6 Cycling Drills to Improve Sprinting Speed

Sprints in Progressively Bigger Gears

After a good warm-up, complete two sprints of 200 to 250 meters, one sprint of 300 to 350 meters, one to two sprints 200 to 250 meters. Rest for at least eight to 10 minutes between sprints or until your heart rate returns to about 120 while riding in an easy gear before you start another set.

Use the first 50 to 100 meters to get up to speed and then ride all-out, shifting to higher and higher gears until the finish. As the season progresses, gradually increase the longest sprint to 400 to 500 meters.

Declining Time Sprints

After a good warm-up, start with a sprint of 60 seconds, then 50 seconds, 40, 30 and 20, all at maximum effort. Allow your heart rate to return to below 120 before beginning the next set. Finish with two to four sprints of 30 seconds.

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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.

More: How Great Bike Sprinters Are Made

Ins and outs

Davis Phinney likes to have younger or beginning cyclists practice sprinting while getting in and out of the saddle at his training camps. You start by jumping (rising) out of the saddle in a big gear, for 10 pedal revolutions, and then sitting back down in the saddle, then sprinting for another 10 revolutions.

Repeat these sprints three times while jumping out of the saddle and then sitting back down, and then coming out of the saddle. You will have sprinted 30 revolutions in the saddle and 30 revolutions out of the saddle. These sprints are best done with the wind at your back or on a slight decline.

This drill works on your ability to sprint and accelerate several times during a long sprint. This ability is needed during racing when riders keep jumping in the final kilometers of the race.

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Hill Sprints

On a hill of about 5 to 9 percent grade, find a segment that will take about 20 to 25 seconds to summit. From the starting 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 120 bpm. Keep the bicycle as straight as possible, and ride in as straight a line as possible to the top. For example, on a road bike use a 39 x 21 or 20 for the first sprint, 39 x 19 or 18 for the second sprint, 39 x 17 or 16 for the third, and 39 x 15 or 13 for the fourth.

There are many physiological reasons why speedwork is necessary if you want to maximize your potential at any distance, from road races to in-town criteriums. During speedwork you train your body to recruit the muscles necessary to be able to sprint. You also learn a sense of relaxation at race pace, which comes as a result of training your muscles to function at an accelerated pace.

Building power and speed into your cycling program is a good way to add variety to your workouts. And there is no reason to repeat the same speed workout every week, because there are many options to getting the same job done.

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