By Ainslie MacEachran of Gemini Training Systems

One of the beauties of cyclo cross is that very rarely is a race longer than an hour. Because of this, the required training, while still having a little over-distance/time riding, can be somewhat shorter. In the fall day light becomes in short supply and temps may not always be as agreeable. With this is mind, cyclocross workouts can be condensed into short high intensity efforts.


Workout #1

Hill runs.

To do this workout you need to find a short (10-15 seconds) steep climb that you could run up with the bike shouldered. Additionally, you need enough room to remount your bike and ride 30sec or so back to the start of the hill. For instance, a park works quite nicely as long as bicycles are allowed.

Ride a minimum of 20-30 minutes as a warmup. Maybe the ride to the park takes that long, or you ride the circuitous way to the park. When you arrive, you’re going to ride right around lactate threshold for 15-20 second and then, at the base of the hill, dismount, and shoulder your bike and run full gas up the hill. At the top remount and then roll easy back to the base of the hill.

If you’re a beginner, 6-8 repetitions are a good starting place. If you’re at an advanced level you could do upwards of 8-10 repetitions. Make sure you allow enough time for a 20-30min cool down too. The total workout should be in the neighborhood of 1hr – 90 minutes.


Workout #2

Explosive starts.

Similar to the above workout, begin with a minimum 20 to 30 minute warmup. This workout is best done on a slight incline. Standing next to your bike, perform a running cx mount and then ride flat out for 15 – 20 seconds and then sit up. Your recovery between intervals should be approximately 30 – 45 seconds. Roll back to your starting point and repeat.

Beginners could look at 5-7 repetitions. Advanced, consider 8 or more. Again, light cool down in the neighborhood of 20 to 30 minutes. Total workout time should be 1 hour to 90 minutes.


If you keep your workouts fairlyshort and highly intense and perform these each a minimum of twice a week you should see improvement in as little as 3 to four weeks. If you figure the schedule backwards from your first CX race or a target event, you can arrive to your event ready to rumble.

Ainslie MacEachran, the author of “Simple Cycling Performance”, is an AAAI/ISMA certified personal trainer and a USACycling level 2 cycling coach. To dial in your cyclocross preparation you can contact Ainslie at His book is available at, and