Olympic Cycling School: Dani King’s ‘Killer’ Cycling Drills

by Dani King (MBE)

Cycling’s not difficult – whether your 6 or 60, on a one-wheel, two-wheel or even 3-wheel bike, anybody can do it – but, to be a great cyclist takes skill, perseverance and stamina. Whether you’re cycling in the Welsh countryside, up a mountain in Majorca or racing against super-cyclists like Laura Trott in the Olympics, you’ll need to develop speed, endurance, power and strength.
 

Here are 2 fantastic drills to improve your cycling technique. They’re not easy but stick with them and you’ll definitely see results.
 

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DRILL 1: EXCALIBUR SPRINTS



Excalibur sprints are brilliant for generating speed and building explosive power. They only last 3.5mins but don’t get complacent; it’s a short session but a tough one. Brilliant for people who are short of time but want big results. 

 

Pre-note: Phase 1 focuses on brute power output whilst phase 2 focuses on speed. The first 40secs of each round is one effort. (I.e. 15sec sprint from standing start, 15secs coasting and 10secs sprint.
 

How to:


1. Warm up. Slowly cycle in a light gear. Relax. Don’t cycle too quickly, you’re just preparing for the upcoming effort.

2. Choose a long, quiet road. If you're cycling outdoors, you don’t want to be interrupted so avoid roads with junctions, traffic lights and potential traffic.

 

3. The round:

  • Select a big gear. This depends on your fitness and will be the only gear you use for the whole drill. (Note: Your starting gear should make the first few pedals rev extremely hard to generate momentum but, by the end of the 15secs, you should be at the top of the gear.)
  • 15sec sprint. Starting from a low speed (e.g. ≥5mph), sprint as fast as you can for 15secs. (Note: Initially, you’ll be pedaling at a very low cadence but that will increase as you generate speed.)
  • Coast. After the sprint, spend 15secs ‘coasting.’ Roll the gear over to maintain some speed (≥20mph) but only put moderate effort through the pedals. Use this phase to recover but remember: this is not a rest period so don’t relax too much.
  • 10sec sprint. Starting from your coasting speed (≥20mph) and quickly building up, sprint as fast as you can for 10secs. (Note: This is where the speed element comes in to play. Aim to cycle as fast as possible, whilst still in the same gear you started in. The cadence will be high.)

4. Repeat. Depending on your fitness level, aim to perform 5 rounds. Allow yourself sufficient recovery time between each effort so that you really put 100% effort into each round. (P.S. These are super tough so, if you feel you can complete more than 5 rounds, your not doing them hard enough!)
 

5. Warm down. Cycle slowly on a light gear, feeling your muscles and mind relaxing. This helps the body to enter its recovery mode and work the lactic acid out of your muscles. Don’t rush this.


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DRILL 2: 4 MINUTES IN HELL (and, trust me, it is!)


 

This interval training session lasts 20mins (16mins warming up and cooling down, plus 4mins of explosive effort in the middle) but don’t be complacent. Whatever your fitness level, you’ll definitely feel the burn.


Pre-note: You’ll need a static gym bike. I use a Matrix IC7 but you can use whatever you have available.
 

How to:

1. Warm up. Spend 10mins slowly cycling in a light gear. Relax. Don’t cycle too quickly, you’re just preparing for the upcoming effort.
2. Crack up the resistance. I use 70% resistance but adapt yours according to your own fitness level
3. Perform 1 set.  Cycle as fast as you can for 20secs. Really push yourself to the limit. Then stop completely for 10secs to recover. (Note: Each set lasts 30secs.)
4. Repeat. Perform 8 sets (totaling 4mins).
5. Cool down. Spend 5mins slowly cycling on a light gear, feeling your muscles and mind relaxing. This helps the body to enter its recovery mode and work the lactic acid out of your muscles. Don’t rush this.

 

Dani says ‘When training, quality is far more important than quantity. This session proves this. It only lasts 20mins but you’ll definitely see the results. Not only is it time-efficient and convenient but, when performed regularly, every time you get on the bike, the environmental conditions are the same so it’s easy to monitor your progress. So no excuses! How much you improve (or little as the case may be if you don’t put enough effort in!) is all down to you.’



For more information or to train with Dani, visit www.roweandking.com




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