Workouts to Improve Your Climbing

Workouts to Improve Your Climbing

ON November 1, 2023 by Zwift

You don’t have to go to the mountains to train for a climb! Whether you’re preparing for an outdoor ride, a race, a KOM/QOM effort, or a Zwift climb portal, doing structured workouts on Zwift can get you in shape to hit the hills.

If you’re on a controllable smart trainer, here’s a tip: Try doing these workouts in the small front chainring. This makes your trainer’s flywheel spin slower in ERG mode, and it will feel more like fighting gravity on a climb. If you don’t use ERG mode, you can turn up the resistance to get the same effect. Tap the arrows beside the “incline” button on the Workout screen in Zwift Companion, or with a keyboard, hit the “+” and “-” keys. Click here for more information on using workout mode.

Build Strength and Speed

Mariana Pajon – Force Development (Climbing)

When the road goes uphill, you might come across steep gradients that force you to pedal slower. This workout builds “strength endurance” that can help your legs work harder for longer at a lower cadence.

Hairpin Wizard (30-60 minutes to burn)

Climbing is easier on your legs if you can keep spinning fast when the road gets steeper. That means cranking up the power, and this workout will help you prepare.

Tractor Pulls (Climbing)

Build cycling-specific leg strength by starting sprints in a low gear from a very slow speed. (Note: You may want to avoid this one if you have any knee problems.)

Conquer Longer Climbs

SST (Med) (60-90 minutes to burn)

This “sweet spot training” workout sticks to your threshold and tempo zones – the range around and somewhat below your FTP. You’ll need to be strong in these zones for long hills and mountains.

SST (Short) (30-60 minutes to burn)

Only have an hour? Try this shorter “sweet spot” workout. It’s less work, but you don’t get a break in the middle.

Ella Harris – Climbing Power (Climbing)

This works your threshold power zone while also training you to power through steep sections.

Crush Climbs with Surges

Nino Schurter – Punchy Climbs (Climbing)

During these “over-under” intervals, you’ll have to surge and recover near your FTP.

The Thomas (Climbing)

Are you doing a hilly race? Riding a climb with some steep ramps? This workout will train you for surges you might face before and after an already-hard effort.

Smash Short Hills

Carlos Verona: Climber (Climbing)

If a hill takes you less than 10 minutes to ride, training your VO2 max will help you fly up it fast. If you’re breathing hard, you’re doing it right!

Annemiek Van Vleuten: All-rounder (30-60 minutes to burn)

This session is intense, but your work will pay off on short, punchy hills.

Seated and Standing (GCN, Climbing)

Here you can practice getting out of the saddle, which can help you put more power through the pedals on steep slopes.

Try some of these workouts and get ready to climb like a mountain goat!