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Secret Number 1 : Hill Training
Date: 17 Aug, 2001
Contact: Jon Ackland
Phone: 09-480-1422
Secret Number 1 : Hill Training

OH YAWN, been there before ay? Well not quite.

After the 2000 Tour de France there was an interview with Chris Carmicheal, Lance Armstrongs Coach to announce that a totally new method of training had been developed. Because of Lance Armstrongs cancer Chris Carmichael had to give Lance very low intensity training and discovered that this low intensity training gave a huge improvement in Lances performance, consequently winning the Tour De France.

Thomas hell on wheels Hellriegel, Ironman bike extraordinaire does long slow very gentle hills! Arthur Lydiard has advocated for many years long slow distance for training. Why are they doing this? It works but why does this work?

The reason appears to be as follows. If you do lots of easy training, you end up doing more hills and if you did hill work gently how many hills could you do?
Lots and Lots right? All day if you had to.

If you do them at the moderate intensity you normally do them at, how many could you do? 5, 10, 15 20?

Why is this significant?

Well, if you do your hills gently, you do more hills and that makes you a lot stronger.

So one of the most interesting things about hill work is that you initially need to do hills gently to get the strength that you can use later on. The reason for this is that when you are going up a hill at moderate intensity you are using 2 systems, the muscular system and the cardiovascular system. The muscular system is doing quite a bit of work and so is the cardiovascular system, youre puffing as you climb the hill. The problem with this is that the cardiovascular system is the system that creates that primary and most significant stress on the body, which fatigues you quickly. If you have the cardiovascular system involved a lot in your hill work then it will be very very hard to do too many hills. And it takes a lot more time to recover from.

But what if you could remove the amount of cardiovascular effort required?
In other words, do the hills gently. What this would then do is remove the cardiovascular stress with most of the load going onto the muscular system. If you did that you could do many more hills and get much stronger. As you got towards the end of the program you would then do moderate intensity and high intensity hills as you traditionally do. Imagine how this final training would go with all that initial extra strength already done. So the bizarre thing is that to go fast you need to do hills gently but you have to do 2, 3, or 4 times the number of hills you have ever done before. So you dont cycle 10k to get to the base of the climbs, you drive to the hills and then go and ride in the hills. You become a mountain goat. Mistakes that can be hade are doing too many hills too hard and getting shattered, or doing hills gently but not enough of them.

(Thanks to David Barnaby for helping with this.)

Jon Ackland is an exercise consultant for Performance Lab, who has been training athletes (Novice to Elite) for 15 years. The author of a number of books including the best selling The Power to Perform, as well as The Performance Log, Precision Training and Spinning. .Jon is the director of Performance Lab where he tests and consults people of all levels helping them to train for sport, recreation and health. Ph 09 480-1422, Fax : 09 480-1423 e mail : plab@voyager.co.nz
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