Balancing Force Training for Long Term Development of Sprint Cyclist and Associated Training Methods

Andrew Harris, M.S., USA Cycling Certified Coach www.facebook.com/tracksprint
High levels of strength and power developed in the gym provide the base from which a sprint cyclist develops. The sprinter must be able to apply this strength gained in the gym to make specific power on the bike. To be successful the athlete must be able to apply great force (torque) over a wide range of cadences. We like to call this specific force training. If we look at the definition of force we see that it is a product of Mass x Acceleration, F=M*A. We control the M (mass) with gearing choice. The other half of the equation, acceleration, is the focus of this discussion. To train to develop force across a wide range of race specific cadences (0- 150+ rpm); we like to break the acceleration into three parts or phases. By focusing and training one phase of the acceleration at a time, we are able to maximize the development of force and power in that specific rpm range. Although, we do use longer accelerations or efforts that combine more than one phase of the acceleration to develop strength/speed endurance, pure acceleration work is "neural" in nature. Pure acceleration efforts are mostly limited from 7 to 15 seconds and predominately involve the anaerobic alactic processes. Training of all three phases is done year round. The emphasis may change according to training emphasis or to correct individual weaknesses, but the ultimate mid/long-term goal must be to develop all 3 traits equally, in a balanced progression. By doing this, we will ensure the possibility of a successful multi-year development and a good career for the developing sprinter. We divide acceleration into three phases: A) Strength Acceleration (0-100 rpm) B) Power Acceleration (100-130 rpm) C) Speed Acceleration (130-160+ rpm) As a rule for pure acceleration training in the higher rpm zones, we want to eliminate or minimize effort or energy required to accelerate through the lower cadence zones. For example, if we are training power acceleration, we want to eliminate energy used to accelerate from 0-90 rpm. If we wish to train high speed power, we want to eliminate effort taking us through the strength and power acceleration zones. This way, maximal effort can be made in the targeted rpm range. Below are some examples of various acceleration methods and how we can target specific acceleration zones: A) Strength Accels (0-100 rpm): These are done in the form of standing starts or K1's on varying gears for distances up to 80 meters (1/4 lap). Gear size limits the peak cadence to about 100 rpm's or less. These efforts require tremendous low speed torques which is strongly associated with musculotendinous stiffness. (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20019624) M-T stiffness is best trained with near maximal weights. Power Accels (100-130 rpm): Depending on gear size, power accels are maximal accelerations done from about 28-40kph. we generally roll off of the banking from various points on the track to speed without effort to begin these. We may do seated or standing efforts depending on the training affect desired. Motor-chase accels are another drill for drawing out big power in this rpm range. Speed Accels (130-160+ rpm): Depending on gear size speed accels begin from 42 to 60 kph. We typically utilize a combination of the banking, a leadout, or the motor to bring us to speed with as little

B) gather

c)

effort as possible before beginning the maximal acceleration at speed. Flying efforts with a motor leadin are a typical drill for speed accels. The central coaching point is no matter what the entry speed; the rider must think and perform with "maximal acceleration and power". When utilizing the motorbike for motor-chase accel training there should be no floating behind the motor, each stroke is maximal (this requires good skill from the motor driver). Likewise, motor lead-outs provide a windbreak during the early acceleration phases. Once up to speed and the motor pulls out of the way, there must be maximal acceleration into the wind. We are trying to achieve the maximal torques possible, regardless of the pedal speed. Without maximal acceleration, maximal torques (force) can never be achieved. Below are a couple of graphical representations of a multi-year development model for a developmental sprinter and how it fits into the force velocity relationship.

High Speed Power 130-160+ RPM

Mid-Range Power 90-130 RPM

VELOCITY

Year 2
Low- Speed Power 0-90 RPM

Year 1 12112 FORCE Unbalanced Development “Pinching of power curves near the velocity axis, indicates unbalanced long term development. This example is typical for a sprinter who has over-emphasized gym work and has given too little time to developing power at a high rpm range.

High Speed Power 130-160+ RPM

Mid-Range Power 90-130 RPM

VELOCITY

Low- Speed Power 0-90 RPM

FORCE Ideal Development Long term developmental power curves shift evenly from year to year. This is the optimal progression, allowing for an eventual high performance. Andrew Harris, M.S. USA Cycling Certified Coach www.facebook.com/tracksprint www.sprintersedge.com

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