How to Climb Faster

Like many elements of cycling, climbing is at once so simple and so complex.

How can you improve your climbing - especially if you live in a flat area? How should you pace climbs of different lengths? When should you stand, and when should you sit? What is the ideal cadence, and the ideal position on the bike? How should you use your core and arms? For equipment, where is the ideal balance between aerodynamics and light weight?

For group tactics, where is the balance of the benefit of the draft behind a stronger rider and the danger of blowing up by going too hard? And, of course, how should one best improve that all-important watts per kilo equation?

So many questions. Luckily for you listeners, we have an expert here in Coach Jake Rytlewski to guide you through this maze in this podcast.

Below are a few of his tips distilled down into text form. For the full download, though, give this podcast a listen.


Train by duration, not gradient, particularly if you don't have big climbs nearby

"Focus on your target climb's duration, not the gradient, and practice efforts of that length."

Prepare for dynamic racing

"Erg mode does not exist in racing, and even on climbs of a steady gradient, the pace will vary. So prepare yourself for surges."

Pacing is important, but so is a draft

"Being with a group is faster than riding alone. It's worth going hard early on to stay with a group. Later in a long race, particularly a gravel race, it's often best to settle into your own pace for a long climb. But in the opening portion I often recommend doing whatever you can to stay with a fast group."

Aero matters just about everywhere

"Aero wheels and good aero practices like tight clothing make sense for just about every situation except straight-up hill climbs. Wheels with rims in the 30-50mm range make good sense and do make a difference."

W/kg matters when it's steep

"You shouldn't obsess about weight, but the basic power-to-weight ratio equation is real. During the season isn't the time to focus on losing weight, but it can be a good time to think about cutting back a little bit on things like alcohol and sweets."

Don't obsess on your FTP

"Many riders get hung up on their FTP number. But virtually no one gets to climb steadily at their FTP in a race; you're almost always over or under that number. That's why many of our workouts feature varying intensities, because that's what you experience in a race."


Download and join Optimize where Coaching is included, the training plans are unlimited and there's a 14 day trial to see for yourself!  If you like this training tip and want to climb better, follow our climbing plan!  Message us what you are training for and we'll reply with the recommended plan(s)!  FTP, race data, power-based training, or anything related to going fast on the bike is all fair game!


About Jake Rytlewski

Jake Rytlewski grew up racing in Michigan at 15 after his Dad picked up cycling as a hobby. Not being able to clip in fast enough before being dropped he quickly found solutions such as double sided mountain bike pedals and track standing. Coaching was always in his blood. He accepted a cycling scholarship to Marian University in 2002 and while there spent a summer racing in Belgium and signed his first pro contract. Jake graduated in 2006 with a degree in sports management and continued to race as a pro for 9 years. He joined FasCat in 2013 and has been coaching full time since. Currently Jake is living the dream in Indiana raising his 3 kids, coaching others to make them faster and to reach their goals and racing in the full time Dad category on Zwift.

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