Three sprint workouts to give you a jump on the peloton

Credit: Mark Dadswell/Allsport
If you're a professional such as Lance Armstrong or Mario Cipollini, 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 and involves short, intense periods of cycling from five to 30 seconds or so in length. Heart rates during these efforts can reach 95 to 100 percent of maximum during some of the longer sprints.

However, speed, power and acceleration are the key elements to be concerned about, not heart rate during these training sessions. It is important that a long recovery period follow such sprints, as much as two minutes, to allow for a total rebuilding of ATP at the muscle level and to ensure the quality of 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 stimulate the action as closely as possible. If you want to be successful sprinting then you need to sprint under various situations, such as in a group, up a hill, on a narrow and rough single track and at the end of several hours on the bicycle to replicate sprinting at the end of a race.

Add some of these particular drills to your spring training program for increased speed and power this season:

Jumps: You can increase your reaction time on group rides by sprinting for all city limit or specific road signs. The designated sprinter in the group decides when they will initiate the sprint. The others respond and chase until the initial rider is caught or ends the effort. Take turns on who initiates the sprint and vary the distance from 100 to 300 meters.

These drills will force you to learn to sprint in various gears, up-hill, 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. Stay low on the bike and reasonably smooth lots of erratic movement while sprinting is unsafe and will slow you down.

Declining time springs: After a good warm-up, start with a sprint of 60 seconds, then 50 seconds, 40, 30, 20. Allow for your heart rate to return to below 120 before beginning the next set. Finish with two to four sprints of 30 seconds.

Race sprints: While riding with several teammates (five or six should be the maximum) try to replicate race sprints or jumps that you have seen from race videos or from past race experiences. One rider should attack at a certain place on the road or at a particular speed and then everyone goes from there.

The person who is selected to jump also decides how long the sprint should last. These sprints can be completed during the last few hours of longer road rides.

Hill sprints: On a hill of about 5 to 9 percent grade, find a spot that will take about 20 to 25 seconds to reach the top. From this spot, initiate each sprint with a jump of seven to 10 pedal strokes and then return to the saddle and go all-out to the top. You may get out of the saddle again for the last 10 yards to the top. Then turn around and pedal easily back down the hill.

Do not begin another sprint until your heart rate drops below 60 percent of maximum. Keep the bicycle as straight as possible, and ride in as straight a line as possible to the top.

On each subsequent interval, lower your gearing by one cog. For example, use a 42x17 for the first sprint, 42x16 for the second sprint, 42x15 for the third, and 42x14 for the fourth. If you feel really strong, go for a fifth sprint in a 42x13 gear.

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