Hill Training

Hills are my nemesis in Zwift so I want to improve that area of my cycling by adding hill training into my weekly riding schedule.

What are the best hills to climb in training and what is the best way to ride/find them? For example, what map hosts ADZ and how best would I find it during a free ride? Or is there a hills training section of Zwift I’m missing?

Thank you.

Road to Sky in Watopia is the easiest route to choose to get to the AdZ.

For my money, I think it’s worth training on both long climbs and short power climbs. The first are the type where you’ll need to be spinning and conserving, the shorter climbs are ones where you can test your higher effort pacing (and work on skills like continuing the effort all the way over the top and into the start of the descent). I like AdZ for a long climb, the individual segments it’s divided into help keep you interested. For shorter climbs, I like the Temple KOM in Makuri, or the Titan’s Grove climb in Watopia.

Big Foot Hills or Dust In The Wind will get you to the Titan’s Grove climb quickly, iirc. Sea to Tree will get you to the Temple KOM in Makuri pretty quickly.

Thank you. Follow up question:

When you say Road to Sky/Big Foot Hills/Sea to Tree/etc, how do I find/click on that to get to those climbs? Sorry if that is a dumb question, I generally just race and ride with RoboPartners so I’m not familiar with those titles.

No worries, not a dumb question. Zwift is maybe not always sometimes the most immediately user-friendly to navigate around in :smiley:

From your home screen (where you can see the logout and profile links in the top right, and there’s a globe and a calendar icon and such on the top left), you can hit the Globe icon to get to the Routes list, or you can scroll down the page until you get to the Just Ride heading. From there, the route might actually be shown (they show a few routes right there), or scroll to the right now and you’ll find a link to Routes.

From the Routes list, you can choose the world at the top (it’ll always be Watopia, plus two other worlds), and then scroll down until you find the route you want. That list will show total elevation and distance in the route, so you can gauge how much climbing there is. Clicking on the route will show you the map before you commit to riding it.

When you choose a route and start riding, the game will guide you through the route, auto-turning to keep you on the course. So if you choose one of those routes above, they will take you up the climbs, you just have to let the game navigate.

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Much appreciated!

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No worries. Note that all that scrolling talk is from a PC perspective. There may be different scrolling, or none, on Macs or tablets or phones or such. :slight_smile:

There are loads of different hills in Zwift, of greatly varying lengths and gradients.

Try lots of them out and see which ones you like. You might enjoy the variety too.

Browse the list of routes at Complete Master List of All Zwift Course Routes | Zwift Insider and look for the ones with more elevation. Then you can drill down and look at the elevation profiles on each route from that list and see whether the route has that climb or climbs early on or late on, whether it’s rolling or has one big climb, you can see the average gradient etc.

Also make sure you have the Everest Challenge selected, so that all that climbing goes towards unlocking your Tron bike!

Radio Tower (“Bonus Climb”) repeats :stuck_out_tongue:! It’ll be miserable but you’ll get great at climbing… if you don’t destroy your knees first. I’m also a fan of riding with Trainer Difficulty at 100%, and using an incline simulator (Kickr Climb, etc.) will make your indoor climb training transfer better to outdoor riding.

There are many more hills in Zwift than just AdZ.

How many minutes do you want to be climbing for ?

On the France world:

Ven-top (aka Ventoux) - a long and tough climb with no easy sections for rest

Epic KOM - start on road-to-sky and do immediate u-turn then take the next right turn to go up the reverse (steeper) side of Epic KOM, then go down the other side of Epic KOM and U-turn and go back, repeat.
ADZ - start on road-to-sky course

There was a recent thread about this that might interest you. The training depends on whether your target climbs are long or short.

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For a nice 10 minute climb at reasonable grades: Fox Hill, London World
A little longer is the KOM in Watopia (easier side…Longer…Radio Tower side climb at the top is killer);
I really like the longer/shallower climb of Innsbruck 30-40 minutes depending on how good a rider you are…the backside is shorter but steeper.

For shorter/steeper climbs (1-4 minutes): Yorkshire and Richmond
For lots of short, repeatable hills: Titans Grove (both directions) and New York…all of NY

For the longer climbs I dislike 100% trainer difficulty. I am 100 kilos and grinding up the Radio Tower overheated my trainer.

For Super long climbs (unless you are pretty good) are The Alpe and Ventoux…Personally I have only made 1/2 up the Ventoux…it is steep and relentless. The Alpe has recovery areas…

Only done Ventoux once, but it visually wasn’t as appealing as the Alpe, didn’t keep my interest as much. So it was a less enjoyable climb. Didn’t dislike it, in a Type 2 way, but it’s not significantly different enough from the Alpe to want to do it again much instead of the Alpe for long climbing.

I mentioned above that I like to train for climbing, particularly short climbs, to stay on the power up over the top of the climb (rather than letting up as soon as you hit the summit…stay on the power for a little longer, big benefits from doing that). The Foo Dog climb in the new Makuri maps–it’s not a KOM, I don’t know if it has a name yet…the one that ends at the bridge between the big Foo Dog mountains in the top left of this map. I like that climb because there’s a sprint segment at the top. So hitting the climb hard, getting to the top, and then seeing about PRing the sprint segment is great fun, and good training for that ‘don’t let up yet’ part of summiting.

Don’t forget that for any climb of around 10 minutes or more that raising the front wheel a little bit changes muscle engagement. If you are looking for real world gains then this is another 1% marginal gain!

For me Watopia is a great world for climbing sessions. You can really mix it up with 20-25 minute tempo climbs (Epic), sub 10 minute threshold (Volcano) and all out VO2 (Titan’s) efforts. For a really solid session make sure you hold a decent effort between them too.

I have about 60 minutes per day to devote to cycling so I’m happy to devote one day per week to just climbing. I don’t mind if it is AdZ or repeats as others have suggested.

I have the next 2 weeks off for Christmas Break so I am going to try some different routes.

I am hoping, as a bonus, that my FTP increases as well so I can race better. My estimated FTP on ZP is 272, I would like to push it much closer to 300 so I don’t get dropped as easily on climbs.

Since I asked the question re time you have had lots of good suggestions. AdZ is going to take you around 75 minutes for the climb and possibly another 10-15 mins (I think) if you start your lead in from ‘Road to Sky’ route. Nothing to stop you cycling for an hour then do a U turn and get free miles coasting to the bottom ( never quit and save your ride on or at top of a hill !)

I like the ride across the ridge at top of Epic KOM and as already mentioned you have option to add Radio Tower if you have time.

I’m really not that knowledgable on training methods but if you are looking to climb for a duration in hope of being better in races you might find that it is more beneficial to do 3 or 4 x shorter punchier climbs with rest intervals in between. (Edit - I notice you enjoy the Pace Partner / Robo Pacer rides. Possibly something like the Big Foot Hills might work if it is at the right W/kg pacer. )

I’m sure others will give you training ideas to help in hilly/undulating races.

don’t forget to turn on tron bike challenge :wink:

What you should train will be determined by what you need for your event ride or race.

If your ride has a handful of 3 to 5 minute climbs, you’re going to want to train by doing suitable length VO2 Max intervals @ 110% to 120% of FTP with a roughly 1 to 1 work to recovery ratio. Start with 4 x 3. Work out to 6 x 3. Then go to 4 x 4 and work out to 6 x 4. Then 3 x 5. Work out to 5 x 5. If you like, 3 x 8 and 4 x 8 too.

If your ride has one or two climbs of between 15 and 30 minutes, threshold intervals @ 97% to 100% of FTP with 2 to 1 work to recovery. Start with 3 x 10. Progress to 3 x 12. 3 x 15. 2 x 20. 30 + 20. 30 + 25. 2 x 30. 3 x 30.

If your ride is longer and it’s not realistic to ride at threshold for multiple climbs, sweetspot intervals at @ 88% to 94% of FTP with 4 to 1 work to recovery. Gradually progress out from 3 x 15 to 3 x 30 to 1 x 60 to 2 x 60.

How you actually get this done is up to you. Either find workouts to match (or create custom workouts) and then it doesn’t matter where you ride them. Or do hill repeats on suitable Zwift climbs. For example, depending on your FTP, the Volcano KOM is likely somewhere in the region of 10 to 12 minutes @100%, so you can do repeats of that for threshold (or just above threshold) work. Ride up. Cruise down. Turn around. Go again. To make it even better, you can use HoloReplay as motivation.



HoloReplay is a good way to pace. Although it would be nice if we could designate one Reply as a ‘Pacer’ replay, rather than it being your PR or last effort. Your PR might have been a day when you were feeling crazy strong and blasted up the hill, whereas your regular training might be better suited by a slower effort day in and day out. Being able to tag one replay as a Favorite would be cool.

A full Road to Sky is about 90 minutes if you do the hill in 58-60min. The group I ride with does ADZ daily at 0555 (Europe time) and a bit later on weekends. They are over 350ADZ this year.

Join if you are interested, every day starting on Road to sky.