A rant about sprinting incorrectly!

By Jennifer Sage On April 6, 2012 Under Form and Technique

Clair of C.O.R.E. Cycling and I have a similar gripe with instructors who do not know how to teach a “Sprint” properly in Spinning┬« or Indoor Cycling Classes. It’s very agravating. A “sprint” is a “sprint” is a “sprint”. It’s not semantics! It is what it is:

A 110% all-out effort to get from point A to B faster than someone else.
It uses the ATP-CP system which runs out after 12-20 seconds. That’s it!

Eddy Merckx (5-time winner of the Tour de France in the 1970’s) is credited with the saying, “He who pushes the biggest gear the fastest, wins”. You know what that means? It means you have a BIG gear!

Read Clair’s rant on the C.O.R.E. website here.


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8 Comments Add yours

  1. clair cafaro
    April 6, 2012
    6:30 pm #comment-1

    Thanks for reposting this. I think it can’t be overstated enough. What bewilders me is that the quote I’ve included is from an “official Spinning

  2. Jennifer Sage
    April 6, 2012
    6:38 pm #comment-2

    Yeah, the disconnect is that huge. I assure you, it’s not what is taught in the Spinning orientation, but depending on the Master Instructor teaching the certification, it may be glossed over and not emphasized, so some people don’t get it. Sometimes they just don’t pay attention or choose to ignore what they were taught.

    When I taught the Spinning

  3. Shirin
    April 8, 2012
    3:05 pm #comment-3

    I am a proud Star 3 Spinning instructor. I sprint in big gear, my team sprints in their big gear! In my opinion Spinning offers the best “frame” of education out there. However, as instructors, we move forward, we educate ourselves further and enhance and “add” the new findings/research/information to what we have learned. It is crucial to continue to grow!
    Spinning is science based, and does not teach the nonsense that is practiced in so many places. Sadly “reduce resistance before we sprint” is a very common cue! A “certified Spinning studio” does not mean much nowadays. It is hard to find a trainer that fights the mainstream garbage. Unfortunately is is ALL about butts on bikes. If you are very good, and you are able to communicate your knowledge and lead your team to their destination and their goals, and when you are able to fill up the class for the employer, then you are free to teach your way. At the same time you are HATED by all other instructors, because their styles are “questioned’ by their riders who happened to hear or experience what “you” do on your rides. There is a lot of “negative” talk about “you” from your “teammates” and Lord knows how long that can go on. Sad? True! I will always try to do my best and practice the “real” way of cycling indoors. I try to stay positive and ignore whatever else goes on.
    Clair and Jennifer, I look for, and appreciate your posts and your leadership.

  4. Jim
    April 8, 2012
    8:39 pm #comment-4

    Scary how many people/coaches actually prescribe to the exact protocol as Clair explains. I’ve been in to many classes where the instructor has told the class to lighten up on the resistance before a sprint. Are you kidding me, I’ve been riding/racing for 25+ years and have won many races in both road and cyclocross. Not once did I ever gear down into an “easier” gear for a sprint. These are the same people that will also tell you to sprint for a minute, seriously I ask!
    I’ve been teaching spin/indoor cycling (spin certified) for 5 years now. At first I received a lot of resistance from people because I wouldn’t change how I coached my classes. My theroy is this, a bike is a bike and I don’t care if you’re inside or out, you treat it the same. If you don’t do it out on the road, why would you do it inside.
    Tell me if I’m wrong, but this is how I cue sprints in my sessions. First I have people at a cadence of around 100, only if they can handle it with good form. I then give them a 5 second count, which at that time I ask that they “increase” their resistance slightly while I’m counting down, keeping their cadence the same. At the count of 0 we’re off for a sprint of only 10-15 seconds and NO LONGER! Again, that’s how it’s done outdoors, so why change it just because you’re inside.
    P.S. I LOVE THE EDDY QUOTE. I ride for a team called, Church of the Big Ring and Eddy is our Hero. I’m guessing you know what it’s all about……..53X11!

    • clair cafaro
      April 18, 2012
      1:14 am #comment-5

      I love it Jim “Church of the Big Ring” that’s awesome!! Your cuing for a sprint is brilliant.
      The very longest we ever hold the effort is 20 seconds. We do a drill called a “Progressive Big Gear Sprint” (Ed. Burke). It’s a wicked drill. Cue just as you did above, jump out of the saddle with resistance and cadence and then continue to add (or click down the cog) 3 times until you end up at around 53×11 (if you’ve got the legs for it:)

  5. Jennifer Sage
    April 10, 2012
    3:40 am #comment-6

    Jim, you know the real thing don’t you! Racing – that’s it. Even if someone doesn’t race, if they could get out on a real bike and pretend to try to get somewhere faster than someone else, they would quickly realize the importance of having a bigger gear and pedaling harder!
    Yeah, Eddy – I love me my Eddy Merckx! Wish I could meet him some day! <3

  6. Kathleen Denver
    October 11, 2012
    5:47 pm #comment-7

    Hello, I just have to share my experience with a spin class I took today. The instructor today had the class remove the bike seats for a hover move ! Only 3 of us declined this request. I have been spinning for 5 years and have never had this happen. I could not believe the lack of common sense in the instructor, it is obvious that a slip of the hand would have caused injury.

  7. Barry Edwards
    March 3, 2014
    4:37 am #comment-8

    Remove the bike seats !!!! Why would any instructor want the class to do that, ridiculous. As for Sprints. I fully agree a sprint is maximum effort against resistance at a high cadence for a short duration 10-20 seconds is usually enough if performed correctly. Too often though participants are instructed to take the resistance down and pedal so fast that the hips are bouncing all over the place and legs are being driven by the flywheel. Try that in the real world on a road bike and you will not get far very quickly.

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