But regardless of whether you intend to mix it up at your next local race, learning to sprint can be beneficial to your overall fitness—no matter your cycling goals.
Include these basic sprinting workouts and tips into your weekly training routine to improve your power, speed and endurance on the bike.
Tips for Sprinting
Even if you don't consider yourself a sprinter or plan to participate only in the occasional organized weekend ride, completing sprint-specific workouts will benefit your overall endurance and improve your lactate threshold. It can also be a good way to mix up your training and fit in a quality workout in an hour or less.
Before you begin including sprint-specific workouts into your regimen, there are a few basic principles and techniques you'll need to know:
• Always try to avoid sprinting from the front of a group—the second or third position in a line will always have the advantage.
• Shift to the maximum gear you'll be able to sustain for about 30 seconds of all-out effort before you begin your sprint.
• Get out of the saddle when the sprint begins and keep your hands in the drops.
• Keep your upper body as still as possible.
• For additional power, pull up on the handlebars as you press down on the pedals.
• The wind matters—keep your center of gravity as low as you can without sacrificing power.
Workout No. 1—Accelerations1 of 4
This classic sprinting workout mimics the type of effort it takes to bridge a gap during a race or to accelerate ahead of a pack of other cyclists.
Warm up: Ride for 10 to 15 minutes, spinning in a cadence above 90 revolutions per minute.
Main set: Alternate sprinting all-out for 30 seconds with 30 seconds of easy spinning. After you complete five repetitions, recover for five minutes. Complete three to four sets.
Cool down: Spin easy for 10 to 15 minutes in a cadence above 90 RPM.
Workout No. 2—Jump Starts2 of 4
This workout will help to build your sprinting power. You can either complete it on an indoor trainer or include these in a regular road ride or commute. If you choose to do it on the road, complete the sprints whenever you come to a complete stop, such as at a stop sign or red light.
Warm up: After riding easy for 10 minutes, continue your warm-up by sprinting in your small ring. Stay seated for the first few seconds, then stand. Spin until your RPM reaches 120. Complete six warm up sprints, with one minute of easy spinning in between, before moving to the main set.
Main set: From a stop (or track stand), sprint as hard as you can for 10 to 15 seconds or until you reach the highest maximum speed you can achieve. Coast for 10 seconds, then come to a complete stop. Repeat 10 times.
Cool down: Spin easy in a cadence above 90 RPM for 10 to 15 minutes.
Group Rides3 of 4
To keep things interesting and fun, plan out one or two areas along the route where you can engage in a few playful sprints with your friends on your next group ride. Make sure it's in a safe area with minimal traffic, and talk beforehand about where the sprint will begin and where it will end. This is a good way to keep your sprinting drills fun and will help you practice drafting techniques and positioning within a group.
If you want to provide a little group incentive and make your sprints even more competitive, have the worst place rider buy the post-ride coffees or beers.