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By Columnist Genevieve Whitson – Professional Cyclist:

Robert Gesink Climbing Alpe D'Huez

I have had a lot of cyclists tell me that they have a bad sprint. They say they never win sprints and don’t have fast twitch muscles capable of doing the job. My question to these cyclists is always the same, “Have you actually trained your sprint?” While a few uber lucky individuals have a natural talent for sprinting and placement in the peloton, the other 99% of us need to learn how. Therefore, my mantra is, ‘what isn’t natural can be taught’.

Sprint Training

Before you can train your sprint, you firstly need to find out what sort of sprint you have in you. To find your sprint, select a section of road that is around 1km long, relatively flat and without much traffic, and try the following:

Make your first sprint 50-metres, and record your time.

  • Allow yourself to recover.
  • Then try a 200-metre sprint.
  • Recover.
  • Then try 500-metres.
  • Recover.
  • And lastly, try a 1km sprint and then recover.

When you’ve finished, have a look at your times. What felt easier? What felt more comfortable and where did you feel you suffered the most?

Some people have a great jump on them, making them a brilliant 50-metre sprinter. While others have a good wind up engine meaning they can push slightly less power but sustain this power for longer.

Once you know what sort of sprint you have, work on it. Build some sprint training into your calendar. Practice once a week around two months out from your big race, on the same road. Then practice in a bunch where you can work on being in the front two rows and being ready to go for the café line. Note your times over the two month period. As your muscles get used to some fast twitch workouts, you’ll see the times coming down.

You can also do gym work over the winter months to build more power in your legs. The main thing to remember is that the recovery time after a gym session can be at least a few days, so don’t go trying to punch big numbers on the bike directly after a weights session! Kettlebells, dumbells, deadlifts and squats will all help muster up more power in your legs – a good winter block will do wonders for the summer race sprints.

Lastly, take a friend on for sprint challenge, play around with it and get used to going head to head. It will make it a lot easier on the big day that counts – knowing you’ve had a little preparation in the bag.

About Our Cycling News and Review Columnist

Jarlath-Cross-20131-960x576_GenevieveGenevieve Whitson is a NZ born, British/Scottish cyclist, based in Edinburgh, Scotland. Gen has a raced at the highest level for Road, Cyclocross and Mountain biking, have competed in four World Championships, multiple World Cups as well as riding professionally on the road. Gen has raced all around the globe on the road bike and is currently riding for a Belgium team, Isorex competing in all the major spring classics.

Highlights of her career include gaining a top 30 finish at the World Cyclocross Championships, a stage win in a major USA road tour, and winning the 2015 Scottish National Hill Climb Champs. Gen also loves to ride a rickshaw in Edinburgh for strength training on the side and is heavily involved in supporting/mentoring up and coming female/male athletes to ride to their potential. Her mantra on the bike is: Eat the pain…

Disclaimer: The information published in this column is the author’s own professional and personal knowledge, and opinion. This information and opinion are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment of any manner. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding any medical condition and consult a qualified medical professional before beginning any nutritional program or exercise program. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on InShape News.

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