Here at Kaplifestyle, we’ve touched on walking quite a bit. Y’all know sprints are part of my weekly routine. I ride bikes less frequently, but perhaps it’s time to share the love with cycling uphill.
You may remember the last time I mused about bikes. I was in town, mobbing the streets of Minneapolis for the All-Star Game. Now, I’m in Kansas City for the World Series, but I’m still taking advantage of bike sharing.
Today’s post is less about seeing the city, although that’s always an ancillary benefit worth noting. Instead, I want to specifically address pedaling uphill. I just completed a 20-minute push. Sure, the downhill part is exhilarating, but that’s not why we make the climb on a bike. First and foremost, we dig the mental challenge. From livestrong.com:
Hill climbing is part physical and part mental. It’s extraordinarily difficult to endure punished leg muscles and gasping lungs when the opportunity to turn around and coast to the bottom is there for you the entire time. However, pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone is the essence of a good physical challenge, and you might find that conquering a climb is just the confidence boost you need to perform better on race day. There are few activities more affirming for a cyclist than hill climbing.
Challenges consistently enrich our lives, but let’s face it, most folks are attempting to build muscle or burn fat. I have a feeling we’d see far fewer fitness centers and crossfit gyms if the only reward was to call your mom and tell her, “I did it!” Athletes want physical results and you want some proof.
Hills are a serious physical challenge for your muscles. As you undergo a high-intensity workout, you’re expanding the strength and definition of your leg muscles in two ways. Hypertrophy, the enlargement of individual muscle cells, results in an immediate gain in physical power and is stimulated by high-intensity exercises like hill climbing. In addition, strenuous exercise like climbing tears the individual fibers or myofibrils in your muscles, which stimulates the release of repair cells called satellite cells. As the satellite cells repair damaged fibers, the diameter of the fibers increases, building muscle over time and increasing your speed.
I stand by my assessment that nothing lays down muscle tissue like systematically and incrementally adding weight while attacking a weight-training program. However, not everyone clamors to be under a bar pushing plates. The more variety we present, the more likely it is that you’ll discover your sweet spot.
Perhaps the marginal value of hill climbing on a bike is you don’t need fancy equipment to get in a workout. I just used a bare bones example with just a basket (no horn) to crush roughly 300 calories in 20 minutes. From cyclinguphill.com:
These are only rough calculations. But, just to give a rough idea –
- If you are cycling steady, you may burn 500 an hour
- If you are cycling hard, close to threshold, you can get close to burning 700 – 1,000 calories in an hour.
- Tour de France riders can easily consume 6,000 – 7,000 calories during a typical stage. This is three times greater than the usual 2,000 calories consumed in a day
Now, if I catch you in colorful spandex and an aerodynamic helmet, please know I’m laughing with you, not at you.