How to become a better climber by riding your trainer


Imagine you have a mountainous goal in sight: like a cycling event or triathlon with tons of elevation gain. But due to either your schedule or the weather (or both), you just can’t get out to train as you should.

Normally, the lack of specific training would doom your chances. But with some well thought out training techniques, your smart trainer can literally become your salvation.

When it comes to climbing, there are many factors that come into play beyond fitness. Cadence, pedaling efficiency and muscle strength are all keys to performing well on a climb. And luckily, all of these can be worked on indoors using a trainer and some specific sessions like the ones below.

Standing intervals

When you need to get to the top quickly – especially on short, explosive climbs – pedaling out of the saddle can be very effective. When you do this, your body harnesses the anaerobic power of your upper body for more power, which makes you faster.

That is, as long as you have good technique and an efficient pedal stroke. Out of the saddle pedaling is inherently less efficient, but you can improve your efficiency by simply integrating standing intervals into our workouts on the trainer.

It’s important to maintain your prescribed power during these intervals. So go ahead and stand as long as you’re able to stay within the power range you’ve set for the interval in question.

Once you undestand that, the rest is all about control and technique. So focus on your pedaling while maintaining good technique. It’s important to pay attention to the transition between standing and sitting, since this is where most power is lost. Try to make this movement as smooth and steady as possible.

At first, it might be hard to pedal standing on the trainer, especially because of the stiffness of the bike. Start with 15 or 20 second intervals and progress as you feel more comfortable.

Work on your strength

Strength work will also help your climbing as it improves power and makes you more efficient. At BKOOL we wrote about strength and efficiency work on the trainer earlier. Exercises such as one-legged pedaling, pistons or pull-ups are fundamental to leg strength.

Work on your candence

When it comes to sustained, prolonged climbs, increasing cadence makes you much more efficient. Pedaling at a higher cadence requires less force, which is less taxing to your muscles. If your muscles need to exert less effort, it automatically increases their capacity to maintain aerobic power.

To work on this aspect in indoor cycling workouts, raise your cadence and pedal at higher RPMs than usual while still maintaining the target power prescribed in your training.

For example, if your natural cadence is 85 or 90 rpm, a good exercise is to try to maintain the same watts, but with a cadence closer to 90 or 95 rpm. Just as with out-of-the-saddle exercises, start with shorter intervals and extend them as you get more comfortable. A reasonable goal it to reach at least five minutes of duration at that higher cadence.

Take advantage of BKOOL

If you have a smart trainer, BKOOL offers plenty of hilly routes that you can tackle in your indoor sessions. Some trainers have the ability to adjust resistance to simulate the slope in such a way that you’ll get a very realistic feel, and you can work on all of the elements of climbing.

Choose courses with inclines and include exercises like those mentioned above. If you’re consistent and persistent, by the time you get outside, you’ll already be a better climber.

At BKOOL, we continue working every day to make our simulations more realistic than ever. Try it FREE for 30 days!


  1. It would be great if Bkool had a training programme to help improve climbing. The current training plan creator is too simplistic and doesn’t have this as an option

    • Hi Russell,

      Thank you for the recommendation, we will work on improvements for future versions.

      Best regards,
      BKOOL Team


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