Training Tips

Zwift How-To: Your First Structured Workout

on August 30, 2019

It’s fun to ride around freely in Zwift, but when you want the most bang for your buck, a structured workout is the way to go. They can help you get fitter by focusing on specific efforts. Here’s how to get started.

When you log on to Zwift and reach the starting screen, look down the menu at “Ride Type.” If it says “Just Ride,” that means you have no workout selected. Click the blue “Training” button and you’ll be taken to a menu of structured workouts and training plans.

If you just want to pick a workout for the day, there are many different options under “Workouts.” Click on the heading of each sub-menu to open a list underneath. You can also find some plans here. These are made of individual workouts that you can choose to do on your own or as part of the plan.

The length of each workout is listed under its name at the left. When you click on a workout in the list, a graph and a description will appear at the right. You’ll also see a number called “Stress Points.” These points go up as the workouts get longer and more difficult. Click the orange “Workout” button to select one, and then click “Ride” to start your workout!

Follow a Plan

To try one of Zwift’s specialized Flexible Training Plans, click “Plans” at the top. You’ll see a variety of cycling and running plans. Each one will have a difficulty label so you can pick one that’s appropriate for you. Click “View Plan” to see more details and then “Enroll” to begin. Zwift will guide you through when and how to complete the workouts in your plan.

Tip: read How to Be Successful In a Zwift Training Plan and make your training plan experience the best it can be.

What’s the deal with FTP?

Structured workouts will adjust to fit you based on your Functional Threshold Power, or FTP. FTP is the wattage you can stay below and sustain for longer durations, while going above it causes fatigue to occur very quickly. If you don’t know your FTP, Zwift will ask about your general fitness level when you first log in, and it will use that to guess a starting number. Over time, Zwift will estimate your FTP as you complete hard rides, and you’ll get a message when it goes up.

You can get a better idea of your FTP by taking an FTP test.

  • The “Zwift 101: Cycling” Flexible Training Plan includes a ramp test. It’s short and simple, but it won’t be easy!
  • Another option is a 20-minute all-out effort at a steady pace. Zwift includes two versions of this test with different warmups. You can find these in the “Workouts” tab under “FTP Tests.”

To change your FTP, either edit your profile in Zwift or use the slider on the graph when you select a workout.

What to choose?

Think about your goals and the types of efforts they will take. Then try to match your training to them.

  • Have a flat century ride coming up? Try focusing on longer workouts, where the graphs are blue (endurance) and green (tempo). Gray is for recovery.
  • Climbing hills? Find intervals that match the type and length of effort you give on the hills – they might look yellow (threshold) and orange-red (VO2 max).
  • Want a powerful sprint? Look for workout graphs with bars or spikes of bright red (anaerobic and neuromuscular).
  • Mix things up for well-rounded fitness.

For your first workout, it’s a good idea to choose something short and not too hard, with low Stress Points. An individual workout called “Pre-Training Plan” is found under “60-90 minutes to burn.” It’s only 30 minutes long and can help you get used to workout mode.

Getting it Done

Once riding, your workout intervals will show up in a sidebar at the left of your screen. The targeted watts will appear at the top, along with the amount of time left in the interval.

Do your best to match the target wattage, along with the target cadence if there is one, for the whole interval. Some workouts include written instructions that will pop up to help you out. Keep pedaling and remember – you’re getting stronger!

More Tips

  • Have a controllable smart trainer? Know the basics of using ERG mode before you get started. Your trainer can help you hold the target wattage, or you can choose to turn it off and keep track of your power yourself.
  • If the workout seems harder or easier than it should be, you can adjust the workout difficulty.
  • Check out this article on successfully completing an interval so you can smash your workout like the rock star you are!
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