Cyclocross riders face the demands of high-level suffering for up to an hour-plus worth of all-out effort — all while enduring the mêlée of heckling crowds like those you might see in the high passes of the grand tours.

Optimal Training Plan Progression for Cyclocross Racers

We recommend that riders precede the Cyclocross Specialty training plan with a Short Power Build training plan. That being said, the General Build blocks are perfectly usable Build alternatives if you want to keep those workouts more diverse. The Sustained Power Build is also a workable plan if the courses you usually face are light on technicality and high on steadier power output.

Ideally, your Build training will come on the heels of 6-12 weeks of Sweet Spot Base training or perhaps 12 weeks of Traditional Base conditioning. However, it’s likely you’ll be coming off an MTB or Road season where your base fitness is firmly in place and your focus is more along the lines of shaping your race-specific fitness in time for your second or even third season of racing.

Here are a few recommendations based on some likely training and racing scenarios:

Whether you’re building fitness from scratch or carrying form from training earlier in the year, our Cyclocross Specialty phase training plans will see to it that you’re training abilities are finely tuned in time for the most important Cyclocross races on your calendar.

This 8-week plan will elevate your highest aerobic power through a consistent weekly dose of forgivingly-short but punishingly-intense VO2max intervals, and they’ll see to it that you never neglect your ability to generate high watts from low—or even no—speed. Then, when it comes to race-specific simulations, each week contains at least one opportunity to familiarize your body and mind with the harsh, painfully-repetitious, high-intensity intervals.

How to Weave Races Into Training

The Cyclocross Specialty plan, and all TrainerRoad training plans, are flexible. Weaving lower priority races into your training plan is a piece of cake by simply swapping your scheduled workouts for your races. You can think of these as “training races” — excellent opportunities to get a nice, hefty dose of race-specific stress as you near your higher-priority ‘cross event(s).

Keep in mind you may need to make small adjustments to your plan following a race. If you’re carrying a little extra fatigue following your race and have a scheduled workout that looks too intense, feel free to take it down a notch by performing a lower-intensity, aerobic endurance workout like Pettit and postpone that harder workout a day or even two

Training Indoors Vs Outdoors

While the technical skills of a proficient ‘cross racer can only be cultivated outdoors, the fitness needed to win Cyclocross races can be gained entirely indoors. The ideal Cyclocross rider will strike an even balance of indoor interval sessions and outdoor skills work, and our Cyclocross Specialty plans are aimed at helping you deftly shoulder the indoor-training burden.

For more cycling training knowledge, listen to the Ask a Cycling Coach — the only podcast dedicated to making you a faster cyclist. New episodes are released weekly.

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Chad Timmerman

Chad Timmerman is the Head Coach and Co-Founder of TrainerRoad — cycling’s most effective training system. He has nearly 10 years of coaching experience as a Level I USA certified Cycling and Triathlon coach. When he’s not developing structured training plans for TrainerRoad, you can catch him sharing his coaching advice on the Ask a Cycling Coach podcast. To get Chad’s best cycling knowledge delivered to your inbox, sign up for our email list.