Sprinting technique/improvement suggestions...

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by spinner32, Nov 20, 2008.

  1. spinner32

    spinner32 New Member

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    ... Assuming the necessary base for higher intensity intervals and sprint workouts are in place.

    I have a decent sprint, but would like to improve it, and could use a few pointers on technique and specific training strategies.

    Right now, I'm the type who can read the sprint in the final moments of a race, but only do well if I start the sprint, and it doesn't last very long. I'd like to increase the time I can sprint for so I can respond to earlier attacks and last a bit longer.

    My plan is to incorporate a high intensity sprint-specific session about one time every 6 workouts (so about 3-4 times a month). This would be 30 minutes of workout time, with 20 minute warm up and cool down:

    20 min warm up
    3x 20 sec sprints, mid gear, keep high cadence, no shift. 40 sec rest between reps.
    2 min rest/easy spinning
    3x 20 sec sprint in large gear or from a stop. 40 sec rest between.
    2 min rest/easy spinning
    6x 10 sec jumps at speed (from downhill start). 50 sec rest/return to top of hill.
    4 min rest/easy spinning.
    2 min cruise @ high L3, 10 sec sprint
    2 min rest
    2 min cruise @ high L3, 15 sec sprint
    2 min rest
    2 min cruise @ high L3, 20 sec sprint
    20 min cool down

    How does this look? Any suggestions are appreciated.
     
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  2. YMCA

    YMCA New Member

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    Do a search in this forum and you will find numerous threads helping with "sprinting".

    Sprinting is more about technique, pack position and explosion, rather than any specific fitness training you might do.
     
  3. swampy1970

    swampy1970 Well-Known Member

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    Spinner. I think if you're looking for more of a kick you'll be better served by keeping the efforts shorter, less frequent and done all out. It looks as though you're lacking a good response if someone else jumps first. As you don't do too bad if you start then you just need to add a few hundred watts to that 5 second effort of yours. ;)

    Don't worry about the uphill, downhill, little gear or big gear, just pick a flatish road and "have at it" for 15 seconds at your absolute maximum. If you know a quiet road that has a couple of distinct markers that you could use for the start/finish of the efforts then you'd be better served using those rather than trying to read a small LCD when out of the saddle at the limit. Rest until your legs don't feel like jelly and then repeat. Keep the oven on until your goose is cooked and your speed markedly drops.

    Ride home and be prepared for very sore legs two days later.
     
  4. spinner32

    spinner32 New Member

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    Thanks for the advice. I'll give it a shot next time I'm out.
     
  5. frenchyge

    frenchyge New Member

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    If I were to break down a sprint, it would be as follows:
    1) positioning in the pack, finding the right wheel, and timing -- no advice from me there, and I wouldn't expect you to improve it much through solo training (only exception would be timing, which I think can be improved by picking a finish marker in the distance and practicing guessing the point to start your sprint so that you're at your max speed just before reaching the mark).

    2) a hard jump to catch a wheel, create separation, or pull alongside the leaders -- this typically involves improving torque at pre-sprint cadences, which is a neuromuscular function. You don't need to do full sprints to improve this, as quick accelerations (~10 sec each) are needed to train the neurons for clean, sharp contractions. They can be done from lower speeds in the small ring, but the key is to match the cadence range that you'd typically be using when you make your jump in a race. Neuromuscular adaptations are specific to the joint angles and velocities at which they are trained.

    3) top-end speed at high cadence for as long as you can hold it -- this is a lot about technique (keeping good form at high cadences) and staying power. Train these with all-out full-sprints (~ 30 sec) at sprint speed if at all possible. Where motor-pacing is impractical, look for a downhill with a flat at the bottom, and use the downhill as your leadout to build speed without wearing yourself out. End the workout when form gets sloppy from fatigue.


    1) Eliminate the bolded reps, as they make no sense. Contraction velocities (ie, cadence) in training should match those in races, or you're missing the bulk of the benefit (ie, the neuro-adaptations).
    2) Recoveries strike me as being too short in those early reps. The quick repeats may help some with staying power, but after the first one I don't think they'll be clean sprints with good form.
     
  6. spinner32

    spinner32 New Member

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    Thanks for the input.

    I just talked with an exercise physiologist who said that accelerations from a stop are great for building strength and power, similar to resistance training. However, what you said regarding training the nervous system makes sense as well, as muscles aren't truly "trained" as much as the neurons responsible for firing them. I guess I was just including those reps you put in bold because of the need to increase general power at my jump. Eliminating them would provide some more time for recovery as well for the previous reps. (Trying to keep the workouts between 1-2 hours... its getting cold.)

    Thanks again.
     
  7. frenchyge

    frenchyge New Member

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  8. spinner32

    spinner32 New Member

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    No doubt about specificity being crucial!

    "Resistance training" on the bike is specific though, no? Not trying to be argumentative, just curious about the effects of accelerating in larger than "comfortable" gear ranges. I did not see this in the links, and wonder if there would be any training benefit to spending a bit of time pushing a big gear for the purposes of specific muscular hypertrophy... i.e. in the correct range of motion for the pedal stroke.

    Thanks for the posts. Good reading - Really appreciate your time in responding!
     
  9. frenchyge

    frenchyge New Member

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    Specific to the joint angles, sure, but how about contraction velocities? Long, slow contractions like the kind used to lift heavy objects (or accelerate from a stop sign) aren't going to do anything for you in a 120+ rpm sprint. I hope I'm not assuming too much.... you're not trying to improve your standing starts for track sprinting, right? I've been assuming we're talking about road/crit sprints.

    If you look at the pedal forces (AEPF) on those charts, you'll see that they're all far below what the average person is already capable of generating. IOW, it's not hypertrophy (max force) that's needed as much as "force @ high velocities" or snap. Again, that's neuromuscular training. Hypertrophy typically means weight gain as well, which might actually be counter-productive for road racing results (even on flat crits it's more mass to accelerate).

    As an aside, read this one regarding the feasibility of using bike training for hypertrophy. Bottom line: unless you're doing standing starts, the forces are too low to effectively stimulate hypertrophy, and if you're doing standing starts then you're far from specific as pertains to road/crit sprinting.
     
  10. spinner32

    spinner32 New Member

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    Thanks for explaining the graph. This is making more sense now.

    It all sounds pretty straight forward really.
     
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