Video: 4 Tips for Faster Climbing with The Strength Factory

Jul 4, 2020
by Ben Plenge  

Love it or hate it, we all have to earn our turns and in this video I am going to give you 4 simple tips along with a bonus tip to help you improve your climbing.

No...... The bonus tip is not to buy an E-MTB!

Thanks for watching.

Stay Strong

Ben


74 Comments

  • 49 0
 Not a single word about cocaine. Rookie.
  • 6 0
 ahhhh, the good old days of amphetamine and cocaine to help the roadies. Crazy times!
  • 1 0
 @MTB-Strength-Factory: A friend of mine (he is my farrier) is a former race jockey. His stories of cocaine and lots of women are hilarious.

Even funnier when his multiple ex wives and current GF back up his stories.
  • 31 0
 Rather like this guy. Those of us unlucky enough to have body types that look less like Italian hill climbers and more like furniture movers need all the help we can get.
  • 22 0
 I have the legs of a horse and the body of a bookie
  • 2 0
 Cheers mate, glad I can help.
  • 12 0
 Solid tips for good general fitness.

There aren't many people out there trying to help in the long run so that is appreciated. It doesn't make for flashy advice but gains gained quickly are lost quickly. I also love the tip about testing- it is missed far too often and I would imagine most of the PB demographic rarely do it (I certainly didn't!). If you want to improve you have to know if you have improved or not!

The final tip is another I think people rarely do. One day just go bat sh.t mental up a hill! Big Grin Surprise yourself and challenge your body. Two things that have helped shock my body are a power meter and a singlespeed. Both are opposite ends of the zen/ geek scale but both can make you do some pretty uncomfortable things out on the trails (and I'm not talking socks and SPD sandals on the SS Smile ).

Really great video to get people thinking outside the normal in your face advice smothered all over the interwebz
  • 3 0
 Thanks mate, glad you found it handy.
  • 9 0
 @MTB-Strength-Factory: Actually I think there was another tip missing which will never fly with PB... and that is to learn to enjoy the climbs Smile That is a good start to improving climbing
  • 11 0
 As someone who is a good 40 pounds over weight I am torn between trying to diet and spending $8k to shed a few pounds from my bike
  • 3 0
 40lb is an easy drop in one season of dedicated riding. Drop the 8k on a bike and then ride the shit out of it.
  • 6 0
 After being off the bike for nearly 9 months due to work, I recently spent close to $10k on an SB130 dream build. A few weeks ago I got completely destroyed on a climb by some skinny kid on an old Norco that probably cost under $3k three years ago. So yeah, throw all the money you want at your bike; it's not going to make up for fitness.
  • 5 0
 Where I’m at 75% of the trails start with a decent climb. It seems no matter what cadence I choose I’m always in zones 3 and 4. Any tips on trying to stay in zone 2? Get a gravel or road bike? Be okay with riding less entertaining trails?
  • 3 0
 Just slow down.
It doesnt matter what cadence you're doing if you're adjusting your gearing to hit some percieved pace (conciously or not)
Go out and try and climb to the top of the hill as slowly as possible. That should keep you in Z1-2 (hopefully).

But remember, HR zones (which are what I'm assuming you're using) are useless unless you know your MHR from actually finding it, not just doing 220 - age.
  • 3 0
 @mmarkey21 yes, back it off a bit and also try doing more of a warm up before taking on the first climb. This can help keep the HR down.
Also, whilst I am 100% MTB for life, getting a few tarmac/gravel rides in Zone 2 will really help as well.
  • 4 0
 I feel you. 20% grade first 5min then straight up singletrack. Vomit is always close.

Hard to picture if you've got fire roads or logging roads locally, but some places in the world it's full gas only.
  • 1 0
 @MTB-Strength-Factory: Thanks, I’ll try to make a little more concerted effort to slow things down. Any experience with the optic HR monitor on a gps watch vs chest strap? I know when running it seems accurate enough but I’m wondering if it has more variability while mtbing and thus less accuracy.
  • 1 0
 @mmarkey21: I trust the chest strap much more than the optical measurements. The data just makes much more sense to me. It is just that optic is more convenient if you want to have a more holistic view of your daily activity. After all, Z2 stuff is already being ticked off when commuting to and from work (when not working from home, that is...) so it is nice to register that. But yeah, I think it can be off quite a bit. Sometimes I feel like I'm stomping quite hard and it thinks I'm in Z1 and some other time it thinks I'm deep in Z5 even though it doesn't feel quite like that. I first started using the Mio Link (which only does the measurements and then sends them over ANT+ and Bluetooth to your HRM, Suunto Ambit 2 in my case). It wasn't even that bad, I think. Later I got a Garmin Vivofit (or something like that) which does the same as the Mio Link does, but also has its own display. So for comparison I once had the Garmin show the wrist measurement and the Suunto show the chest strap measurement. They were waaaay off. The reading on the Suunto (with the chest strap) made more sense though. I now have a Suunto Spartan HR so that I no longer have to use a separate wrist sensor. I still think the measurements are off, but I haven't done a comparison of chest vs wrist. I've got to say my skin is dark and I can imagine it may work better on light skin. My girlfriend has light skin and still uses the Mio Link and she does think it works as it should. Now I'm no medic but I think in the hospitals they still use optical equipment to measure blood flow so yeah, it should be possible to make it work half decent. But it should probably shield the ambient light, which only the Mio Link did decently. So if you've already got an HRM which accepts ANT+ or Bluetooth, just getting a Mio Link may be both the cheapest and best step into optical heart rate measurements.
  • 7 1
 Want to improve your climbing? Practice dammit! Put on a heavy pack and pump up the hills. When it is time to ride you'll blow away your bros.
  • 10 0
 That’s what old school, XC racer Tinker Juarez would do. He’d fill up a backpack with rocks and hit the trails in the San Gabriel Mountains outside of Los Angeles and ride.
  • 12 0
 @vondur: Tinker is still awesome. A true gentleman too. Everybody can learn a valuable lesson from Mr. Juarez.
  • 5 0
 @Geochemistry , yes mate, love this. Military style!
The only thing is I worry about my gooch on the saddle with a heavy pack.
  • 2 1
 Always love this kind of advice. Fill a trailer with rocks etc. Or.... you could just push a harder gear Big Grin Power is power
  • 4 0
 @vondur: and he's STILL crushing 100-mile singletrack races!!
  • 7 0
 35 years of racing and training, and this is exactly how I still do it. For XC purposes, I train on my enduro full suspension (Intense Carbine 29) with a very heavy backpack and race on a featherweight hardtail with only one water bottle. My buddies only train and race on their superlight XC bikes... then they wonder why I always top them in the races. Maybe not the ticket for everyone, but it works for me.
  • 3 0
 @liv2mountainbike2: That's pretty close to what I do. BIG days on my 40 pound, coil sprung E29, then climb on my HT on race day and feel like a hero.

Of course, with the guys I race against, it doesn't make me better than them. But, still a fun way to train. Also the benefit of sending it even bigger on the DH.
  • 6 0
 TLDW; Diet, aerobic fitness, Time trials, interval training. Bonus tip: try harder
  • 4 1
 That sounds like work, I thought biking was supposed to be fun?

I’m fortunate apparently, because I like to climb, the more technical the better.

If I wanted to climb better, I suppose a road bike would be in order, but those days are behind me; fortunately.

I do think it’s sad that folks aren’t fit enough to climb, but that’s their problem m Wink
  • 6 0
 Thank you, Mr Ben. I really loved the tips specially about riding up the hill faster to shock the body.
  • 2 0
 thanks mate
  • 3 0
 Testing yourself: there’s a short , steep road climb at start of my Fromme rides that I use to judge my fitness, if it’s painful then I’m not fit, if it’s just an effort then I’m fit. I used to be able to climb all the way out of the saddle but now I sit and spin most of it , getting old....
  • 6 0
 There's that old cyclists' saying, "The big hill near your house never gets easier, you just go up it faster." Or words to that effect.
  • 3 0
 @MTB-Strength-Factory: same with racing, especially XC. It's always gonna be painful you'll just be going faster and might happen to be riding with the lead group hahaha
  • 4 0
 Good stuff but my downfall is that I just ride my bike.

Worth noting that power/ weight apparently DOES matter, meaning bike weight does in fact matter.
  • 10 1
 Sure. But bike weight varies an order of magnitude less than body weight.
  • 2 0
 I'm sure there's studies on this, this is just speculation, but I wonder: What about all that movement of the bike that the body doesn't do, like the wheels spinning around? Is losing a couple pounds off your waist more important than two pounds of rotational weight, unsprung weight, etc?
  • 3 0
 @SunsPSD you are right that the whole system weight does matter, it is just that most riders can drop 2 kg of bodyfat and be healthy and powerful for basically no cost. Try dropping 2kg off most bikes and it will cost a couple of thousand $ and then might not stand up to gnarly DH tracks. Most on-bike weight savings are grams, not KG's.
  • 2 0
 There is a good GCN video on climbing times of weight on wheels/ weight on bike/ weight on body
  • 1 0
 @BeardlessMarinRider: "How much does body weight affect climbing speed. GCN does science"
youtu.be/iW47gb01FeA
  • 1 0
 @BeardlessMarinRider: All I'm seeing is the timed climb with and without backpack?
  • 1 1
 Sure, bike weight matters... When you are 140 pounds and very lean like I am. It starts getting hard to drop weight when you already have a 6 pack, and you don't drink beer or soda. But when you are the average American, you are 50 POUNDS heavier than I am. You are more than the weight of my complete bike heavier than me! Dropping 5 pounds off your bike doesn't matter much when you can drop 20 pounds from just...riding your bike.
  • 1 0
 @DirkMcClerkin: It's always easy to second guess Bro-Science but aero does play a significant role, particularly at road bike speeds.
GCN, for the control, really should have filled their empty packs with balloons or foam peanuts to remove aero as a partial cause of the speed difference.
  • 2 0
 @JSTootell: You aren't the only one running near their lower/ ideal weight. I'm about as skinny as I can be and my wife still sleeps with me.
I suspect 2# of rotating weight is worth 8# stationary weight all day long. There are indeed some real gains to be had with careful choosing of components. Of course the standard that they do well at the job at hand, is a minimum requirement.
  • 1 0
 @SunsPSD: You just agreed with what I said. Bike weight matters....when you are already fit.
  • 5 0
 Good stuff, good principles, can be applied to many modalities in training. Just ride faster too! Like your content.
  • 3 0
 Good tips! I actually have a hard time climbing in zone 2. I usually ride with friends and we get competitive and try to PR everything. Need to go out for more solo missions and consciously climb slowly I guess.
  • 1 0
 This is great advice but one thing that i have learned about myself is that if i push to hard on the up hills and go into the red zone i pay for it next day with a headache and feel fatigued . I have tried changing my diet and drinking more water but it seems that i have a set pace when it comes to climbing and my body just refuses to adapt . It is very hilly where i ride and i enjoy climbing but i have to go at my own pace a bit like an old diesel tractor
  • 2 0
 Sounds like a hydration issue more than anything. Hydrate well before a ride, not just before, but throughout the morning, and hydrate well after. Headaches usually are a result of poor hydration.
  • 2 0
 My take away is the weight loss advice: always be in calories deficit. This is the truth but most people can’t handle the truth.

What works for me is go to bed hungry, always be a bit hungry .
  • 5 2
 Or:
Step 1: wait at the trailhead until an e-biker shows off
Step 2: try to follow him uphill as close as possible, without puking.
  • 1 0
 Unfortunately I bought a used road bike 2 weeks ago to do one or two days training a week. I found it helped the MTB right away. We will have to wait and see if it keeps helping though. I did find I don't like it as much as dirt.
  • 1 0
 One thing that worries me: doesn't too much Z2 stuff turn you in a diesel and makes you lose your explosive qualities, especially as you age? When commuting, doing groceries, bringing kids to school etc I think I already spend a good couple of hours a day in Z2. You'd say that's enough. So when I do ride the mtb, I do need to put in those more explosive moves. Luckily I don't have long climbs (and sadly no long descends either) near so climbs are out of the saddle stomps of a few minutes at most. Rather keep those explosive. That said, you suggested that you'll be covering those in a future video so looking forwards to that!
  • 1 0
 You gain what you train. If you ADD a lot of Z2, but maintain the same sprint efforts, your sprints will remain the same. But you'll gain more Z2. You only LOSE that explosive power if you don't use it.
  • 1 0
 After decades of mastering the art of slow climbing so I can enjoy my surroundings maybe it's time to get serious and go fast up hill . Just concentrate on the pleasure of speed .
  • 4 0
 Lose weight, pedal harder. Got it.
  • 4 0
 Solid content!
  • 3 0
 Good tips, but it's park season. I'm not ready for this yet.
  • 2 0
 Fair enough. Our parks are just starting to open again. Can't wait!
  • 1 0
 Skip the lift line and pedal up to the top...
  • 3 0
 Got that intro volume sorted good lad
  • 2 0
 Ha! Last video I mentioned this and got crap for being critical. Cool that he understands the value of actual constructive criticism, talent that’s super rare these days.
  • 3 0
 @Chuckolicious: always learning! haha. I might crank the next video up to 11 just to mess with you though.......
  • 4 6
 Earn our turns was so 2000s, ever heard of an ebike? You charge it and then you earn your turns. Steps:
1. Buy or demo an ebike
2. Ensure battery is fully charged
2a. Otherwise charge battery and wait
3. Put bike on turbo, boost or whatever highest power mode and point it up hill
4. Complete down hill and repeat until battery is fully depleted

Alternate
1. Shuttle with friends and/or significant other slave
  • 2 0
 5. Eat bag of delicious chips -Uncle Ray
  • 1 1
 eBikes don't have the range for me. I don't want to ride such an overweight pig, with terrible range.
  • 1 0
 I think a big factor that many underestimate is REST. Just a day off and regenerate. Works magic sometimes.
  • 1 0
 Too much talking and not much of doing it - for 12 minutes!
  • 4 5
 12 minute video ?! Probably interesting, but... I would like to watch 2 minutes and train the otter 10.
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