Training Tips

Zwift How-To: Get Social Structure with Group Workouts

on July 13, 2021

In the mood for some structure but don’t want to ride alone? Want to get some good group training without worrying about getting dropped or riding ahead?

Try a group workout event on Zwift! Throughout the day you can find a variety on offer, from steady tempo or threshold work to VO2 max intervals and sprints. Sometimes there are special workout series where you can unlock in-game kits, like the Fun Is Fast series!

These work almost the same way as a structured workout you can do on your own. You’ll be doing the same workout as others at the same time. No matter your fitness level, a “rubber band” effect will pull you into the group as long as you keep pedaling. This may mean that the group speed is slower than normal. But remember, it’s not about going fast - it’s about crushing that workout together.

We spoke to a few Zwifters who enjoy group workouts to get their stories and advice.

L-R: David Riese, Roos Eichenberger, and Beth Greenaway

David Riese, of New Jersey, started using Zwift in October of 2020. He had started cycling more because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and he wanted to continue building his fitness on the bike.

“Initially, I was riding group rides at faster paces for workouts, but I realized that I should be incorporating other workouts such as VO2 max into my training,” he says. When Riese started doing structured workouts, he missed riding with others. Group workouts let him do both!

Roos Eichenberger, of Cambridge, UK, joined in January of 2021 after a colleague recommended Zwift.

She says that after training with group workouts and other Zwift rides, “I felt much faster and stronger during my outdoor rides... I also think it helps with mental health, doing a structured workout a few times a week.”

Beth Greenaway joined Zwift in March 2020, just as the UK went into its first lockdown and she lost access to her gym. As a congenital heart patient, Beth wanted to maintain fitness but didn’t feel safe riding outdoors. She says she was “instantly captivated by Zwift!”

At first, she avoided structured workouts because she thought they would be too hard, but once she added them to her training she noticed her fitness improving.

“I appreciate the way the group workouts are adjusted to my FTP (Functional Threshold Power), taking some of the guesswork out of how to train effectively to boost my fitness or performance,” says Greenaway.

(Note: If you don’t know your Functional Threshold Power, you can take an FTP test to make sure your workouts fit you.)

Here are these three Zwifters’ top tips:

Scope out the workout before you ride or at the start

  • Eichenberger: “I'd say check out the session (you can click on the colored bars to get more detail), so there are no surprises.” (Note: You can do this by tapping on the event in Zwift Companion, then tapping the workout graph.)
  • Greenaway: “During the warmup, I like to take a good look at the complete workout structure so I have an overview of the effort level I expect to put in at the various points to achieve the stars.”

Have a chat

  • Eichenberger: “When I do workouts on my own, I sometimes find it harder to finish them. A group workout feels a bit more 'social'. Sometimes people put comments in the chat as well. I always try to join early and send a message to the group, saying something like 'good morning from Cambridge, UK', it is nice to see the responses from all over the world!”
  • Greenaway: “Some of the built-in comments, as well as those from fellow riders, can also help with feeling like you are not suffering alone, so it gives encouragement to push beyond a level you might if nobody was with you.”
  • Riese: “Chatting during a rest interval may help you relax for that next hard interval. I will admit I don't chat, but I do like the idea of people suffering with me. The rubberband effect doesn't bother me because I am focused on my watts and not my speed.”

Know you’re in it together

  • Greenaway: “I find that [the banded aspect of group workouts] can help with motivation to be able to see other riders and feel part of the 'blob' who are suffering together.”
  • Riese: “Rubberbanding helps me because I don't lose motivation if I can't keep up with others. I recently tried a workout and I could only get through the first four intervals. I had to turn my ERG mode off on the fifth interval, and I just pedaled to keep in the group until I recovered. If the banding was not there, I would have likely just quit altogether instead of resting and rejoining once I recovered.”

Try some tricks to help you nail it

  • Eichenberger: “I always ride with music, and often I meet up virtually with a friend so we do the same workout. We WhatsApp in the recovery time.”
  • Greenaway: “I often mentally calculate the total periods of work and rest so I can split the workout into sections in my mind. Often the built-in coaching will give you an idea of what to expect, but I still think to myself 'I have 10 minutes to go before this workout ends but just 4 minutes of real work in say 2*2 minutes'. I use a lot of visualisation, imagining myself in a race scenario, coaching myself to relax or to push, use mantras like smooth pedal stroke, thinking about my 'why' and what I hope to gain whenever the going gets tough. Ok, and lastly, I have a couple of favourite playlists on Spotify, filled with tunes I know will motivate and distract me.”

Dial it down... or up!

  • Greenaway: “The opportunity to adjust the bias (plus or minus 10%) can be great if you are having a bad day, or alternatively have not retested your FTP recently so need to increase the challenge.”

Not sure where to start? After the Fun Is Fast Series, try the “Workout of the Week,” which gives you something fresh and new to try every week! See the schedule of group workouts at zwift.com/events/tag/wotw.

 

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