Express Train: Powered Ascent

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You may never have what it takes to race up steep alpine passes like the best cyclists in the world, but that doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from their training secrets. You’re using the same muscles, pedaling up the same inclines, and maybe even riding the same bike. So the same workouts apply. To beat your buddies up your local climbs this summer, train like a pro with climbing repeats.

» Find a hill that takes eight to ten minutes to climb and ride up it at the fastest pace you can sustain. Take eight minutes of easy spinning recovery, then repeat the cycle two more times at the same pace. Do this twice a week for three to four weeks. As you get stronger, make each interval longer and reduce the recovery time between efforts. At the peak of his training, Lance Armstrong was doing 45-minute repeats with only the time it took to descend for recovery.

» If you start feeling stronger and want to measure yourself against the best, get a power meter for your bike (they start at about $700). A Tour de France contender will crank out 6.8 to 7 watts per kilogram of body weight for 30-plus minutes. To put that in perspective, an average 30-year-old U.S. amateur produces about half that; a beginner, less than two watts per kilo.