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PostPosted: Sun May 24, 2015 1:14 am 
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What are some of your favorite training and workout regimen to improve sprinting? Would be great to get a few ideas.


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Posted: Sun May 24, 2015 1:14 am 


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PostPosted: Sun May 24, 2015 2:46 pm 
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I do some gym work and try to do some sprinting during my regular rides. Usually when I'm a bit bored. :P


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PostPosted: Mon May 25, 2015 5:36 pm 
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Running sprints pulling a sled with a shoulder harness with about 300-400 lbs on the sled. Sprint till you drop. Literally. Rest and repeat.

Carry a sandbag (40 to 80 lbs) on your shoulders and sprint stairs or a hill. Alternatively, a backpack with a comparable weight. Trail running up a mountain, sprinting every uphill, with 30 lbs or so in a backpack is a workable variation with better views.

On the trainer, full-on maximal sprints, starting at about 60 rpm and accelerating to 140+ rpm. If you don't puke and fall off the bike, increase the load and repeat until you do. Once you puke once, you get to stop. You can't do multiple maximal sprints in one session so get one done, then go take a nap.

Becoming a strong sprinter is about building your metabolic capability, your leg strength, your ability to coordinate your whole body into an explosive extreme effort, and training specific motion in your legs. Free weights can build leg strength, and the explosive part improves with plyometrics (box jumps, etc.), your specific motion training works well on a trainer before you get on the bike and actually sprint, but your tolerance, your metabolic capacity, and your coordinated power are challenged really well by sprinting (not on a bike) with significant resistive load. This last part can be the most exhausting but it's for many people the most effective way to work right at your maximum until you drop without any physical or psychological impediments.

This kind of training needs to be programmed into your overall program. It's hard to do this properly at the same time one's trying to build the rest of one's racing repertoire.


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PostPosted: Mon May 25, 2015 10:56 pm 
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Old school and I am sure someone here can correctly discredit the physiology of this but I go to a local hill that peaks at around 17% and break up my sprint into two fazes:
1)Acceleration- Track stand at steepest part of hill to full on sprint. Working on the jump essentially.
2)Maintaining Pace- Coming back of the hill in large gear at speed, maintaining the speed in full sprint, focusing on position usually around 200m.

Don't know if terribly effective, just a workout I like. Coach taught it to me back in the early 90s.

I do some weight lifting and plyometrics through the winter, though not really for my sprint per se just for changeup and bone density. Not quite pulling a sled like the guy above but I take my kids to the sledding hill and pull them up in full sprint. Think Rocky Balboa in Rocky 4, accept pulling little girls up the hill. Good workout and kids love it. Lazy buggers that they are.


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PostPosted: Tue May 26, 2015 5:39 am 
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drchull wrote:
Old school and I am sure someone here can correctly discredit the physiology of this but I go to a local hill that peaks at around 17% and break up my sprint into two fazes:
1)Acceleration- Track stand at steepest part of hill to full on sprint. Working on the jump essentially.
2)Maintaining Pace- Coming back of the hill in large gear at speed, maintaining the speed in full sprint, focusing on position usually around 200m.

Don't know if terribly effective, just a workout I like. Coach taught it to me back in the early 90s.

I do some weight lifting and plyometrics through the winter, though not really for my sprint per se just for changeup and bone density. Not quite pulling a sled like the guy above but I take my kids to the sledding hill and pull them up in full sprint. Think Rocky Balboa in Rocky 4, accept pulling little girls up the hill. Good workout and kids love it. Lazy buggers that they are.


Nothing in particular to discredit here. There are ways to make a sprint workout a bit more effective, but mostly it's in the commitment to reach new maximum power levels. It's at the margin that you train best for sprints (not talking about other events here) and maximal output training also limits the amount of mass you add, which of course helps get you to the finish. I like the gym so I tend to do more there, partly because it's reproducible and measurable. I find with a lot of riders that they can't reach the same energy outputs on a bike that they can on weights or ergo or a sled. Depends on your personal skills and training style.


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PostPosted: Tue May 26, 2015 10:04 am 
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Ahillock wrote:
What are some of your favorite training and workout regimen to improve sprinting? Would be great to get a few ideas.


Road or track?

And is the sprint actually a deciding factor in races, or are you doing it just for fun?

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PostPosted: Tue May 26, 2015 3:45 pm 
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All training that gets your FTP and VO2max higher..meaning you'll be fresher in the end when it's time for a sprint. :beerchug:
It works for intermediates too no matter from a big group or small group. 8)


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PostPosted: Tue May 26, 2015 3:54 pm 
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Pure power:
-Standing sprints starting in a really large gear and sprinting until you hit ~85RPM
-Find a V shaped descent/hill. Go down it fast enough to come into the hill overgeared and hit it max effort for 10-15s trying, but never managing to wind out the gear. I would say slightly lower cadence, so top out at 90RPM
-Seated "tractor pulls". Google this one for Hunter Allen's description.
-"12 sprints". A workout a coach once gave me. Start in your 53x16 or 17 and do a seated sprint until you hit your max sprint RPM. Go from a slow roll of 8-10mph. Drop to the next smallest cog and repeat. 6 gears down until you hit your 11 or 12, then go back up the cassette standing.

Power= force x velocity, so eventually working some velocity helps:
-Seated small ring sprints from a near stop. Focus on holding an uncomfortably high cadence for 5-10s of a 15s effort.
-Standing small ring sprints. Same as above, but standing.
-Use a gear lighter than your normal sprint gear and find a downhill into a flat section or use a tailwind. Make sure you are close to race speed. Pick a point roughly 200m away. Sprint towards it but resist shifting and focus on that initial snap.
-Sprint starts. 5x5min of a 5-10s sprint jump on the first part of the minute, rest of the minute at zone 2.

Lastly, you can throw sprints onto the end of basically any interval for 5-15s or thereabouts. This list should be enough to add some variation to your routine. For the harder efforts try to rest for 2-5min and let your CP system fully replenish itself if maximal output is the goal. And as others mentioned since sprinting is often about form and comes at a point in a race that is sort of hard to mimic every day just toss some into your rides focusing on form.

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PostPosted: Tue May 26, 2015 6:31 pm 
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There are a few issues with many sprint drills.

First, translating power from, say, 85 rpm, to 120-140 rpm, just doesn't happen without specific training. Sprinters got coached for years with heavy free weights alone and never got the results at higher cadence.

Second, one can integrate different aspects of power drills on a bike, but the individual building blocks need more focus than most people achieve on the bike -- one can't develop maximal leg power because core and upper body aren't equally strong, it's hard to differentiate between getting stronger arms or stronger back or stronger legs (and then not being sure where the weak link is). And so on.

The typical sprint drill (including several of those described here) shows a rapid increase in wattage as one starts, but then a very rapid erosion (literally, for many people, within a few seconds). It's the nature of a sprint that it has to maintain or even build power output. That's where translating power up to higher cadences becomes problematic.

Third, small gear cadence drills don't translate well to big gear speed or cadence. On the track you're seeing World Cup sprinters in 51x14 to 53x14 gearing now, and they are doing phenomenal times because they have really trained well and the whole state of sprint training has improved so far. And we've seen the evolution of much bigger gears in road sprints as well. Everyone on the track has watched people spinning away all winter in a 63 inch gear and then not having the legs even to start a kilo effort. The body is pretty dumb when it comes right down to it -- it trains for precisely what it is subjected to, and low gear drills don't train it for big gear racing. Not saying you live in big gears, but the purpose of the gym is to get you into the big gears. Sprint 25-50 meters while pushing a big sled and you'll see how strong you can become. For grins, here's an amusing video making the rounds in the track community:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lUE0rqRqZmM&app=desktop

I was involved with the Australian national track team on several fronts for about three years, and since then have been at the Manchester velodrome for extended coaching and management alongside the British national track team and frequently parts of the Sky road team. Both teams have been very successful focusing sprint strength development on weights, integrating strength into rapid sled work and some plyos, then putting it on the WattBike, and only then getting on the road or track with it. Once one is riding one's bike, there are a lot of other issues to manage so the sprint should come almost automatically. And as most people who have tried to develop a fast sprint have discovered, it's quite hard to translate power at 85 rpm to power at 120-140 rpm. And it doesn't matter so much whether it's road or track -- the riders at the front of a bunch sprint are still going to be doing high cadence and be riding at comparable speeds.

There's lots of "how I was taught to do it" in sprint development, but this is perhaps the one area that has benefited most from modern training techniques. I'd have to say that the research literature and modern training methods are frequently at odds, but that's more a fault of the research methodologies. The studies have generally been poorly controlled and don't account for issues that may appear peripheral but are intrinsic to speed performance. It's partly why there's increasing skepticism among national level coaches regarding parts of the current research literature on high-output training. Just look at all the athletes relying on the research literature but not translating it into winning. Modern training methods among the best teams have gotten rather pragmatic -- there's only one question to be answered, and that is whether it helps you win. It's interesting to spend a few days with the British national track team -- you don't hear any discussion of literature, and there's a feeling that the research literature is trying to document or validate what is already demonstrated in practice at the coaching level.

Bottom line, the real determinants are whether you are naturally gifted to be a sprinter, and whether you are willing (and able) to put out the maximal efforts needed to build sprinting speed. If you don't have the gift, you don't really have the ability even to train enough to excel as a sprinter. And then, it takes a lot of experience to gauge how you use that speed, how to accelerate in a crowded bunch finish, and so on and so on. More talented riders lose because they fail in an actual race -- head issues, smarts, lack of confidence, whatever. Cavendish told me that he didn't feel confident in a sprint finish unless he already knew how fast he was and how rapidly he could accelerate in the gym. All he has to do is bring his speed to a bunch finish and he knew what he could do. Other top road sprinters say the same. They don't expect riding to build that ability to win. Time on the bike is devoted more to being sure that they are still in contention at the finish -- the most elementary aspect of winning a sprint is to be there to contest it.


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PostPosted: Tue May 26, 2015 9:20 pm 
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Holy word dump.

Let me reiterate that since this is a road forum I was recommending workouts obtained from pro road coaches for road racers. There is obviously a lot more to it than that, but the OP seemed to be wanting some very basic bike workouts. I recommended workouts that enhance motor unit recruitment and rate firing, which, as you said, aren't the same as a sprint. I never said they were, but the thing is that for developing both strength and leg speed you can start with the most effective way to build the physical capacities and then work towards specificity. Basic concept. I would never tell a rider to do one of the above strength workouts right before a peak race, nor would you want someone to only ever do little ring sprints to build power. We're talking about an amateur riding seeking information out on a weight-oriented web forum, not a pro or high level rider with a lot of resources. Chances are such riders just want something basic to pass their time with and work on some tangential aspects of sprinting.

For me personally the above drills during the winter actually helped a lot. I've gone back to the overgeared work for the reasons Andy Coggan has noted- doing lots of bursts in upper Q2 is akin to on the bike strength work. My best peak wattages came when that was a steady part of my pre-season base build and it helps translate off-the-bike work into a specific pedaling motion. The velocity drills were also a great tool for not being in too big of a gear in a sprint and being unable to "jump", which was another weakness of mine. When you consider most crits or road races in the U.S. have a turn near the finish line its often the one with first initial pop that wins.

Another reason that many prefer the non-specific drills I listed is that they are not metabolically challenging and yet a way to work on various aspects of form before putting it all together. Its easy for a rider to add this stuff in and not be taxed by it and maintain several capacities they can later put together. I am not disagreeing with your long and very spot-on post and these workouts are not all I would ever do to try and become a good sprinter, but its a simple starting point.

I'm curious about your background and job as a cycling coach- would you care to disclose more? I'm not calling you out or doubting you, but it sounds like a bunch of really great experiences.

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PostPosted: Tue May 26, 2015 10:58 pm 
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KWalker wrote:
Holy word dump.

Let me reiterate that since this is a road forum ...


You might tame some of the condescension in your posts. It seems to be a thematic response to a variety of posts and posters.

And there is quite a bit of discussion of track on this forum. You should report it to the mods. The gap between track and road sprinting has also narrowed a lot, from both directions, so training principles for one overlap to the other. The OP didn't indicate any particular level of expertise so I respected him with a broad range of choices including some tough but productive ones. Doing serious sprint training in the middle of a road racing calendar isn't necessarily the way either to win or to improve at sprints. But thank you for pointing that out. To the OP, please clarify your racing level, power capabilities, race results, and how far you want this thread to take you with regard to training ideas. Don't take any comments on this thread as coaching advice. You need a coach for that, and to assess whether you are able to do any sprint training in the middle of your road season.


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PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2015 12:17 am 
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@11.4 some very interesting info there. Whilst there are differences between road and track sprinting obviously what would be key factors in your experience?

For the riders I coach I haven't had to ever really focus on anyone's sprint, building the engine to get to the end is still primary for most, a "natural" kick takes over from there.

Personally, I tried to be a kilo rider with the odd match sprint... And found out rather quickly that good numbers on the road don't mean squat against those track boys. Even after 2 years of training... yeah, no, different beasts indeed. Though an improvement to 1min power *did* play out well on the road, better than any arbitrary 5s (or less) "bragging rights" power numbers.

Have you had any truck with some more of the "fancy" gym-based session like using something akin to Litvinov conversions or post-attenuation potentiation to help "convert" weights based strength to actual power output? Or do more "simple" think like box jumps and other dynamic movements translate just as well?

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PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2015 6:52 am 
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Tapeworm wrote:
@11.4 some very interesting info there. Whilst there are differences between road and track sprinting obviously what would be key factors in your experience?

For the riders I coach I haven't had to ever really focus on anyone's sprint, building the engine to get to the end is still primary for most, a "natural" kick takes over from there.

Personally, I tried to be a kilo rider with the odd match sprint... And found out rather quickly that good numbers on the road don't mean squat against those track boys. Even after 2 years of training... yeah, no, different beasts indeed. Though an improvement to 1min power *did* play out well on the road, better than any arbitrary 5s (or less) "bragging rights" power numbers.

Have you had any truck with some more of the "fancy" gym-based session like using something akin to Litvinov conversions or post-attenuation potentiation to help "convert" weights based strength to actual power output? Or do more "simple" think like box jumps and other dynamic movements translate just as well?


Tape, you have a lot of background yourself, so I'm just adding incrementally to your prior comments. I can't disagree with anything substantial you've said.

But you asked about Litvinov conversions. Frankly, I can't see the point of exhausting my phosphate system with maximal or near-maximal lifts and then instantly going out to do a prolonged marginally anaerobic interval (which is what his 400m run amounts to, right?). The workout is brutal, no question, but I suspect he simply benefited from the lifting portion of the drill. If anything, even for advanced athletes, that run just prevents someone from duplicating sets at maximal levels. We debated this with some track sprinters and had a few of them do maximal squats and instantly move into weight-loaded stair runs, WattBike 60 second sprints, plyometric box jumps, etc. The thought was that if something would convert power training to speed training, this might be valuable. Riders were in fact able to do higher box jumps right at the moment, but probably due only to more intense muscle recruitment, because the next day and thereafter they couldn't duplicate the higher jumps. WattBike performance wasn't benefited by the drill in any of the riders. We tried other variations on this because so many classic on-the-bike workouts have the same pattern of maximal power interval followed by hard interval that should be aerobic but ends up anaerobic. Just think about a kilo -- your power profile for 5 seconds is like doing a lift, but then it's about how to maintain power through to the end of the kilo. We thought that a kilo rider would benefit from a Litvinov workout better than -- ironically -- a hammer thrower (double pun intended), but the kilo rider didn't seem to develop any sustained improvement. The studies done on Litvinov drills have been crappy at best, since there is so much going on in this workout and I haven't seen anyone who has identified exactly what might be happening, if anything. I don't think Litvinov would get much attention except that it resonates with the Crossfit crowd.

As for post-activation attenuation (or post-attenuation potentiation), myelo studies seem to show that it is happening, but I've never seen either valid research data or coaching data that show it actually benefits athletic performance. Some power lifters use it to goose up for a record lift, and that's about the only application I can see. For cycling, whether road or especially track, I don't see how it works. The Aussies were very interested in it and put Ryan Bayley and a few others through a lot of drills to exploit it, without achieving sustainable results. There may be a coaching regimen that succeeds with it but I haven't really seen it.

(I should say at this point that I do look at most of the exercise physiology and athletic research data with a great deal of skepticism. The studies are generally atrocious by the standards of other disciplines and most should never have been published. Some people like to search PubMed and the like for articles relevant to their sport, but it's a dangerous practice without someone weeding out the garbage. If a coach can't translate a concept into athletic improvement, measured by placings, times, and winnings, it isn't ready for prime time.)

You asked about road versus track? The two disciplines have become much more similar. Track sprinting isn't the old cagey tactical racing it used to be but goes from farther out and with much more power. If one can't kilo well, one can't really sprint well on the track these days. One wins a match sprint with a great 200m to place well (like a driving shot in golf) and a great kilo (think "drive for show, putt for show"). I know, bad analogy, but you get the point. You rarely see trackstands at the World Cup level any more and with track sprinting more standardized on 250 meter tracks, it's become more and more a drag race won by the kilo riders. On the road, you have more good trackies making the transition to follow the money, and the same tendencies that favor kilo riders on the track favor riders with good kilos in road sprints. There are still some specialty track events where sprinting is a very different effort -- I'm thinking madisons in particular -- but especially with the domination of the omnium in current track programming and the ubiquity of tracks at a length where lapping is not uncommon, the old pure sprinters like Daniel Morelon or Lutz Hesslich would struggle to do well.

As you've pointed out in various posts, one has to be in contention if one is to win a sprint. For the average amateur, the most valuable coaching is usually about how to be there at the finish. Getting dropped in a race frankly sucks -- this is a sport about winning, not placing -- and sprinting is frankly more a fantasy for the city limit sign on group rides than a racing reality for most amateur riders. But on the track, one can focus on the attributes to ride successfully the kilometer or so (or the distance involved in a relatively short scratch or points race). All the major track teams these days are very heavily invested in maximal workouts in the weight room, and their sprinters are transitioning successfully to road sprints.

Again, rather than theory, I'm simply asking to see what actually works for elite riders in terms of winning statistics -- think Moneyball for cycling. And I'm not trying to apply this to average pack-fill amateurs because to be very blunt, they are limited in terms of genetics, time available, coaching, and racing opportunity. Data from amateurs tends to be at best anecdotal and every coach has success stories but with rare exceptions not the real statistical demonstration that her/his sprint training method works better. We try to give them the opportunity to experience real track or specialized sprint coaching and do the workouts, and the successful ones develop and move up.

Since someone asked, I co-head a new promotion organization focused on developing track racing, while also paying attention to road and even marathons, triathlons, biathlons, and the like. We organize the major events and provide complete year-round programming for coaching, racing, and training. It's easiest to do around a track, so we're focused there at the moment, but that will expand. I've coached national level in Europe and the US, but I prefer to promote the events and leverage my time across more riders and events. The Australians more or less pioneered this approach and the British copied it, with equal success. We hope we can do the same here.

Since some forum members seem to think I'm too wordy, I'll leave it at this. Tape, please feel free to PM me. I've enjoyed your thoughts and the balance you bring to this forum.


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PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2015 11:23 am 
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11.4 wrote:
For the average amateur, the most valuable coaching is usually about how to be there at the finish


This is why I suggested training that gets FTP and VO2max higher. Personal records for say 5 second power tends to slip bit downwards if FTP is low and enought matches are burned during first 2-3-4 hrs. Coming into 1k cake in a small group it's a quickest from slowest guys/girls..the fast ones are probably left to the peloton in this case. Well of course w/ organised teams w/ pure sprinters in a forced group sprint it's different case.


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PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2015 3:02 pm 
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I don't think your wordiness was bad at all, just a lot to digest and think about when responding.

Lots of amateurs don't need impressive power to be there at the finish. Plenty of 300w FTP riders can make it to the end of local p 1/2 races. I don't want to post friend's and teammate's race results to a public forum, but if you want to see them via PM I could bolster this easily. Many riders top 10 simply out of positioning, not out of power necessarily.

Even then, I can use myself as a great example. Last season my peak 1hr MMP was 356w. I never broke 1200w in a sprint and due to poor positioning despite being "fresh" at the end of races I never broke the top 5. Guys with FTPs 10% lower were winning simply from choosing the right line or reading the wind right. For me sprint drills wouldn't necessarily change this except to break some bad habits, such as starting in too tall of a gear or not committing to the initial burst with full force. I know my max sprint won't suddenly improve and I won't become a sprinter, but as I said in my response to 11.4 that isn't necessarily what I would get out of doing sprint workouts. I will say, however, that I've seen an increase in 5-20s power from simply doing some of the workouts listed above and perfecting my form and muscle recruitment, which is a point that is being ignored. Many amateurs are simply not efficient on the bike, have very poor coordination, and when they sprint look like a bunch of noodles flopping around.

Post-activation attenuation (or post-attenuation potentiation) were big topics in olympic lifting and with track runners for a while when I was working in a fairly high level athlete prep facility, but most of the knowledge surrounding it was very limited to crude translations of Soviet/Eastern bloc programs and what some track runners did in the early 90's. It was always rumored that Ben Johnson did singles in the squat with 90%-95% of his 1RM before a 100 or 200, but the amount of people that actually know what he did seems to be close to 0. In the end what we found was that almost anything done explosively right before a maximal lift or attempt seemed to help performance as long as velocity was really high. For o lifters and powerlifters all this meant was doing warm-ups that focused on form and bar speed. For sprinters and football players it meant a few "snaps" or jumps, but nothing necessarily specific ever really yielded any results here or there.

I've thought about such workouts for cycling, but like 11.4 there just isn't much out there to support their mandate. Of the road programs I've been exposed to that utilize gym work the focus is not necessarily on "converting" gains in the gym, but using each modality to develop specific physiological capacities. No matter how you do it, weight training is not cycling. It is, however, often closed and open chain movements done in a manner that can stress the CP system, increase the effectiveness of muscular recruitment patterns, increase CNS rate firing, increase hypertrophy of Type II fibers that can take on Type 1 characteristics, and increase maximal stroke volume for short durations. When performed in longer sets there are benefits in tendon strength and joint alignment/stability. On the road most coaches have found that lifting's main benefit is to delay the onset of fast twitch and neural/central fatigue, which can be rate limiters of even endurance activity. Moreover, lots of road riders lack basic chain stability and become remarkably inefficient over the course of a season. Lifting is there to mainly aid in functionality.

I've posted additional studies in a strength training thread, but for the purpose of sprinting I would imagine that lifting would be treated as a separate and complimentary modality designed to make what is done on the bike more efficient. It will never be possible to convert x lbs squatted to y watts on the bike and from what 11.4 said and what I've read many attempts to "convert" or string the two together just results in one being done less efficiently. Non-cycling athletes have known this for quite some time so its no surprise.

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Posted: Wed May 27, 2015 3:02 pm 


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