In the last article (pt2) I covered the training factors involved in sprinting and give prescriptions on how to improve your sprint. In this article, I am going to cover the time and timing of sprint training.
What do I mean by the time and timing of sprint training? The energy and muscles that allow us to deliver crushing sprints can actually be trained pretty quickly. This, however, does not mean that in a few short weeks that you will be able to quadruple your power output. What it does mean (In my experience) that in 8-12 weeks you can usually build out about 80% of the peak power necessary for improving your sprint. The rest of the season, if all goes well, will account for the balance of your gains.
While we do not sprint in the off-season it is the time to build the foundation for a stronger sprint. As a coach in this day and age, I utilize a periodized approach to providing training guidance to athletes.
The off-season months are all about endurance, muscle endurance, strength, strength endurance, speed (cadence) and just training to train more. This period of training can be from 12-16 weeks in length depending on when your first A race is. This period of training is all about building the foundation for your sprint. The volume of training should be high but intensity should not exceed moderate efforts. Increasing volume year over year is key to improving how many times you can attack in a race and still have something left in the tank for the sprint.
Once the early part of the spring or build period arrives my athletes will begin to work on race or event specific training factors that of course will include race like workouts. These workouts I call Kitchen Sink or Multifactor workouts, which will combine many efforts in one ride that mimic the situations that a cyclist will encounter in their race disciplines or events. This period of training rarely exceeds 8 weeks due to the intensity and the lead up to upcoming races. Volume is reduced and intensity climbs weekly!
During the race period, athletes must stay sharp, so race like group rides where athletes can apply tactics around sprinting and putting all their hard work to practice is key. Learning how, where and when to attack and sprint over varying terrain, courses and against regular competitors is key to learning how to win and will only help improve your sprint further.
Not even close! Now that you know what areas of work need to be added to your training plan I will cover in the next article about the mechanics of a sprint, places to sprint, where sprints are a waste of time and the timing of the execution of a devastating sprint.
Until next time,
Train Smarter Not Harder,