Cycling Tips: How to Become A Better Climber
When cyclists are attracted to the sport, it is often the exhilaration that comes with the wind flying past as they ride downhill, or the road whipping by under their wheels, that they love most.
Very few have positive feelings about the sheer amount of exertion and pain that comes with brutal hill climbs. But cycling purists will tell you that conquering the hills can be one of the most satisfying parts of cycling.
So how can you improve your cycling and become a better climber?
Look Behind You
Without being cheeky (ok, maybe a little) the main source of your strength during hill climbs, comes from behind you. More specifically, your gluteal muscles and your quadriceps are your 'engines' for hill climbs.
The reason is that these muscles are strong enough to be major contributors to the downforce required to overcome gravity and an incline. They are leveraged enough to your road bike to provide efficient energy to the pedals and they are relatively quick to respond to training and attempts to build them up.
The Risks of "Lazy Climbing"
On the flip side, if your glutes are under-developed, you can end up riding with much more emphasis on your quadriceps and hamstrings, which is less efficient. The end result is more exertion and less power, which means you burn out more quickly and increase your risk of injury.
There are specific exercises like Swiss ball raises, stretches and the classic squat to increase your glute and quad strength. If you're really serious about your riding, consulting with a physiotherapist is also invaluable in learning how to'reactivate' this muscle group.
Climbing means being out of your seat, and that means that you're asking your core muscles in your abdomen and thoracic region to work hard. It's not just intensity either. Even those athletes with six-pack abs would still struggle if their core muscles were called into service for extended climbs.
Core muscle weakness doesn't just translate to a loss of power, it can also lead to a painful lower back, which can really hamper your ability to ride, or even just do things around the house.
Once again, the Swiss ball, core exercises with an emphasis on strength and endurance and stretching are your best friends in the pursuit of a strong core.
Runners often talk about the 'runner's high' that kicks in after serious exertion, and cyclists have a similar reaction when they get to enjoy the satisfaction of conquering a gruelling climb mid-ride.
To find out more about the ideal road bikes for climbing, or just to have a chat to our friendly, professional and professional team, we invite you to drop by Ivanhoe Cycles and learn how to make your cycling experience even better!