Sprint! Get faster acceleration and make stronger neuromuscular connections
Integrating sprint work into your training regimen is a great thing to do throughout the year. You will benefit in race situations whether on the MTB or road/cyclocross bikes. Focused sprint efforts give you a variety of benefits from accelerating quicker with faster recovery, building overall muscular strength as well as making improved neuromuscular connections.
Seems pretty straightforward. If you can punch it harder for longer at all out effort this will translate to faster intermediate accelerations and with training you’ll be able to do them more often with quick recovery. This isn’t just a race application skill. Think about repeated short and steep sections on a trail. You’re trying to keep your speed and intensity high over the top of each as well as recover quickly for the next high torque effort.
Strength can be defined as how fast you can move an object. On a bike, strength helps to move you and your bike faster. Sprint training is focused on very short, high intensity efforts, i.e. 10-30 seconds. Properly executed sprint workouts make you feel like you’ve done multiple sets of deadlifts, lunges and squats! Your focus is to push as much strength/force possible into the pedals. As you work through the sets of sprints your muscles fatigue as you ask more from them each set. With proper recovery your muscles will bounce back stronger.
Producing maximal power on the bike requires a combination of body parts working together. As you brain tells the body to sprint you have to push on the pedals in their rotation while holding your core firm and strong as well as gripping the handlebars at just the right moment to gain an optimal effort. While these things require strength individually you must execute all of those actions simultaneously. Practicing sprints can be as much about coordination as building strength.
8x20 second sprints - Warm up for 15 to 20 minutes. Find a spot where you can repeat your sprints. Start from the same spot each sprint. This is as violent of an effort you can do while pedaling. Make sure to engage your pull as you push down on the pedals. Shift gears as needed while you are accelerating. You should hit your maximum speed at 20 seconds. Once your sprint is done spin super easy for 4:40 while you return to your sprint start point. Give yourself 10-15 minutes of easy spinning to cool down. You should feel surprisingly spent when you are finished.