This plan features a pre-season build for dedicated cyclocross racers. Those who race on the road or mountain bike during the summer months may just hope to carry reserve fitness into the cyclocross season, but a focused cyclocross may avoid these other activities in favor of a more central focus to their first love.
The nature of cyclocross includes repeated maximal efforts, often with incomplete rest from slow speed, as well as sustained high-resistance pedaling. Developing a strong foundation of fitness in the aerobic and lactate threshold energy systems along with muscular strength is a great help more cross-specific training routines.
This 8-week plan will help you maximize your baseline fitness before shifting gears to address race-specific skills or energy system in our cyclocross race-season plan.
Short, easy run. Introduce some light running to your training to prepare the body for the running you will do during CX season. Keep the pace easy to allow the joints and muscles to adapt gradually and reduce impact by running on grass, dirt or a treadmill.
Warmup 15-20 minutes at endurance pace.
Complete a 5-minute effort at the lower end of your threshold range. Then spin 5 minutes easy.
Main set: 4x10 minutes threshold effort with 5 minutes recovery between intervals.
Cooldown 15-20 minutes easy.
Steady endurance paced-ride to add volume to your week and help build aerobic fitness. If the threshold work has taken a big toll, feel free to make this ride nice and easy. If you feel good and have the time, stretch the volume out to 2-3 hours for additional aerobic benefit. Resist any temptations to turn this into a shorter tempo ride, which won't be hard enough to help make you better, but will slow down recovery from the more important intensity workouts and reduce the quality of those training sessions.
A second short run. Ideally try to complete this workout later in the day with several hours separating the two workouts, but it can also be done following the bike workout if necessary.
Warmup 15-20 minutes easy. Include a few short sprints (10-15 seconds) in an easy gear to help open up the legs.
Main set: 2 sets 5x20 seconds in biggest gear. (See workout specifics below). Rest 4:40 between each effort, 10 minutes between sets.
Cooldown 15-20 minutes easy.
A fast-paced local group ride will provide a taste of the variability and high-intensity you will get in cross racing. Be active in the group and focus on short, maximal efforts rather than sustained high-power work.
If you don't have access to a suitable group ride available, build your sustainable VO2 power with a workout of 4x4 minutes with 4 minutes rest. Work at maximum sustainable power for the 4 minute duration.
Long, steady endurance ride to maximize the aerobic fitness base. Power targets should be 65-75% of threshold, HR = 75-85% of threshold HR, RPE 3-4.