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Feel the burn as you repeatedly cycle uphill.
Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images
Hill repeats -- you either love them or hate them. The feeling of cycling uphill over and over again is demanding on your heart, respiration and your legs. Tired legs from cycling hill repeats are a normal reaction since muscles are challenged to fatigue as you ascend steep hills. However, you can reduce the tiredness, plus improve your power, when you train with hill repeats.
Over and Over
Hill repeats are performed on a hill that takes you between a minute and a half and two minutes to ascend. If you're lucky, you can find a road with rolling hills of similar duration, but hill repeats are easily performed on one hill. After a five to 10-minute warm-up on a flat road, cycle up the hill and then turn around to cycle or coast down the hill. Repeat the hill for the duration of your workout. Aim to maintain a cadence between 50 and 70 revolutions per minute. Remain in a low gear, but one that gives your legs a challenge.
Have a Seat
You can sit or stand as you ascend your hill. Switching from one position to the other often provides a small break until your legs begin to burn again. Keep your upper body relaxed to conserve energy and reduce muscle tension. One way to ascend the hill and fatigue your legs is to exert pressure throughout your pedal stroke. Instead of only pushing down, you can also push forward, backward and upward to get the most out of each stroke. All of this strengthens your legs muscles, tendons and ligaments, which is tiring.
Burn Baby Burn
The burning sensation you feel in your legs during the hill repeats is from an accumulation of lactic acid. Lactic acid is a byproduct of your body converting glucose into fuel for your hill climbs. Glucose is a fast-acting fuel, but it does not last long. The longer you climb, the more glucose your body converts and the higher concentration of lactic acid in your legs. You perceive this feeling as a muscular burning, which also fatigues your legs.
You can train your legs to become more efficient at pushing out the lactic acid. With repeated hill climbs, your body learns to move the lactic acid out of the muscle to delay the fatigue. Also, as your endurance and strength improve, your legs begin to rely more on fat for fuel, which does not produce lactic acid as a byproduct. When your legs convert fat into fuel with oxygen, your fatigue decreases and you are able to cycle for a longer duration.