Sprint Ladders

Workout of the Week (WoW 4.1.13) April, 1st article, 2013.

Sprinting is critical in road racing- rarely does anyone come to the line solo. However, many people find themselves unprepared to sprint because if they race 20 times a year, and sprint for the line half of those times, sprint form and power is underdeveloped. During the off season sprint practice can be done with less than full power in which the athlete focuses on form sprinting: body position, shifting gears, and winding the gear up to high cadence.

As the season is in full swing, it is a great idea to tune up the sprint with practicing sprints for form and power, once a week as a sprint workout or putting a few sprints on the end of a road ride. One particularly effective sprint workout that I like to do is a set of sprints of varying distances which I call a ladder.

To do the ladder, go to a safe, low or zero traffic course where you can identify a finish line and 100, 150, 200, and 250 meters from the finish line. A good place to do these are criterium courses, where the line is defined and you can complete the rest of the lap at low power.

Before starting any sprint workout, make sure that you are warmed up well. If you are going to just do a sprint workout, warm up easy for 20 minutes and then do a 5-10 minute increasing power ramp from 75% to 100% FTP, and then do a couple of 1 minute high cadence intervals with 1 minute RBI.

For the main workout set, Do sprints from 100, 150, 200, 250, 200, 150, and 100 meters, and take about 2 minutes of easy pedaling between the sprints (or the rest of the lap of the criterium course).  Focus on a hard jump, winding up the gear, and keeping the speed increasing throughout the sprint. Make sure the shifting is clean and at the right time. Take the rest of the lap after the sprint really easy. Do 2 ladders and then ride home.

Go Fast!

Scot Ferguson is a USAC level 2 coach and certified in Power Based
Training (CPBT). Scot is a long time collegiate cyclist and raced for many
years with the UNR cycling team. He now coaches the UNR cycling team as well
as his own personal clients and strives to help them succeed. Additional
information about his coaching programs can be found at


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