Just completed my first hill specific training session - above is the profile. I rode out to this hill - 300m+ (lucky me), hammered up it trying to go a fast as I could then turned around and rode back.
Hill training is about improving your hill climbing ability. I want to climb faster up hills as I think this will help me on the Maratona in Italy this summer. This event has 4,000m total of hills. My thinking is that being able to climb hills faster will mean I have the capacity to cope with the demands of this event.
Why not just go on a hilly bike ride? Well, that has a role too but when you are on a 50km or 70km ride you naturally preserve your efforts. You "survive" on the hills always reserving something for the next hill and then keep enough to get back home on too. With Hill Training you go as hard as you can, hold nothing back.
My previous record (Strava) for this hill was 30min 40sec. And that would be on a carbon bike and not with my rucksack on but during a normal bike ride. Today I was on my winter trainer (knobbly tyres) and carrying a rucksack of tools and kit. I did it in 24min 11sec! Wow. Shows the difference between taking a hill during a long ride, and focusing solely on it during a hill training session.
I also was careful about not riding too much before the hill. I drove out to 10km away from the base of the hill and then rode over very relaxed. That meant I was warmed up but not at all tired - no excuses, I was tip top and ready to do my best. This is different from Base Training. During the winter I've looked for every opportunity to exhaust my self with more distance. Now it's about intensity.