BMX Training

I started racing BMX at age of 31. I started on standard pedals and slowly got faster, then I went to Shimano clipless pedals, and straight away I had much more speed. I could spin the bike with a 39 front, 17 rear and 185 cranks with a 24" wheel. I seem to have good spin, but no power to get it out of the starting gate.

The other problem is I had some bad crashes and quickly lost my confidence. I am 38 now and would like to finish what I started. Don't be to surprised about the age thing, because there's guys 50 racing. And old farts like me ride 24" wheeled bikes.

So please can you help with training, because there is absolutely no one that will help me in the BMX world. And I want to smoke them like I used to!

G. McGonagle

Dave Palese replies:

I have some BMX experience in my past but it was some time ago. Almost 20 years ago! Ouch!

BMX, as best I can remember, and I didn't analyze it to this decree at the time, is a series of high cadence, high output sprints. The first comes out of the gate and lasts until the riders go for the hole shot. Then it is repeated quick accelerations, one after the other, through the length of the track.

Knowing what I know now, I would say that your training week should include 1-2 days of aerobic training on a road bike. This can't hurt. 90-150 minutes of riding at a fairly light intensity, using a higher cadence, 100-110 rpm. The higher cadence will help promote a certain suppleness in your legs.

You might ask, why would I want to do this type of training for racing BMX?

Training that focuses on training the aerobic system has many benefits that will help support the harder, race-specific training you'll do. These include but are not limited to: increased capillaries density, mitochondria and enzymes within the muscles. These days could be sandwiched between some harder, BMX training days and would serve as active recovery between sessions.

One day a week I would suggest a shorter workout that includes Standing Starts, done on your race bike. You could do them in a field for better traction or if you have a access to a gate or practice gate, you could ideally do them there. These sprints last from 8-10 seconds. The effort is Maximum. Explode to get on top of the gear and reach your maximum cadence. Sustain that cadence for the length of the effort. Rest with easy spinning for 5 minutes between sprints. Start with 8 Standing Starts or as many as you can do before you start to feel sluggish. Add 1-2 sprints each week.

The other workout I would suggest is a variation of the a Crit Sprint workout we roadies do. These sprints consist of multiple sets containing a number short maximum sprints. From a slow roll, sprint hard for 10 seconds, then spin easy for 10 seconds, sprint again for 10 seconds, spin easy for 10, and so on. Start with 3 sets.

Each set contains 6 sprints of 10 seconds each. Rest between sprints is 10 seconds. Rest between sets is 5 minutes. Also, with such a high cadence, mechanically chaotic effort, I would recommend a good flexibility regime be followed 2-3 days per week, preferably following your workouts.

Finally, if you were faster with clipless pedals, use them. When I was racing there was no such thing as clips - just bear trap pedals and an old pair of Vans!