Cyclocross Interval Workout for the Pre-Season

With cyclocross season just around the corner, it's time to start incorporating some cx specific skills and drills into your training plan! Below is an intro interval workout you can perform before racing starts that includes just the right amount of cross specificity and volume:

Zone 6, Over / Unders: 4 x 2.5 min On 2.5 min OFF

Start the 1st 15 seconds of the interval at 125 - 150% FTP then settle into your VO2 power and/or heart rate zone for the next 2 minutes. Then for the final 15 seconds of the interval go FULL GAS between 150 - 200% of your FTP.

Make these over unders intervals cyclocross specific by ACCELERATING HARD from an imaginary start line at the beginning of the interval for the first 15 seconds. Perform these with one foot down to practice your cyclocross starts and hammer! As you accelerate out of the saddle, smoothly shift down until you are up to speed. This should take 15 seconds at which point you should 'settle' into the interval by sitting down, pedaling hard between 110-120% of your FTP. With 15 seconds 'to go' for the entire interval, kill it, by not slowing down and pushing hard out the saddle - as hard as you can go, full gas for 15 seconds between 150 - 200% of your FTP. Whew, recover for 2.5 minutes to catch your breath.

Take 2.5 minutes of recovery (1:1 work to rest ratio) and repeat. Like this:

CX interval workout trainingpeaks

The total volume of intensity is 10 minutes (4 intervals x's 2.5 minutes) which is a pre- season amount of mixed VO2 and anaerobic interval work. I.e. introductory. Perform this interval workout once a week working your way up to two sets (20 minutes) then 3 sets but only if you wanna 'go pro'.

Zone 6 Over / Unders: 2 sets of 4 x 2.5 minutes ON, 2.5 minute OFF; 5 minutes RECOVERY between sets

Make this workout a '2 fer' by also practicing your cyclocross race starts. As mentioned, begin each interval at an imaginary start line with one foot down. Accelerate as hard and as fast as you can simultaneously working on clipping in smoothly. Your first race of the season will thank you.

I recommend performing these on a shallow grade hill so that you can get more raw power out of your legs. See the Strava file from this workout here.

These intervals only take ~ 17.5 minutes per set so you can still get a fun ride with your peeps and/or some TSS after you've completed the structured portion of the interval workout. It's the preseason after all and depending on where you are at with your training, more training (riding > miles > minutes > kiloJoules and best of all TSS) is encouraged.

If you are preparing for the cross season, be sure to check out our Six Weeks Till Cross plan which includes the Over/Under workouts described above, running and cx specific skills and drills, all laid out in a weekly calendar format for optimal recovery and performance.


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About Frank Overton

Frank founded FasCat Coaching in 2002 and has been a full time cycling coach since 2004. His educational background includes a Masters degree in Physiology from North Carolina State University, pre-med from Hampden-Sydney College. Frank raced at a professional level on the road and mountain bike and currently competes as a "masters" level gravel and cyclocrosser. Professionally Frank comes from medical school spinal cord research and molecular biotechnology. However, to this day it is a dream come true for Frank to be able to help cyclists as a coach.

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