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Training program guidelines for junior and developing track cycling sprinters

Training program guidelines for junior and developing track cycling sprinters

BY PCC Head Coach Lee Povey

Racing age 12 and under
Fun only, one or two sessions a week with no physical training emphasis, only skills work. These sessions should be seen as play. Examples such as

  • Slow riding skills, add obstacles like cones to ride around, add skills such as a bottle to pick up and move
  • Pace-line warm up practicing changes, big emphasis on observation (always looking before moving).
  • Ribbon drill; follow the leader lines on the track. Using experienced riders to lead with the riders behind 2-3 bike lengths apart and the front rider moving up and down the track. The riders stay in line with no passing

Racing age 13-14
Still seen as fun only, no focus on racing results. All races are seen as learning opportunities and there should be no focus on the result, including national championships.

Training and racing should be kept to 4 days a week maximum based entirely around skills and practice/real races. Athletes should be encouraged to try all of the cycling disciplines as well as other outside sports. Emphasis should always be fun and learning, never the result.

Good sessions for riders this age would be

  • Bike handling skills: Such as riding around cones on the track, riding close to other riders, bumping shoulders (never lean!). Track stands
  • Observation skills: Riding looking backwards, front rider trying to force the rear rider to the front and vice versa.
  • Games: Like “sumo” where the riders ride in a circle with the aim to be the last rider left in the circle by making others put their foot down or by riding them out of the circle markings. Contact is allowed as long as hands and feet stay on the bike at all times. Best done on the infield ore parking lot, mark the circle out with cones and make the circle smaller as the game goes on.

A typical week might look like

  • Mon: Rest day
  • Tues: Local track training session, emphasis on skills not physical development, pick two or 3 from the list above
  • Wed: 45-60min road ride or schools sports
  • Thurs: Roller session, practicing skills like no hands and one legged riding
  • Fri: Rest day
  • Sat: Race, track session or team sports day
  • Sun: Rest

Racing age 15-16 and older developing riders new to the sport of track cycling
These riders can now start progressing to what we might consider “real” training, at this age the sprinters can start specializing. They can still do the occasional bunch racing for awareness and skills practice but the training should be solely focused on speed.

Maximum 5 days of training a week (this total includes race days). You can start introducing gym work at this stage although the focus should squarely be on learning technique with no need to start pushing the loading, have at least 6 months of good technique development before adding any kind of real weight to the bar.

This is a vital stage in an athlete’s career where bad advice and too much load can severely hamper or even limit their development and ultimate potential. As a coach your role will often be keeping their ego and peer pressure in check and holding them back from doing too much. Again there should be a big focus on skill development; this is the time to lay down the tactical knowledge and bike handling skills that can advance them throughout their athletic careers. The driver for training loads should ALWAYS be the long-term progression and development of the athlete. Never sacrifice that for a short-term goal. Most World and Olympic champions in all sports didn’t even medal at junior level.

A typical week might look like

  • Mon: Rest day
  • Tues: Gym technique session followed by roller sprints
  • Wed: 60mins level 2 road ride aiming at 100 rpms
  • Thurs: Standing Starts: Bumping drills in the warm up followed by observation practice in the cool down
  • Fri: Gym technique session
  • Sat: Rest day
  • Sun: Track session, flying efforts e.g. flying 100’s or speed endurance like a rolling 500, roller w/u with track skills e.g. track stands, ribbon riding in the cool down

Gearing should be kept at or below their gear restriction with the exception of starts, which can go to a max of 4” over their age group limit. As an example, we kept a rider I coached in gears 2-4” below his gear limit as a 15-16 rider on his local slow outdoor track. Doing so, his cadence was similar to what it would be on his correct gear limit at the bigger events on the faster tracks. This led to him winning both the 15-16-match sprint and 500m TT at the national championships.

It is vital you keep it fun and without pressure, especially with the younger age riders. Racing age 16 riders is where you can start to be a little more serious about the training and racing, ONLY if led by the athlete, at no stage should a coach EVER push riders to race or train, only encouragement. Give them the opportunities and the more serious ones will jump at them. If possible at this stage have these developing riders train with serious elite athletes so they can see what it takes to become successful.

Racing age 17-18 and developing older riders with previous high level sports experience
Now is the time the training can become more serious and approach elite levels of workload while still being very aware these are developing athletes, many of whom will still be physically growing. Also take into consideration the athlete’s emotional maturity level and factor this into their training and racing levels. Those that are more emotionally advanced can be encouraged to be more independent while those a little less advanced will need more support and “hand holding”.

With their testosterone levels soaring, now is the time to start building a solid physical platform for the future.

Gym loads (AS LONG AS TECHNIQUE IS EXCELLENT) can now start to be pushed for real athletic development. Progress their gearing from the restricted 15-16 level while still working a wide cadence range suitable for all the sprint events. As an example the top British race age 18 sprinter in 2015 did a 10.2 200m TT on 100” gear.

  • A typical week might look like
  • Mon: Standing Starts
  • Tues: Am Gym strength session. PM Track flying 100’s
  • Wed: 60mins level 2 road ride aiming at 100 rpms
  • Thurs: Pm Track rolling 500’s
  • Fri: Gym strength session.
  • Sat: 60mins level 2 road ride aiming at 100 rpms
  • Sun: Rest day

Regular rest blocks/easy weeks are vital for the athletes recovery and to stop them becoming overly fatigued. The misconception that “fitness” is the base for sprinters is long gone. Now we know that specificity is key. Aim at 3-4 training cycles per year with an easy or rest week at the end of each block.

Markers and world level performance goals for racing age 15-16 athletes

Technique

Able to perform basic gym skills with good form such as

  • Squats
  • Deadlift
  • Overhead squat
  • Plank

Able to perform basic riding skills such as

  • Track stand
  • Riding a lap of the track only looking backwards while maintaining their desired line
  • Able to observe other riders over both shoulders and under their arms
  • Proper execution of a standing start and a flying 200m TT

Able to perform basic tactics such as

  • Leading a sprint from the front and holding a rider on their hip
  • Correctly rushing the gap from behind
  • Knowing when and how to use height and the shape of the track to their advantage

Performance standards

Male

  • Peak power 17-20 watts per kilo of body weight and above
  • Sub 11.4 flying 200m TT
  • Sub 19.5 Standing 250m TT
  • Sub 35.50 Standing 500m TT

Female

  • Peak power 13-15 watts per kilo of body weight and above
  • Sub 12.6 flying 200m TT
  • Sub 20.5 Standing 250m TT
  • Sub 37.7 Standing 500m TT

Track training session examples for 15-16 and older athletes

Speed

Flying 100’s: 4 x flying 100m’s efforts. The aim is to reach the start of the 100m at the highest speed possible, if on a track use the full height of the banking to achieve this with an out of the saddle acceleration. Remember to hold the black line at the bottom of the track and keep aero e.g. arms bent and elbows tucked in.

Rollers sprints: 4 x 10s sprints, 10min progressive warm up then 10 seconds flat out, 8mins recovery pace and repeat 4 times, finish with a 10min cool down. Remember to have a still and relaxed upper body, head looking forward, arms bent and tucked in. Use a 79-84″ gear.

Speed Endurance

Rolling 500’s: 4 x 500m, rolling in at 15-20mph and staying seated accelerate flat-out and then hold as high a speed as you can for the whole effort, have at least 20mins seated rest between efforts. Concentrate on staying smooth, having a still upper body, keeping elbows tucked in and staying aero. If on a track start the effort on the blue line and drop down to the black as the effort starts, practice staying as close as possible to the black line.

Flying 300’s: 3-4 x flying 300m’s efforts, the aim is to reach the start of the 200m line at the highest speed possible and carry on for a further 300m, if on a track use the full height of the banking to achieve this with an out the saddle acceleration. Remember to hold the black line at the bottom of the track and keep aero eg arms bent and elbows tucked in. 20mins seated rest between efforts.

Strength/power

Standing starts: 3 x 75m, 1 x 125m x 3 sets, sets 1 and 2 out the saddle and set 3 seated, 2-3mins easy riding between efforts and 15-20mins seated rest between sets. Ideally from a held start with a 5s gate count down, if not from a very slow roll in. Alternate starting legs.

Accelerations: 3 sets of 2 x 125m accelerations per set, first rep out the saddle, second rep seated. Rolling in at 15-20mph on the blue line start on the pursuit line and turning down to the black line accelerate flat-out to the pursuit line on the other side of the track (250m track). Have 5mins rolling rest between efforts and 15-20mins seated rest between sets.

Gym training session examples for 15-16 and older athletes

Session one

Warm up of 5-8mins gym bike easy spinning, 2-4mins elliptical
These Dynamic stretches
Overhead squat 3 x 8 very light weight, this is still part of the warm up
Hex bar deadlift 3 x 8
Single leg squat 3 x 8
Single leg press 3 x 8
Dumbbell bench press 3 x 8
Seated row 3 x 8
This core routine
Performance Cycle Coaching core routine

Session two

Warm up of 5-8mins gym bike easy spinning, 2-4mins elliptical
These Dynamic stretches
Overhead squat 3 x 8 very light weight, this is still part of the warm up
Squat 3 x 8
Step ups 3 x 8
Dumbbell shoulder press 3 x 8
Pull ups 3 x 8
This core routine
Performance Cycle Coaching core routine