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Unlock the Secret to Riding Up Hills Faster

Mastering Hill Climbs: Unraveling the Secret to Riding Up Hills Faster


Lots of hill training has its place in making you a stronger hill climber, but the real game-changer in conquering hills lies in your power-to-weight ratio. So, what makes up this dynamic ratio?

Power Output:

Your ability to pedal hard and fast for an extended duration.

Total Weight:

This includes you, your bike, gear, and all the extras like bottles, snacks, and tools you carry along. If you are like me, I am a minimalist when it comes to carrying extra stuff on my bike. Too much gear, nutrition, and bottles makes me feel weighed down. The key to cruise up hills faster is to boost power and shed weight, it’s that simple.


Here’s a few things you can do to reduce the weight of your bike:

Your bike's weight and its accessories influence your uphill speed. Choose efficient components, good racing wheels, carbon fiber bottle cages, carbon shoes and pedals. These things will give you the most bang for the buck when it comes to being lightweight aero. Don’t weight your bike down with lots of extra “stuff” that you never use.


Keep your own weight down.

Dropping 5 pounds can significantly impact how fast you climb hills. You will need a calorie deficit each day for a few weeks to see marked changes in your weight. Controlling portions and intermittent fasting is how I get to my preferred race weight. I used Beachbody’s Portion Control Fix before a World Championship to get to my best race weight. You can get that program by clicking HERE.  I also make strength training a priority each week as part of my training program, and more muscle mass means higher metabolism and a greater caloric burn.


Boosting Power Output

I have my athletes do an FTP test at the beginning of their program with me to gauge where they are with their power. Consistent training over several months will reveal an increase in power output for almost any athlete. I also give my athletes 3 rides per week, two of these workouts are shorter mid-week rides with interval training and one longer effort on the weekend. Athletes usually start to see improvement in power after the first month or two of training.


More Tricks for Faster Up Hill Riding


The cyclists in our Saturday group tell me all the time to get out of the big chain ring and to increase my cadence. They are right. A great big gear puts a huge strain on your glutes, hamstrings, and knees. A smaller gear allows you to achieve optimal intensity without stressing out your body.


Upper-Body Strength:

You guys know I am a huge fan of strength training. Hilly course rides are demanding on your upper body. Strengthen your forearms, shoulders, chest, and back for extended hill climbing.


Save Some Watts:

Save watts by choosing tires, wheels, and tire pressure wisely. The trend in tire pressure right now is lower is better. Higher tire pressure will feel great on a smooth rode, but not so great on chip seal or bumpy roads. I used to swear by a 23cm tire and now the trend is 25-28cm even on a road bike and the research indicates there is no change in speed with the wider tires. A carbon wheel set is going to be a game changer for your speed, but the higher the depth of the wheel the less efficient it will be on a windy day.


Are You Aero?

While less critical uphill, consider your posture, especially on lower gradients. Every bit of aerodynamic efficiency helps. I highly recommend getting a professional bike fitting by a qualified mechanic. Little tweaks in posture and position can mean big changes in speed and aerodynamics. Efficiency in your bikes moving parts matters. A dirty sticky chain can slow you down. Keep your bike clean and in good working order at all times for the best ride. An aero helmet can be an asset as well for cutting through wind.



To climb hills like a boss, focus on enhancing power output and shedding overall weight. This dual approach ensures your hill-climbing abilities reach their peak. I hope you found this article useful for starting your journey to become a better hill climber.


Have you downloaded my Tips for a Faster Bike Ride? Get it free right HERE!


Have you thought about hiring a coach for your next iron distance event? Click the purple box below and fill out the short form for a FREE chat with Mary on your race goals.


Mary Timoney

Ironman University Certified Coach

USA Triathlon Level I Coach

ACSM Trainer

USA Cycling Coach




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