Do try this at home: Excalibur sprints to increase speed and power

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After his initial post on becoming a better sprinter (like his fiancé Dani King!), coach Matt Rowe was keen to share another speed drill you can try on your own. If you try them, let us know how it went!

Being powerful and fast is a desirable attribute for cyclists of all abilities. Whether it’s to put in a big effort, to make an attack in a race, to get up a steep climb in a sportive or just to let your mates know who’s boss on the café ride, having that speed and strength is important.

But most riders lack time to train. We are all busy people, and sadly there are only 24 hours in the day. Of these 24 hours, we need around eight hours of sleep, spend around 10 hours working and commuting, want some time with friends and family, want some time to eat and do chores…the net result being  that there is little time left over.

Here is a session to help you build your power and speed, whilst not taking too much of your time! Be warned – it may be a ‘short’ session to complete mid-week, but it’s a tough one! So make sure you are really up for it.

The session aims to build your explosive power, but also your speed. The first part of the effort is all about your brute power output, whilst the second part of each effort works on your speed. The session can be completed out on the road, or on an indoor trainer.

he session is called ‘Excalibur* Sprints’ and contains a total of 2 and a half minutes of maximum effort – quality over quantity!
*Excalibur is the name of the road, where these efforts were first completed

Excalibur Sprints

1. Warm up: Ride in a light gear and in a relaxed mental state to warm the body up ahead of the effort to come.

2. Select a stretch of road that you will not be interrupted on (no junctions or traffic lights, and away from traffic as much as possible). Your efforts are all going to be done along this one stretch of road.

3. Select a big gear – something like 53 x 15 for your first effort. Your starting gear should make the first few pedal revs extremely hard to get going, but by the end of the 15 seconds you should really be on top of the gear. This chosen gear is the only gear you will use for each effort.

4. From a low speed (roughly 5 mph/ 8 kph), sprint flat out for 15 seconds. You will be pedaling at a very low cadence to start, but as you pick up speed, your cadence will increase.

5. After 15 seconds, spend 15 seconds ‘coasting’. Just roll the gear over to maintain some speed, but only put moderate effort through the pedals. Try to recover a little, but this is not total rest – you are still mid-effort.

6. After 15 seconds of ‘coasting’, sprint flat out for a further 10 seconds. Your starting speed will be from your ‘coasting speed’ – which should be at least 20 mph/ 32 kph. This is where the speed element of the training comes in to play. The aim is to hit as high a speed as possible whilst still in the same gear you started in – cadence will be high.

7. The above 40 seconds (15 second from standing start, 15 second coasting and 10 second sprint) is one effort.

8. Aim to complete 5 efforts, giving yourself adequate recovery in-between each effort so that you can give 100% effort to each. If you feel you can complete more than 5 efforts – you’re not doing them hard enough!

9. Warm down: Ride in a light gear and in a relaxed mental state, to help the body transition towards a state of recovery, working the lactic acid out of your muscles.

Enjoy your newfound power and speed!


Like this drill? Get more drills, here.


Matt Rowe is the founder of Rowe & King cycle coaching company, which is backed by Luke Rowe and Dani King. An ex European Track Cycling Champion, Matt Rowe has helped numerous riders achieve their goals in the sport of cycling, where he has shared his wealth of experience.

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