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One-Hour Workout: Hit ‘Em Hard Bike Hill Repeats

Build bike-specific strength and threshold power—and all in under an hour.

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This bike workout from coach Marilyn Chychota will help you build bike-specific strength as well as bump up your anaerobic threshold. It’s by no means an easy workout, so be sure to come into it with body and mind ready to do the work. The main set is best done on a medium to long climb where you can ride uphill for about nine minutes, turn around and roll downhill to recover for five minutes, and then return to climbing.

Begin with a five-minute easy warm-up where you’re just looking to raise heart-rate and breathing rate. You’ll then move into the prep set, which involves two rounds of 60-second builds, building effort every 20 seconds to about RPE 9/10 (rate of perceived exertion) by the final 20 seconds of each 60-second interval. Take 60 seconds easy then repeat.

The main set involves three rounds of nine minutes work with five minutes recovery between each. Each nine-minute interval should be done while climbing at about 90-95% of FTP (functional threshold power) or RPE 8-9/10. Every third minute (e.g. 3rd, 6th, 9th), you’ll stand and ride out of the saddle for a minute, lifting effort/power to 105-120% of FTP (or RPE 9-10/10), before returning to riding seated at 90-95% of FTP. Note that your cadence should be 80-90 RPM when seated and 70-75 RPM when standing. Take five minutes of recovery before hitting the next round and repeat the pattern a total of three times.

Chychota said: “This is a tough session, but one that can pay huge dividends when executed well. Be sure to think about your technique as well as your effort: as you’re climbing, use a smooth, controlled pedal stroke, lock out your core, and grip the bars with authority, but not too tightly. Physiologically, we are training your body to go past its lactate threshold, flood, and then clear that lactate just below your threshold while still moving fast.”

Once you’ve finished the main set, cool down to the hour, approximately 10 minutes (or more if time allows).

One-Hour Workout: Hit ‘Em Hard Bike Hill Repeats


5 min. easy riding

Prep set

2 x 60 sec. building effort every 20 sec., finishing @ RPE 9/10; 60 sec. easy

Main set

3 x 9 min. on a climb riding @ 90-95% FTP/RPE 9/10 @ 80-90 RPM; every 3rd min. ride out of saddle for 1 min. @ 105-120% FTP/RPE 9-10/10 @ 70-75 RPM

5 min. easy between each 9 min. interval


Easy riding to the hour (approx. 10 min. or more if time allows)

Marilyn Chychota is a USAT-certified coach and former pro triathlete who is now owner and head coach at Marilyn Chychota Coaching. Find her at