You will get there.

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Re: Need More Power to Climb?

Postby MichaelB » Wed Aug 10, 2011 1:33 pm

Trackspecialist wrote:......I already use the granny gear when climbing and yet the cadence is still as low as 55 rpm (too embarrassed to admit, but I want to get better). Is it because I don't have power to push the pedals? If that's the case, how could I improve my legs muscles?

A couple time, I tried to increase the cadence and consequently my HR just jumps above 168 which I could not stand it for a longer time.



Sounds like a gearing issue to me. What are the tooth counts on your chainrings/cassette ?

And agree with getting a bike fit done and riding more. Hills can become addictive. The great reward is when you get some hills with great descents :D
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Re: Need More Power to Climb?

Postby Alex Simmons/RST » Wed Aug 10, 2011 4:36 pm

Daccordi Rider wrote:I don't think it is a power problem but a fitness problem if you say your heartrate jumps but you can average 28 odd on the flat. Climbing is about cadence so the others are right. For flat rides minimum 90 rpm and build up that aerobic capacity. On the hills try keeping the cadence over 80 for as long as you can, recover, repeat. You will get there.

The best measure of fitness there is (especially for hill climbing), is the power we can sustain expressed in terms of watts per kilogram (W/kg) of body mass. Our speed when climbing is directly proportional to W/kg. So the principle is simple: Improved sustainable power output and reducing any excess body mass = faster hill climber.

What someone can do on the flat is not always a good guide as to what they can do up climbs.

As for cadence, I do agree that if on your lowest gear and at your current fitness you can't sustain a minimum of 60rpm on your regular longer climbs, then you really need to get more appropriate gearing.
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Re: Need More Power to Climb?

Postby Daccordi Rider » Wed Aug 10, 2011 5:13 pm

Alex "what you can do on the flat is no guide to your climbing". Yeah, the big boys do me over in flat,windy races. Put me on a good, steep climb and my skinny legs kick in and I get revenge! Horses for courses.
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Re: Need More Power to Climb?

Postby Trackspecialist » Wed Aug 10, 2011 6:56 pm

Thanks guys for the replies and inputs.

Mine is compact 34/50 with 12-27 cassettes. I use the lowest gear combination when climbing.

So apart from doing ride ride and ride, with a skinny 62 kg guy like me, what type of training technique should I change?
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Re: Need More Power to Climb?

Postby Alex Simmons/RST » Wed Aug 10, 2011 7:50 pm

Trackspecialist wrote:So apart from doing ride ride and ride, with a skinny 62 kg guy like me, what type of training technique should I change?

On the trainer, try the 80-100rpm work but pick a bigger gear so the power output is higher. Do them as intervals, try them as 5-min efforts with recovery for a few min in between. Then over time gradually make those efforts longer until eventually you are doing hard 20-min efforts with 5-min rest.
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Re: Need More Power to Climb?

Postby philip » Thu Aug 11, 2011 8:19 am

Alex Simmons/RST wrote:What someone can do on the flat is not always a good guide as to what they can do up climbs.

Alex can you expand on that please? Do you mean that someone that can hold, say, 300 watts on a flat for say 5 minutes may not be able to do so on a climb, or just that it's the W/kg that comes into play on climb so that their speed is affected more? I seem to remember a big debate about this last year some time.. don't want to bring that one up again!
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Re: Need More Power to Climb?

Postby Kneedown » Thu Aug 11, 2011 10:17 am

As a few have suggested, just keep working on your cadence as you climb, and keep doing it over and over...and over.

I am a few years older than you, weigh about the same and have been riding regularly (2-5days/wk) for about 5yrs. I have been a 5days/week rider for the last 18months or so. I can safely say that my climbing ability and fitness has made a quantam leap in the last 12months as I started to focus on cadence when climbing and just keep working on it day in day out.

I can now ride up climbs at a pace that I thought was just impossible for me. But every day that I ride a climb, I keep trying to increase my cadence and speed at which I climb, in teh saddle as well as out of it. The gains just keep coming, and I notice it most when I have a bit of motivation i.e. chasing or trying to stay ahead of someone.

Don't get get too caught up in the mechanical analysis of watts & kgs etc, just keep working at it day after day and it will come.
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Re: Need More Power to Climb?

Postby Alex Simmons/RST » Thu Aug 11, 2011 4:34 pm

philip wrote:
Alex Simmons/RST wrote:What someone can do on the flat is not always a good guide as to what they can do up climbs.

Alex can you expand on that please? Do you mean that someone that can hold, say, 300 watts on a flat for say 5 minutes may not be able to do so on a climb, or just that it's the W/kg that comes into play on climb so that their speed is affected more? I seem to remember a big debate about this last year some time.. don't want to bring that one up again!

Speed on flats is not a good indicator of what you can do when the road tilts up.

That's because speed on the flats is a function of power to aero drag ratio, whereas as speed on climbs is more about power to weight ratio.

Our weight and aerodynamics are related but not in a linear fashion, hence different riders perform differently on flats v climbs.
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Re: Need More Power to Climb?

Postby stated » Thu Sep 15, 2011 12:32 pm

Hello trackspecialist, please check your inbox.
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