Cyclocross is a cross-over sport. Races last from 40 to 60 minutes (generally) and the pace is fast from start to finish. A racer must be able to go hard for sustained periods but also kick and sprint. If conditions are muddy and slow a big strength reserve is needed. When the course is hard and fast then bike handling and technical skills are premium. The rider must have substantial endurance, or aerobic capacity to absorb the hard efforts of training and racing.

In the old days cyclocross was an off-season sport into which road racers carried a big endurance base. The high intensity work developed strength and anaerobic tolerance while the terrain and group dynamic maintained driving skills. These days many racers focus only on cyclocross so they may start the season without an adequate base. In this condition it is difficult to tolerate race frequency or sustain fitness for the whole season.

Some insist the sport depends a lot on anaerobic energy production and threshold capacity and, to be sure, the ability to instigate or follow sharp accelerations and kicks features heavily. However, too much emphasis on threshold level training, too much time spent in the anaerobic (or lactate) threshold zone during training can be counter-productive. Read the TANSTAAFL article in the Knowledge section of the public site for some info on this subject.

Too often training is based on how one feels at the END of a session, and most don’t feel like they have done anything meaningful unless they are crushed in a pool of sweat and bile. This isn’t smart, especially at a time of the year when building the foundation is the main objective. Threshold intensity efforts that produce high levels of muscular acidity can cause an inadvertent peak but more importantly take a lot of time to recover from, which reduces overall training frequency and volume. Too much time in this zone degrades aerobic capacity. Too much time in this zone tunes the body to favor carbohydrates as a fuel source. Conversion of carbs to energy is acid producing, and the supply of glycogen is limited.

To spare glycogen, favor fat metabolism and build a wide, aerobic foundation requires a lot of low-intensity training. This base is critical to in-race recovery and overnight recovery between training sessions and races. Concurrent with the base training it is feasible, and recommended (from my point of view) to also tune up the top end of aerobic capacity, VO2 Max (MVO2) and to develop sprint speed. Both of these tasks can be accomplished while avoiding interval intensities and durations that produce significant muscle acidity. Strength training can also coincide with aerobic base development as long as the rep/set structure is alactic (not acid-producing). However, as exhibited in the attached plan, an individual's structural issues may require that strength workouts do not follow an alactic model.

Once the aerobic base is built, and the aerobic ceiling pushed upward, about 4-6 weeks out from the first race, threshold intervals are introduced. These high-intensity efforts, in the 4-6 minute range, develop acid tolerance, buffering and re-uptake.

The attached training plan is a one month plan that could be used in the offseason for season prep. It is a basic plan in format and should work for the person with a fairly busy work schedule. 

For a season that starts mid September and for a serious athlete, a general progression should start in May and look like the following: 

May: Maintain/ Develop Base, Develop Strength 
6-7x/week aerobic and recovery pace work, some high RPM 
2x/week in gym: emphasis on legs, hips, core development

June: Maintain Base, Increase Strength, 30/30 MVO2 Intervals 
6-7x/week on the bike 
2x/week 30/30 interval/ max aerobic 
1x/week Slow Frequency Repetition intervals (on-bike strength) 
1x/week high-aerobic, sub-threshold intervals 
4x/week low-aerobic and recovery pace 
2x/week in gym: emphasis on legs, hips, some whole body P-E efforts

July: Maintain Base, Increase Strength, 30/30 MVO2 Intervals 
6-7x/week on the bike 
1x/week 30/30 interval/ max aerobic 
1x/week high RPM interval 
1x/week sub-threshold long intervals 
4x/week low-aerobic and recovery pace 
2x/week in gym: emphasis on whole body P-E efforts, explosiveness

August: Max Aerobic, Power-Endurance, High RPM, Run 
6-7x/week on the bike 
1x/week 30/30 interval/ max aerobic 
1x/week high RPM interval 
1x/week combined 30/30 and sub-threshold long intervals 
3-4x/week low-aerobic and recovery pace 
2x/week in gym: whole body intervals (row), also strength-endurance 
2-3x/week short run and walk

September: Threshold, Supra_threshold, Single-leg Strength, Run 
6-7x/week on the bike 
1x/week Slow Frequency Repetition intervals (on-bike strength) 
1x/week >threshold medium-length intervals 
1x/week 1-minute supra-max intervals 
4-5x/week low-aerobic and recovery pace 
Also practice bike handling skills (dirt), dismount/remount drills 
2x/week in gym: single-leg Strength, whole body interval efforts 
2-3x/week medium-length run and walk

Mid-to-late September: Start racing

Movements for cycling 
Front Squat 
Step-up, and Step-up + explosive hop 
Lunge, and Lunge onto 10” box (stretch hip flexor and hamstring) 
Overhead Lunge (stretch hip flexor, stabilize core) 
Sled Drag (forward and backward) 
Resisted Sprints, chain (chased with static hold) 
Band sprint intervals (can be chased with weighted Step-up) 
Split Squat and One-arm OH Split Squat (trailing leg on box 10-18”) 
Split Jump 
Straight-leg DL (light, stretch hamstrings dynamically) 
One-leg DL 
GHD Raise (the hamstring destroyer) 
Pistol and/or Off-Box One-leg Squat 
Plank, FLR, Mtn Climber with feet in TRX or rings 
KB Good Morning (KB held behind neck) 
KB Swing with hamstring emphasis 
Boot-strapper Squat (with KB)

Your membership is about to expire

Renew your membership to avoid losing premium content

Your membership has expired

Here's what you need to do to get back in the gym

Hey Friend!

It looks like your credit card information has expired.
Let's get that taken care of!



Current plan will no longer be active.



View saved training plans or browse all training plans that are available.