EPC Tips - Strength Hill Repeats

Aug. 1, 2013

By Cody Waite


We are less than 8 weeks out from XTERRA USA Championships and 13 out from XTERRA World Championships, it's time to get serious with your training! If you've been training and racing hard all spring and summer, like most XTERRA athletes, and you hope to race well in September and October then it's time to change things up. The next few weeks are the perfect time to take a step back and revisit some 'base' training. Letting go of the high intensity intervals for a few weeks will allow your body to recover and freshen up a bit, while also giving you the opportunity to rebuild a bit of an aerobic and strength base before you dive back into the a final blast of intensity leading up to the 'big daddy' races later this fall. Variation and progression in training are the keys to continuing improvement in your racing performance.

The following bike session is a classic strength building workout that my coach taught me years ago. Big hills, big gears, low cadence is the name of the game.  This workout is a big component of my training program throughout the year when I'm 2-4 months out from a big race, and is a focus of the first few weeks of EPC Multisport's XTERRA Championship Training Plan. In this workout you're not moving very fast, but you're recruiting a large amount of muscle fibers, a much larger amount than you normally would climbing at your regular cadence. Improving strength on the bike will be essential for riding well in both Ogden and Maui due to the fact that you are pedaling a lot and climbing large mountains and steep hillsides throughout these events.

Workout of the Week: Strength Hill Repeats

  • Warm-up with 15+ minutes of easy riding.
  • Finish warm-up with a 5 minute ‘tempo build’ getting the HR and power up near threshold, then ride easy for 3-5 more minutes.
  • On a moderately steep hill (6-9% grade) or stationary trainer, perform 4-6 rounds of 5 minutes of riding in a larger gear than you would normally ride. Aim for a cadence of around 50 rpm (shift as needed as grades change). Muscle tension should be high, power should be moderate (below threshold), HR should start low and gradually build to, but not exceed, threshold. If HR is too high, slow down your cadence if above 50 or shift to easier gear if cadence is already at 50 rpm. Alternate riding position from seated to standing on alternating rounds to vary the muscle recruitment. Recover between intervals by riding back down the hill and looping around at the bottom to repeat. Recovery intervals should be about half to one-quarter the time of the work interval. For more of a challenge, perform the intervals on one long climb and reduce recovery interval to only 1-2 minutes of small gear riding continuing up the big climb, before shifting back to the bigger gear for next work interval.
  • Finish the ride with additional easy aerobic riding (if done within a longer ride) or warm-down with 10+ minutes of small gear, high cadence spinning to loosen the legs up.
  • If you are new to this type of training, begin with the lower range of rounds to start with. Allow your knees to adapt to these intervals for several sessions before progressing. You can perform this workout up to 2 times per week, with at least two days between the sessions. You can build upon this session over many weeks by adding more rounds to the set (8-10 reps per set max) and/or increasing the length of each round (up to 15-20 minutes per round).
  • This ride can be done on the road, dirt road, or trainer as desired (not recommended on trails).

This is just one of many key training sessions that make up EPC Multisport's XTERRA Championship Training Plan. I'll be sharing more workouts over the coming weeks from this plan or you can purchase the full plan that includes email and phone support from Coach Cody along the way. Learn More at www.epcmultisport.com and don't forget to follow us on Facebook for more tips and training advice.

Happy trails, train hard, keep the rubber side down, and all that jazz.

Cody Waite
Professional XTERRA Athlete & Coach

EPC Tips