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You are here: Home / Up! Up! Up! / 03 - Introduction to sprint training / Strength, power, speed ...

Strength, power, speed ...

To win a bike race is simple, pedal harder or faster, or both, than the other guy, for long enough and be able to do it again a few times, and you win races.

Our underlying principle shapes the way we recommend you train for sprint.  We believe that the fundamental thing a sprint cyclist needs is speed.  Once you have speed, it's relatively easy to build speed-endurance.  To build speed you need two things.  Leg speed, which is the ability to move your legs fast, and strength to push big gears at those high leg speeds and to allow you to accelerate those gears from low speeds. While strength and power are distinct things we're going to be a little casual in our use of the term 'strength', purists, please bear with us, we're sprinters and as such, can be a little lazy at times.

This principle (speed then endurance, sometimes oddly known as 'reverse periodisation') determines the priority in which we train and is the most significant departure from the methods our endurance cousins employ.  While they're off burning away their muscle mass and turning fast twitch into slow twitch doing 200km road rides, we're in the gym building muscle and on the bike doing short, sharp efforts to teach our bodies to use the strength and power we've gained in the gym on the one piece of equipment we need, our bikes.

Road cycling selects for jockeys, track sprint selects for giants.   While It's certainly true that small and lean sprinters can be successful, the modern sprinter such as Anna Meares, Chris Hoy and their ilk are a far departure from the normal road or track enduro cyclist.  They're big, strong people, they lift heavy things in the gym and they push big gears on their bikes, very fast.  We (us, the sprinters, we'll assume you're a sprinter now you've read this far) have more in common with track and field sprinters and Olympic weightlifters than we do with roadies and track endurance cyclists, but we still ride bikes so we'll still be nice to them, as long as they don't get between us and the barbeque.  We'll even move their furniture for them if they ask us nicely, we're good at lifting heavy things.