Peloton climb rides helped me dramatically improve my performance which translated not only into a better FTP score but also into better body composition.
Today I wanna explain what are peloton climb rides and why you should be doing them more often.
In general, peloton climb rides are the cycling class sub-category that is focused mainly on mimicking uphill cycling. In each class, you gradually increase the intensity by gently adding the resistance. This class has over 360 sessions that range from 10 to 60 minutes.
Keep reading to learn how I managed to improve my power output, reduce fat percentage, and have fun at the same time.
Are Peloton Climb Rides Effective?
Hill climbing has always been the pinnacle of cycling training.
You get much better (and faster) results because higher resistance leads to greater muscle fiber activation, therefore, higher power output.
As a whole, the peloton climb rides are effective because uphill cycling significantly increases the energy demand, which not only burns more calories but also strengthens the muscles.
Do peloton climb rides build muscle?
As a whole, the peloton climb rides do build more muscle because extra resistance leads to better motor unit recruitment in the muscle.
However, optimal hypertrophy requires a longer period of training to increase muscle size compared to typical resistance training.
Are peloton climb rides hard?
Hill climbing and climb rides are considered one of the toughest workouts in the peloton.
That’s becasue you constantly add more resistance, which challenges both cardiovascular fitness, as well as muscular endurance.
My average power output during climb rides is usually around 200 to 300 watts, depending on the class duration.
For the shorter climb rides, I typically add more resistance, but I don’t go beyond the lactate threshold (which is power zone 5).
This means the workout is intense, but I still can maintain continuous conversation due to regular breathing.
Which is the hardest peloton climb ride?
As a whole, the hardest peloton climb ride is 45 minutes class with Matt Wilpers with a difficulty level of 9.2.
In this class, Matt consistently adds more resistance and keeps rest time to a minimum.
Peloton Climb Rides vs Intervals
The difference between peloton climb rides and intervals is that intervals put greater stress on the cardiovascular system because they require higher intensity.
During HIIT rides you tap into an anaerobic threshold for several seconds (or minutes) followed by a short recovery time.
Below you can see the graph which illustrates the difference in the intensity patterns between climb rides and interval rides.
As you can see, the interval rides allow you to temporarily increase your intensity.
Recent studies have shown that HIIT training “can promote similar if not superior improvements in cardiorespiratory fitness, cardiopulmonary and cerebrovascular function for a given training volume” (Calverley et al. 2020).
This means HIIT rides are effective for people wanting to improve their performance, body composition, and even cognitive function.
I noticed that I can think more “clearly” and I feel more productive if I train at a higher intensity to the point where I’m out of breath.
The only downside of doing interval rides is the ability to recover from them.
Higher-intensity rides are more taxing on the body, which means they require a greater rest period.
You cannot have HIIT workouts done on two consecutive days.
On the other hand, peloton climb rides intensity is between tempo and lactate threshold (which is less intense than Intervals).
This means they can be done on daily basis, as long as you are well-rested.
Which is better peloton climb rides or intervals?
As a whole, the intervals are more effective than climb rides because they lead to more training adaptation.
However, climb rides do not require significant rest time, which means they can be done more frequently.
Peloton Climb Rides vs Low-Impact
Peloton climb rides and low-impact rides are slightly different but they share similar benefits:
- Good for beginners – Both peloton climb rides and low-impact rides are both beginner-friendly because they don’t require enormous effort (compared to HIIT or Tabata rides).
- Gradual progression – Both peloton rides implement progressive overload, where you slowly add more intensity throughout the class. The difference is that peloton climb rides are more challenging.
Another thing these two have in common is they can be done every day. Training below the lactate threshold doesn’t beat up the body.
Plus, in my article about peloton low impact rides, I mentioned that low-intensity classes are a viable way to maintain your workout mileage if you train for endurance events (like marathons or triathlons).
Which is better?
As a whole, the peloton climb rides are more effective than low-impact rides because they do require higher effort levels.
However, the lower intensity of peloton low-impact rides makes them suitable as an active recovery workout.
This means you can use low-impact rides for your “active rest days” in between HIIT or strength training days.
On the other hand, climb rides are more energy demanding, therefore, they are not the best option for active recovery.
How To Use Peloton Climb Rides
You can use peloton climb rides in a couple of ways:
- Progression from low-impact rides – If you’re already an experienced cyclist and you do mainly low-impact or power zone endurance rides you can easily transition into climb rides. They are more challenging but at the same time more satisfying to do.
I look at climb rides as a natural “level-up” from low-impact classes.
- Alternative for HIIT rides – Peloton climb rides are a viable alternatives for high-intensity interval training. If you’re at the beginning of your peloton journey and want to improve as fast as possible, instead of going hard on HIIT or power zone max rides, try climb rides.
HIIT rides are effective, but beginners need significantly more time to recover from them. You can learn more about “how often should you use peloton” based on your fitness level in my article here.
In short, the peloton climb rides are good for beginners because they can be used as a substitute for high-impact workouts. They are less demanding, but also less taxing on the body.
Which means you can stay consistent.
Peloton Climb Ride Benefits
In general, peloton climb rides have many benefits like fat loss, hypertrophy, and enhanced aerobic capacity.
However, it also has other benefits that you may not think about before.
#1 Higher FTP score
In general, peloton climb rides require higher resistance, which translates into higher power output.
Also, uphill rides often require you to change your riding position from seated to standing.
This way you can not only engage more muscle groups but also generate higher watts.
I love riding out of the saddle because it’s the opportunity to push myself. I always find that I get my best PRs from and strive to score when I do climb rides.
However, this is only sustainable for short rides. I know I can train hard for 10 to 30 minutes and still manage to recover.
If you put me on a climbing ride that is 90 minutes or more, I would not be able to maintain 200 to 300 watts so easily.
#2 Better Music
You may think I’m crazy but I genuinely believe that peloton climb rides have much better music to workout compared to their HIIT or Endurance rides.
Let me explain.
Peloton climb rides have songs that use a tempo of 90 to 130 bpm (beat per minute). That includes pop and metal songs.
These songs have a clear and intuitive rhythm, which makes them easy to ride to the beat.
Riding to the beat of the peloton means you coordinate pedal strokes with each beat of the song and match the cadence to the music.
Climb rides require slow to moderate cadence (and much higher resistance), which syncs perfectly with the average of 100-120 bpm.
Not only that.
Studies have shown that “the use of music listening across a range of physical activities promote more positive affective valence, enhance physical performance, reduce perceived exertion, and improve physiological efficiency” (Terry et al. 2020).
In other words, listening to music during exercise not only makes you less tired but also helps to push yourself harder.
That’s why I love climbing.
You can learn more about the best “peloton EDM rides” in my article here.
#3 Lowers appetite
Appetite control is a complex physiological process that is regulated by many peptides.
Physical activity can either stimulate or suppress our desire to eat, depending on the intensity and total training volume.
In general, most of the workouts have a positive impact on satiety and can lower the appetite, as well as spontaneous food choices.
However, there is a strong correlation between people’s body composition and workout intensity.
Let me explain.
Recent studies on appetite suppression have shown that “HIIT is more likely to elicit appetite hormones responses in obese than in lean individuals” (Afrasyabi et al. 2019).
This means that people who are thin will have less of an appetite after doing a workout that is high intensity.
People who are obese will likely have a bigger appetite after doing the same workouts.
I always find I feel significantly more hungry after I do multiple days of HIIT rides, compared to climb rides.
On the other hand, the same studies show that “short-time session of aerobic exercise has been shown to enhance postprandial fullness in all participants“.
Postprandial is a fancy name for “after eating”.
In other words, short bursts of aerobic exercise suppress the appetite of both lean and obese individuals.
That’s why I prefer doing shorter climb rides because I feel like I don’t feel as hungry like I feel after high-impact sessions.
#4 Time efficient
Peloton climb rides are perfect for busy people because they are time efficient. Some peloton classes (especially with Ben Alldis or Robin Arzon) can kick your butt even if they last only 10-15 minutes.
The best time of the day for a peloton climb ride session is either in the morning or late afternoon.
Training in the morning helps to get more energy for the day, whereas workouts before lunch help to maintain focus and productivity for the second part of the day.
I work from home so I have the option to choose when I want to train.
I don’t use my workouts as a necessity.
I treat it like a booster of energy for my work.
This means I train when I feel that exercise will have the best effect on my productivity.
If I feel great in the morning, I will save my workout for later on that day.
On the other hand, if I wake up tired, I will train straight away to get back on track.
How To Get Better At Peloton Climb Rides
In general, you can get better at peloton climb rides by doing more strength training and adding more uphill rides to your workout schedule.
Also, scheduling outdoor rides on the road bike on hilly terrain can improve your coordination and power, which will translate to a better FTP score on the peloton.
Dozen of studies have shown that “strength training improves cycling performance, utilization of VO2max, and cycling economy” (Vikmoen et al. 2016).
This means when you’re doing more squats, lunges, deadlifts, and step-ups, this will transfer into better power output and make it easier for climb rides.
Increase training volume
Do you wanna know one of the most effective ways to get better at climb rides?
It’s easy, just be more diligent and do more climb rides.
The good news is that you don’t have to go hard every day.
Studies on bike commuters have shown that people who use bikes as a way to commute to work at a low-intensity level were enough to improve physical performance.
They also found that “commuter cycling can yield much the same improvement in physical performance as specific training programs” (Hendriksen et al. 2000).
This means you don’t have to train at the highest intensity. You just need to stay consistent.
Use the road bike
Doing outdoor cycling is an excellent way not only to add some variety but also to work on bike handling skills while conquering “real hills”.
This can also be a nice way to make a self-assessment and see how are you improving so far.
In the beginning, you may feel like your legs ache when cycling uphill.
However, after a few weeks, the body adapts to the intensity and becomes more efficient.
As you can see, peloton climb rides are completely different from HIIT or Interval rides. Not only you can do them daily, but they also have better music.
I always look at climb rides as an opportunity to push myself and be out of the saddle. The only problem with standing is that this is not efficient.
This means I can be in a standing position for a max of 10-30 minutes before I run out of gas.