XP (experience) points are what get you to higher levels in Zwift, and higher levels mean access to more virtual equipment and roads. Our calculations show that a rider can typically expect to earn 500-700XP per hour.
But are there ways Zwifters can earn XP faster? Of course there are! Here are 8 strategies for boosting your XP earnings.
#1: Ride New Routes
The first time you complete an official Zwift route you’ll earn the badge for that route, which includes an XP bonus of approximately 20XP per kilometer of route length. Assuming you’re riding around 35kph, that’s a bonus of 700XP per hour if you’re just riding new routes. This means you’re effectively doubling your XP earnings when you’re riding a new route!
If you tally up the XP bonuses from riding every route on Zwift you get 40,290. That’s a whole lotta XP!
Check out our “Couch to Route Hero” schedule to help you complete all Zwift routes in 11 weeks >
#2: Ride a TT Bike
If you’re on a time trial frame, you won’t receive speed-boosting powerups when you ride through arches. Instead, you’ll receive either the 10XP or 250XP. Every time!
Combine the TT bike with a short route that includes one or more lap banners and you’ll accumulate XP extra fast. Here are some suggested routes, sorted in order from frequent banners to least:
- Crit City’s Bell Lap or Downtown Dolphin (event only – 1.2 miles, 1 banner per lap)
- New York’s LaGuardia Loop (event only – 1.6 miles, 1 banner per lap)
- Watopia’s Volcano Circuit or Volcano Circuit CCW (2.6 miles, 1 banner per lap)
- Richmond’s Fan Flats (3.1 miles, 1 banner per lap)
- New York’s Gotham Grind (event only – 5.8 miles, 2 banners per lap)
- Watopia’s Flat Route (6.4 miles, 2 banners per lap)
#3: Ride Flat Routes
XP is based purely on distance (30XP per mile, or 20XP per kilometer), so you’ll accumulate it faster if you keep your speed as high as possible.
#4: Use Metric, Not Imperial
You receive 20XP per kilometer and 30XP per mile, but a kilometer is not 2/3 of a mile – it’s less than that. (1km = 0.62 miles). So you’ll accumulate XP 7% faster if you use metric units instead of imperial. Change this under Menu>Settings in game.
#5: Participate In Group Rides
The faster you go, the faster you’ll earn XP. Participate in group rides to enjoy the increased speeds of the group draft, and watch that XP add up!
#6: Hack Your Workout
We’ve already written about this thoroughly in “How Zwift Calculates XP for Cycling Workouts“. That post includes some hacks to maximize XP earnings via workouts including changing interval length, doing workouts up the Alpe then free-riding down, and using workouts for your easy rides since you’ll likely earn more XP than free-riding.
An additional bonus related to doing workouts up the Alpe: the spinner at the top awards XP if it lands on a prize you’ve already received. Including 1000XP if it lands on the Lightweight Meilenstein wheels!
#7: Enjoy the Downhills
Any cyclist worth their chamois knows you don’t end a ride at the top of the hill–you earned that descent, so enjoy it! But it’s worth mentioning here: if your ride would have ended atop a hill, go ahead and take that descent: you’ll earn XP for the distance with little or no extra work.
#8: Earn Achievement Badges
There are lots of achievement badges in game. Many are visible under Menu>Badges, but there’s a whole list of hidden achievements as well. Every one of those achievements includes an XP bonus, so grab those badges!
For the ultimate in high-XP riding, combine two or more of the strategies above. Perhaps choose a group ride on a route you haven’t yet completed. And of course, use metric measurements while you’re at it!
The achievement badges for multiple Volcano Circuit laps earn a big XP boost – you get bonuses for 5, 10, and 25 laps. The 25 lap bonus is 1000XP! Why not do a ride that gets all three, along with the 100km badge. Then keep going and get the 100 mile badge while you’re at it! Do it on a TT bike and you’ll be racking up XP points each time you ride through the lap banner.
What About You?
Got more tips for earning XP? Share them below!
A watched pot never boils. For some reason my trip through level 19 is taking way longer than I wanted, primarily because I have that level 20-unlocked flat/rolling bike you suggest here in my sights.
Similar to the downhills philosophy I always end my ride right after getting my XP (this morning my group ride ended about 20.3 miles…so 21 miles for me!).
Oh, for sure! Can never leave a partial mile on the table!
Don’t end your ride until after the next EXP award – always complete the next mile/kilometer.
Do you still get a lot of xp to ride 10 and 25 laps in the vulcano?
I did 25 laps today and I got 1000XP with 10 laps, and 0 XP at 25 laps. That felt wrong.
1000XP each, which I maintain is incorrect as the 25 lap badge should give more than the 10 lap badge.
Last year Zwift had an event where you got massive amounts of XP during the ride. Will they be doing that again this year?
Haven’t heard anything.
When you finish a ride, workout, race, whatever, always ride a little but more to round up your distance. If I’m over 0.5 on the decimal, I’ll always grab that extra half mile to get the XP… lower and I’m usually lazy about it depending on how long I had been riding
Wish I could free ride down hills, but I have a wheel-on trainer (Kicker snap) so no coasting for me……, oh well, it’s good for me, right? 😅
You can still coast downhill with the snap
I have a Snap as well and I can assure you that you can coast downhill
No drops earned if you coast though!
You can coast downhill with the Neo2T I often zone out on the wheel spinning for what feels like ever coming down from Alpe.
One more thing – if you’re in the middle of your workout and need to interrupt your workout (answer the doorbell, go to bathroom or whatever), just pause it. This way, you will still get the XPs for that workout segment.
One can ride up AdZ. If one has all the gears from the spinning wheel, one can get either 250 or 1,000xp.
What is AdZ?
Alpe du Zwift
exactly my strategy while working on tron bike. optimize workout plan and time for maximum XP gain just right end right before the top banner.
I dont understand what you mean when you say : If one has all the gears from the spinning wheel,
I am on a smart trainer .
@curvenut If you have e.g. the gloves reward already and the spinner would have hit the gloves a second time, you get an XP bonus instead.
Regarding #2: Would you ever use a TT bike in a race event (and lose drafting)? It looks like that’s what the Bell Lap and LaGuardia Loop events are. I suppose one could enter a race just for the xp?
I never would—that would be a miserable race! And most events don’t allow TT bikes anyway, since they mess up pack dynamics.
What you CAN do, though, is join the event, ride it if you want, then leave the event but stay on course. Then you can switch to your TT bike and free ride that route all you’d like.
after reading this, I tried my hand at doing this with “Crit City”: I did not ride it, nevertheless staid on course. Yet, while riding a TT, I get powerups instead of >10 XP (both directions )…
Plenty races have PUs disabled anyway. So, ride a bike in a pack plenty fast and get 10XP at the banners.
Is it possible to see which routes we have already completed? I honestly can’t keep track of which ones I’ve done and which I haven’t anymore lol
Go to badges in the menu. You’ll find them under route achievements.
Does the Tron Bike count as a TT bike?
A TT bike doesn’t have drop handlebars, it has aero bars.
Hi Eric, just a clarification on your statement in Tip #1 “Ride New Routes” above, you state that you can get a total of 43,105 bonus XP for riding every route available in Zwift. I’m the guy who took your “Couch to Route Hero” PDF document and converted it to a very detailed MS Excel spreadsheet, which anyone can use to track their progress on this Zwift fitness goal. Anyway, I totaled the Bonus XP column, and came up with 40,290! The only explanation I can come up with for the 2,815 point difference is that your total includes the… Read more »
Ah, good catch Ray! It was because I had included the running routes, which I shouldn’t have. I’ll update the post to the right number now…
Thanks Eric! So that begs another question, do the Rebel Routes yield any bonus XPs, or one just gets the satisfaction of completing them because they are there and not that many Zwifters ride ’em?
No bonus XPs, because there aren’t achievement badges for rebel routes.
And where is this spreadsheet available? 😀
He said he made up the spread sheet, which would be pretty easy to do if you know how to use Excel.
Necropost, but I had a look for the sheet, as I’d like a copy. Ray said he would upload to “Bear Mountaineers Facebook group page” but I don’t know if he did. Anyway, from the original article comments, another chap called Nathan created a Google sheet that he linked: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1mbi5yaI3NyFTa1QwwA1hcaRgkvdEEyn4CTJlrWIS3Uc/edit?usp=sharing I tried just now, it’s still accessible. @eric: Would it be possible to link any of these sheets in the original article? @J.Shephard: You’re right, I think anyone with basic sheet skills could make one, but Ray did state “which anyone could use to track…” implying that he would be… Read more »
“Long time listener / first time caller.” I just bought a watopia poster and it looks great. I’m getting really into Zwift as an ankle problem is keeping me from running.
This is great info, and something I’m working with. It looks like the list of circuits in the “Ride a TT Bike” section is a little out of date. Specifically, the Watopia Flat circuit does not seem to exist.
Any chance you can refresh this list and extend the length of the ride covered? There may be a few slightly longer circuits with multiple banners
It’s called… flat route, I think, in the list. Or even “Prefer flat roads”. I don’t recall offhand, but it’s there.
Extending the list doesn’t get you more banners, as far as I can figure. But if you discover one that does, comment here and I’ll add it!
Thanks! I guess they changed the name slightly — Watopia Flat to Flat Route. If I find something w more banners I’ll let you know. After trying a bit, I feel like riding in a full course w lots of people gives you more draft -> speed benefit -> faster rate of XP vs riding a TT bike and directly converting powerup to XP… the powerups seem to add 10xp on 4-5k laps (10/80=12.5% to 10/100=10%) while the draft moves me more than 12.5% faster… I guess I feel like I never seem to hit the 250XP jackpots though. To… Read more »
Yeah, those 250xp bonuses are really jard to get, I’ve been Zwifting for 5 yrs. and haven’t yet gotten one. 😔
The “Prefer Flat Roads” route has also been changed, it was changed to “Fan Flats”. (2019)
If you don’t have a set route you want to ride… look for someone in Watopia who’s been riding for ca. 12km in more than 80 minutes – and join them! Chances are you’ll join them at the top of the Alpe and can bank almost 250XP on the decent before putting in any real effort. You could always double check their location as spectator before joining.
The ethics of joining at the summit may be questionable, but ethics aside it would be easy XP.
Actually, 17-19km, not 12km. I can’t see how to edit this.
I follow Mark Cavendish on Zwift and saw he was on the other day, so I clicked on “join”. Turns out he had just climbed some monster mountain in Innsbruck I think it was and I joined as he started the descent. It was pretty sweet picking up the free xp and riding along with him as he was doing a recovery paced ride.
Interesting (maybe a little sketchy, but it’d be too boring to do more than once a ride) strategy — or you could use time and distance to screen for people you’d like to ride with for other reasons — similar speeds etc.
Eric couple of things.
Do you have to ride the 50k all in one go to get the tron bike ?
Also, as an idea, could a distance count down on inclines be incorporated in the info box at the top of the screen? Think it would help pace your approach also whether to get into rhythm of just out the saddle and hump it ?
Just a thought cheers Gary
You COULD ride the 50,000 meters all in one go, but it’s not recommended for most people. The 50k is a cumulative number, and can be accomplished over weeks or months, depending on the routes you choose and how often you ride.
Yes, yes you do. All 50k meters in one go. Let me know how that goes.
Regarding #2, I’ve tried this and have yet to see a 250XP award at a banner. Any idea what the distribution rate for that bonus is?
Large bonus is only 1%!
I’ve also hit banners that don’t give any bonus. Did Mega Pretzel today and got 10 for the KOMs going one way but not the other, and nothing for downtown or inside the volcano.
Yeah, something has broken recently and there are no PUs in downtown/volcano.
I’ve gained bonus 1000xps at the top of the Alpe. I think this happens when the spinner lands on something you have already gained
Not done the maths but once you have picked all the low hanging route fruit I’d guess the quickest way to earn xp is workout your way up the Alpe, hope to get lucky with the reward then hurtle down on TT bike and repeat.
I’m pretty much at this stage having just ticked 40 and only the full PRL and Uberpretzel undone so will be giving it a try.
Sometimes, you can go faster down a mountain with the same bike you got up it with, whenever I try to go fast down the Alp, I can’t go faster than 80 kph on a TT bike, but with my Tarmac Pro, I can get up to 100 kph
Is there also a bonus for completing 5/10/25 laps of the Volcano Circuit CCW, or does just the clockwise Volcano Circuit earn you those bonuses?
“#4: USE METRIC, NOT IMPERIAL
You receive 20XP per kilometer and 30XP per mile, but a kilometer is not 2/3 of a mile – it’s less than that. (1km = 0.62 miles). So you’ll accumulate XP 7% faster if you use metric units instead of imperial. Change this under Menu>Settings in game.”
10 miles x 30xp = 300XP is equal to
6.2 kilometers x 20xp per km = 120XP
I don’t see the advantage but I’ve not had coffee
You may want to drink that coffee.
10 miles = 16.1km, which gives you 322XP.
Yeah I inverted… Way before coffee infusion..
Had a nasty experience on Zwift today.
Was 60km away from my upgrade to level 33, which I did. Normally you get the sworks venge but instead I got a pair of fluorescent gloves. Afterwards I determined that I could only buy the sworks venge. Has this changed during the week then?
You don’t get the Venge at level 33. See unlocks list here: https://zwiftinsider.com/points-levels-unlocks/
It’s been this way since the Drop Shop released more than a year ago. You don’t get bikes or wheels when you level up, but you unlock them so you can purchase them.
I can’t seem to find this tidbit anywhere, so I’m putting the question to the folks who are most likely to know (and it’s a question that might get asked a bunch now that we are in full sequestration mode): what is the XP bonus for the Unemployed (14 days in a row) achievement badge?
I rode Richmond today and got bonus XP FOR THE Worlds route and the climbs, but not for the flat route. I even did it twice…
Do double XP events over and over again. You will get credit for the event only the first time you finish it, but you can continue getting double points if you repeat the event. For example, the recently concluded Tour of Watopia offered double XP points for every stage. I repeated several stages many times and got double XP points on all of them. Want to do a long ride and get double xp points? No problem, just schedule a double XP point event every hour or so. You will get double points even if you start the next event… Read more »
Just keeps getting better. Great work.
very useful tips, thanks Eric!!
You can get a little extra XP by switching to metric units after you complete your first mile. So, you get +30 for the mile, switch to metric, get +20 when you hit 2km. That’s +50 instead of +40 over your first 2 kilometers. I happened upon this by accident and thought I’d share.
How do I pause Zwift for a barthroom break or a fan switch?
a. stop pedalling. avatar slowly is moved to the side of the road.
b. via the companion app physically tap the icon to pause
Are awards ever based on age. For example how could this work for a subscriber 70+ years old. Thanks Ronnie Naistadt
Can we earn those XP during meet ups?
If you acquire a bunch of XP just before you level up, are they carried forward?
Your XP is always growing – it never goes down. And when you hit particular XP levels, that’s when you level up.
The 5 times Alpe du Zwift badge is missing but I did that climb 5 times. Just a single time I took the distance for the free descent.
On Strava I can see the different segments and how often I did it. So tell me please: When does it count?
oh, there is one single ride, but twice in this counter. So maybe I just need to do it once again 😉
How do you turn on the helicopter view with a iPad
You do that through the camera view (eye symbol) on the zwift companion.
I have custom workout times from 1 to 2 minutes. Then depending on how hard I want to workout on a given day I choose my workout time so I complete JUST less than 1km. So for an easy zone 2 day I pick my zone 2 custom 1:30 (17xp) or 1:40 (19xp) interval. After interval is done I wait for the km bonus (20xp) then do the interval again, and again… (the keyboard shortcut “e” is useful). I adjust my speed using the 90-110% so I can JUST finish the interval before the km bonus, then immediately start the… Read more »
As an update to this, I suspect the new Paris courses are probably some of the best XP per km. Although it is not always available and there is a slow climb in one direction for each lap, there are two banners per lap.
At 6.6 km (4.1 miles), this should average more XP per lap on a TT than volcano circuit has in the past. With the increased elevation gain however can these may be quite close in the end.
They’re very close: Volcano circuit is 4.1km w/ a 2.8km lead in and 17m of climbing and 1 banner. Champs Elysees is 6.6km with a 3.2km lead in and 34m climbing.
Ignoring the lead in, the volcano is 4.1km and 17m climbing per banner versus 3.3km and 17m per banner on the Champs. So yes, it looks like the Champs Elysees is a better route for riding the TT bike to rack up XP.
Appreciate the confirmation. I had my suspicions simply due to the additional banner. Naturally, if it is not available, that makes it a less appealing option. When it is, however, I think this is a clear winner!
What about riding through the arch, getting the XP, u-turn and going through the arch again from the opposite side? Could lead to about 200 XP or more per kilometer, if you keep going and turning?
I have done 14 consecutive days but not received the achievement badge, does it matter that some of the rides were meet ups? I got the three day and the seven day badges months ago.
Just doing 100km for nothing, at the end of the workout ,no XP at all
Hi @eric.Concerning the combination of strategies, can one get more points by riding for example the volcano circuit 10 or more times, until 25, WHILE doing a workout? I’. m not sure if it counts in workout mode, never seen additional XPs appearing for having done 10 or more tours of the volcano. Would appreciate a clarification. Thanks
With the roads added to Watopia at the end of 2020, there’s a little loop through the Italian Villas, basically this segment: https://www.strava.com/segments/10898888 It’s got the sprint banner ever ~2km and just a bit of climbing. You can get there pretty easily from any downtown start which give you another banner to hit at the start which is nice. Just have to be ready on the manual navigation, at least going clockwise it doesn’t default to taking the loop.
Yup, that’s a great little route, and once you have done a few laps, Zwift remembers it apart from the last turn into the new Sprint-360 Bridge connector. I was going anti-clockwise, so the same requirement for manual navigation. Still though it’s a 25 XP/km little route so will rack up the points very quickly. Also, as it’s in Watopia, it’s always available.
@Filomena, XP points while doing a workout are time-based only, i.e. XP points per minute. Therefore they are independent of distance or route or route elevation. You don’t get more XP points in a workout for doing a specific route like the shorter volcano route. As XP points are time-based, the speed at which you ride does impact whether you get more XP points for doing a workout or not. If you ride a TT bike you need to ride BELOW approx 33 kph average to get more XP points from a workout than a non-workout ride. For a non-TT… Read more »
On combining strategies – if you ride a TT bike on a short, flat course during a workout, do you still get the lap XP? or does the workout XP trump the lap XP? So that you only get workout XP?
No, you don’t get banner (lap) points when you are doing a workout. You also don’t get km XP points. You only get workout XP points, irrespective of the bike.
Eric, just tested a hack that looks like it works. You may be able to enhace this with closer sprints. Get on the TT bike in Watopia Flat, immediately perform a u turn and go to the sprints. Go thru the reverse sprint and when you get through it keep going. When you get past the start of the fwd sprint do a u turn. It doesnt give u a power up xp when you finish the fwd sprint but when you get thru the reverse sprint start point if u perform another u turn u get xp at the… Read more »
So 30XP points/km. That’s an excellent hack, but lots of U turns!
I just tested your hack on Makuri Islands on the Village Sprint loop. You get XP points every third pass of the banner but it’s only 0.9km for the three passes so slightly shorter than the Watopia sprints. Lots of turn arounds though!
There’s a way to get 27.1 XP/km (43.7 XP/mile) if you do the Village sprint loop on a TT bike in the new Makuri Islands World. It’s a 1.4km loop, with 5 laps giving you 7km and 190 XP, or 27.1 XP/km. The World isn’t available all the time but it’s another option, and the highest XP earner so far.
The ride new routes tip is an excellent one. With the route XP points plus the distance XP points, doing all the routes (inc the latest Makuri Islands routes) gives you 98,518 XP points (rounding down assuming you only rode the lead-in and route itself). If you started out at Level 1 and just went through the routes that would bring you to Level 23 and 2,557km. It would also get you 37,545m of climbing so well on the way to getting the Tron bike (50,000m). You just have to build up to doing the 12 rides longer than 50km… Read more »
Don’t see how it’s fair to offer more XPs for riding in KMs than it does in Miles. Will this be fixed to make it even?
Highly doubtful. Zwift did it this way to keep XP numbers simple. Generally, Zwift opts for simplicity over precision (see star ratings for bike and wheel weight/aero).
After 50 arches in Volcano CC, i always get 10xp bonus in the TT bike. Is 250 xp bonus deactivated?
Usually, when you go through an arch, you can see the all the badges icons spinning(in this TT case, + big or + small), but every time i went through the arch, only the + small stayed fixed and the + big didn’t appear like before. Thank you
I never got the 250XP, even if its appearing it just switches to the small + and I get 10XP. And I ride on Zwift for 4 years now… SInce when do you have this?
Yesterday I participated in an EVO CC Sprint race, did 16k warmup and 5k cooldown. The race was 14,5km long. In total I only got 430XP, which is a bit confusing. First of all is 430 not divided by 20, so that does not make any sense, and second is it equal to 21(.5)k, which is about the warm up and cool down.
Did Zwift change anything about XP in races? Dont you get them anymore? Or only 10XP per 10k race distance? Pretty weird I think…
Hi! With the event only routes beign released for ToW 2022 I’m worried I’m not going to be around my trainer for the last stage! I thought I could hack in with zwiftpref to do the “Eastern Eight” on the route selector… But… My homescreen just updated to the new version and I can’t find any way to start riding without being forced into a different route than what’s set by zwiftpref! I’ve tried about every way possible of “starting ride” that I can think of- future event, workout, different worlds… No luck for the event only route to stick!… Read more »
Hey Eric, thanks for your amazing work!
What about new Route “Sprinters Playground” on Makuri Islands? (https://zwiftinsider.com/route/sprinters-playground/)
There are 4 Banners to cross. it’s pretty flat with 67m elevation. 12,3km.
So 1 round get’s you 12km x 20xp + 4 x 10 xp -> 280xp/round.
I do a round with tt bike in about 20mi. So 3 rounds per hour -> 840xp/hour
On the Flat Route you get 10XP at the start banner, 10XP mid loop, and 10XP at the same banner, 30XP for one loop.
On downhills, what about free wheeling off the bike. I did it by accident once before I knew it was even possible?
Most consistent method over the long run is to always join in on pace partner rides for the flat terrains (do NOT join the hilly/mountainous ones). The draft over a long period of time makes a significant difference in distance covered per given power output.