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Sprint training is the easiest and most common way to get faster as it teaches the rider to be explosive and fast. The specific nature of sprint training on the bike carries over immediately onto the track as it replicates the same type of short efforts in racing. Additionally, sprint training is the best training to improve each phase of the first straight. Further, it it also a perfect time for riders to strengthen their acceleration position. Again, without form riders will not be efficient nor effective out of the gate and down the first straight. Other benefits include improving specific weaknesses such as specific strength, power and leg speed. Sprint training is great overall quality time on the bike and a perfect time for riders to develop away from the track. In addition to these benefits, there are more benefits physically and psychologically when it comes to sprint training. Read what more about what the BMX Coach Greg Romero has discovered for you!
Increase the ability to coordinate muscle groups specifically. Getting all of the components of the head and eyes, upper body, core and lower body muscles to work together in the right direction is a skill in itself. If you can not produce consistent coordination, then your execution of sprinting ability will reflect this unpredictability.
RECRUIT MORE MUSCLE
Potentially stimulate and recruit muscle fibers that are not being stimulated by the demands of the local track. The practice sessions at the local track is the same imposed stimulus every effort. Your body adapts to it therefore improvements usually taper off. This isn’t a bad thing. However if you want to find extra power and speed you will need to find it off the track by imposing a different stimulus, a different demand of sprinting. Sprinting on a different grade other than your local hill and or first straight can raise the potential ceiling of leg strength, leg power and leg speed, therefore making you even faster than you were riding the track only.
IMPROVE SPECIFIC ENERGY
Sprint training sessions target the anaerobic metabolic pathway. What does this mean? to make it simple for you to understand think of the fuel needed to fire muscles powerfully, this fuel burns quickly and basically you run out within seconds. You will need to rest to make a full recovery before you do that next gate start, and depending on your fitness, your ability to restore this fuel will vary from a few short minutes to a few more minutes than your average professional. Perhaps some of you who do not train might not even be recovering 100% at all. Sprint sessions will target and improve your ability to recover and replenish the specific fuel needed for these explosive efforts, making you more efficient and less tired when you dive deep into gate start sessions, giving you a better quality workout.
IMPROVE THE SIGNAL
The communication from the brain to the muscles uses a neurological pathway and the more the pathway is used the stronger the signal becomes therefore the swiftness and the clarity of the message delivery is improved! This means improvement in reaction and quality of muscle contraction. Scientifically speaking this process is known as myelination – the insulation of the sheath that surrounds the nerve pathway gets stronger. You can simply improve myelination through repetition and sprint sessions is an awesome way to improve the quality of the signal through myelin. Conversely, bad habits are also formed through myelin and that’s why they are hard to break – the signal is too strong! Perfect practice make perfect habits!
CONFIGURE MENTAL EFFORT
For many, you can improve and configure mental effort. The brain has to learn to translate 100% intensity to the muscles. In essence, your training the brain to train the intensity, the grit, the effort needed to get the bike moving faster. Something that young riders may have a problem reaching on the track due to mental distractions such as fear of obstacles and or other riders around them.
IMPROVE RACE VISUALIZATION
Riders can simulate their races mentally as they sprint by visualizing racing the competition from the gate, to the first jump or on other areas of the track. In return, this will help the rider feel like they have already raced the competition potentially improving certainty of racing, improving their focus and confidence.
Sprinting imposes a huge demand on focus as the rider needs to coordinate the movement correctly at the highest intensity possible. Riders can spend time focusing on themselves and no one else around them which typically happens in practice. Riders can also focus on their technique without the aid of competition (including competitive practice at the track) interfering.
Riders can potentially increase confidence because sprint sessions have a mental effect of accomplishment. In addition, riders will potentially feel faster at their next track session and will build off of that sensation as well. Riders can also improve confidence if they also see measurable data has improved. Data such as times, average power using a power meter, or even top speeds are all data that riders can feed off of.
Overall, sprint training is the best bang for the buck as you don’t have to work around the local track schedule in an effort to develop leg speed and power. You can go deep into developing phases of the first straight or other areas of your racing and you can further add to the automaticity development component that is also critical in competition.