Return to Homepage

Hillclimb repetitions

by Christopher
(Pittsburgh, PA)

I'm a 40-year old male. My favorite tough workout is hill climb repeats on a bicycle. I love to ride my bike. I like the low-impact and high aerobic intensity. And hill-climbs make for a very high intensity workout!

For this workout, you'll need a bike, and a watch. This is sure to deplete your muscle glycogen, and burn energy, a sure way to burn fat and get leaner. But because of the intensity, you can't do it every day. Plan for once a week.

You can pick any hill, the key is that it should take you between 1 and 2 minutes to ride it at maximum intensity. Ideal hills should be straight, and free of obstacles or drama.

You're going to be very tired toward the end, and you don't want any drama or anything that will require tricky bike handling skills.

I have a hill near my house that is ideal for me, just over 1/4 mile long, but very steep, smooth, and straight. It has a devilish kick-up in steepness right near the end.

My hill is paved, and nearly free of car traffic. But you can do it on a trail as well. Just make sure it's drama free, so you can focus on the aerobic effort.

I wear a watch, a plastic Timex I got for $18 at Walmart. Start at the bottom, and check the time. Then ride up, at about 80% effort.

If you're not sure how hard that is, it is above the level where you can have a conversation. You should be breathing heavily.

Mark your time at the top. It should be around 1:30 to 2 minutes. If it's longer, you need a shorter hill. If you like, check your heart rate at the top. For the first interval it should be 70-80% of max heart rate, probably 140bpm to 160bpm for most people.

Loop around to the bottom, give yourself about equal time to recover between intervals. If it takes you 1:30 to ride up, then you should start the 2nd interval at 3:00.

For Interval 2, ramp your effort just a bit, to 82% or so. Your goal is to beat your previous time. Get to the top and check your watch.

If you did Interval 1 in 1:30, you want to get 1:29 or better. Gauge your effort to hit that mark. You may need to really focus on breathing, to make sure you're getting the oxygen you need for the effort.

At the top, if you've beaten the time, score yourself 1 point. If not, ZERO. Then, loop around again.

For Interval 3, ramp your effort to 85%. Now you need to beat your time again. Again, score yourself one point if you succeed.

It should be getting really hard. At the top you will be gassed. Your lungs will be bursting and your legs will be en fuego.

Loop around as you recover, and do it again. If you are totally flattened, you can give yourself a little additional rest between intervals, but no more than 1 minute extra.

Keep going until you do 10 intervals. What's your score?

In the beginning, though I was in good riding shape, I couldn't even do 10 intervals, forget the score. I'd quit at 7, totally spent.

But over time I built up the stamina to make it to 10 intervals. And then I worked on my score.

A score of 3 in the beginning was cause for celebration. But as I continued with this workout, I got that score up to 7 or more, which is terrific!

In 45 minutes you will have a very high-intensity workout.


Do you need a little more help with your weight?

Note from Dr. Dan


This is an excellent and cleverly designed workout. It does a couple things. First, you are not competing against anyone else. You are competing against yourself.

So if you are a championship biker you'll have a long hill. But if you're dreadfully out of shape, you'll just have a shorter hill to start. It doesn't matter -- you'll get the benefit from the workout.

Second, it sets a goal. Many people overlook setting goals. Then they wonder why they're not getting anywhere.

And finally, you are always challenging yourself to do better. Most people can do better than what they are doing, but they don't make themselves do it. But this program has a built-in mechanism. You have to try to improve a little each time.

The principles could be used in a lot of activities besides biking -- like swimming, running, treadmill, Stairmaster, or even just walking around the neighborhood.

Dr. Dan

Click here to post comments

Return to Best Workout.

Where to start:

There is a lot of information on this site. The links below will get you off to a good start.

Most popular pages:

These are some of our most popular pages. They are also some of the most helpful if you are finally ready to lose weight.

You can always reach us:

  • 28960 US Highway 19 North, Suite 115
  • Clearwater, FL 33761
  • (727) 771-8282

  • Or to use our contact form click here.

top of the page