CX Season Training and S&C Adjustments

Based in the UK, our CX season runs from Sept to mid-Jan.

I’m curious to see if anyone has planned/adjusted their training to cater for the different conditions as the season progresses.

IMO (unless we have un-seasonable weather) it feels like the start of the season is more about consistent power (threshold?) because the ground is good enough to ride continuously. From around November onwards it feels a lot more on/off the (VO2 max?) power because the conditions make it difficult to ride consistently. There’s also more dismounts/re-mounts as the courses get muddier.

Looking back over last season (unfortunately I don’t have a power meter on my CX bike) I thought my HR data would support the above. It doesn’t! Even though conditions very much changed, I’m pretty much working at threshold the entire race. I thought I’d see a lot more VO2 max towards the end of the season.

Aside from that - has anyone tailored their CX training (I’m thinking more threshold vs VO2 max leading into the season) to take into account the change in conditions throughout the season?

Also interested to see if anyone has tailored their strength and conditioning work leading up to and during the season? In my mind, I have 2 x 6 week blocks before season start and I’d like to make these as productive on and off the bike as possible leading into my 3rd CX season.


The topics you raise are interesting as I’ve not thought it out scientifically before. In practice my outside training compensates for the change in drier to muddier conditions. But I do incorporate features for the next race into the group training, steps, more running, cornering or long straight grinds. Heart rate doesn’t really change between seasons, as the short recovery from a descent has usually followed a harder climb or run.
This time of the year I’m just maintaining fitness with intermittent road races or crits and will build a bigger base come August with plenty of hills.

I hadn’t thought about tailoring each week’s training during the season to suit each course (just a tweak here and there). Now I am more familiar with the courses and I have the race schedule this is definitely possible.

I came out of last season and did Traditional Base @ 205w FTP, 56kg and a lot of heavy weights. I then spent another 6 weeks on SS intervals (10, 15 and 20 min) and lighter weights/plyo work and increased my FTP to 236w, 56kg. I felt I’ve gained so much from this block that I’m repeating it at the new FTP. I then have 6 weeks to fine tune (I’m edging towards longer threshold intervals rather than VO2 max) before season start. I’m resisting the urge to race crits and RR during the summer, only doing a few here and there to support the team or when I feel particularly good! Last year I raced all summer and was definitely fatigued going into CX.

The ‘skills/technical’ work on my CX bike is currently very low intensity, mainly just gaining time in the saddle and practicing dismounts/remounts/running with bike. In the last 6 weeks (thanks TR outside workouts!) I could switch my efforts from the indoor trainer to the CX bike. Not having a power meter makes this less appealing!

Appreciate your thoughts.

The skills I have to sharpen pre season are bike handling on fast descents on gravel paths, usually a lot of fun after so much time on tarmac. The mounts/ dismounts come quickly in the group training sessions I run once the season starts.