Sometimes you just don’t feel like riding, but you’re looking for a solid workout that helps you improve your bike fitness. You know that strength training can be hugely beneficial to your cycling training program, but that isn’t scratching your itch.
Hill repeats are just what you need.
By powering up a hill with short, intense efforts you are training your body to produce maximal power. This has direct implications to sprinting on the bike, but it also improves economy by boosting nervous system coordination and VO2max by increasing capillary density while training muscle fibers that often get left behind in steady-state endurance training.
Keep it short and sweet
The key to this workout is keeping it short and intense—there are no long uphill slogs here. With each step, focus on driving powerfully up the hill by maximally extending the hip, knee, and ankle of your pushing leg while quickly swinging your opposite knee in preparation for the next step. Engage your core with a slight forward lean, while counter-balancing your lower-body with strong and compact arm swings. Keep your eyes up and looking forward to the finish line!
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To begin this training, start with two sets of four all-out sprints for 10 seconds up a moderately steep incline with good footing. While walking back to the start, mentally prepare for another maximal effort. As you get fitter, increase your sprint duration, stopping when you feel your maximal power drop off, but keep it no longer than 30 seconds for each effort.
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Workout of the Week: Running Hill Sprints for Cyclists
10 min. easy jog
2 rounds of:
4 x all-out sprints for 10 sec.
Walk back to start as recovery (approximately 30 seconds)
Recovery between sets: 3 to 5 min.—or as long as you need to give another round of maximal effort!
10 min. easy jog
Sloth M, Sloth D, Overgaard K, Dalgas U. Effects of sprint interval training on VO2max and aerobic exercise performance: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2013 Dec;23(6):e341-52. doi: 10.1111/sms.12092. Epub 2013 Jul 25. PMID: 23889316.
Gist NH, Fedewa MV, Dishman RK, Cureton KJ. Sprint interval training effects on aerobic capacity: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Sports Med. 2014 Feb;44(2):269-79. doi: 10.1007/s40279-013-0115-0. PMID: 24129784.