Criterium Racing Intervals

The Only Cycling Workout That Ever Gave Me DOMS!

These criterium racing intervals do a better job of matching the demands of the event than almost any other interval workout you could do.

Why do they work? Criterium racing intervals simulates what a criterium race looks like in terms of effort. They are also very effective for increasing your VO2Max and can be modified for any cardiovascular activity.

Because of the sheer number of corners you encounter in a criterium race, you'll spend your time either pedalling fast and putting out huge amounts of power or cruising. It's rare that you'll be at a steady state threshold pace like you would in a time trial unless you're away in a solo breakaway, which is a rare (albeit satisfying) event.

This stochasic* nature makes training for a criterium significantly different from training for a time trial and explains why most time triallists have a very hard time keeping up in a criterium, even though they are more than capable of riding at the average speed of the race for an hour all on their own.

definition of stochastic

In my notation, the "Criterium Racing Intervals" session is written like this...

20 x 30s (15 Fast pedal strokes then Cruise); 5min Easy; 10 x 30s (10 Fast pedal strokes then Cruise); 5min Easy

How to do it...

Warm up thoroughly for 20 minutes using the Roller Warm Up protocol - you can do this on a flat road too.

  • Select a gear to use throughout the workout and stay one gear either side of this unless the gradient goes up severely.
  • Every 30s on the 30s, pedal 15 pedal strokes as fast as you can and then cruise (85-95rpm); Repeat for 20 intervals
  • Recover 5 minutes Easy pedalling
  • Every 30s on the 30s, pedal 10 pedal strokes as fast as you can and then cruise (85-95rpm); Repeat for 10 intervals
  • Cool down 5-10 minutes Easy pedalling, bringing your heart rate down to below 120rpm.

Why should you do intervals? Find out here.

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Will Newton


In over twenty years of coaching, I have coached everyone from absolute beginners to world champions. My interest in getting the best results for athletes who compete for the love of the sport, rather than as professionals, drives me to find the most effective ways to get results. My mission is simple: Be in better shape at 70 than most people are at 20, and to help you do the same.

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