Climbing repeats

Climb-repeatAim of Session

Development of sustained climbing ability 


Session description

MAIN SET: Zone 2 ride with 3 blocks of zone 4, full / equal recovery between reps

Suggested progression:

  • 4 x 5 mins, 5 min recovery
  • 6 x 5 mins, 5 min recovery
  • 4 x 8 mins, 5 min recovery


The physiology is very similar to that for the steady state intervals, the major difference coming in muscle fibre recruitment patterns. The increase in inertia and reduced momentum when riding at a reduced speed often leads riders to select a lower cadence and alters muscle recruitment significantly.

Application for the Rider

For riders who race in hilly terrain it is important that you train in similar terrain. The presence of a gradient also gives the rider something to 'work against' - so in some ways, this makes climbing repeats an easier introduction to zone 4 work than the steady state intervals!

Practicalities and tips!

The observant among you may have spotted a problem with this session for many riders in the UK - the lack of hills long enough to fit in an 8 minute block! 

  • Make sure you reccie an appropriate training route in advance - even if you can't find an incline that lasts for the total block time, you might be able to adapt the session to ensure you get the essence of the session. For example, if you can only climb for 6 minutes, reduce the recovery and add an extra block (so that total time in zone 4 remains the same).
  • If there is a slight flattening of the climb, or indeed a descent, manage this by using your gears effectively.
  • As a last resort, consider inclining your bike on a turbo trainer - this will at least get the body position right and allowing you to practise pushing up and over the bottom bracket

Evaluation of the session

  • How close was your power in each interval to your target power? If you have recently performed some steady state intervals on the flat, how did they compare?
  • Were you able to sustain the effort across the block? and across sequential blocks?
  • Looking at your HR, is the profile increasing? Drift of HR is common at this intensity, and reflects the system trying to hold a 'steady state' - a slight rise is ideal, as it shows you are pushing the limits of balance
  • Is your HR returning to baseline levels prior to each block?


More in this category: « Steady state intervals Epic »