Criterium King or Queen - 8 Week Plan (10 total with 2 rest weeks)

Average Weekly Training Hours 09:52
Training Load By Week
Average Weekly Training Hours 09:52
Training Load By Week

This training plan will develop your power, repeat-ability, and a great sprint. Repeat-ability of zone 5 and 6 efforts are required for successful criterium racing as well as a strong, effectively fast sprint. Also the ability to handle high power at high cadence (typical for criterium racing) is mandatory. This plan is great to build overall race fitness that will also benefit all types of racing. Using this plan is beneficial training leading into your A race when combined with a taper before your event.

This detailed 8 week plan is designed by Paul Ozier. Paul is a category 2 road racer and a USA Cycling Level 2 licensed coach of 13 years, as well as owner of High Power Coaching (

The plan ends up being a total of 10 weeks as there are two 'rest' weeks included.

Sample Day 2
VO2 - Sprints - RWI

Warm up 15-20 minutes
6 x 1 minute @ VO2Max - Build to power quickly and smoothly. These DO NOT require a hard sprint type launch. 1 minute very easy between each interval.
Next ride 10 minutes endurance Zone 2
Next is 2 x 2 minutes @ VO2Max, 2 minutes very easy between
10 minutes endurance Zone 2 to recover
Let’s do 2 x 20 seconds sprints from speed (18-22 mph) and starting at a 80-85 cadence. These will be a hard, quick and sharp explosion to get on top of gear quickly, then sit and spin to 110-130 rpm before shifting. These are smooth, powerful, fast legs. 3 minutes very easy between each one. The key is to NOT pick too large of a gear for the start.
Ride 5 minutes at an easy active recovery pace.
Let’s finish up with 1 x Race Winning Interval (RWI). The RWI goes like this;
Nail it hard, out of the saddle, launching the bike for 15 secs (DO NOT overdo it here, but do work hard), then sit and hammer out 15 seconds at VO2Max, now relax and settle in at "Zone 4" watts, powerful, nice and smooth, for 3 minutes. At the end of 3 minutes stand and sprint out a hard 10 seconds to put the icing on the cake. PICK UP SPEED!
It is critical that you put out a great RWI to benefit completely from today's workout. Get psyched, go for it!
Cool down 15-20 minutes riding from mid zone 2 down to zone 1 for the last 5 minutes.

Sample Day 3
Sprints - FTP - VO2

Warm up 10-15 minutes
3 small ring sprints for 50 meters - Stand and sprint, then sit to finish out distance. The idea is to teach the legs to spin high rpm in a sprint. This is not a leg crushing sprint. The leg speed should happen super fast and speed will increase rapidly.
2 minutes easy between.
Now ride 20-30 minutes endurance Zone 2 - THIS CAN BE REDUCED TO 15 minutes if time is short today.
Next is 3 x 5 minutes @ FTP +5-8% - really push hard through these efforts to make them happen. ON AN UNINTERRUPTED HILL IS GREAT.
5 minutes easy zone 1 after each effort.
Next move it up a notch and do 2 x 2 minutes at VO2Max,
1 minute very easy between each.
Cool Down (CD) 10-15 minutes

Sample Day 4
Sprint Intervals

Make the warm up today about 30 minutes. This is one you need to be ready for out of the gate.
5 x Sprint Intervals, done like this;
10 second hard launch like you are getting a gap to start a breakaway or jumping back on a fast passing wheel. Then settle into 1 minute 50 seconds @ FTP/Zone 4, then at the 2 minute mark do another 10 second hard sprint/effort for a road sign or mailbox as a marker, just stand up and nail it hard like you are jumping back on a wheel. Again fall back to 1 minute 50 seconds @ FTP/Zone 4. At the 4 minute mark take it up a notch and do 50 seconds at VO2Max, then finish with a hard 10 second world championship sprint.
That is a very tough 5 mins! You may feel like your legs are going to pop on the 10 second sprints. Just do the best you absolutely can and review the data later. You may be surprised that the numbers look good even though the effort felt torturous. For the 10 second part if it is a slight uphill I just stand in whatever gear I am in and power up the grade. If it is flat I may shift 1 gear harder and then make the 10 second jump. 1 OR 2 CAN BE ON A HILL, USE THE 10 second part as a simulated closing the gap on an attacking rider.
Get in only 5 mins very, very easy between each Sprint Interval. Very easy means grandma pace.
These hurt. Do the very best you can on each one. I have wattage targets, but just continue to push and do not give in to the watt meter. Just put out the efforts. You may feel like you are falling apart, watts impossible, just PUSH through it. You will get better over time.
CD 15-20 mins easy zone 1

Sample Day 5
Active Recovery

Zone 1 active recovery today. Nice and easy. No burn, no power. Just spin and loosen the legs. Do roughly 30 minutes.

Sample Day 6

3 x 3 minutes@ VO2Max. Start each one with a hard 10 second jump. Get to speed quickly then hammer for the remainder of the three minutes.
3 minutes easy between.
Then get in 10 minutes easy cruising.
Now do 1 x 5 minutes at FTP + 5%, 5 minutes easy after.
Remainder of ride time at zone 2.
CD 10 minutes

Sample Day 7
Endurance and Small Hills

Warm up only about 10 minutes today. Skip the fast pedal spins and FTP.
2.5 hours zone 2 and 3 ride. The only specific work today is to get in 15-20 short 10 to 20 second small hills. Approach the hill and as soon as the grade changes stand and nail it like a sprint at about 85-90% of what an all out sprint would feel like. Be smooth and graceful. Power over the crest and then take it easy for a few seconds, then get back into zone 2 and 3 until the next one. I like to choose the very small shallow “bumps in the road” for these. Mix up the cadence. Some hills do at 100, others crank over them at 75 to 80 rpm. Mix it up to give the legs different loads.
Other than the small hills today is just about getting some steady zone 2 and 3 riding in. If you keep the effort truly steady you will soon learn that zone 2 and 3 for a few hours is harder than it looks on paper. On downhills instead of coasting, get the bike in a big gear and keep the pedals moving and watts in the zone 2 and 3 range. If the grade is too steep and watts can not be maintained the next best thing is to turn the pedals at high cadence. On steep uphills you may find it difficult to keep watts from exceeding zone 3. Do the best you can in a small gear. Stand and let your weight fall on the pedals, even at a low cadence if needed. The idea is to avoid purposeful hard efforts up the hills. Also choosing a flatter route appropriate for today would be a good decision.
Ride an easy 10 minutes at the end to cool down.

Sample Day 7
Warm Up - Standard

Warm up designed to precede most any workout. The key is to follow the structure of the warm up and do not go above the prescribed watts. At the 20 minute mark you should feel really ready to have a great workout.
Pre-built workout files will include a warm up designed to work well to prep you for the work ahead.
0-3:30 minutes - 80-90 rpm @ 50% of FTP
3:30 to 4:00 - 80 rpm, baby slow. relax the legs, shake them out.
4:00 to 4:30 - 100 rpm at 100-105% of FTP
4:30 to 5:00 - again, baby slow, very easy, relax and stretch the legs.
5:00 to 6:00 - 90 rpm at 85% of FTP
6:00 to 7:00 - 90 rpm move up to 95-100% of FTP
7:00 to 8:00 - 80 rpm at 95-100% of FTP
8:00 to 10:00 - very easy zone 1, 80 rpm or so. Easy recovery.
10:00 to 13:00 - SST - 85-95 rpm at 88-93% of FTP
13:00 to 15:00 - very easy zone 1, recovery, 80-85 rpm.
15:00 to 15:30 - fast pedals - 100-105 rpm at 100% FTP
15:30 to 17:00 - easy recovery, zone 1, slow pedals 80 rpm.
17:00 to 17:30 - fast pedals - 100-105 rpm at 100% FTP
17:30 to 20:00 - easy zone 1, 80-85 rpm, light pedals. Recover before main set.

Paul Ozier
High Power Coaching

Coaching beginner to elite athletes for road racing, mountain biking, and more. 25+ years racing experience and 14 years as a professional coach.

I coach entry level riders all the way to Category I and II athletes. Services range from plans that include monthly phone calls and once a week email up to weekly phone calls and unlimited email communications. One on one coaching is available for local athletes.