Being able to sprint at the end of a race, jump up to a group of riders in a breakaway, or punch it over a hill is crucial to success in your competitive cycling.
There are many ways to improve your speed and jumping ability on the bicycle. If you're like professional cyclists Mario Cipollini or Erik Zabel, you've got a mind that's constantly searching for more speed, always squeezing a little more out of your body, your bike and the course you are training on that day.
Speed training is used to develop quickness and explosive power. It involves short, intense periods of cycling, from five to 30 seconds or so in duration, with heart rate reaching 95 to 100 percent of maximum during some of the longer sprints.
However, not heart rate but speed, power and acceleration are the key elements to be concerned about during these training sessions.
It is important that a long recovery period follow such sprints, as much as two to eight minutes, to allow for a total rebuilding of high energy stores at the muscle level and to ensure the quality of each sprint during the workout.
The key to your success in sprinting lies in the principle of specificity of training. Specificity applies to the rate of movement and the resistance employed, which means that your training should simulate the action as closely as possible.
If you want to be successful in sprinting, then you need to sprint under various situations, such as in a group, up a hill, on narrow and winding streets, and at the end of several hours on the bicycle to replicate sprinting at the end of a road race.
How much can you improve your sprinting ability? To be a pure sprinter you may need a high percentage of fast-twitch muscle fibers. But if you do not possess over 50 percent fast-twitch fibers, don't feel like you will never win a race because of pure sprint speed. While you may never be as fast as Cipollini, you can improve your reaction and movement time by practicing the drills presented here.
Add some of these particular drills to your training program for increased speed and power this season:
You can increase your reaction time on group rides by sprinting for specific road signs. The designated sprinter in the group decides when he or she will initiate the sprint without informing the group. The others respond and chase until the initial cyclist is caught or ends the effort.
Take turns initiating the sprint and vary the distance from 100 to 300 meters.
This drill will force you to learn to sprint in various gears, uphill, downhill, into the wind, with the wind at your back, and at various positions in the group.
Get off the saddle, charge down the road as you build speed and cadence, then sit down and increase your rpm and shift gears as needed. Stay low on the bike and reasonably smooth lots of erratic movement on the bike is unsafe and will slow you down.
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