Your First Race : Criterium

Average Weekly Training Hours 08:00
Training Load By Week
Average Weekly Training Hours 08:00
Training Load By Week

A criterium, or crit, is a bike race held on a short course often held on blocked-off city streets. The course is short, usually less than 5 km, and is a closed circuit, where riders complete multiple laps. Riders typically race for a given length of time, then complete a specified number of laps. An example would be a race of 60 minutes plus three laps. In addition to the typical method of determining a winner -- first rider across the finish line -- many crits have prizes that can be won while the race is in progress. Called primes (pronounced "preems"), these are given for winning specific laps along the way and are frequently cash prizes or merchandise. Criteriums are especially nice for watching in-person as the riders pass by a given point many times over the course of a race. This Bicycling magazine, Hunter Allen Criterium Race training plan will help you get ready! Let me introduce myself, Hunter Allen, your coach! I have raced in hundreds of criterium races (and won a few too!) as an amateur and a pro, and coached even more athletes to successful criterium races. This plan is for the road cyclist that wants to do a crit race and has between 7-12 hours a week to train. This is a beginner/intermediate plan and the workouts are difficult, challenging and fun and for certain will make sure you are ready. My 4 week Crit training plan will prepare you ride in the pack, handle the speed and be ready for the corners and hard jumps out of them to get ready for the win! Make sure your following each days training, don't give up. This plan is hard but will make you faster! To complete this plan you should have 4-6 weeks of "base" training totaling at least 500 miles of riding to ensure you are ready to complete this plan. The plan consists of workouts at various effort levels. It offers wattage, heart rate, and rate of perceived exertion (RPE) options so you can gauge yours effort whether you use a power meter, an HR monitor, or prefer to work out by feel.

Sample Day 2
1:15:00
Endurance Ride w/ TEMPO

Have fun and getting ready for some great workouts!


WU: (warm-up) Riding 10 Minutes working into your ENDurance zone (POWER: Level 2 / HR: Zone 2 / PE: 4-5). Then complete 3 sets of 1 Minute fast pedals with 1 minute rest in-between to open up legs

MS (main set): Building Endurance today! Once warmed up, ride in your ENDURANCE zone (POWER: Level 2 / HR: Zone 2 / PE: 4-5) over flat to rolling terrain. Focus on staying relaxed on the bike and spinning circles while keeping cadence between 90-100. During the last hour of the ride complete one 30 minute TEMPO effort (POWER: Level 3 / HR: Zone 3 / PE: 5-6) using a gear that results in a cadence of 75-85. Complete the TEMPO effort as close to the end of the ride as possible while still allowing 10 minutes for warm down.

CD (cool down): 10 Minutes of easy spinning

Sample Day 3
1:00:00
AC - 1x1 "Sets" Maximal

WU (warm-up): 15-20 Minutes working into the Endurance Zone (L2). Add 3 x 1 minute fast spins to open up fast twitch muscles.

MS (main set): Once warmed up complete 2 x (5 x 1 Min w/ 2 minutes rest in-between efforts) intervals. Go as hard as you can for the 1 minute on as these are maximal intervals. Rest for 5 – 8 minutes in-between sets.

CD (cool down): 10 minute easy spin

Sample Day 4
1:15:00
VO2Max Micro Intervals

You are doing these, because they are a nearly identical simulation to what the race will be like. Sprint down the straight away, coast through the turns and then sprint down the straight away again.

WU: WU: 15 Minutes working Level 2 Endurance (POWER: Level 2 / HR: Zone 2 / PE: 4-5) with 2 x 1 minute Fast Pedals to wake up legs

MS: Micro Intervals. Training can bring mixed weather days so this can be done on trainer or long stretches of flat road. Complete 4 x 8 Minutes of “micro intervals”, this is an 8 minute interval where you vary effort from 30 seconds at Level 6 HARD (POWER: Level 6 / HR Zone 6 / PE: 8-9) to Level 1 EASY (POWER: Level 1 / HR: Zone 1/ PE: 1-2) for the duration of the intervals. Rest for 5 minutes in-between intervals at Level 2 Endurance (POWER: Level 2 / HR: Zone 2 / PE: 4-5)

CD: 15 minutes

Sample Day 5
1:00:00
Active Recovery

MS: You get faster when you are resting and recovering, not when you are working hard!! Rest days are about going easy enough to really allow your legs to recover so no hard efforts, take it easy and look at the scenery.

Sample Day 6
2:00:00
Sweet Spot Intervals (SST)

These intervals are just under your time trial pace and made to teach you how to push a little harder and also to improve your threshold fitness.


WU: 15 Minutes working ENDurance (POWER: Level 2 / HR: Zone 2 / PE: 4-5) with 2 x 1 minute Fast Pedals to wake up legs

MS: SST Intervals. On trainer, out on road or in a group, SST intervals are part of our continued effort to build and maintain base. Complete 2 x 12 Minute Intervals in the "Sweet Spot" zone (POWER: Level 3.5 / HR Zone 3.5 / PE 6-7) with 5 minutes recovery in-between, Ride all other time in Level 2 ENDurance zone (POWER: Level 2 / HR: Zone 2 / PE: 4-5).
Terrain: Flat to Rolling; Cadence: 85 - 105.

CD: 10-15 Minutes

Sample Day 7
3:00:00
ENDurance Day

WU: 10 Minutes working Endurance (POWER: Level 2 / HR: Zone 2 / PE: 4-5) with 2 x 1 minute Fast Pedals to wake up legs

MS: Today is simple, ride prescribed time in the ENDurance Zone (POWER: Level 2 / HR: Zone 2 / PE: 4-5) Vary cadence throughout ride and work on pedaling form. Practice “coming over the top” and “pulling through the bottom” of the pedal (pretend there is glass in shoes). Enjoy the day!! Terrain: Flat to Rolling; Cadence: 85 - 105.

Sample Day 9
1:00:00
Crit Intervals

Oh, you are going to hate me today, but you'll be praising me come race day! Great workout here.

WU: 15 Minutes working into Endurance Zone (L2), 3 x 1 Minute Fast Pedial to get blood flowing.

MS: CRIT SPRINTS - Sprint as hard as you can, from a high tempo speed, for 10 seconds, then recover for a minute. Then go for 20 seconds, with another minute recovery, and again for 30 seconds etc, until you get to 60 seconds (obviously not sprinting, more a lead out pace).
After your 60 second interval take a 5-10 minute recovery (taking your bike for a walk) then go again. When you can't complete a full planned interval, STOP!
Target completing 2 "sets", go for 3 if feeling good!

CD: 15 minutes