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 close the gap without struggling because your attempt lacks power.
If we 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 aggressive attempts, you are likely above 1000 watts or even higher.
Such efforts require the activation of all relevant muscle fibers available. But you can lift your maximum power significantly if you train in this specialty.
Power sprints as part of the transition from winter training
In the last couple of years, weight lifting has gotten more attention from cycling coaches and athletes. More coaches believe you can gain advantages by weight lifting as part of your winter training.
One of the challenges is to secure that athletes can convert all the time spent in the weight lifting gym to better performance on the bike. In addition, since road cyclists and mountain bike riders are primarily interested in neural adaptations, the choice of exercises should also be particular.
You get stronger at the movements and lifting patterns you train in weight lifting. So there is only a limited transfer of strength gain from one exercise to another. And you see the same when you jump over at your bike again.
So even if you make a 50% gain in your one-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 most incredible things about power sprints is that you can easily combine these sprints with other intervals.
Not much recovery is required after a couple of sprints to perform scheduled aerobic intervals later in the same training session. Since these sprints are almost ‘recovery-free,’ I use them frequently in winter, pre-season, and in-season training programs.
Typically one to two times per week during the first hour of a training session.
How to improve your explosiveness with power sprints
From a slow speed (0 to 5 km/hr), make an explosive acceleration for about 10 seconds. Use gear ratio 53 / 14-17 teeth. You can make 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 for making 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 perhaps the most specific way you can do strength training.
Thus, I recommend these power sprints combined with weight lifting during winter.
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.