The blog for serious cyclist

March 10, 2021
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How to Improve Your Sprint Power with Structured Workouts?

Using power zone training can seriously help level up your fitness and performance. Structured workouts will help you to improve every aspect of your performance on race day. In particular, if you are looking to improve your sprint power so that you can smash the end of your race (or ride), you should be utilising interval training and train in the Neuromuscular power zone.

Of course, track sprints and road sprinters have different physiology and training regimes. This article will focus on how you can level up your road sprint and ensure you have enough in the tank for a dash to the line, even after a long day in the saddle. As always, we recommend you to combine sprint power training and interval training with various other workouts to ensure that you have the endurance to even make it to the line with the front of the pack.

What makes a good sprint

The goal of a sprint is to reach the line as fast as possible. It is a speed and power output that is difficult to maintain for extended periods, so it is important to choose when to start your sprint wisely.

To reach the line first, you need to utilise your peak power (see below) to maintain a relatively high cadence (110+). To get your body to a fitness level where you can still enter the Neuromuscular Zone (more details on this below) takes a varied and dedicated training schedule. Whether you have a competition coming up or just want the bragging rights with your mates, refining your sprint gives you a huge boost in confidence and performance.

The key is being able to turn your strength and power into rapid acceleration when it matters most. To save energy, an essential part of your sprint in road cycling is the position on the bike. This is one of the main reasons that your road bike has drop handlebars. You need to be in an aggressive riding position for your sprint on the roads, leaning forward more than usual. Although not all exercise bikes have drops, you can still simulate this riding position by getting up out of the saddle and driving the power into the pedals.

Peak Power

Your peak power is the highest average power you can exert over a defined period. Just like the FTP, knowing your peak power will give you an insight into your bodies ability to sustain the average watts over a specified time.

Anaerobic Zone (Zone 6 or 121% - 150% of your FTP)

As you can imagine from the FTP required to get into the anaerobic zone, this is not an effort that you will be able to maintain for long periods. The key to making the most of the anaerobic zone is to use interval training. When you are new to anaerobic power zone workouts, you should be aiming for a 30-second interval with your FTP at 121% - 150%. With a generous recovery period of 4 - 6 minutes. Once you have built up your baseline fitness, you can start increasing the anaerobic interval’s time to up to 2 minutes. Once you break the 30-second area, this is when you start seeing serious results in your peak power.

Neuromuscular zone (Zone 7 or >150% of your FTP)

This is a test of strength and will power. Time to find out how serious you are about improving your sprint power. The neuromuscular zone is the final zone, zone 7 in power zone training workouts.

It requires you to ignore the pain and push beyond 150% of your FTP for a short sharp interval. The interval can last anything over 5 seconds, but you will struggle to maintain this intensity beyond 30 seconds. Most cyclists often ignore the neuromuscular zone due to the sheer discomfort of exerting this much power and energy, even for a short interval. However, if you want to improve your sprint power, you will need to embrace the pain so that you can maintain peak power by the time you get to the line.

How do pro cyclists train for a sprint?

Naturally, all sprinters will have their own personalised training plans that differ depending on their discipline (track or road) and the time of the year (on or off-season). However, there are a few common themes. What you will notice is that it is not all about interval training or entering the Neuromuscular zone.

Pro cyclists integrate interval training into their structured workouts during their regular training rides. For example, 4 x 8-second sprints, with 2 minutes rest in-between. This is as part of a longer ride that is designed to improve their cardiovascular fitness and their muscles fitness. Some will opt to spend longer than 8 seconds on each sprint interval and make the rest period longer. It is essential to allow your muscles time to recover between intense efforts.

Finally, pro cyclists understand the importance that strength has when it comes to applying power when they need it most. For that reason, any pro cyclist that specialises in sprinting will also spend some time in the gym. This can, of course, be replicated at home. Rather than focusing on lifting the heaviest weights, the aim is to go for high reps and slowly building up the weights as your leg strength starts to improve.

Interval training and structured workouts to improve your sprint power (with Wattrainer)

Structured workout for cyclist in Wattrainer

Tailor-made training

The best way to improve your sprint power is with structure interval training workouts. The workouts on Watttrainer help take the stress out of remembering when to go all out and enter Neuromuscular Zone and how long to rest for. Unlike when you are out on the road, using Watttrainer on your turbo trainer gives you a focused and structured workout that will allow you to upgrade your neuromuscular power and enable you to reach the finish line faster than ever before.


To improve your sprint power, you need to include some structured interval training into your workout regime. The most effective way is by using power zone training. By pushing your body (and legs) into the Neuromuscular zone (or Zone 7), you are forcing your leg muscles to their absolute limit. This level of effort can not be maintained for very long, but the short intervals you spend in this zone will train your body to be ready when you need that extra hit of acceleration the most. By using Wattrainer, you will be able to improve your sprint power with structured workouts. As always, do not get too hooked on one type of structured workout; continue with a varied training plan for optimal results.