Crit race training tips


New Member
Jan 24, 2013
Im looking for some tips on training over the next 12 weeks to begin racing crits again from mid March. If my sole focus is performing well in races, what sort of interval training / weight training would benefit me the most and how should I break it down over the week? Cheers
The distinguishing physiological demand of crits is the pattern of power output. The pattern is accelerate-cruise-accelerate-cruise->... A good way to train for crits and simultaneously maintain a good FTP base is to ride L6+L4 repeats. I have a CompuTrainer ergo, so I can easily program such a workout. My preferred workout is 5min warmup + [pattern=6secs@600W + 24secs@90%FTP] + repeat [pattern] for 30-60mins + 5min cooldown. The 6secs@600W roughly corresponds to the out-of-corner accelerations in both intensity and duration and the 24secs@90%FTP roughly corresponds to the cruise segment between turns. Most courses have longer straightaways than 24secs, so this pattern corresponds to a pretty tight course. If you don't have a CT, you can simulate this workout with a standard trainer and repeating alarm timer. Just set up your timer for beeps at 0secs, 6secs and 30secs and repeat indefinitely. When you hear the first beep, get off the saddle and go hard until you hear the 2nd beat then sit back down and cruise at a normal L4 pace until the next beep. I find that the 6sec segments are about 10 pedal strokes, so another option is to set up a repeating timer for 30sec intervals and just count pedal strokes for the 6sec segments.

A good outside version of this workout is to find an empty parking lot (e.g., a church on a weekday or a school on the weekend). You can find a long row and do loops. Accelerate out of the corners up to about 25mph, then back off and cruise to the next turn. I find that it takes me about 6secs to accelerate from a typical corner exit speed of 18-20mph up to 25mph.

The ride stats will result in a pretty good NP as well as a bunch of short segments at L6 pace. I would probably do these 2x per week in the month or so before the first crit, although you can really do these year-round.
From a physiology and race specific fitness standpoint I second RDO's post above.

Is this your first season of racing crits or have you done a lot of crits and want to pick up your game a notch? If it's the former then in addition to some solo training focused on physiology and the dynamics of racing I'd strongly urge as much fast group riding as you can manage as crits are as much about good pack riding skills, sticking close on wheels, not letting gaps open, and aggressive cornering in the bunch as they are about specific fitness. More new crit riders get dropped off the back due to poor bike handling, cornering, and group riding skills than pure fitness. Just a bit of hesitation and brushing your brakes or coasting early before corners or taking poor inside lines and not using all the available road to carry speed can easily result in getting spit out the back, lapped, and pulled.

So get the fitness of course, but also work on pack riding skills unless you've got that part dialed in.

The race specific intervals sound like a good idea, ill defo give those a try. Would you do any variations on this or do say 3 of these sessions per week plus a couple of long rides? Iv done a season racing and moved up to 3rd cat after about 10 or so races, and have been doing cyclocross races most Sundays to try and maintain fitness. I'm confident cornering, riding in a group etc just need some ideas on how to set up my weeks training to boost my performance so I'm able deal with the constant accelerations of a crit and not blow up when the pace gets high. Fyi I usually just train with an HR monitor, I don't have a power meter or anything fancy!
You can do the crit simulation sessions several times a week if you want. The total ride intensity and stress is driven by the power output you choose for the 24sec segments. For example, let's say you do 6s@600W + 24s@200W repeats, you will get an AP of 280W. But, you could do 6s@600W + 54s@200W and get an AP of 220W. So, if you do a full hour of these repeats, you can get both a pretty good L4 effort and a bunch of L6 efforts.

If you don't have a power meter, your HR monitor won't be of any use because HR BPM responds too slowly. On a trainer, find two speeds or gear/cadence combinations that you can use for the acceleration segments and the cruise segments. A few trial and error sessions should allow you to refine these speeds at a constant force setting for your trainer. It's pretty easy outside. Find an empty parking lot with a row long enough for at least a 30sec cruise at 20-25mph. Coming out of the corners into the long straightaways, accelerate to 25mph in about 6secs then cruise to the next corner at ~20mph. In a race, you'll be going faster on the straightaways, but you'll be in the draft so the effort will be similar. Unfortunately, a lot of parking lots are built now with speed bumps, so you may have to cruise around to find the perfect spot.