Low cadence sprinting

Discussion in 'Power Training' started by Nicolai Foss, Apr 9, 2007.

  1. Nicolai Foss

    Nicolai Foss New Member

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    Hi! I´m 35, 192 cm, 87 kg, riding for three years sporadically, but now trying to improve as the kids come to age leaving me a bit more time. I´ve recently got a PT and have tested my FTP to 278. I´ve always been poor at aerobic efforts, but seem to handle anaerobic efforts reasonably and find short steep hills to my liking.

    I´ve never really considered myself any good in a sprint, but recently I was hanging on to a much more experienced racer as he tried to dump me on some short hills after a 100 k hard group ride - to hang on required power surges of up to 700 watts. I hung unto his wheel for dear life and outsprinted him at our local sprint roadsign (he was quite bitter so i guess he tried his best:)). Now this story got me wondering on what I should do to improve my sprint. In the given case i did 1124 watts max with the whole sprint being 17 s 957 watts av. But I was surprised that my cadence was only 80 - since sprints are usually described as being 120-140 rpm.

    I´ve tried training a few sprints since - which I have never done before - and consistently hit 1100-1250 max with a best 10 s power of 1180. But my power drops when rpm gets above 100!!

    My question is: should I accept that I sprint the best in high gears, or should I train to get better cadence and if so how?
     
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  2. frenchyge

    frenchyge New Member

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    Bitter that you sucked his wheel for dear life during the ride and then sprinted him at the finish? That's hard to believe. ;)

    Sprinting involves quickly accelerating your body mass, and then holding it as speed and wind resistance slowly increase. You'll typically see the highest powers during the acceleration phase, but speed will continue to increase even after power starts to drop off. A very high gear can generate some high power numbers and possibly a high top speed, but produces slower acceleration. The goal of a sprint is to cover the last ~200m as quickly as possible, which means that a compromise between top speed and acceleration is needed. Highest peak power is good, but will not necessarily produce the quickest sprint. It takes a little practice to find the best gear for sprinting, and even then there may be better gears for different situations.
     
  3. Nicolai Foss

    Nicolai Foss New Member

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    :rolleyes: But it came as somewhat of a revelation to me, that if I can outsprint somebody, then it´s their job to drop me:D
    But do you think one naturally chooses a sprint cadence that suits ones physiology the best, or should I work specifically on the cadence.
     
  4. doctorSpoc

    doctorSpoc New Member

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    since in the sprint you are for the most part putting as much torque to the pedals as you can and each rider has an upper limit for this.. the only way to product more power/higher speed is higher cadence

    Power = Torque x Angular Velocity and torque is maxed out...
     
  5. jbvcoaching

    jbvcoaching New Member

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    Generally, I think many people gravitate to their most effective cadence if they experiment enough, and don't worry about what they are "supposed" to be doing.

    So I would experiment with difference cadences & techniques in your training sprints, and see what's most effective for you. Then train your weaknesses, and race your strengths.
     
  6. frenchyge

    frenchyge New Member

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    Personally, I think people tend to sprint overgeared at first, then find that a slightly lower gear is more effective once they've practiced a bit. IOW, their naturally selected cadence increases with practice (probably because the coordination and most effective body positioning is a little awkward at first).
     
  7. Alex Simmons

    Alex Simmons Member

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    I thought it was to cross the line first :) (unless it's a 200m TT).

    To improve sprinting beyond current levels, you will probably need more leg speed. Sprint drills will help.

    No offence (;) ) but maybe your friend is not much of a sprinter. Your short duration power/weight ratio is not all that high at the moment:

    http://www.cyclingpeakssoftware.com/images/powerprofile_v4.gif
     
  8. Nicolai Foss

    Nicolai Foss New Member

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    I will try more leg speed drills - hopefully I can get to 1400 :cool:

    None taken:p he is definately more of a grinder (70 kg 300 ftp). My salvation seems to lie in the fact that we only don´t have any hills longer than 500 meters in our area, and the remains is pancake flat:) It seems that a lot of the other guys jump better than me, but I can pass them after about 150 meters.
     
  9. Alex Simmons

    Alex Simmons Member

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    Sprint power and prowess are very trainable so go for it!

    I spent a week in Copenhagen quite a few years ago ('98 - I was working in the Aussie Consulate in Frankfurt for a while and travelled about quite a bit while there) and it sure didn't strike me as hilly! Did some riding while there but only in Germany. Scary - seems like yesterday.

    Have they cleaned up the defaced mermaid yet?
     
  10. Nicolai Foss

    Nicolai Foss New Member

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    I have 30 k to the nearest hill more than 3%:eek:

    The mermaid is fine - the tourists are still disappointed when they see how small she is:rolleyes:
     
  11. Alex Simmons

    Alex Simmons Member

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    Nevermind, at least we've got our own Princess now ;)
     
  12. Piotr

    Piotr New Member

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  13. tomdavis80

    tomdavis80 New Member

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    Not necessarily. In fact, I'd be apt to disagree because neuromuscular power and strength is NOT that trainable. It's like trying to teach a person how to sprint 12 secs (100 meter sprint foot or flying 200) when it may not be possible to do it. You either have the snap or you don't. But 16.1 watts/kg is a good indicator that he's got snap.
     
  14. doctorSpoc

    doctorSpoc New Member

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    tend to agree... didn't want to discourage him but everything i've read indicates that yes, sprinting is not a very trainable attribute...

    but, i have him at ~14 W/kg... which is kinda run of the mill... i'm 56kg (in season) and can do a 5s, 1200W sprint (21W/kg) at that weight... 1100 w over 10s and i'm just an ok sprinter..
     
  15. Uhl

    Uhl New Member

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    Really...you're just OK?! :confused:

    In the power profile table 21W/kg is in the middle of "Domestic Pro"...and the first two columns of the chart are based on track cyclists. If you're a roadie with that kind of neuromuscular power, you should do extremely well in sprints in all but the pro ranks!

    What am I missing? Are there other factors that are limiting your sprint (i.e, pack positioning, aggressiveness) or does the competition in your area just have a lot of even better sprinters?
     
  16. doctorSpoc

    doctorSpoc New Member

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    used to be much better when i was younger... in my 20s... but after coming back to the sport after a 10yr layoff and at the age of 38 I still have the legs somewhat, but your right I'm just not as agressive/stupid as i used to be and my timing is just not what it used to be as well. plus that 5s number just gives an idea of acceleration not of the speed endurance that's necessary after that initial acceleration... i think your 15-20s number is really what's indicative of your real world sprinting ability.. i've only started working on it again, so we'll see if it comes back... takes practice to relax and keep your form, not tieing up and keep the leg speed up, don't let up the torque on the pedals in the second phase of a sprint... lots of things to get right and it has to become automatic so takes practice. the other factor is that my FTP is not at the same level as my NMP... so that is limiting in many situation as well.
     
  17. Nicolai Foss

    Nicolai Foss New Member

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    Thats also why I think absolute power perhaps is more important in many instances - especially in the 15-20 sec phase after the jump.
     
  18. doctorSpoc

    doctorSpoc New Member

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    exactly... W/kg will likely be a good predictor of acceleration but not that great at predicting top end... and even then not the whole story (after 5s from standing start i'm doing 50km/hr... if the acceleration starts at 60km then it means even less).. top end is going to be highly dependant on aerodynamics (60-70km sprint)... which is highly dependant on frontal area, allowing for different body types

    frontal area varies as the square of the size of the rider, while weight will vary as the cube... so if you compare two riders with the same W/kg... the smaller rider will have a propotionately larger frontal area compared to his Watts.. so a big guy with his greater absolute power will be at an advantage in the top end department... but then there is tactics, better drafting for the smaller man, timing etc... you can ask Bettini about that, at all of ~58kg (130 lbs) and routinely beats the big guys
     
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