Have you ever tried to launch an attack in a cycling race or maybe even an attempt to make a race-winning move? If you have, you have probably also experienced the most likely scenario: the other riders closes the gap without struggling, because your attempt lacks power.
How can you learn the skill to make more powerful race-winning moves? If we take a look at the initial phase of your attack, all you need to focus on is neural strength. If you watch a power meter file from your most powerful attempts, you are very likely above 1000Watts or even higher.
Such efforts require activation of all relevant muscle fibers available. But you can lift up your maximal power significantly, if you train this speciality. In this article, I’ll give you suggestions to improve the initial launch of a powerful attack.
Power sprints as part of transition from winter training
In the last couple of years weight lifting has gotten more attention from cycling coaches and athletes. More coaches believe that you can gain advantages if you use weight lifting as part of your winter training. One of the challenges is to secure that all the time spend in the weight lifting gym can be converted to better performance on the bike. Since road cyclists and mountain bike riders are mostly interested in neural adaptations, choice of exercises should also be very specific.
In weight lifting you get stronger at the movements and lifting patterns you train. So there is only a limited transfer of strength gain from one exercise to other exercises. And you see the same when you jump over at your bike again. So even if you make a 50% gain in your 1 repetition maximum (1RM) squat, you shouldn’t be disappointed if you don’t pedal 50% higher power outputs during sprints. As I said previously, there is only a limited transfer between exercises.
One of the coolest things about power sprints is that you can easily combine these sprints with other intervals. There is not much recovery required after a couple of sprints, so you can perform scheduled aerobic intervals later in the same training session. Since these sprints are almost ‘recovery-free’, I use them frequently in training programs both winter season, pre-season and in-season. Typically one to two times per week and always during the first hour of the training session.
How to improve your explosiveness with power sprints
From a very low speed (0 to 5 km/hr) make an explosive acceleration for about 10 seconds. Use gear ratio 53 / 14-17 teeth. You can do both seated and standing sprints. Full recovery (at least 5 min) before the next power sprint. Perform five to eight sprints per training session.
Power sprints are great to make neural adaptations. They’ll help you make more powerful launches of attacks and sprints. It is probably the closest you’ll get to heavy strength training on your bike. And it is probably the most specific way you can do strength training. Thus, I also recommend these power sprints in combination with weight lifting during the winter season.
Please note that this little exercise doesn’t cover all aspects of race-winning moves. So you still have to pay attention to anaerobic endurance, VO2 max, threshold power etc.
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