Six-Week Cyclocross Training Plan to Get You Ready for Racing

Six-week cyclocross training plan to get you ready for racing

Five Things We Add to a Cyclocross Training Plan

  1. Running with some short hard bursts
  2. Short hard intervals
  3. Maintenance endurance work.
  4. Yoga and strength training
  5. Recovery

Cyclocross training is a unique blend of skills, speed work, endurance, and recovery.

In Wisconsin, the cyclocross season is almost upon us.

The number of people showing up at the weekly cross practices in Milwaukee has been encouraging – nearly 40 last week! 

Managing your training load right before and during the cross season is a challenge.

How much training to do in the midst of racing is always a juggling act. 

If your season is starting a little later, here’s a six-plan to get you ready to roll!

And if your season is starting earlier, you can use the structure and the workouts to help get you ready!

Here’s the link to the Training Peaks plan!

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Cyclocross training plan builds on your summer fitness

The plan assumes you’ve spent some of the summer building up a base of fitness.

All of my training plans include strength training and yoga because building up your body’s strength, mobility, and stability are the key to better performance.

This plan includes just bodyweight strength training and yoga strength work to not completely break your muscles down. 

This kind of isometric work will build strength and mobility without much of the catabolic effects of heavy weight lifting. 

So I’m expecting that you’ve done some strength work over the summer as well.

If you haven’t done yoga or strength work, move into these slowly! 

The goal of all of this training is to help you get faster and be more comfortable on the cross course!

Week 1 brings speedwork, running into cyclocross training

I don’t know about you, but the first time I go running after a long break, I feel great. 

Until the next day, when every muscle in my hips and legs are screaming at me! 

So it’s important to do the running slowly as you start your cyclocross training

We start with some simple Fartlek (“speed play”) training where we do some easy, slow running with some short slightly harder bursts.

We also add 30/30 intervals where we ride hard for 30 seconds, then rest for 30 seconds. 

As with all good training programs, we build up the volume in the intervals. 

That means each interval session increases the number or length of the intervals, but does not increase the intensity. 

Week 2 adds longer intensity

The second week is nearly a repeat of the first. 

We add additional sets to the 30/30s and maintain the amount of running. 

We focus on twice a week strength training in form of bodyweight or yoga strength. 

Plus, we always need to keep some endurance work as part of our cyclocross training. 

Endurance work keeps us building aerobic capacity, which is the backbone of speed work. 

All the endurance work should be done at a nose-breathing level; that is, you should be able to breathe through your nose.

If you can’t, you’re riding too hard! 

Week 3’s cyclocross training plan gets a little harder

We switch the intervals to 30/15s to mimic the effort you’ll make on a cross course. 

This cyclocross training plan also adds hill intervals to work on your ability to tackle the short, steep hills you commonly find in racing. 

We add a little more structured intensity to the runs.

Each week also includes a specific cyclocross practice focus

In week 3, you’re starting to do more short speed work, working on specific skills like taking off-camber corners and doing efficient starts.

If you do a local cross practice, you can switch days as needed. It’s always better to be part of a group if you can!

Week 4 continues the short hills, short intervals, and running

The fourth week of cyclocross training is similar to Week 3 with a change

We add more volume to the 30/15s and Hill Repeats.

You also run a bit more with some flexibility with Fartlek training. 

If you can do the running interval work up a hill, that’s best. 

We also switch the cross practice days to Wednesdays.

The rationale is that sometimes, you’ll have back to back race days. 

So we’ll do a long endurance day, followed by a harder hill interval day to build up a little extra training load. 

Week 5 is cross-specific in the cyclocross training plan

The penultimate week gets totally cross-specific with one of my favorite cyclocross training workouts!

The soccer field sprints mimic racing so well. Start at one corner of the field and sprint down the sideline. 

Take the corner at speed, recover behind the goal, and sprint out of the next corner down the sideline. 

Do these for sets of 10 minutes and build up to the time you race for. 

The cross practice session focuses on starts: Get 10 perfect starts (clip in right away) before you go home! 

The running training is specific to running fast up hills!

Week 6 prepares you for racing!

The last week of the cyclocross training plan is focused on racing on Sunday.

We’ll do one more soccer field sprint session. (These are workouts you can do all season.)

We also do one more running workout up hills. 

If you race on Sunday, I would suggest taking Friday off from training.

Then on Saturday, do some pre-race riding. 

You can do some work on the road, or you can do a bit more cross practice, especially starts.

And, if you know the course for the race, you can do some specific work to mimic what you’ll see the next day! 

Want to know more about what you can achieve? 

I help a limited number of cyclists and runners achieve their goals with more strength, endurance, and mobility. 

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Paul Warloski is a: 

  • USA Cycling Level 3 Coach
  • RRCA Running Coach
  • Training Peaks Level 2 Coach
  • RYT-200 Yoga Instructor
  • Certified Personal Trainer