3-week beginner training plan for CX

A training plan that is personalized around your goals and background is ideal, but a basic plan is a great start! Here are a few tips for making the most of any training plan. 

Consistency is key. 
Whether you're working to improve your skills, or aiming to elevate your fitness, consistency is key. Carve out time to train 3-5 days per week for an hour or more. There will always be something trying to stand in our way of training; do your best to protect that time for yourself. 

Cyclocross is booming in the Pacific Northwest. Come be part of the fun!

Cyclocross is booming in the Pacific Northwest. Come be part of the fun!

Train with friends. 

Training with friends keeps it fun and can help us push our limits.  Find a network of support to keep you going through the season and after the weather turns wild.  

Remember to rest (and earn that rest).
Rest and “active recovery” days should be incorporated into every week of training.  These days are just as important as your hard training days!  Work hard on the hard training days, then rest hard on your rest/active recovery days.

Be patient. 
Improving your skills and fitness in any endurance sport takes an immense about of patience. It also takes consistent practice. Be kind to yourself through the process.  Keep it fun and enjoy the journey of seeing yourself improve! 


To help kick start your season, here's a basic training plan geared toward someone brand new to cyclocross. If you're looking for something more comprehensive, advanced or personalized, visit the services page to see what options are available. Have fun!

Week 1

60-90’ ride with 3 x 10’ tempo efforts
Warm-up for 20-30 minutes, then:
3 x 10’ at tempo pace
3-4’ easy spin between efforts
10-30’ cool-down spin to end the day

*Tempo = a comfortably hard pace that can be sustained for over 30 minutes.  Effort level should feel about 6 on a scale of 1-10. 

Dismount/remount practice
Find an open, level, grassy field where you can get in 30 minutes of dismount and remount practice, focusing in on the key points covered in the WWCX clinic. 
Take it slow to start. Once you have a skill dialed in at a slow speed, ratchet up your speed gradually.  For week 1, practice at ½ speed and ¾ speed.

On skills days, once you’re tired and mentally drained, you’re done!  You want to be fresh and sharp while practicing skills.

We're never too old, or too young, to learn how to hop onto our bike with style...

We're never too old, or too young, to learn how to hop onto our bike with style...

20-30’ jog at an easy pace + 15' of core work
You don’t need to be a track star to be a cyclocross racer, but you do want to get through short running sections without getting totally gassed.

It’s important to ease into running workouts gradually, especially if you haven’t been running recently.  Intersperse speed walking into your running workouts if you’re breaking back into running—start with 1-2’ running chunks in week one, then increase time gradually through the weeks. 

~2 hour road or dirt ride
Find a route that has ~1500ft of climbing dispersed throughout the ride

Week 2

1-2 hour ride with race starts
After a thorough warm-up, incorporate 10-15 race starts throughout your ride.  Practice starting from a dead stop, clipping in cleanly, building momentum quickly, then going hard for 10-30 seconds. 
10-20’ easy cool-down spin to end the day. 

Active recovery or full rest day
If you choose to ride today, limit total volume to 45’ and keep intensity in Zone 1 (easy spin!).  No hard efforts on active recovery days.
Remember, today is the day when your body has a chance to rejuvenate and adapt.     

20-30’ jog at an easy pace, or hills or stairs
If you're been running and this is a breeze, find a moderate grade hill or a set of stairs and get in 15-20' of work against gravity.  Bonus points for shouldering your bike and taking it along for the climbs. 

~2hr road or dirt ride with skills focus
Skills focus: Gear selection
Look ahead on the trails and anticipate what gear you’ll need as the terrain changes.  Work on your shift timing so you’re never shifting under load (you know that awful sound your bike makes when you shift under too much load?  Avoid that sound!).  Being in just the right gear, at just the right time, is a key element to success in cyclocross. 

*Pro tip: get right to work on your recovery nutrition as soon as you walk in the door after long rides. You'll recover more quickly and get more out of your upcoming training rides. 

 Week 3

90’ – 2hr ride with 4 x 12’ of “over-unders"
After a thorough warm-up of at least 20’
4 x 12’ of 2’ over: 4’ under
3’ recovery spin between efforts

”Over” is at lactate threshold intensity (the point at which you start accumulating lactic acid and feeling a burn in your legs... this should be relatively hard work)  
“Under” is just under lactate threshold (comfortably hard) 

Pro tip: this workout is meant to improve your race pacing skills.  Lactate threshold is going to right about your race pace. You want to be able to hold a similar pace for your entire "on" time during this workout.  If you faded toward the end, you went out to hard.  If you felt fresh at the end, try this workout again next week and ratchet up the intensity. 

20/20/20 day
20’ warm-up on the ‘cross bike
20 repetitions of dismount and remount  
20 reps of dismount, bike shoulder, 20'' run, remount 

90’- 2hr trail ride on ‘cross bike with skills focus
Skills focus for your trail ride this week: Look through the turns
Always look ahead where you want your bike to go.  It’s easy for our eyes to be drawn into objects we’re trying to avoid, but our bike tends to follow our eyes.  Always look through the turns, toward the exit of the turn.  Your bike will follow your eyes. 

Now that you're three weeks in, keep the ball rolling!  Remember that consistency is key.


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