Threshold Training for Crit Racing?

Hi all,

I used plan builder to plan out my winter training with the goal of being ready for a season of crit racing, which is the only type of racing I plan to do. When looking over the proposed plan, I noticed there aren’t many threshold workouts planned; more of the emphasis is on Vo2max. Should I trust the process or look for ways to add more threshold? For context, I did 15 crit races this past season and found that I spend much more time in the Vo2max and anaerobic zones during a race, and much less in threshold.

Thanks in advcance!

I have a ‘functional’ 340w threshold (about 4.5w/kg) and don’t find it much use during flat crits. Sure to an extent you need decent FTP to hang, but where I am, it’s all about cornering, decision making and repeated surges (FTP can assist with this since you recover aerobically).

I for sure would have some threshold work banked and move to VO2 efforts 3 or 4 weeks out.

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Which volume and phase are you looking at? There should be threshold in Base and Build no matter which specialty you’re doing, I think.

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SSB High Volume has no threshold at all, just sweet spot; and short power build high volume only has one threshold per week, on Saturdays.

So you deliberately chose the options with minimal amounts of threshold and then asked why there’s not much threshold. :wink:

Rather than pointing out that your plan has not much threshold, but lots of VO2, you could just as easily have pointed out that it has not much threshold but lots (and I mean LOTS) of sweetspot.

I guess it’s up to you to decide if you need to ride at threshold to raise your FTP, and whether to change the plan to introduce it instead of VO2 or instead of SS, or both.

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Thanks for the reply.

I just entered my race date in Plan Builder and answered a few questions and this is the plan it gave me.

I think I will add some more threshold to my build phase and maybe even near the end of my base phase. They only have me doing 6 weeks of base instead of the usual 12 so keeping it all at sweet spot doesn’t seem too bad. Plus I am strength training three times per week right now, but plan to drop that to once per week once I hit the build phase.

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For crits do you need more aerobic than you think!


It seems like the plan is geared towards the types of efforts you will be doing….why do you think you need more threshold?

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Great question. I was just surprised to see so much Vo2 and so little threshold; but maybe I am overthinking it, which is something I tend to do. :slight_smile:


We ALL do that!!


In that case I’d replace the harder SS ride with threshold and the easier SS ride with Z2. Hard days hard, easy days easy. :+1:

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Fitness-wise, crit racing is about being able to handle repeated surges way above FTP, and then maybe over-unders. The surges are e. g. to accelerate out of corners repeatedly, to (counter) attack and go with attacks, etc. So it is not surprising that VO2max workouts are prioritized over threshold.

A fitness advantage helps you deal and “digest” efforts more easily. But you are totally right that understanding race tactics and line choice is king.

I‘ve only done one crit race so far (due to Covid), and it was fun. Fitness-wise I was likely one of the top riders, but racing got a bit to frantic for the prime laps and the final lap. My goal then was simply to get the hang of it and learn to ride in the bunch. I am not going to lie, it was a bit sketchy, someone bumped into my rear wheel hard enough to leave a (rubber) mark on my wheels.

Why do you want to do that? Threshold will be a lot more taxing on your body than sweet spot, and given your focus on crit racing and crit racing only, I don‘t think this is wise. Just stick to the program.

Plan Builder will automatically adapt your training plan depending on your races and your total duration. E. g. if your A Race is early in the season, it‘ll try to start your Specialty Phase earlier.

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With 15 crit races in the bank, you should be able to answer these questions and begin to structure your training accordingly:

  • how did you do in those races? Did you Cat up?
  • did you notice any ‘patterns’ during those races, such as how/when/breakaways formed or, what it took to at least be involved in the winning move?
  • what were your strengths?
  • what did you struggle with? This might not be something you’re going to improve on the trainer, such as positioning.
  • how did you race those crits? Would you like to be able to race differently?

I’m a fan of the TR platform and I’ve used it with some success. I wouldn’t advise you follow the plans, any of them, blindly. If you want to race and have a degree of success, you need to be able to analyse.

What are you naturally good at? Are you comfortable in the pack, happy to move around and hold wheels well? Can you corner well, hold speed and pick a line? Do you have a 1000 watt+ sprint just waiting to be unleashed? All of these things should be considered when your planning your training.

It’s also worth noting that the more tools you have at your disposal, the more potential you have to be that rider who makes the race happen.

Do I think you need threshold work for crit racing? 100% yes. If you have any thoughts of getting into, creating or even breaking away from a breakaway, you’re going to need to train this.


Disagree. Read the link from trainingpeaks. You need a aerobic to clear the lactate from the surges. So a higher FTP will help you.


I don’t think we disagree at all.

But it seems you equate doing more threshold work with raising your FTP. Sweet spot base and (short power) build are designed to raise your FTP with a focus on shorter, anaerobic efforts.

Thanks for the reply.

Frankly, the season is somewhat of a blur. It was my first season ever. For some context, I raced in 15 races but only completed 12. I got pulled from one, dropped out of one, and crashed in the final lap in one. I moved from Cat 5 to Cat 4 and my best finishes were a 7th place and a 12th place. For the most part though, I surfed the back of the pack because I just couldn’t get comfortable riding in the pack. I also struggled with cornering at high speeds, especially in the pack.

I would say my strength was being able to separate from the pack when I had the opportunity. I could throw down some seated watts and create a gap pretty easily but then I would struggle to maintain the gap. I had a few races where I broke away in the final lap or two, only to get caught by the pack before the finish. I don’t believe I am a sprinter although I am not 100% sure.

PS: as far as raising my FTP, I went from 242 in December 2021 to 317 in August 2022, and my body weight dropped from 88kg to 81kg. I felt pretty strong by the end of the season.

PPS: I am starting this training season at 292 ftp and 84kg so in a better place than last year and I am starting a month and a half earlier.

Reading your reply I think that most would be gained from getting more comfortable riding in the pack and cornering at speed. You could have the highest FTP and a 1600w sprint but if you can’t start in a favourable position, it’s a bit pointless.


I completely agree. Although my preference would be to develop into the type of racer who can break away in the first lap and hold it; then I wouldn’t have to worry about riding in the pack. :slight_smile:

Judging by your reply, I think you’re already further ahead than you know. You seem to have identified key areas for improvement and that’s brilliant.

What I would say is that most, if not all of the areas you’ve highlighted aren’t going to improve on the trainer. These are things that develop with race experience. That said, if you can get involved with fast training rides, hosted by local teams, you’ll learn lots.

Yes, you could have a 350+ watt FTP and ride off the front in a Cat 4 race. That just won’t happen in the higher CATs. Racing in the lower categories is the place to nurture these fundamental skills. Learn to safely navigate the pack. Keep yourself and other riders safe. If other riders know you’re safe (and other riders WILL remember you!) you’ll often find that you’ll get a free ticket back into the line when things heat up.

Cornering at speed can be unnerving. You will encounter riders who want to dive-bomb you or come underneath for no reason at all. You need to be as comfortable as possible in those situations. There is one simple tip that I’m sure you’re already doing but drilling it deep into your mind will help. Look through the corner. Visualise your exit. Keep your weight on the opposing pedal. Really push your weight through that pedal. Cover the brakes because… you never really know who might do what. Start slow and build it up. Once you feel comfortable, start thinking about where you stop and restart pedalling. Clipping a pedal is one of the most terrifying experiences.

Racing in the lower CATs is a privilege. Be a sponge and soak up the experience. If you stick with it, you’ll either be in a team or racing against teams. Unless you’re an absolute monster, you will not ride away from a field of 40/50/60 riders, all with FTPs of 350+.

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Those types of riders are rare beasts…cycling unicorns and they usually cat up very quickly due to immense natural talent.

If that is truly your goal, then working on your threshold would make sense, but would also caution you that achieving that goal will be very difficult.