Intermediate Cyclocross Training Plan / General / Designed for Strength Training
Plan Length: 12 Weeks
Over the course of the next 10 weeks you will combine high intensity efforts with specific bike skill sessions. These will have you riding faster in a straight line and through the technical sections typical of any enterPAINing CX course. However, this plan is much more than just on the bike Suffering. Weekly yoga sessions will increase your flexibility as well as core strength, which will have you sitting more comfortably on the bike and insure all your power is getting directed to the pedals. Strength training will improve your power and endurance while dramatically improving your balance and getting you ready for those run-ups. At the end of these 70 days you will be a fitter, more agile and tougher version of yourself!
Note: These plans are designed to be used with The Sufferfest Training System. You will need to download and install The Sufferfest for iOS, macOS or Windows to access the workouts associated with these plans. To get started:
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Sample Week of Training
Below is a week of training from this plan which represents the type of workouts you will be doing.
Bike - NoVid: Recovery Spin
Don’t be afraid of the Two Rs: rest and recovery.
Believe it or not, you get faster when your
body is taking it easy after all that suffering.
A recovery spin is a very low intensity ride, so easy that you’d feel embarrassed to ride so slow if you didn’t know you were helping your body
get much faster.
A good recovery spin is done at a cadence above 90 RPM. While keeping power below 50% of FTP, or and RPE less than 2.5, and keeping your heart rate in Zone 1 the entire time.
Recovery spins can be done outdoors, but due to the low power demands, they are often easier done on the trainer
Resist the voice of
your inner Sufferlandrian telling you to go faster.
Other - Week 2
Bike - Standing Starts **Before Strength**
Four Dimensional Power Focus:
Standing starts closely simulate a lifting session on the bike because it requires the engagement of your core, upper and lower body. Standing starts will train your ability to generate force through the pedals by forcing you to recruit all of your musculature. No matter your prefered discipline, these efforts are key to teaching your body to recruit all of the muscle fibers in your legs. The saying "Use it or Lose it" actually does apply here. All of the benefit in this session comes from hitting these 20 seconds effort as hard as you possibly can. To do that, you need full recovery between each sprint, and you need to respect that recovery! These efforts should see you start at super low RPMs with very high torque, as the effort continues your cadence will naturally increase. Your goal is to get your cadence as high as possible by the end of each 20 second effort. To maximize your muscle recruitment you want to both push down and pull up on the pedals at the start. Proper core engagement is a must, your legs need a good strong backboard to push against. We understand that not everyone's trainer has the necessary resistance, or the required stability, to perform this workout as described. For stability issues you can get much of the same benefit by doing these efforts seated. If your trainer can't handle the rapid change in speed, or does not have high enough resistance at super a super low cadence then you can start the efforts are a higher cadence and simply treat them as "normal" all out sprints.
This is a session that can be done indoors or outdoors. If done outdoors, come to a slow roll in your largest Chain Ring and your 3rd or 4th smallest cog on your rear cassette. Complete the same set of 4 x 20sec maximal start efforts, with 6-8 minutes of easy spinning between.
Bike - Thin Air **Reduced Intensity 85%**
Four Dimensional Power Focus:
Here it is: the longest big effort in any session in The Sufferfest library. The plain and simple fact is that sometimes to stress your FTP you need to spend more than 20 or 30 minutes riding near your FTP. This session was designed with that in mind. While most of the climb is actually below threshold, there are enough surges above it that your body will constantly be at the limit of clearing out those nasty, painful metabolites at the rate you churn them out. Painsuckers, rejoice! Keep in mind that most of your anaerobic energy systems will be very depleted by the time you hit the 30 minute mark. That means they won't be much help in contributing to power production. That's one of the reasons why the same power target five minutes into this climb feels much harder when it comes again at minute 30. Once those anaerobic systems are used up, all you have left is your aerobic system, which requires oxygen to create power. These longer sustained efforts are crucial if you want to really push your threshold to its limits.
Bike - Violator **Do NOT Use ERG Mode** **Read Description**
Four Dimensional Power Focus:
If NM and AC got together to throw a party, this would be it. Violator is the perfect example of how the amount of recovery time between efforts dramatically changes the amount of training stress you get. Yes, there are 64 sprints, but they're not all doing the same thing for your fitness. The first set of sprints has enough recovery that you'll be able to work your NM to the max. The second set still has enough recovery to allow you to hit high power numbers, but the reduced time between sprints stresses your ability to recover and repeat that high effort. That means you'll start to dip into AC. The last set-with equal sprint and recovery times-ensures your heart rate never gets a chance to drop down. That works your MAP like nobody's business.
You should remain seated for all of these sprint efforts (and in the drops if that is where you spend most of your time during racing) This means you need to ignore the power targets, your only goal is to give a maximal seated effort each and every sprint. This means you will likely be under target power in the first set, and maybe over power targets in the final set, that does not matter. You are just looking to go all out 64 times!
Bike - NoVid: Cadence Builds and Holds**After Strength**
This workout is another excellent addition to our "Drills" series. Over the next 45 minutes, you will complete four 30-second cadence builds, and six 60-second high cadence holds. This workout places a considerable demand on your Neuromuscular System, as your muscles are forced to contract and relax as quickly as possible. At the same time, the shorter recovery period between these drills will keep your heart rate, and breathing rate elevated, giving you a great cardiovascular workload.
Let's breakdown the two drills you will be doing.
Cadence Builds: The name of the game here is absolute peak cadence, not peak power. To achieve this, you need to be in a small gear and have very light resistance. Starting at 90-RPM, steadily increase your cadence until you reach your absolute max without about 5-seconds left, and hold that to the end. Your limiting factor on these efforts needs to be leg speed. If resistance/power output is your limiting factor, try starting in an easier gear, or shift into an easier gear 15-seconds in. Bouncing in the saddle is okay for this drill.
Cadence Holds: These efforts require you to maintain the highest cadence you can without starting to bounce in the saddle. For some of you that will be 100-RPM, for others, it will be 150-RPM. The key is to settle into YOUR peak sustainable cadence. Like the Builds, the goal here is not high power, so these efforts are limited to 90% of FTP. Do not be surprised if your heart rate is well into Zone 4 by the time you hit the last few holds.
To properly execute this session, your effort between drills needs to be low. With limited recovery time between these maximal Neuromuscular Efforts, riding above Zone 1 between efforts will only reduce your ability to max out your cadence. While the power targets between are Zone 1, do not be surprised if your heart rate does not drop below Zone 2 after the first couple builds.
* Improved muscle recruitment and firing patterns
* Improved muscle coordination at higher cadences
* Deliver a high Neuromuscular and Cardiovascular load while minimizing the power demands placed on your muscles
* Help you develop a silky smooth pedal stroke
Cross Training - Race Sim Skills
This skills session is designed to develop skills for a variety of challenging course conditions and mimic scenarios you will encounter on race day. The skills practiced here are done at race pace so you can focus on proper execution while under pressure. To properly complete this ride you will need to find a field with the following features and bring along some equipment: A set of stairs, ideally with enough area at the top to practice re-mounting your bike. A flat, open area to practice Figure 8s. Use water bottles or cones to mark the corners. A hill to practice off-camber riding. Barriers about shin high, which can be made from PVC pipe or improvised using your imagination (and a few water bottles). BONUS: an area with sand or deep and loose dirt. Here's how to tackle this session: Warm-up for 10-15 minutes Z1/Z2 spinning, include two 3-5 second hard accelerations. Hole Shot + Stairs. Complete 2 sets: Simulate your race start by lining up 300-400m away from the stairs, in your starting gear and with one foot unclipped. Countdown from 10 and you're OFF! Clip in and complete an all out 15 second effort. Work on shifting up smoothly during the effort as you would in a race. Continue the effort around Z3/Z4 effort for 60 seconds while riding towards the base of the stairs. Dismount and run up the stairs and remount at the top. Between the first and second set, do 50-100m of Field Running. Barriers. Complete 4-6 sets: Set up some barriers (you can make a portable set from PVC pipe, or you can use some water bottles and your imagination). Starting about 100m out from your barriers, speed towards the barriers at race pace. The challenge is to focus on the timing of your dismount and remount and to keep you leg speed high between the barriers in order to maintain the most momentum. Figure 8s. Complete 5-10 minutes: For more info on Figure 8s read "Tips for Figure 8s". Set up 2 bottles about 30m apart and practice your Figure 8s. To simulate a race scenario, drive your first 3-4 pedal strokes super hard coming out of each "turn". Alternate seated efforts and standing efforts and experiment with your gearing to find the best fit for your desired cadence and power. Sand Pit. Complete 5-10 minutes: If you also have access to a sand pit then finish with 4-6 efforts through the sand. See "Tips For Sand" to master this skill. Finish with 5-10 minutes of easy spinning to cool down.
Cross Training - Trails: Cruising
The goal here is to have a bit of fun while shredding some brown pow with some sections at a relaxed pace. Head over to your local moderate to hard trail. Try and avoid trails with a lot of climbing. This workout focuses on: Keeping your heart rate below Z3 the entire time, ideally staying in Z1 for the bulk of your riding. If you find a section that you struggle to hit clean repeat that section a few times until you feel comfortable with it. Don't feel the need to practice every section you struggle with on a single ride, you can always come back another day!