Increasing Your Sprinting Power

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06/7/2003| 0 comments
by Ryan Oelkers

Increasing Your Sprinting Power

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Cyclists need three things for a good sprint: explosive power for quick accelerations, top-end speed which is the highest attainable speed during a sprint, and high pedal cadence.   In the old days, cyclists didn?t touch their bikes in the winter and only practiced their sprint training during the spring and summer months.   Nowadays, with competition being so competitive, you need every advantage you can get.   Having a good sprint will help you in race finishes or the end of a group ride.   Therefore, training for sprints has become a year-round activity and includes power sprints, sprints at high speeds, fixed gear training, and strength training. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /?>


A good time to start strength training is after you?ve had a short break from your season.   Normally, the weather is getting colder and the days are shorter so it?s a perfect time to head into the gym and do cross training.   Squats, leg press, hamstring curls, leg extensions, and heel raises, are all good exercises to improve physical strength in the gym.   Strengthening the upper body is equally important because riders can sprint better by having the added strength to pull on the bars when accelerating out of the saddle, sprinting, and for those uphill power sprints.


In addition to upper and lower body strength training, working on the core region (abdominal/lower back muscles) is extremely crucial.   This area is one of the weakest and often the most neglected for cyclists.   Having strong abdominal muscles will not only help a rider during sprints, but will affect their climbing and time trialing skills as well.   Strength training for the core region, including crunches and back extensions, can really help a cyclist by helping to balance the core region.  


Along with strength training in the gym during the winter months, an indoor trainer is helpful to work on both rpm?s and technique for sprinting.   Performing (FP) Fast Pedal will improve both pedal efficiency and top-end speed.   In these exercises, the gearing should be light with pedal resistance low.   Begin by increasing your cadence starting out with 15 ? 18 revs over 10 seconds (90 ? 108 rpm).   Increase cadence to 18 ? 20 revs over ten seconds (108 ? 120 rpm) while staying in the saddle.   Keep your hips smooth and don?t rock side to side.   Practice pulling through the bottom of the pedal stroke and over the top.


Another beneficial winter activity is riding a fixed gear bike.   If you have access to one, they are a great way to improve pedaling mechanics, increase leg speed, as well as leg strength.   The fixed gear never stops moving so it forces the rider to pedal and work hard the entire time.   Therefore, you are working harder over a shorter period of time and spending less time on the bike.   The continuous pedal action helps create a smooth pedaling stroke and increases leg strength or power as you grind up hills.   Fixed gear


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