Road Cycling Tips: 7+ Ways To Improve Your Climbing Technique

November 23, 2020

Road Cycling Tips: 7+ Ways To Improve Your Climbing Technique

There comes a time in every road cyclists' life where, to become a better cyclist, approaching a climb is the next step. It can be daunting, and road bikers can struggle with this kind of ride. Most tours and cycling sportives will entail some hill riding, if not feature paths dominated by inclines. So, it makes sense for any cyclist taking their art seriously to aim to improve this road cycling technique. 

Whether you're eager to improve your technique or preparing to take on the toughest hill climb ascents, these road cycling tips should help you on your journey. Perseverance is part of the dedicated cyclists' personality, so don't be put off just yet—we know you've got it in you. 


1) Get the Right Bike 

Like with any biking, you need the right equipment to optimize your ride and experience. In terms of the bike's weight and stream-lined qualities, you want something lightweight. 

If you're a road cyclist, chances are you already have a light bike. You'll want to get rid of any extra weight on the bike that isn't serving you, minimize the fluids you are carrying, etc. 

A bike with proper gearing is crucial for hill climbing. There's no chance you will be able to increase your speed and not wear yourself out without the appropriate equipment and gear. 

2) Body Position 

For road cycling on flatter terrains, you place your hands on the handlebar hoods. However, when approaching a climb, you will want to put your hands on the top of the bars. This positioning works better for your breathing and puts less strain on your posture. 

Sitting upright should help you engage your core, relax your shoulders, and push power into those legs. It should also enable you to take the weight off your hands. 

Clinging onto your handlebars too tightly up a hill is likely to result in hand numbness, pain and tingling, and aching shoulders.

3) Know Your Route 

There's a sense of fastidiousness that can come with being a keen cyclist, but that's not to say that some don't go into sporting events with little prep. 

Analyzing your route's ups and downs and the different sections will be of great use when knowing when to pace your energy or top up on fuel.  It can also give you some peace of mind when riding as you know what to expect. 

4) Fuel Your Body Right 

Any athlete can't perform their best if they don't have adequate fuel inside them. Cycling entails you to eat and drink strategically before and during long rides and hill climbs. 

The right fuel for cyclists revolves around water, carbs, and post-ride recovery.

It's best not to eat during hill climbs as it can affect your breathing and your pace. To improve your climbing, fuel up around the gradients. That way, your body can absorb the energy effectively and give you that boost you need when you need it. 

5) Keep the Pace 

Maintaining an appropriate pace throughout inclines is one of the critical factors to acing a climb. If you go too fast, you will wear yourself out. However, going too slow may interrupt your momentum. 

For the steepest hills, sometimes there isn't an option to pace. You just have to power through it. 

To monitor how much power you are using accurately, you may want to use a power meter. If you can see how many watts you are giving out, you can keep a constant level of effort going throughout your climb.

If you get a chance to experiment with the power meter before your big climb, you can find a road cycling technique that works for you. 

6) Descending Skills 

As they say, what goes up, must come down. You may not think it, but your technique for going downhill is also critical when working on climbing. If you can't descend well or get anxious going downhill, you may waste energy and lose time. 

If you can master how you descend from a peak point, your performance will improve for tackling the rest of your ride. 

7) Stand vs. Sitting 

There is a certain amount of debate as to which is better when trying to climb faster. What certain riders do depends on their preference. 

Your specific body shape and size can also factor into it as well. Heavier riders tend to prefer the seated option, whereas lighter riders will stand. 

The best option for improving your climb would be to test out both. If you can find a gradient where you can practice, you may get a clearer idea of what suits you. Test your heart rate and power while doing so. 

8) Other Useful Tips 

  • Bodyweight — You may want to think about losing weight if you have some extra pounds on you. It's not to say you should starve yourself! Lighter riders tend to do better on uphill road cycling. Muscle weighs more than fat, so you should measure body fat percentage to see if this tip is necessary for you.
  • Breathe — Focusing on your breath is an incredibly powerful technique. It's a similar principle practiced in meditation and yoga. Ensuring you're breathing correctly will help with your energy, endurance, and mindset when tackling a demanding incline.
  • Keep a consistent cadence — Although it varies, the ideal cadence is around 90rpm. If you're in a high resistance gear, your cadence will be slow, which is suitable for those all-energy efforts. Lower resistance with faster cadence can work well for endurance.


Every rider is different, and you will get your best results by understanding what suits you and your body when defeating a climb. Building muscle will assist with enduring inclines, so consider doing some hill reps. 

Climbing may not be your strength, and it may never be where your best work lies, but there's nothing correct technique and practice can't resolve. 

Join our mailing list to continue to receive helpful road cycling tips and improve yourself as a cyclist.

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