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Big Gear Training


Maximum Pace
Sep 13, 2010
This (big gear training) came up on the Strength/weight training thread recently, so thought I would post this link, as was just directed to this article, written by Andy Coggan himself, from something else I was reading, so might be of interest to some. As I indicated, I am only posting the link, so have no opinion either way.

Basically, he concludes that big gear training is of limited use, if any...
"because the forces generated, while higher than normal, are still too low to represent a significant overload to the pedaling musculature."
"the forces generated during maximal efforts of brief duration performed at a low (initial) cadence, e.g., standing starts, or seated “stomps” in a large gear, are roughly comparable to those typically encountered when, e.g., training with weights. Consequently, this type of training would seem far more likely to result in increases in muscle size and strength, and hence possibly in maximal neuromuscular power."


Sep 2, 2009
Interesting. I was doing this last night, and while it was definitely a good workout and nearly simulated that steep climbing feeling, it was not quite the same. I was covering too much ground with each pedal stroke for it to feel like the slow climbing in low gear situation.

Still good though, and a bit of a laugh, so I will be continuing for sure.


Maximum Pace
May 25, 2009
try doing it on a 24km climb or over 120km.


Sep 2, 2009
Well yes, but that would be an actual version of something that I was attempting to partly simulate, that I could not due to the lack of mountains next to my apartment.

Doing the actual thing in that gear ratio would of course be hardcore.


Maximum Pace
Apr 8, 2008
Interesting thread topic,

I know quite a few guys who do SFR (slow frequency revolutions) in their hill climbing training. Often they’ll take the same climb on a few times in a few different ways ex: TT pace, LT, high cadence, out of the saddle, SFR…

Riding heavy gears will undoubtedly make you stronger, but I think the golden rule here is “concentrate on form”. If you want strength gains to be transferable to your pedaling, you need to keep good form. I’m always looking for a fluid pedal stroke and a cadence of no less than 60. If you are just stomping on the pedals, you’re time would probably be better spent with weights.

A good way to approach this is to pick a uniform climb of about 1km in length. Ride up it in an easy gear at a target cadence. Drop back down. Up one gear and the same target cadence. Repeat.


Climbing in big gears should be just one part of your climbing training. Variety is what brings enjoyment and will make you improve in my opinion.




Maximum Pace
Oct 11, 2009
It's all about training the 'agnostic' way. The body is naturally very conservative and lazy. You need to shock it into improvement. Totally agree with Andy. And also feel that free weight training is vital to rounding out fitness regime. You can get amazing results with just a few excercises a couple times a week. Going analog is good, too - strap on some ankle weights and spend your off-bike time with a few extra k's on the calves. Never take an escalator or elevator. Run up and down the stairs. Alot. Another thing a cyclist's training is always lacking - it's impact fitness. This is vital to keeping the bone strength high. Cycling will naturally deplete your minerals and the bones will get weaker - so you guys better pay attention to this! Have your bone calcium levels checked regularly.
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