Knowledge Level: Intermediate
Our 4-week Sprint plan is designed for Intermediate/Advanced riders who want a sprinting specific conditioning block leading into the season.
Who is it suitable for?
Our 4-week sprinting plan is aimed primarily at riders who have completed our Pre-season Plan or, at the least our Off-season base builder plan, and are looking for a final sprint training block in preparation as they go into the season.
If you have not been following one of our plans but still want to work on your finishing sprint, this plan could still be suitable for you. You will however need to have trained consistently through the winter and built a solid strength and endurance base. Don’t be tempted to leap into these high intensity workouts as a get fit quick short cut. If you haven’t put the base work in over the winter, you will be risking potential injury and slipping into a state of overtraining. You should look to invest time in a structured plan to build the required base, such as our Off-season base builder plan, and target an event later in the season.
What will it give me?
The plan is designed to build on your existing strength and endurance base, developing your ability to accelerate and sustain a high intensity effort. This sprint fitness is essential for competing at the sharp end of circuit and road races but this four week block will also be beneficial to track riders, sportive riders who feel they lack top end speed and any riders who want to be able to challenge during village sign sprints. Don’t forget that sprinting isn’t just about the dash for the line, making a break, bridging a gap and accelerating out of corners all require a strong kick. Endurance isn’t neglected in this plan with longer weekend rides and intervals up to 10 minutes in length. There’s no point having a great sprint if you haven’t got the stamina to be there at the end.
How much training is involved?
The peak volume of this plan is just over five hours per week. If you have been following our Pre-season Plan, this will seem like quite a drop. However the emphasis of this plan is on quality rather than quantity. This applies not just to the workouts but the individual efforts within them. If you are too fatigued to be able to perform the workouts as specified, you won’t be developing your sprint optimally. Don’t be tempted to add in extra volume, you will be compromising the effectiveness of the plan.
Is it all cycling?
Unlike most of the other British Cycling Training Plans where you are given the option of at least one cross-training session, during this four week block your priority on non-cycling days should be rest and recovery. Strength work on your legs or running will add fatigue and compromise your ability to perform the workouts optimally. If you are looking for an activity for your rest days, you should focus on non-impact and restorative activities such as yoga, Pilates or swimming.
What equipment is involved?
If you have been following the Pre-season Plan or Foundation Plan, you will already be familiar with using either heart rate, power or a combination of them both. A power meter does represent a significant investment but, as long as you take the time to learn how to use it and interpret the data it provides, it can be invaluable. For higher level efforts especially, where heart rate lag can be an issue, a power meter ensures that right from the first pedal stroke you are riding at the correct intensity.
An indoor trainer will also be useful, especially if you haven’t got safe or suitable roads for the intense interval workouts. Don’t forget though that sprinting is as much about technical skill and bike handling as pure speed and power. Make sure you do perform some of the sessions on the road and also watch our Racesmart videos on How to sprint and How to position yourself for a sprint.
How flexible is the day to day structure?
With three rest days, there is plenty of scope for adjusting the day to day structure to suit the demands of your life.
Always try to schedule in a rest day before and after any of the sessions. The only exception to this is the longer weekend ride where a steady paced ride follows the harder Saturday effort. If you think you will struggle to get out twice at the weekend, prioritise the Saturday ride. Quality is more important than quantity, so don’t be tempted to try and squeeze all of the workouts in if you can’t allow the corresponding amount of rest and recovery time.
What happens at the end of the plan?
The final lower volume week should deliver you feeling fresh and ready to sprint. If you are keen to keep working on your sprinting, you can keep rotating through the plan. Compare your performances on the different sessions to the first time you worked through it and use this to track your improvement.
If you are racing weekday evening circuit races, you should substitute your race in for one of the midweek workouts. If you are racing at the weekend, either perform a pre-event ride or a recovery ride on either the day before or the day after depending on whether your race is on the Saturday or the Sunday.
There is no need to complete the Threshold Test every time you go through Week 1 but you should aim to re-test every 8-12 weeks.