Our recent post on How ZwiftPower Calculates Rider Rankings introduced many Zwifters to this global ranking system. Now it’s time to look at strategies for boosting your ranking!
Race Stronger Riders/Higher Categories
Remember: generally speaking, “to improve your ranking you must beat riders currently ranked stronger than yourself.” If you’re not racing against higher-ranked riders, you’re not going to improve your ZwiftPower ranking.
There are different ways to execute this strategy:
- Race Up a Cat: riders in the next category up will have a better ranking than those in your category, meaning you have more potential points to earn. Further reading: The Dangers of Racing Your Zwift Category
- Race Uncategorized Races: while rare, some races have just one category, so you’ll be racing against riders of all abilities. If you’re normally a B or lower, that means you’ll be competing for points against some higher-ranked riders who normally race in higher categories.
- Choose Higher-Quality Races: did you know ZwiftPower ranks the quality of races, so you can find events with stronger fields? Further reading: How To Find High-Quality Zwift Races Using ZwiftPower Rankings
- Look at the Signup List: a simple but effective strategy. Click on an event in ZwiftPower, then click the “Rank” column to sort signups by their ranking. If you’re ranked higher than anyone currently signed up, this may not be the best event to target when pursuing a rankings boost.
Race Against Larger Fields
As explained in How ZwiftPower Calculates Rider Rankings, field size is a key part of the Points Per Place calculation. It doesn’t affect how many points you earn for 1st place, but it greatly affects the points given to 2nd, 3rd, etc.
This is a simple strategy to execute: just look at how many are signed up for a race, and join the bigger events.
Race Your Strengths
An obvious strategy, perhaps, but worth mentioning. When you’re racing for a ranking boost, choose a race that suits your strengths. That means flatter racers for sprinters, hilly races for climbers, etc. Choose a course profile and length that suits you best.
Work With Teammates
Most serious Zwift racers are part of a team. And it’s possible, on a well-organized team, to enter races where you have team members working as your domestiques with the goal of maximizing your result. If your team members can mount attacks to tire out the field, drop back to lend you a wheel, and lead you out for the win, you stand a better chance at a good result.
This happens quite a bit in ZRL events, but you also see it in one-off events and short race series which have a GC element. All it takes is planning and some willing teammates!
Remember: You Only Need 5
Racers sometimes make the mistake of constantly targeting good ranking results, racing multiple times each week in the hope of earning a points upgrade.
But remember: your ZwiftPower ranking is the average of your 5 best race results in the past 3 months. That’s only one race every 18 days, on average.
Instead of scraping for points every other day, you may be better off using some of your hard days to execute workouts that shore up your weaknesses or boost your strengths. If you’re getting dropped on short climbs, do some VO2 workouts, or race in Yorkshire and treat is as a workout without investing a lot in the outcome.
Then rest up and use your newfound fitness to kill it in a race against a strong, large field!
Sign Up Early
When smart racers are looking for a race to join, they want a high-quality race. That usually means a larger field containing higher-ranked riders.
If you want to attract others to a race, sign up early yourself! The earlier everyone signs up, the easier it is for everyone to find which races feature the strongest fields.
Strategies Just for Women
In talking about rank-boosting strategies, we heard from several ladies who gave the same tips.
Race Down a Mixed Category
While the women we talked to generally agreed that it’s pretty tough to get a good result as an A woman in a mixed A race, they said they’ve received good rankings boosts by entering mixed B races.
ZwiftPower moves ladies up from the women’s B to A category when they hit an FTP of 3.7 w/kg. But the threshold for a mixed-category A race is 4.0 w/kg AND 250 watts.
With many women racers being lighter-weight riders, that 250 watt threshold is never hit. (In fact, more than half of the current top 10 rated women in the world have an FTP below 250W!)
This means many of the strongest woman racers are allowed to race against mixed B fields. And the stronger B races feature lots of men in the 150-250 points range, providing numerous opportunities for points boosts for the ladies (the average ranking of the top 10 women in the world today is 175 points).
Choose Hilly Races
If you’re a lightweight A woman racing against a strong mixed B field, choosing hillier events is probably your key to rankings boosts. Why? Because chances are, your FTP w/kg is much higher than most or all of the men you’re competing against.
Use that to your advantage – sit in on the flats and descents, then destroy them on the climbs. Place high and take home the points!
Here are a few tactics we’ve seen used that we can’t necessarily fully endorse, as some would consider them unsporting. (Others would say it’s just shrewdly playing the game.)
However you look at it, these tactics are being used every day on Zwift, and they’re not violating any rules. You can use them with being disqualified, but keep in mind you may angers.
Race length has no bearing on points earned. That is, given identical fields, your 10th-place finish in a 3-hour race will earn you the same points as a 10th place in a 5-minute sprint race.
Sort of crazy, right? Logically, this leads to some riders using shorter races to grab points without killing their legs. An especially powerful strategy if your power profile is one that performs well in shorter efforts punctuated by a sprint, as that’s what short races typically are.
Double Races, Emphasizing the 2nd Race
If shorter races provide a way to upgrade your ranking with less effort, how about doing two shorter races? The “Oh My Crit” series is a popular one featuring back to back shorter races.
But here’s the pro tip (or cheater’s tip, depending on where you stand): go easy in the first race. Or skip it altogether. Then go for the best result possible in the second race. Many of the racers in that second race will be tired from the first event, so you stand a better chance of a good result with your fresh legs.
Sign Up Late
The opposite of our good neighbor “Sign Up Early” tip above, higher-ranked riders will sometimes avoid signing up until the last minute. This means other riders checking the competition on ZwiftPower beforehand won’t see you, which means you stand a better chance of not being marked.
It’s the first prong of a ninja race attack, really. Couple it with an all-black kit and the Invisibility PowerUp and you’ll achieve next-level sneakiness!
Women Helped by Men On Their Team
Some of the women we spoke with said they have seen women helped in races by men who are on their teams. Perhaps a higher-ranked man who doesn’t care much about his ranking points will purposely let a woman teammate finish ahead of him. He may also serve as her domestique, helping her to maximize her result.
The average ranking of the 10 top-ranked women in the world is 175, while the average of the top 10 men is 72. This is an indicator of the fact that there are plenty of dudes out there who are ranked higher than the world’s top ladies… which means ladies can grab a lot of points by finishing ahead of the guys!
Ah, the old DNF trick. Highly-ranked riders have been known to drop out of races before the finish, so their ranking points won’t be used to boost the race’s quality score or overall finisher average, which could boost the points of other riders.
If you’re confused about why this strategy works, check out our post on How ZwiftPower Calculates Rider Rankings.
A tamer version of the DNF strategy above, highly-ranked riders may decide to “sit up” at the end of a race to make sure they aren’t in the top 10 finishers. This means their ranking points won’t be included in the race quality score, but will still be included in the overall finisher average.
A less offensive strategy than the pure DNF, to be sure.
Keep in mind these are not standalone strategies. For big rankings boosts you’ll have to combine as many of these strategies as possible: racing up a category against a large field on a route profile that suits you, for example.
Best of luck as you work to boost your ranking!
Questions or Comments?
Did we miss any good tips? Have you seen any of these in practice, or used them yourself? How did it work out? Share below!