Cyclocross Training Plan – UPDATED 2021 – How To Get Started
Like any other sport, cyclocross training requires specific workouts and skills. For example, manoeuvring over barriers and competing in the rain is a common sight within cyclocross. This style of racing requires skills that typically come from mountain biking and to some extent running. So learning the correct workouts and implementing proper training can help you improve your cyclocross experience.
Cyclocross Specific Training
Your cyclocross training should focus on intensity two to three days per week. Each intense day should follow with recovery day afterwards.
If you are planning to race during the weekend, reducing the intense days back to one will prevent fatigue during the race.
Cyclocross involves sharp turns and short climbs. Because of this, it is crucial to develop your peak 10-30 second power and threshold power. The duration often exceeds 45mins, so most of that time you are spending at or above your 20-minute threshold heart rate.
What should you focus on when putting a cyclocross training plan together?
1. Focus on 1-2min power efforts.
2. Increase your explosive power over 10-30 seconds.
3. Implement changes of rhythm throughout threshold efforts.
4. Replicate the course by implementing fartlek type workouts broken up into the duration of the race.
5. Recovery between specific workouts.
Cyclocross Training Plan – To Get You Started
Below is a sample training week during the season. Your weeks will depend entirely on the time of the season and what cyclocross training you have been doing.
Monday – Typically a recovery day. Keep this session in heart rate zone 1. So the body will recover from the weekend’s effort. The workout should not be longer than 60 minutes.
Tuesday – Today’s efforts involve efforts above your threshold heart rate. Warm-up in heart rate zone 2 and include 2-3 efforts of 30 seconds to raise the heart rate and warm up the legs. Follow this by doing 5×3 minutes at heart rate zone 5. Try to increase your cadence 5-8rpm across each effort and spend 3 minutes recovering at heart rate zone one. Then warm down in heart rate zone 1-2. As the season progresses, we can include a steady-state effort of 20 minutes after this workout.
Wednesday – Today is a distance ride of 60-90 minutes at heart rate zone 2.
This ride should include 10×15-45 second high cadence efforts. Focus on keeping the heart rate between zone 2-3 during the cadence efforts.
Thursday – On Thursday, we focus on more extended threshold efforts.
Warm-up for 20 minutes at heart rate zone 2 and include some efforts like Tuesday to warm up the body. Then do 3×15 minutes between 92% up to 104% of your threshold (the time of season will define this). The recovery is half the interval duration and in heart rate zone 1.
Friday – Friday we see as a complete rest day from cyclocross training to help you recover for the weekend.
Saturday – Saturday (depending on the time of season) is spent working on technical training or doing a fartlek type session. Warm-up for 20 minutes, in heart rate zone 2. Then focus on one effort of 30 minutes. This 30-minute effort is split apart by multiple intervals of 1-3 minutes at varying intensity. Each effort requires half the time for recovery in zone 1.
As the season and your shape progress, the workout you can add a second 30-minute segment to the session. If you are early in the season, focusing on dismounting, cornering and bike handling can be implemented on Saturdays.
Sunday – Sunday is a day for endurance riding. Do a longer ride of 2-3 hours and include some small burst of high cadence across the ride. The long ride should be done in heart rate one 2 and shouldn’t contain any laborious efforts.
Cyclocross Technique Training
The technique is a big part of cyclocross racing. Having proper technique through corners, picking the right lines are all crucial factors for someone looking to get into cyclocross racing.
Focus on dismounting and remounting your bike and practising the safest lines through corners. These practices are essential during the early season and can help you to gain momentum during the race. Focusing one day a week on the technical training will help you both enjoy the racing experience and result.
Technical training to focus on:
1. Cornering acceleration
2. Mounting on the bike
3. Dismounting off the bike
4. Picking correct lines through corners
Depending on the type of rider you are, and your background, it is recommended to have a recovery week every 4-5weeks. During this recovery week, you can implement tests such as an FTP test or a technical riding test. You can then manage your performance or technical gain, then adjust your training to maximize the results.
Adapt the training towards your event and revaluate after each period of training. You will see better results and can make adjustments on the fly.