4 Training Principles For Zwifters

4 Training Principles For Zwifters

It’s easy to get started on Zwift. All you need is a bike, smart trainer, and computer/smartphone and you’ll be riding around Watopia in no time at all!

However, go deeper and there is more to training than just riding however you’d like.

Whether you do all your riding on Zwift or combine it with outdoor riding, Zwifters looking to increase fitness should follow these 4 important training principles. 

#1: Add Variation to Your Training 

It’s important to perform different types of training throughout the week. Focusing on different fitness aspects each day of the week can deliver an ideal training mix. Adding variation to your training yields more gains in performance and will keep you more engaged and motivated!

Sample training week from Zwift Insider’s Eric Schlange

Training variations include intensity, duration, volume, and technical aspects. 

As an example, one day you could focus on strength training, another day on intensity with a goal to increase threshold within a race or workout, and another day focus on aerobic endurance by doing sweet spot training within group ride or on your own. This will enable you to perfectly spread your energies throughout the week, enabling you to consistently increase fitness from all aspects.

Sample week:

  • Monday: Recovery
  • Tuesday: Strength
  • Wednesday: Intense Training
  • Thursday: Sweet Spot
  • Friday: Recovery
  • Saturday: Intense Training
  • Sunday: Endurance

#2: Include Adaptation (Rest) Weeks

Adaptation week is basically an easier week during a training cycle where the primary goal is to recover from your accumulated training load. 

Taking a rest week every 3-4 weeks allows you to push harder during tough training weeks, making you fitter in long term. Looking at it another way: placing higher stress on your body for a short period then recovering builds fitness quicker than doing the same workouts week after week.

Recovery weeks are effective because when you recover properly, your body rebuilds to a better position than it had previously. It’s this cycle of breaking down and repairing that allows us to train constantly harder without detrimental effects.

Other benefits of rest weeks include reducing the risk of overtraining and giving you a mental break, increasing your motivation. 

Adaptation weeks should contain about half the volume and intensity of your standard week, with an extra recovery day. 

#3: Monitor FTP Changes

Perform a Zwift Ramp Test at least every 4 weeks to find your current threshold power. Finding your FTP is important for setting up and adjusting your training zones. It is important to realize that FTP is constantly changing, therefore you need to ensure that you always train relative to your FTP and that your FTP is accurate.

Structured workouts on Zwift and other platforms are based on % of your FTP. When your FTP increases, your workouts and training zones increase as well, so the same workout should always feel relatively the same regardless of your fitness.

Perform these ramp tests either during or soon after an adaptation week. At that point, your body is ready to work hard, and consistently testing in this state provides a systematic and measurable way to track progress towards your goals.

#4: Use a Holistic Approach

Approaching cycling training from all aspects is a crucial step to ensuring long-term fitness growth. The times is gone when long training hours of bike training were enough. Now we know that it’s not just about bike workouts – stretching, yoga, core training, nutrition, and mental toughness all play a role in an athlete’s performance! 

Countless benefits come with this holistic approach: 

  • Stretching increases blood flow, decreases stiffness, and reduces muscle soreness, leading to increased performance
  • Yoga improves flexibility, builds strength, and develops breathing techniques
  • Proper nutrition improves the recovery process
  • Core training allows you to transfer more power through the legs while improving your posture and reducing the instance of injury

Incorporating these exercises along with the right diet will give you an incredible edge over your competitors.

Questions or Comments?

Do you incorporate these training principles into your fitness regimen? Share which principles are most important to you, and which ones you need to work on most!

About The Author

Jakub Novak

Jakub is head coach at ProCyclingCoaching and a former World Tour cyclist. As a pro Jakub rode for BMC Pro Racing alongside Tour de France winner Cadel Evans and World Champion Philipe Gilbert. As a coach, Jakub delivers remote coaching programs and training plans to all levels of cyclists. Visit his website for more information.

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Daniel Baish
Daniel Baish
8 days ago

Why a ramp test and not 20 minute test for FTP?

Alex
Alex
8 days ago
Reply to  Daniel Baish

You can certainly do the 20min test if you want to.

Especially for beginners, the problem with the 20 minute test is that you have to be able to maintain an even effort for the best result which means not starting out too fast or too slow. If you finish the test and your average power is significantly different from your normalized power, something went wrong.

The ramp test uses the ERG of your trainer which eliminates the problem of improper pacing.

OTOH, some people say the ramp test overestimates your FTP.

Bernie
Bernie
7 days ago
Reply to  Alex

I’d love to see a longer discussion about this. After a ramp test, I have to set most of my workouts to 95% intensity to be able to complete them.

These days, I adjust my effective FTP based on how I feel when doing an SST session. During the session, if I’m feeling good, I’ll notch the intensity up a percentage. Next workout, I’ll notch it up earlier. Eventually, I’ll start the workout at a higher intensity.

PRSboy
PRSboy
6 days ago
Reply to  Bernie

I’ve done both over the years. For what it’s worth, my FTP as calculated by Zwiftpower from races etc is the same as my FTP from a TrainerRoad ramp test, so I’m confident it’s about right. Another advantage of the ramp test is that they are not as intimidating as a 20 min test so can be repeated more frequently if you wish. I find I get more accurate results if I do a proper structured warm up beforehand.

Oliver
Oliver
6 days ago
Reply to  Bernie

It depends on which type of rider you are. For me the test is quite accurate or maybe tends to underestimate my FTP a little. At least after some races, my FTP gets upgraded in comparison to the ramp test. If you are a “puncheur” with very good maximum aerobic power, it’s possible that the ramp test will overestimate your FTP. I think it will become apparent, if you are able to finish the workouts or not (especially the ones like The Gorby etc.). If you are an experienced rider, you will know how to pace the traditional (1:07h) FTP-test… Read more »

V.Smajer
V.Smajer
4 days ago
Reply to  Alex

I have done 20 min. FTP test with result of 182 W. All trainings based on this FTP didn’t make any sense. So I rode only based by by HR (keeping it around 125-130 bpm) any my FTP was suddenly 225 W. So risk is that in order to keep 20 minutes you will hold yourself back and get wrong data.

sven
sven
7 days ago
Reply to  Daniel Baish

I use the ramp test as I don’t have to know what my “goal” FTP test is at the start of the test. With the ramp test, you just keep going until you cannot go anymore. I find it hard to predict my FTP (and required effort for a 20 minute test) if I have had a significant break, or made significant gains. Once you do one type of test, may as well be consistent. Remember it is a tool to help set your training intervals (or perhaps pace a race effort). I normally test every around 6 weeks. The… Read more »

Jerry V
Jerry V
8 days ago

Is there a way when doing a Zwift training program to input a ride I did outside (and missed a ride in the program)?

Eric Schlange
Top Member
Eric Schlange (@eschlange)
8 days ago
Reply to  Jerry V

There’s a way to mark off a scheduled workout as completed, but you can’t upload the ride data to Zwift or anything like that.

From https://www.zwift.com/news/14254-how-to-be-successful-in-a-zwift-training-plan

If you’d like to complete your workout outdoors, go for it! Strictly structured training can be a challenge outside, but at least try to make your session similar to the planned Zwift workout in terms of intensity and format. This will help you get the most out of your Zwift training plan.

Plan your outdoor workout using Zwift Companion Workout Viewer, and remember to hit “I Did It” when you log back into Zwift.

Gary
Gary
8 days ago

It would be great if I was able to get a hold of a smart trainer. The prices have spiked and people have bot bought them through online software and then went on to sell them 4 x the value. They need to produce more stock as national lockdown and weather stops cycling and after taken cycling up it really has helped my mental health

Eric Schlange
Top Member
Eric Schlange (@eschlange)
8 days ago
Reply to  Gary

Are you in the US? Plenty of availability here: https://zwiftinsider.com/where-to-buy-a-smart-trainer-today/

But yes, it’s been a challenge since April 2020!

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