Coach's Corner #1 with Brandon Baker


Hey everyone! I'm Brandon Baker, the founder of Gibraltar Training Elements, an endurance coaching company. I've been riding and racing for Stinner from the start of my cycling career. It's a pleasure to share some coaching insights with all of you via this blog. So, let's dive right in.

Today, we'll focus on enhancing climbing ability, particularly through Tempo efforts. When it comes to improving climbing, initial advice often revolves around climbing more and increasing ‘effort’ up a given climb. But how do we do that effectively and sustainably?
Tempo efforts offer a solid starting point. While it's undeniable that climbing more is key to improvement, incorporating specific efforts provides a tangible way to measure progress. Tempo falls within Zone 3 of the 5-zone system, which can be assessed using the RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion) scale. On a scale of 1-10— with 1 being minimal effort and 10 being maximum effort— Tempo typically ranges between 3 and 4 on the RPE scale.
During Tempo efforts, aim for a level of exertion just above comfortable riding—where you can still talk, but get out of breath relatively quickly. Tempo intervals can vary in duration, but longer intervals yield better results in this zone. Examples include 4 sets of 8 minutes, 3 sets of 15 minutes, or even 2 sets of up to 40 minutes. It's advisable to keep rest periods approximately half the duration of the interval for better repeatability, i.e. 4 sets of 10 minutes at Tempo with 5 minutes of recovery between each.
Incorporating Tempo efforts into your regular riding routine can be done through a sort of 'fartlek' approach. Ride a route with a variety of climbs, and tackle each climb at your Tempo range after a thorough warm-up. This mimics the effect of repeated efforts on a stretch of climb and can make the weekly volume more enjoyable. Track your total time spent at Tempo to monitor and improve your progress.

Here's a sample weekly schedule incorporating Tempo work:
- Monday: Recovery or rest day
- Tuesday: Endurance ride
- Wednesday: Tempo intervals (3 sets of 15 minutes with 7 minutes recovery between intervals)
- Thursday: Endurance ride
- Friday: Recovery
- Saturday: Climbing route with accumulated Tempo work
- Sunday: Free ride or group ride

For those interested in learning more, stay tuned for monthly Coach's Corner articles on the blog! And if you're considering coaching with us, feel free to reach out at We offer private custom coaching for endurance athletes and consulting for upcoming events. Let's work together to fuel your passion and progress in cycling.
- Brandon Baker