Best way to improve sprinting?



buckhorn

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Aug 17, 2006
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IU need some help with my sprinting. My CP power profile shows that I have Cat 3 5m power, Cat 4 FT, but Cat 5 5s power and untrained 1m power. I have not done any testing at those durations, so I assume they are a little higher but still lacking.

I am going to start racing Cat 5 soon, but feel that if I get close to the finish line with a group, I am going to get smoked in the sprint.

How long does it take to develop a sprint?

Are short bursts of power for 10- 20s during rides sufficient?

I have mostly been focusing on climbing hills for training.
 

daveryanwyoming

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Oct 3, 2006
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buckhorn said:
.... How long does it take to develop a sprint?...
Sprinting is as much about technique as it is pure power. Some folks learn real fast and have naturally high NMP others take time to develop. The key thing is to do add some dedicated sprint sessions to your training week, ideally early in the week when you're fresh. Sprint for fixed signposts or other landmarks, not time and if you can sprint against teammates or other riders.
Are short bursts of power for 10- 20s during rides sufficient?
If you really want to develop your sprint then you really should do dedicated sprint workouts with lots of rest between each attempt so that you can give it your best. Some fartlek jumps in a steady longer ride will just teach you to sprint relatively slowly and won't give you the top end speed or technique you need to develop. By all means sprint for city limit signs and the like with friends but start by adding a dedicated sprint workout. Practice small gear sprints for leg speed, big gear for strength and power, lead outs and jumping off a wheel if you can find cooperative partners.
...I have mostly been focusing on climbing hills for training.
Sprinting and climbing are really different beasts with different techniques. I've worked with strong climbers who wanted to sprint like they were climbing a steep grade out of the saddle. That's nothing like sprinting, your body needs to be more compact, tensed, arms flexed and ready to stabilize your upper body but without the rythmic swaying of a climber. You need to coil up and jump like a cat giving it everything right from the start and then spin out your gear to the line. It takes practice but it's pretty fun stuff to work on.

You should also do some work on that one minute power. Realistically most cat 4/5 races come down to a field sprint. You might be a killer climber or have a great jump and VO2 max pace for attacks but the lower cats are amazing at chasing down everything that goes and then sitting up once they reel you in. Bottom line, you'd better have a good sprint but maybe more importantly you need to be able to get yourself up front and into a position from which to launch that sprint. All the sprint in the world won't help if you're twenty riders back and totally boxed in and that happens real fast unless you're willing to get up front and fight to stay there in the closing miles. Picking a good wheel of someone you know will jump is great but in the lower categories it even pays to simply get to the front and stay there at the end. You might get passed by someone sucking your wheel but a top five placing with a clear shot at the line beats a top twenty because you were totally boxed in the closing meters and never got the chance to jump.

Anyway if you're just starting to work on sprints make certain you spend some time working on your tactics for the closing stretch before the sprint winds up. You can do this by leading out teammates during practice while still trying to beat them to the line or doing some VO2max/L6 windups to a sprint during practice but one way or another practice charging the line and then jumping. It's a lot different than the way the pros will do it with an organized team leadout but racing the lower categories is different and almost always comes down to a big disorganized bunch sprint.

Good luck,
Dave
 

frenchyge

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Apr 3, 2005
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buckhorn said:
I have not done any testing at those durations, so I assume they are a little higher but still lacking.
Don't be surprised if they are *much* higher, depending on how you got the data for your estimates. I'd suggest you do the testing.
 

buckhorn

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Aug 17, 2006
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Thanks for the help daveryanwyoming.

Would one dedicated sprint workout per week be adequate, or should I be focusing on sprints 2- 3x/ week?

As far as the testing goes, I have done none at the 5" and 1' intervals. All the results have been pulled out of training rides and group rides by Cycling Peaks. I would expect the actual tested results to be higher, but I also know I have a lot of room to grow in this area.

Thanks.
 

daveryanwyoming

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Oct 3, 2006
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buckhorn said:
...Would one dedicated sprint workout per week be adequate, or should I be focusing on sprints 2- 3x/ week?....
One is plenty. If you throw in some sprints here and there while training with friends that's great as well, but one focused sprint day is enough. Remember sprinting is important but it's icing on the cake, if you don't have the FTP for long climbs or grinding into the wind or don't have the VO2 max for intense 3 to 5 minute efforts or lack the anaerobic tolerance for killer 1 minute surges then sprinting won't mean a whole lot. So work it when you're fresh, learn to put everything into that intial jump and then hold it to the line, learn to ride a straight line while putting out that kind of effort(you don't win any races or make any friends by causing a huge pileup in the last 200 meters) but it's the other stuff that will get you into a position to sprint in the first place.

-Dave
 

hogut

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Oct 27, 2006
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One more thing to remember. Know the finish line well so you can plan and optimize that sprint. As a a newbie road racer, I've made the mistake of sprinting too early and too late.
 

velomanct

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Dec 21, 2003
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frenchyge said:
Don't be surprised if they are *much* higher, depending on how you got the data for your estimates. I'd suggest you do the testing.
That's right. Most riders have no idea how to really go 100% in a sprint. Sprint lots, and sprint often, you will soon realize your real power.