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Track Cyclist Training

by
author image Mike Samuels
Mike Samuels started writing for his own fitness website and local publications in 2008. He graduated from Peter Symonds College in the UK with A Levels in law, business and sports science, and is a fully qualified personal trainer, sports massage therapist and corrective exercise specialist with accreditations from Premier Global International.
Track Cyclist Training
Cyclists riding on a track. Photo Credit Ryan McVay/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Being a track cyclist requires not only the ability to ride at high speed and hare round narrow bends, but also a great degree of leg strength, core stability and explosive power. It is far from just a case of pedaling quickly -- a whole host of fitness requirements come into it, meaning your plan needs to be tailored to address every aspect of the demands of track cycling.

The Strength: Cardio Split

The majority of your training as a track cyclist should, perhaps inevitably, take place on the track, notes Jamie Staff, former coach to team USA and team GB track cyclists. Staff suggests training up to 20 hours per week for elite cyclists. For those simply starting out in track cycling, two sprint track sessions, one longer ride and two gym-based strength workouts each week is ample.

Endurance vs. Speed

Split your track time up into two separate disciplines, advises Dan Currell, author of "Track Cycling -- An Introduction." You need to include both higher-cadence, longer-duration work and shorter, tougher sprint sessions. The majority of your time should be spent on these higher-intensity sprints though, adds Currell, as most track races are fairly short, ranging between 200 and 1,000 meters for the sprint events and 5 to 20 kilometers for the endurance events.

Keeping Pace

For your three sessions on the track, place one faster sprint session at the start of the week and the second at the end of the week, with your longer ride in the middle. The sprint sessions should be based around the distances you plan to compete in, so work with your coach and team mates to devise a plan of attack. The Velodrome Shop website advises including flying efforts sprints, which involve bursts of acceleration between 50 and 500 meters using different gears, as well as sessions trying to keep pace with a faster rider and under-gear training, where you use a lower gear, but increase your cadence.

Hit the Weights

Weight training is particularly useful for building lower-body strength and power, helping you transfer more force into the pedals and get a quicker ride. Australian professional cyclist Ben Kersten recommends focusing on single-leg and glute exercises. Moves like split squats, single-leg squats, deadlifts, kettlebell swings and leg presses can be particularly helpful. Many high-level track cyclists have supreme levels of strength; six-time, Olympic gold-medal winner Chris Hoy, for example, is reported to be able to squat 227.5 kilograms -- that's 500 pounds.

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