How to Improve Your Sprint

By Zach Nehr

A complete guide to improving your short-duration power output 

Sprint training is not reserved for riders with massive legs who dive through gaps at 70 kph. Every cyclist, from complete beginners to experienced professionals, can benefit from sprint training. A strong sprint can mean the difference between winning and losing. It can also be the difference between holding the wheel in a crosswind, closing the gap out of a corner, or establishing a successful breakaway.

In this article, we’ll explain how to improve your sprint using various techniques and interval training sessions.

Start With Your Technique and Cadence

Increasing your sprint power is like building a skyscraper. First, you need to build the foundation (that is your technique and cadence). Then, you need to improve your peak sprint power. Lastly, you need to be able to perform your best sprint power at the end of a race (by improving your anaerobic power output). Put it all together, and you have a race-winning sprint.

Technique + cadence + peak power + anaerobic power = Your Best Sprint

Start from the ground up with your sprinting technique. Improving your sprint technique can help build neuromuscular connections (the link between your brain and body) which, in turn, recruit more fast-twitch muscle fibers. More muscle fibers and stronger connections allow you to increase your sprint power just by improving your technique.

When you open up your sprint, get on top of the gear as quickly and efficiently as possible. Use your core and upper body to help stabilize your frame and push hard into the pedals for a few seconds. Keep your eyes forward and experiment with different cadences. Most cyclists achieve their peak sprint power between 100 and 120 rpm, so take some time to figure out what works best for you. Try this workout in the MyWhoosh app to improve your sprint technique.

Cadence Changers with Sprints – This is the perfect session for training your sprinting technique and cadence. Most of the sprints in this workout will be performed at 80% of your maximum effort, so you can focus more on your technique and cadence than peak power output. There is plenty of time in between each sprint to recover, and once you’ve practiced a few efforts, the last sprint is all-out.

[IMAGE – Cadence Changers with Sprints]

Improving Your Sprint Power

The next piece in the sprint power puzzle is improving your peak sprint power. These will probably be the shortest high-intensity interval (HIIT) sessions you’ve ever done, but they are crucial for improving your sprint.

Peak power training sessions should include very short sprint intervals completed at maximum effort. Focus on your technique and cadence during each sprint and push as hard as you can. Here is another key sprint workout you can try on MyWhoosh.

Peak Power! – After a short, structured warmup, you will do 6 x 3 to 5-second sprints during this workout. Each effort is short and sharp, done at the highest power output possible for 6-10 pedal strokes. Make sure you fully recover between each sprint, which should take around 10 minutes.

[IMAGE – Peak Power!]

 Training Your Anaerobic Engine

You can’t win the sprint if you’ve already been dropped, and that’s why it’s important to improve your anaerobic power as much as your sprint power. The final sprint may only last 10-20 seconds, but it could take hours of hard work to get there.

Anaerobic intervals are a great way to improve your VO2 Max and ensure that you will make it to the final sprint with energy left in the tank. 30/30’s, 40/20’s, and 30/15’s are some of the most popular iterations of anaerobic intervals, and you can’t go wrong with any of them. 30/30’s are recommended for beginners since the longer rest periods allow for sufficient recovery between high-powered intervals. Here’s a VOD with Si Bradeley that you can find in the MyWhoosh app.

30/30’s Anaerobic #1 – This is an introductory session to 30/30’s targeting VO2 Max power. The intervals are short and sharp, but they are not maximal. Your legs should really start feeling the effort in the second half of the ride, but keep pushing throughout each set of 30/30’s. Once you’re comfortable completing this session, you can move on to the 30/30’s Anaerobic #2, #3, and #4 workouts, which include longer blocks of 30/30’s.

[IMAGE – 30/30’s Anaerobic #1]


 About the Author

Zach is a freelance writer, professional cyclist, and the owner of ZNehr Coaching. He writes about everything related to bikes and endurance sports, from product reviews and advertorials to feature articles and pro data analytics. You can find Zach racing the Sunday Race Club on MyWhoosh every weekend.

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