Many triathletes just use the top part of their lungs, taking shallow, jagged breaths as they climb. This limits how quickly and efficiently you can move fresh oxygen to working muscles. Practise breathing deep into your belly, filling your lungs entirely. As a bonus, deep breaths also help to keep you calm during the stress of a climb.
Increase your power-to-weight ratio
The number of watts you can crank out per kilogram of body weight is the key to climbing success. The brilliant climbers produce six to seven watts per kilogram, but if you can hit even five, that will be amazing. High-intensity training can raise your wattage by around five per cent over a season. Try this sure-fire strategy: climb for 10 to 30 minutes at or near lactate threshold heart rate (about an eight on a scale of one to 10 of perceived effort) once a week. Also look at lowering the weight part of the equation.
Use the right gear
Don't be afraid to use your easiest gear. You might feel you need a big gear, but the goal is to gear down and keep the cadence in a comfortable range - around 70 revolutions per minute.
Loosen your upper body
Your upper body should be relaxed so you don't waste energy. A good indicator of a loose torso is slightly flared elbows. They should be outside your knuckles. If your elbows are tucked in, your lats are stretched, which can restrict breathing.
Sit - most of the time
Your rear end should be planted on the saddle for most of the climb. You use about five per cent more energy when you stand during a climb than when you sit. Shift your weight back slightly for maximum leverage on the pedals. Stand only when your body needs a break from the seated position or if you need to accelerate. When you stand, keep your bottom back so the saddle's nose brushes the backs of your thighs and your weight is over the crank. Shifting your weight too far forward will put too much weight on the front tyre and you'll lose traction at the back.
If you go above threshold too soon, you'll blow up and slow down before you reach the top. Keep your breathing deep and comfortable and your heart rate below threshold at the start of the climb. As you fall into a rhythm, gradually increase your effort until you're climbing at threshold. The final 200m is the perfect place to max it and attack the hill. If you start smart you'll have the energy to finish strong.