Climb simulation

Is there any way to set a training plan to simulate a climb? For example, I want to work towards a 21 mile climb that averages 4.5%

What trainer do you have?

Workouts in zwift are based on wattage or percentage of FTP. If you knew what wattage you wanted to hold you could just make that wattage constant for a custom workout.

In my wahoo app on my phone I can set an incline which is more like what you want. I believe the way you do it is pair trainer with its own app, tell it to stay at a certain incline but then pair the trainer as a power source (not a controllable) to zwift. The gradient will be dictated by the wahoo app or whatever app you can use with your trainer and the power will be sent to zwift. I guess you need may have to pair one set with Bluetooth and the other set with ant+ for that to work though. I haven’t actually tried it tho.

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I’ll give that a shot.

I really don’t know what watts to hold … yet … after a couple of attempts I think I’ll have a better idea.

Watts are watts wether climbing or on flat. The inertia is different as one carries more speed and has a little different feel. 21 miles is long for a climb so you need nice steady constant power.

4.5% is not too steep. You should not be geared out at all and be able to spin at a cadence that you are comfortable with. No need to mash at 60rpm. What is best for you? 85? 90? 95? 100?

The next question is how much power? Assuming this will be around a 2 hour ish climb (10mph avg speed) maybe a little more I would start at 75-80% of your ftp. Then evaluate that effort when done. Can it all be done at 80%, maybe 85%? I would suspect that somewhere around 88% would be pretty difficult for a 2 hour effort.

So my suggestion is ERG mode to keep your cadence where you like it and test 75-80% of FTP to start and slowly increase that by 2-3% targeting 90-120 minute sessions. In the even that the climb really takes you 2.5 or even 3 hours don’t worry you will make it. The idea being that there is no need to do 5 hour training rides for a 5 hour event. Train the energy systems and you will get there.


Climb training involves a few different things: the power level required, the duration of the effort and the expected cadence are the three main. Training to do short-and-steep pitches standing at 60rpm and 150% of FTP does not demand the same training as your case (assuming that 4.5% average is not a long set of of 9% pitches and flats).

In your case, long-term sustained power is probably what you are after, and unless your bike is geared very long, cadence is not an issue. So concentrate on sweet-spot intervals (84 to 97% of FTP), evolving towards longer intervals with shorter breaks, and eventually adding threshold intervals and over-unders. Make sure you spend a lot of time in the range of cadences expected. Your “ideal” workout is 120 minutes of 15-25 minutes intervals at 85-95% FTP; work towards that progressively.


This is a great answer.

Climbs this long as as much psychological as physiological. If you’ve got the endurance, and you’ve got the top end from shorter climbs, you’ll be efficient in the lower power you’ll want to hold for the full climb. So just ride a pace that feels comfortable but not easy, count down the miles, and enjoy the experience. You want a power where you don’t feel “perceived exertion creep” – you want to feel no more than 25% fatigued after the first half (if you start feeling any distress in the first half, scale it back immediately), maybe 50% fatigued by the 70% mark, and recognize altitude will affect aerobic power during the final 30%. Drink and eat at regular intervals (50-100 g carbohydrate/hr).

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Thanks! That’s helpful.

Good info. I’ll keel it in mind.

Well said.

Progressively get to this. If you have very little training and riding experience it will take a little work to get there.

On shorter days 2X15 @ SS then 2X20 @ SS for 60’ workouts is a great start.

Exactly. That “progressively” may be over 6 to 12 weeks depending on the starting point.