Up and Over

Climbing technique is a key skill for competitive cyclists, and lots of recreational cyclists also benefit from learning how to properly pace and crest a hill.  We all have a tendency to ease off a little as we reach the top of a hill and the grade levels off, but if you add a push at the top and over the hill you can recover at a much faster speed than if you rest as soon as you reach the top.  I don’t know about you, but I’d rather do that little push to recover at 35km/hr rather than dying at 6km/hr over the top of the hill.

Okay, so now that we know the best technique for cresting a hill, how do you practice it?  By doing Up and Overs of course!  You can do these outside, on a trainer or in a spin class – whatever floats your boat. The key is to keep the effort level high until you’ve moved from the hill to the sprint.  No sneaking breaks in between!


This workout is broken down into three parts: Endurance, Climb and Sprint.  You’re only allowed a recovery after the sprint.

Endurance: Steady 90rpm cadence, moderate to high effort depending on your fitness.  This simulates the flat leading into the hill and ensures your heart rate is up as you start climbing (just like in a race).

Climb: If you’re outside, use the gearing and cadence appropriate to the hill; inside you should have as much resistance as you can sustain with a hard effort at 65rpm.  The idea here is to tire out your legs with high resistance and low cadence, emphasizing the difference in cadence between climbing and sprinting.

Sprint: All out effort at a high cadence, preferably in the range of 100-115rpm depending on whether you’re on a trainer or spin bike.  Go straight into the sprint as you finish the hill, and keep some resistance on.  This is supposed to be hard!  You can take a minute or two to recover after the sprint if you like, or go straight into the next endurance phase.

Up and Over

Total time: 53 minutes + cooldown

Start off with 90rpm easy spinning to get the muscles warm and heart rate up.  Gradually increase resistance to end at moderate effort. (Dance Hall, Tom Mountain – 3:28)

Endurance – maintain 70-80rpm at moderate resistance, alternate standing and sitting every 8 counts. (INNdia, Inna ft. Play & Win – 3:31)

Hill – 65rpm with hard resistance, push cadence on the chorus. (Pumpin Blood, Nonono  – 3:29)

Sprint – reduce resistance and bring cadence up to 100rpm, then move into a 30s sprint at 110rpm.  Recovery and/or more sprints follow! (She Makes Me Go, Arash ft. Sean Paul – 2:58)

Endurance – hold steady 90-100rpm. (Can’t Slow Down, Bastian Bates ft. Nicoo – 3:55)

Hill – 65rpm, add/remove resistance on “sail”. (Sail, AWOLNATION – 4:19)

Sprint – hold 100rpm, pick up to 115rpm for the chorus. (I Like it Like That, Hot Chelle Rae – 3:08)

Endurance – moderate resistance and cadence between 70 and 80rpm, 4-count jumps. (Sing for the Deaf, Missing Andy – 1:57)

Hill – stand and add heavy resistance at 65rpm.  Hover if you dare! (So Yours, Darin – 2:43)

Sprint – move straight into 110rpm sprint for 30s, then alternate 30s rest with 30s sprint for the rest of the song. (Storm, Milk Inc. – 3:18)

Endurance – standing flat between 70 and 90rpm; higher cadence makes it more difficult. (Moves Like Jagger, Maroon 5 – 3:21)

Hill – seated with heavy resistance at 65rpm.  Run through technique check as you tire: heels down, full circle pedal strokes, tight core, relax shoulders, breathe. (Only Teardrops, Emmelie De Forest – 3:03)

Sprint – alternate 115rpm sprint for 30s with standing at easy resistance and cadence. (Sunshine, Mike Candys ft. Sandra Wild – 2:48)

Endurance – last one, hold 100rpm for the full song with moderate resistance.  Try standing at 100rpm if you’re not tired yet. (Bom Bom, Sam And The Womp – 2:54)

Hill – entire song standing at 65rpm with the toughest resistance you can manage. Make it count! (Jackie Will Save Me, Shiny Toy Guns – 3:59)

Sprint – hold 100rpm throughout, except for three 115rpm sprints on the chorus. (Hell, Tegan and Sara – 3:24)

Cooldown & Stretch for 7 minutes.

Happy riding!


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