How to Cycle Up..Hills

cycling up hills

How to Cycle up Hills

Whether you’re new to cycling or been at it for some time the question of how to cycle up hills is bound to be a topic of your conversation at some point.
You do that regular Sunday ride with your cycling group each week and that big mother of a hill is always in the back of your mind.
You are cruising along quite comfortably keeping in touch with the wheel in front of you. As you approach “the hill” you become silent, gone are the casual remarks to your mates alongside you. You feel a slight rise in your pulse as you contemplate the degree of pain you have to endure, forcing your body up the hill you’ve grown to hate.
As you hit the base of the hill you start smashing those legs, forcing your bike to keep pace with your mates in front .You surge ahead of a few riders in front of you. Yes you are on a roll, powering your way ahead. After several minutes of thrashing yourself you feel your quads becoming heavy, your breathing is faster and sweat starts to trickle down your brow. Horror of horrors not one, not two, but three riders casually overtake you engaging in a few sentences as they pass. You can only reply with a grunt unable to string two words together to resemble as sort of sense.
The pain increases your cadence drops you are really struggling. You really hate that hill. As the peak approaches, you squeeze that last drop of energy into your weary legs. Panting, sweating and utterly worn out you pass the top and breathe a sigh of relief as you cruise down the other side.
We have all experienced something similar at some stage in our cycling career, but it doesn’t have to be like that. Hills can be your friends. Here are some tips to take the pain out of those hill climbs.

Be Positive.

Look at the hill as a challenge you are going to win. Each time you approach the hill, tell yourself you are going to be better than the last time.

Go easy at the start

Start the climb at the same pace as you intend to finish it. Switch to a lower gear and try to get your cadence around 70rpm. By going to hard, you burn up more energy and create lactic acid which causes burning in your muscles. Stick to a pace that suits you. If you go too hard trying to keep up with the rider in front, you are likely to blow out.

Remain seated

This conserves your energy. When you stand you are fighting gravity, your heart rate increases and you burn more energy. Instead sit back in your saddle, bend your elbows and flatten your back. This will enable you to generate more power from your core muscles. Move back in the saddle and shift positions to relieve tired muscles. If you are a large framed rider it is far more efficient for you to remain seated as long as possible.

Maintain a constant pace

Try to maintain an even pace at about 7/10 effort. This will enable you to each the top in a better state.
When you come to an easier gradient on the climb switch to an easier gear and spin a bit faster.

Train for hills

If you train on hills you will become more proficient at climbing them. Try riding for 5 minutes up a hill as hard as you can with your breathing under control. Each week try adding an extra 5 minute section at effort to your hill ride. This will build up your strength and ability to climb hills.


Stay relaxed, you will burn up less energy and cause less stress on your muscles and respiratory system.

Cycling up hills doesn’t have to be the low point of your ride if you follow these points. Eventually you will come to enjoy the challenge each hill presents.


  1. lorraine

    Hi Bruce

    Great page but i gave away my bike have a bad knee, and always had problems going up hills i used to get off my bike and walk up LoL. but i have a friend that rides all the time so i will pass your site on to them it’s a great read.

    1. Bruce (Post author)

      Hi Lorraine,Thanks for the comment. Bikes are knee friendly so long as you are not pushing a hard gear. I know people who use a bike for knee rehab as its non load bearing exercise.Food for though!

  2. Nnamdi

    Hello Bruce, as a fitness freak, I will sure remember your lessons on how to climb hills. You are very engaging with your writeup that I had to laugh once or twice at what you said in the post. Thanks Bruce.

    1. Bruce (Post author)

      Hi Nnamdi, I’m glad you got a laugh from the post.I hope you will remember a few of the tips next time you’re crunching a hill.

  3. Alex

    Hi there! This post couldn’t be written any better! Reading through this post reminds me of my friend who likes to cycle.I will forward this post to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read. Thank you for sharing!


    1. Bruce (Post author)

      Thanks for dropping by Alex. Hope your friend gets some tips from here about improving their cycling


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