Big gear bursts

big-gear-burstsAim of Session

Repeated bursts in your biggest gear 

Session description

WU: a thorough warm-up, allowing at least 15 minutes before commencing first sprint, included in session duration

MS: Mainly a zone 2 ride. Within the ride, from low speed, perform 20 x 30s sprints in your biggest gear. Recover in between with 2 mins easy pedalling.





A sprint effort in your biggest gear from low speed will require a huge amount of muscle torque (remember, power = torque x cadence). In all likelihood, this will require the body to fire as many muscle fibres as possible to develop enough torque to get you moving to peak speed. More muscle fibres recruited = more power capability (when peak power is the priority) but also more fibres to share the same power load (less fatigue when sustainable efforts are needed). There is very little time for metabolism to be the limiter to this session, especially given the very low work to rest ratio (i.e. 2 minutes recovery is ample to replenish the anaerobic energy stores used in each sprint)

Application for the Rider

This session is a good place to start when building sprint ability - by working on torque development first, the rider can then move to sprints using smaller gears (thus shifting attention to the cadence side of power production)

Practicalities and tips!

  • This session is best placed in the beginning of your training week, as it relies on peak muscle torque production: fresh muscle is the best muscle capable of this!
  • Don't look at your power meter when sprinting, focus instead on your form and hitting maximal effort
  • Complete all 20 efforts, even if you feel the quality is decreasing: even if power is lower, the body will still be attempting to 'fire' the appropriate nerves for muscle recruitment
  • If you are doing this session for the first time (or have history of knee issues), be prepared to use a slightly smaller gear, or even perform the sprint on a slight downhill - this will help the bike move quicker, and place less stress on your joints

Evaluation of the session

  • How were your peak powers?
  • Can you pick out when in the 30s sprint that you reached the peak (its not always straight away!)?
  • How did the peak values change over the 20 reps? Did the time of the peak shift?
  • Was 2 minutes long enough for recovery?