Am I super-efficient, or just heavy?
That was my first thought when a fellow Zwifter commented on my recent race, “Somehow you always get your w/kg down. Great drafting skills!”
Here’s the thing: I probably am a fairly efficient racer, when I want to be. I’ve done multiple races where my main goal was to keep the watts as low as possible while hanging with the front group. I did this because I had a particular effort level planned for my workout that day, and didn’t want to exceed it. But I also did it because I knew it was great practice! Conserving energy is a key part of successful bike racing. (It’s not the only part, of course! Knowing when to go hard and having the fitness to do so are also vital skills.)
My best race results as a Zwift B are on flatter routes, and I find my watts per kilo are consistently lower than most of the riders around me. A recent Crit City A Race is a very good example of this: I finished in the front pack, sprinting it out for 9th place. My 3.9w/kg (a new PR!) was the lowest of top 15 riders. In fact, the only riders at or below my w/kg were minutes off the back.
So am I a super-drafter, the king of indoor efficiency? I don’t think so. I think I’m just heavier than my competition. Case in point: in the A race I mentioned, only one rider was heavier than my 85kg dad bod.
Which brings me to today’s topic: reverse weight doping.
Weight Doping: an Introduction
On Zwift, “weight dopers” seek to gain an advantage by entering a lower-than-life weight into their Zwift profile. Since we know that lighter weight=higher virtual speed, this is a very easy way to cheat the system on Zwift.
Weight doping is a key challenge for cycling esports to overcome, and it’s one reason why many “big” races (e.g., those with prize money) require riders to show up and weigh in on-location in a supervised environment. It’s also why the Zwift Transparency Facebook group was created, where racers post videos of themselves weighing in using a particular protocol which makes it difficult to fake your numbers.
Some weight dopers are obvious and blatant – other times it’s much less egregious. Example: have you ever purposely avoided weighing yourself (especially you who have a Withings scale that automatically updates your Zwift weight) because you know you’ve put on a few pounds over the weekend? I know I’ve done it!
Some Zwifters go so far as to social-stalk other riders, comparing their photos to their Zwift weight and calling them out for weight doping. (I don’t recommend this approach, but it proves the point that weight doping is an issue that concerns many Zwift racers.)
Reverse Weight Doping
So what is “reverse” weight doping? Well, it’s adding weight to gain an advantage. “How does being heavier help a cyclist?” you may ask. Good question. It all has to do with the way Zwift’s racing categories work. The categories currently used in most Zwift events are based on your FTP watts per kilo–that is, your FTP in watts, divided by your weight in kilograms. (Example: if your FTP is 300 watts and you weigh 75kg, your FTP w/kg would be 300/75, or 4 w/kg.)
The race categories end up looking something like this (taken from the current Tour of Watopia race events):
- A: 4-5 w/kg
- B: 3.2-3.9 w/kg
- C: 2.5-3.1 w/kg
- D: 1-2.4 w/kg
ZwiftPower, home of official race results for community races, adds some pure wattage breakpoints to the above list to help lightweight riders stay competitive. But for most riders watts per kilo rules the day, determining which category you race in Zwift. And this is why reverse weight doping is a thing.
How does it work? Well, imagine you’re a strong C racer. You weigh 80kg and have an FTP of 248 watts, which works out to 3.1 w/kg. But you’re training and racing and getting stronger, and eventually your FTP improves to 260 watts, which is 3.25 w/kg. Nice work! But there’s one problem: this puts you into the B category, and you don’t want to race the B’s. You’re having fun winning (or nearly winning) C races!
What’s the cheater’s solution? Gain a few (virtual) pounds. Bump your Zwift weight up to 84kg and even with your new and improved 260-watt FTP you’re only at 3.1 w/kg! You’ll move a little slower with the added virtual weight, but you’ll be able to hang with the front of the C’s instead of getting shelled off the back of the B’s.
Scale of the Problem
How big of a problem is reverse weight doping? I have no idea. I’m sure it happens, but I would guess it’s pretty rare – certainly less of a problem than “normal” weight doping.
But it highlights a bigger problem, and that is the fundamental flaw of using watts per kilo for race categorization. When a rider can change categories by modifying their virtual body weight, that’s an issue. It points to the need for a results-based categorization system, which I discussed a month ago in the final post of my race category series.
When It’s NOT a Problem
I should mention: many Zwifters have “lied” about their in-game weight for perfectly acceptable reasons. If it’s not done during a competitive Zwift event, I don’t see it as a problem. You do you. I once made myself much heavier so I could compete against my 11-year-old son in a head to head Zwift climbing race. He had fun laughing at fat dad, but I pipped him at the line!
If you’re a 300-pound dude who wants to go a little faster uphill as a virtual 200 pounder, have at it. I wouldn’t personally do it since it throws off training metrics and just… isn’t true. But you’re not affecting anyone else’s experience. Weight doping is only a serious issue when it’s done in competition.
Are you efficient, or just heavy? Do you believe weight doping (reverse or otherwise) is a big problem in Zwift racing, and if so, what can be done about it? Share your thoughts below!
I’m not too concerned about weight doping really. If someone dopes so they do 4w/kg then they should be racing with other people who do 4w/kg. I’m more concerned about the guy who finished 5th with 144bpm. There’s a bit of a fuss on the ZP forums at the moment about this form of sandbagging where people deliberately ride within the w/kg limits but are riding well below their potential ability. Everyone else in the race is riding flat out (your own HR was 174bpm) but these guys are just cruising along watching their watts and are then able to… Read more »
Not sure it’s that simple … I am a heavy category C racer, and (funnily enough) finished 5th in both my recent Crit City races with average HR of 153 and 150. I was going flat out the whole race, and by no means “cruising along watching my watts”. As a 96kg, 51 year old with an FTP of 317 and a resting HR of about 48 (and a theoretical maximum HR of 174) I’m not sure why my lower HR during an event should seen as suspicious. It certainly didn’t feel like I had taken it easy when I… Read more »
I’m in the same boat. I’m older heavier and relativily fit. My HR numbers are almost identical to yours. I don’t mind the low HR’s but the low power and high w/kg really irk me! I know it’s just virtual but my god……i hope they enjoy their lies.
Some people, I think, just have a lower HR. I’m the opposite. As soon as I start pedaling I’m pretty much into threshold (around 170bpm). It’s ridiculous. Tough to recover after attacks in a race when you’re always near maxing out. Once I hit 185 it’s either sit up and catch my breath of fall of the bike.
That’s the reason why a results category would be more interesting like Eric’s suggested in his topic.
That a cat rider may win a d race but on zwiftpower they will be DQd for not riding an A race
Hi Using HRM is difficult as well as you max HRM changes with age mine is 159 flat out but I am over 60.
Not everyone has the same HRmax. I am 42 years-old with a HRmax of ~169 bpm. Threshold HR is around 151 bpm. That is pretty low compared to most people on zwiftpower.
Maybe they should display and categorise HR as a %age?
I’m a heavy rider at 102kgs and 193cm tall I once reverse doped my weight at the top of the radio tower to try and achieve the 100km/HR badge It had the opposite effect in that I was actually slower than when descending at my actual weight lol I don’t race other than against myself so I’ve never weight doped as such My observations recently however have created an awareness of how many stick insects ride bikes on zwift 😲🙄
Yes us heavier riders have the downhill advantage definitely. I am always passed by everyone on the way up but can usually catch up on the way down (190cm/93kg). The only trouble is the downhill doesn’t take as long of course, so the light advantage is obviously better. I have just accepted that at my height I will always be heavier than the average cyclist.
I got my 100kph badge on the Bologna course.
I have tended to notice that a significant number of powerful zwifters’ real world Strava performances pale in comparison to their online achievements. I don’t think it can all be attributed to weight; it appears that some hardware tweaks can scale up the reported power output.
In the 2 months I’ve been on Zwift I’ve become a stronger rider than ever, because Zwift encourages me to push myself harder than I do in real life. Some of the reasons I’ve never pushed as hard on a real ride include: – Stopping / slowing for junctions – Traffic / pedestrians / other hazards – Appreciating the view – No watt meter on my real bike – I don’t race in real life – I don’t do workouts in real life – Changing wind – Threat of a headwind on my home journey And the biggest: – Wanting… Read more »
Agree with the above. I haven’t even used my road bike outdoors since 2012. When I go outdoors I go on a trail bike and bring a backpack full of food and drink for a several hours ride.
My performance IRL then probably looks pale compared to when I’m racing in Zwift…
I use the same power meter on Zwift as I do outdoors and I only “push it” outdoors during FTP tests and during closed road events (i.e. triathlon). I’m curious to see this summer if I can do the numbers outdoors as I push out on Zwift but I can’t even think of a road to use for 30 mins without stop signs, pot holes, lots of traffic, etc. However, I do understand Ken’s point. Seeing someone race cat A/B on Zwift and then be at the back of the age group pack in a local tri/ bike race can… Read more »
I understand what you are saying, but the average racer who can legitimately churn out x watts/ kilo for minutes on end will be doing more with that than just being a zwift warrior (if they are getting onto the road to really ride and not just commute), and, traffic lights or not, their real-world rides will at least give resemblance to their zwift output, even if only for certain segments at a time. If you gave the power, it will come out. Their hr should also correspond, which they often don’t. You’ve got people putting out 5+ watts/kilo at… Read more »
Have you ever compared numbers for calories burned, power output and even elevation ridden for a Zwift ride uploaded to Strava?
You’d think they’d be the same but when Zwift and Strava don’t even agree on stats for the same ride, I’ll take any other comparisons with a big pinch of salt.
Yes, there are plenty of variabies, but power is power. Work over time is work over time. If someone on zwift holds an avg power at a given heart rate, then goes out on the road and holds that same heart rate but cannot sustain even close to that power, I am sorry, but that isn’t physiology; that is hardware. It’s going to take a certain amount of calories for a certain person to perform a given amount of work in a given time. Some people are clearly living in a fantasy on zwift.
“If someone on zwift holds an avg power at a given heart rate, then goes out on the road and holds that same heart rate but cannot sustain even close to that power, I am sorry, but that isn’t physiology; that is hardware.” True, but not necessarily in the way you think. I climbed the Alpe last night for Stage 3 of the Tour of Watopia, missing my target of going under an hour by just over 12 seconds (Aargh!!). I averaged between 300 and 310 watts for all segments and my heart sat pretty consistently between 140 and 144.… Read more »
saying x number of watts per kg at xxx hr is flawed anyways max and resting hr can vary alot. People can be far to either direction im 25 and my max that I have hit is 217. But then you could have someone in the same age group who maxes out at 170. His 150 or 160 is not comparable at all to what mine would be
I have been Zwifting for a couple of years now – I can honestly say I am completely addicted to Zwift. I use my average weight but I feel; guilty because my weight tends to fluctuate by 0.5K or more during the week depending on how much I eat during the day – really interested to learn that there is a scale that auto updates Zwift. I currently use the Garmin Smart Scale so I may invest in the Withings scale. The bottom line is that in any competition there will always be someone who wants to cheat to win.… Read more »
I’ve connected my garmin scale with this app https://smartscalesync.com/?utm_source=tr
It does the job as described.
Cool! Thanks I will try it!
There’s also fitnesssyncer.com that is free up to 4 sync services…
Don’t worry about your weight fluctuating through the week and remember you gain 0.5kg by drinking a half-litre bidon and lose it again through sweat (and by going to the toilet).
If other people want to obsess about my weight that’s up to them but I won’t. If I feel happy in my body that’s the most important thing for me, and why I rarely weigh myself.
Even some of the regulated weight rides will give 2kg leeway. 0.5kg discrepancy either side is actually quite small. I would say 1kg or more is more normal. As long as you’re being honest with yourself I wouldn’t worry about it too much. In fact, if in a long ride your weight could change by more than 1kg over the course of that one ride!!! I’ve lost 2.2kg over a 6 hour ride due to carb loading before, and burning that and hence losing a lot of water weight during the ride. 8 months ago I was 96kg, but didn’t… Read more »
As a light (58kg) rider racing in the B’s it is very frustrating on flat routes where since the main thing that matters is raw watts and not w/kg I would have to put out well over 4 w/kg to keep up with the heavier guys and therefore I pretty much always get dropped before too long. I think it would be best if there was a separate cat system for flat routes (based on watts) and for hilly routes (based on w/kg)
My understanding is that Zwift still applies ‘real world’ physics to this situation, and maybe the article doesn’t allude to it, in that on the flat Zwift won’t use w/kg to drive speed but your pure watts. So it’s not Zwift putting you at a disadvantage but the situation itself, just as you would be in the real world in that situation. Find some hilly races 🙂 As a result your suggestion of the watts vs w/kg different systems is already baked into the game physics in a way. Whether w/kg is the appropriate way to categorise races is another… Read more »
As a 92kg rider, with a w/kg FTP of 289 (or 3.14 w/kg) I wholeheartedly agree. There is no cat C rider at 58kg who has a hope in hell of beating me in any race. If it’s a big hill, well then w/kg has us equalised. As soon as there is a single bit of flat… cheerio! Someone with my FTP should be CAT B, regardless of weight. On a flat ride I would beat every sub 60kg cat B rider too. It just makes a mockery of the whole system. There is no reason I should be getting… Read more »
Sounds like it’s time to start racing the B’s, @guest_35522! 😀
Well Eric, my weight is plummeting, and I’ll probably be taking a break from Zwift over the summer, so I’m sure the upgrade is coming very soon!!!
I may try and snag a couple of cat C golds before taking the break, but definitely won’t be reverse weight doping to do so… the upgrade to B will be a bigger prize than any gold medal.
And besides, my main goal on Zwift is to not get dropped in the hills during Team Cryo-Gens more hardcore Saturday rides!
On Zwift Power categories have both a wattage requirement and a w/kg requirement. For example the threshold for cat B is FTP over 200 watts and over 3.2 w/kg. This is why for a while I was ranked as a C even though my w/kg was higher than 3.2 since my watts weren’t over 200. On one occasion I entered a flat race (Laguardia Loop) following my ZP category (class C), finished almost three minutes down (though since it was a small field I still got third place), and then was disqualified for averaging 3.6 w/kg and 206 watts. I… Read more »
Aaron, do you know what is the wattage requirement for Cat A? My 3 race FTP is at 4.07w/kg (248w @ 61kg), but I’m still in Cat B.
EDIT… Found my answer: 250w
There’s a chart about halfway down this page: https://zwiftpower.com/viewtopic.php?f=68&t=5528
this is how it is in real life , big ian stannard putting in hard fast miles on the front for (was) team sky , while all the small guys tuck in the peloton getting drafted along saving energy for later on in the race , because they can`t compete on the flat with the big boys . Fact !
I am about to hit the four year mark on Zwift. I have long ago earned all of the challenges and levels. I use Zwift to get in shape and prepare for outside riding. I put my real weight 95% of the time. However, I have a lighter and faster son that smokes me head to head. In order to ride with him I have to drop my weight to allow me to keep up. A good rule we follow is to take our FTP divide it by 3 and then put that in as our weight (in Kilograms). That… Read more »
Great article, Eric. I have wondered about this subject on a few occasions. Now I know it is a ‘thing’. As a relatively light 69kg rider, I often feel at a disadvantage in the flatter races, of which there are many more than hilly ones. So what! It’s only a bit of fun at my level (solid B with the odd podium).
Keep writing this sort of thing. I love reading it.
Yes that’s completely unacceptable, you should never be at a disadvantage at any time in your life, just as your mother raised you.
(ignoring that it evens out and you have the advantage on the hills – but let’s ignore that because it’s all about you and you should always podium in every race in your life, because mommy told you that you were special and big mean Zwift is making you work so hard on the flats)
Bob, what on earth is that all about? If the categories are split using purely w/kg a lighter rider doesn’t have any advantage up the climbs at all. They do however have a disadvantage on any flat or downhill.
As a Triathlete, I have a different perspective when racing and riding on Zwift because the vast majority of Zwifters (according to Zwift and Strava) are only cycling; whereas I’m also training by Running and Swimming. So I don’t expect to be as competitive vs. a pure cyclist. I do find it amazing, funny and sad that IRL at several Ironman events me, a C rider, beat many A riders in the cycling segment. I’ve seen many “A Riders” with 300 FTP on Zwift who I beat by a HUGE MARGIN at triathlon events, including the cycling portion. And at… Read more »
In theory (at least) weight dopers could game the results based categories as well.
If you set your weight high enough that you fail to do well you will drop in the categories.
Yes, but hopefully the system would be designed so, if drop a category then begin doing well, you get upgraded again!
Category systems are complex beasts, of course…
I agree, people can have fun with weight doping and such aslong they dont enter competitive races. I mean I never lied about my weight, I am a very light rider working and eating hard to get some extra pounds. For me its the most fun to see the progress I make on strava, new PR on climbs or on flats (hanging in on the back of a group) If I would lie about my weight I throw off my goals to Improve atleast make them near impossible for the coming time in the End I dont see the fun… Read more »
I reversed dopped by mistake when I first started Zwift putting my height as my weight and weight as my height. A great challenge for those looking for those training gains
Cheating on Zwift … WHY???
Because narcissistic people want to get validation from somewhere/someone that they’re special/different and if they can’t get it legitimately they’ll lie, cheat, and steal to do so.
Or they’ll ignore leaders instructions and ride off the front of a group (flyers).
Or they’ll ride races 1-2 categories below their actual W/kg so they can still “win” and feel like that they’re legends.
The categories are power to weight divisions. They are not, and never were, skill classes of any kind (ie. points based), riders can win by any margin any number of times and remain in their category so long as they do not exceed category limits. There is no progression from lower to higher categories through placement. The easiest way to qualify for a “higher” category is to cut weight. The categories are the cycling equivalent to weight classes in boxing. The rule set for the categories is so simple yet I’d bet >99% don’t understand it, to my knowledge cycling… Read more »
I’m surprised that (off wheel) smart trainers don’t have the ability to weigh the rider when they get on the bike. I would thought with how sensitive the sensors are they could place another one somewhere on the unit that simply does the job and takes away all the manual input.
Would depend entirely upon the bike geometry, how much weight is over the front wheel and how much over the back. Maybe with a KICKR Climb it might be possible.
I think with a results based system would help as it would the sandbaggers, but it won’t eliminate the weight cheats entirely, those that just want to gain a little more w/kg by losing a few virtual pounds.
I am 65 kg with FTP of 270 W, which equlas 4,15 w/kg. I just got upgraded to CAT A according to zwiftpower. Racing the A’s resp. hanging with the front group is very though for me because i am exactly at the bridge between A and B. In the many B races i have done it was more fun because i was competitive. Now in A i get dropped all the time. Incrasing virtual weight would probaly downgrade me to B again. I won’t do and will rather try my very best to compete with the A’s. I hope… Read more »
You could attend races where all categories go together (same start, all riders visible) for a while if you find that to be more fun…
I’m about to end up in the same situation (last races at 3.99, 3.98 and 3.99 W/kg) and I’m not really worried about being promoted to A.
Mate you’re a legend. Honest and goal driven.
Hi, very impressive w/kg at 65. Have you considered age category racing. I do ZHR Masters on a Tuesday night. 5 year age categories and incredibly competitive a in most age groups
or go outside and ride
Thanks so much for your helpful comment. I rode outside last night, and I’m sure I will again soon. 😀
Myself being a lighter rider who fluctuates some 2kg during a week I tend to always use my upper weight giving me a lower Wkg. I don’t really race so I am OK and any workouts are harder this way. One question I have struggled to answer though which maybe is not a consideration is that on the flat watts is what is required and I also have to push high wkg to stay with groups. If I were to drop say a kg obviously the watts required would not change to keep at the speed of the group and… Read more »
You’ll go faster at a lighter weight on the flats. See https://zwiftinsider.com/how-does-zwift-calculate-my-speed/
I think if a racer doesn’t want to cat up in order to keep winning in their current cat, she or he would likely just go the “traditional” sandbagging route (as others have suggested here). But maybe I’m just thinking like a lady… it’s hard for me to imagine a lady voluntarily gaining weight, even virtual weight. I think the main problem with women and weight on zwift is “regular” weightdoping, magnified probably by all the wonderful social stigmas and judgment surrounding women’s bodies. I have heard women admit on social rides that their “zwift weight” is their “goal weight”… Read more »
I’m glad you wrote about this. I think there’s another more interesting angle than just trying to stay down a category.
I know a woman who is 5 feet tall and almost 200lb. She can crank but her w/kg is low. On the flats and descents she crushes her w/kg field. The algorithms very much help heavier riders in descents, which gets forgotten when all we discuss is climbing.
I’m not sure I’d say the “algorithms” help heavier riders in descents. I’d say physics does!
I take issue with the weight doping is okay in none competitive events because of strava. Since strava is all that matters of course. Last week I did the prl full and Uber pretzel and tried to get #1 by weight on those segments. I did on one and second on the other. The guy who got first weighs 106kg on strava but 45kg and only 4’11” on zwift. Ugh! Two months ago he had a “magic” weight loss on zwift. Frustrating to someone who tries so hard to compete in my weight class to get beat by cheaters. My… Read more »
ZwiftPower use 95% of your best 20 minutes during the whole race, so it does not matter if the race is 21 min or 3 hours, you will still be categorized the same way.
I said if it’s “not done during a competitive Zwift event, it’s not a problem.” I would include chasing Strava Zwift KOMs as a competitive event (but I could see how what I said could be interpreted otherwise.)
Flag that guy’s ride on Strava.
You say at the end..you do you, it doesn’t affect anyone. Hardly true… Say you train and commit yourself to being honest to achieve better fitness,and also better results, albeit virtually..then someone finishes better than you solely because of the BS numbers they entered. You must be a much better person than me, because that’s something I will Never make peace with. You enter a real race,out in the world, you are ready to finish in the top 20 for your best result of your life,then out of the blue a dirt bike rides past you goes tabletop and crosses… Read more »
Context, Tim, context! Good heavens man, the sentence before “You do you” says “If it’s not done during a competitive Zwift event, I don’t see it as a problem.” Obviously weight doping in races is cheating and not acceptable.
also interesting about this equation are the: wattage data points and the zwift computations of W/Kg.
I’m using a quarq crank power meter on my rock and roll while I save up for direct drive. (and don’t do organized rides for fairness) so I don’t have resistance changes and sometimes zwift reports extraordinary power readings for a ride.
there seems to be a lot of variability in power products and what people are using to feed into zwift.
bottom line for me, it’s a virtual training world, a virtual hammer isn’t the same as a real hammer.
I have a Withings scale and in the Zwift Settings, it shows up as connected. But It’s hard to confirm whether or not it’s transmitting the weight to Zwift. Any thoughts on verifying?
Sure, easy! Manually change your weight in Zwift by adding 10 pounds. Then save your ride and log out. Then weigh yourself, and open Zwift, and see if it reflects the change.
It’s funny, I was talking to one of my work colleagues who also Zwifts about AdZ and how because I’m heavier (125kg / 276lbs) I would never be a sub 60m AdZ rider (I reckon I’m looking at sub 2 hours, if lucky), I’ve never once considered weight doping, sure I know I could but why would I? it’s only cheating myself, instead I would prefer to spend that 2 painful hours doing something honestly and feel proud of it than zooming through it in sub 60m and not reap the same benefits (or in my case, pain). Lucky for… Read more »
I’d be super interested in the timing you set your weight. As some others already mentioned, the bodyweight tends to oscillate over the week and even the day. As an ambitioned A Racer with no smart scale, I stick to the higher end of the spectrum when setting my Zwift weight once a week. As there is no official A+ CAT there is nothing to worry about, but if there were, I would be right between A and A+. would that be cheating then ?
I think a once-weekly weigh-in is acceptable. But since there are no clear rules on it at this time, it’s a bit of a self-policing thing with a fair amount of grey area…
This is pretty timely for me as my FTP is 283 and my weight is currently 71.2kg. I’ve been on a mission to get back to my racing weight in 2020. I’m 70 inches tall and 156 pounds right now vs 166lb on Jan 1. My W/Kg has gone from 3.76 to 3.97 without me really improving my FTP. If I lose 1 more pound I’ll go to 4.0 and it’s a daunting thing to think of going to As when I am often cruddy in the Bs. But I will, and I’ll get hammered and hopefully improve.
That’s the spirit!
Heavy riders not only have a huge advantage on down slopes (the steeper the more advantage); they also have an advantage on the flats; its only when it gets to above 5%+ you can start to break a heavier rider.
the lighter rider has to ride much harder to stay in the groups with a few big guys cruising along.
Is it doping though? Current category system simply allows very fast but heavy riders to race in categories lower than their actual abilities. We may call it sandbagging or reversed weight doping but it’s “legal” 🤷♂️
You make a good point–there isn’t a published race ruleset that clearly states that riders are 1) required to use accurate weight and 2) enter the correct race category.
Obviously, these are “generally accepted” rules in the Zwift Community. But without any hard and fast rules, we can’t say anything is “illegal”–at least for certain races. Some big Zwift races have specific rulesets, etc. But the vast majority do not.
I started zwifting about 2 1/2 months ago.I did the ftp test and put in the correct weight.Ive no idea how precise my trainer is tho.what i do know is,I’ve managed to go from cat c to a.(a is tough and im struggling at max h/r for most of the race).I’ve gone from 87kgs to 80 kgs in this time and feel fitter than ever.(better than any bike upgrade i could afford) Yes it’s great to win,but as long as you improve yourself who cares what anyone else does.You will always get cheaters,dodgy equipment and so on so just enjoy… Read more »
I started started zwift four months ago as a retirement present to myself. I am not in the least bit interested in competition cycling, so no point in doping in either direction as i would only be cheating myself. Generally weigh myself once a month. Noob question though, what’s the etiquette around weighing with kit on or off. I’m assuming you should weigh just before getting on the bike with all kit including shoes – and not just before stepping into the post-ride shower (shorn of all kit and approx 1kg of sweat).
Congratulations John on your retirement and Zwift is a great retirement present. I have to say I weigh myself most mornings in the buff (just my glasses on so I can see the numbers)! I never thought i should weigh myself with my kit on. I may try it just to see what difference it makes. Zwift is great just to ride around and it has lots of good training sessions which you can do. The book Fast After 50 is a good read on how masters athletes can train more effectively. However, I definitely recommend entering some races. If… Read more »
I never reverse weight doped. I was just naturally heavy and it put me at the top of the C class in w/kg. People still rode at B level pace in a C group. So I just bumped myself up to the B group and went faster overall simply because there were faster people to draft off of.
I still have no sprint kick so I’m never winning anything anyway.
Can someone answer why we need the different categories? I recently won a C race, but it didn’t feel like winning as I knew there were 2 categories faster. Why can we just all race together and the fastest person wins?
Some races (many, in fact) on Zwift work exactly like that.
But many people (including myself) prefer categorized races because we want to have a chance to actually battle it out for a win. It’s more fun and engaging that way, for me at least.
Same reason there are categories and age group races outdoors!
Just sign up for A races from now on. Problem solved!
Then just race with the A’s.
I was wondering is it possible to get the graph at the bottom of the screen that shows you’re power and other stuff on a normal ride and not doing a FTP test or workout. I was told that was possible but I couldn’t see how.
As for the weight, I weight 190lbs, (86K’s) I put in 190lbs. Just from riding regularly I went from 166 FTP to 187 in 800 miles over a 2 1/2 months. 2.5w/kg (215Watts) is hard for me to hold for extended periods but I keep trying.
thanks for the help with the graphs.
That’s the graph. Hitting G on your keyboard will do it, or swipe up on iPhone or iPad, etc then tap the graph button.
È indispensabile essere sinceri nel dichiarare il proprio peso , per se stessi e per il rispetto degli altri .
I have been frustrated with the GC results in the current Tour of Watopia series. I am racing in the C’s finishing in the 40-50’s but there are 30 + racers ahead of me posting watt/kilo of A, and strong B racers. What is that!?! I understand if someone has a banner day or just bumped up out of upper C to lower B. Either these racers need to calibrate the trainer or they are sandbagging big time. Why no monitoring on this? Living at 5,900 ft. adds a performance restriction on me, I get it. However, insecure Fred’s jumping… Read more »
I am new to Zwift, but I do wonder how it is you’ll see a bunch of people finish at the front of a D race at 4-5 W/kg. I tried racing a D race, and finished way off the front behind about 2/3 of riders after I’d ridden at 2.9W/kg for the race. It doesn’t appear that people are abiding by the categories. Even if I’d ridden at threshold a little over 4 W/kg, I wouldn’t have been able to hang onto the front in a D race, it seems. Perhaps if you post a W/kg in excess of… Read more »
So that’s why I could easily keep up with a 3-3.4wkg group yesterday whilst keeping my wattage at some 2.5-2.7…just my 107kgs….the rest were probably featherweight category :)…
I lost some weight during these few months and gained on FTP … Now facing going to C and not getting any good results within the category
this is how it is in real life , big ian stannard putting in hard fast miles on the front for (was) team sky , while all the small guys tuck in the peloton getting drafted along saving energy for later on in the race , because they can`t compete on the flat with the big boys . Fact !
Eric, thanks for bringing this to light. I am a long time racer in NorCal and cheating is cheating. With Zwift control is difficult (in getting Zwifters to enter their accurate) wait. Certainly it impacts the accuracy of race performance and results. It impacts the Group Rides and as you said the performance statistics individually. As a lighter racer 136lbs it pisses me off to see cheating. Keep hammering the point and finding ways that Zwift can improve controls.
Great article as ever Eric. Food for thought. Currently trying to convince a friend who is new to Zwift not to reverse weight dope. He argues he’s not gaining an advantage. I argue that he is intentionally misrepresenting his weight so he can place higher in B instead of getting shelled in A (like I do). We are both lighter riders and find the w/kg categorisation system frustrating (unfair even)… but it’s what we have at the moment… I think most people feel like they have a right to be competitive but this simply is not the case and if… Read more »
I mean you’ve both got a point. A strict w/kg classification isn’t perfect.
Why not ride to your strengths? If you are on the lighter side, try picking some climbing races. You should do much better at your actual weight in that case.
I agree with what you say Eric but the weight doping does negatively impact the casual rider if they are “following” other riders in a casual/social ride. This is especially true if you are trying to ride with riders you possibly know locally or otherwise.
It is obviously a stupid thing ( weight doping) and why a rider would do this is beyond me but pride and quasi Strava bragging or Zwift Power bragging is a thing.
What if you are super committed and gain the weight in real life just so you can stay in the category 🙂
Excellent posts on perhaps the most serious non-hardware problem in Zwift right now. I completely missed these as I reinvented the wheel, trying to stir up the hornets nest on the Zwift forums the other day. The categorization system is, like you say, fundamentally flawed. Just the fact that you need a third party (ZP) to validate race results really says it all. What I think your articles miss to point out, though, (I’m sure you are well aware of the problem), like people have mentioned already, is exactly how many cheaters there are that manage to stay in line… Read more »
Goodness. Chip on the shoulder there or what? w/kg is partially based on real world physics. Or are you looking for a participation trophy on every race as well?
He’s not looking for a trophy every race. He’s asking for a fair race.
Current system means that heavy weight top of cat riders climb at the same speed as skinny guys with same wpk but can have 60% more power on the flats.
Skinny guys get DQ’d if they match heavies on the flat for power so they can NEVER win, even in the mountains.
That’s why there are no top 40 Cat C riders in 70-75Kg range. At all. They CANNOT win.
If that’s not something that needs fixing then why run any races?
We are new to Zwift and My son Who’s 12 has used it to race to make up for his list u12 crit season. Is a very strong rider for his age and trains hard. He’s had to up his weight as he is only 35kg ( upped time 45kg) he but puts out 220watt so his ftp is 5.5-6w/kg in a race. Zwift doesn’t like this and disqualifies him on Zwift power. This is real frustrating as he’s a top u12 racer and wants to see his efforts recognise. Also a really frustrating thing is why doesn’t Zwift auto… Read more »
is he riding in the right category? Zwift power usually looks at numbers vs the category race he entered. And flags height and weight changes if they go up or down alot
In reality no under 12 is competing with a decent 2nd or 3rd cat (UK system) – I’ve ridden with enough talented youth riders that this is fact – so letting young kids crush half decent amateurs on zwift would be unrealistic.
As a 59/60kg rider who always seems to have a higher w/kg than the people I finish around, I’ve been curious about adding 50% to both my weight and http://ftp…. My power to weight ratio would be the same, but I’d get the benefits you get from being a heavier rider. I’d never do this as my Zwift Power is an accurate log of weight and power but it does make me wonder how much easier it’d be to be bigger.
It’s a huge problem. I now know of over 20 category D zwift users that have said they’re not going to bother with the Zwift races anymore.
My FTP/kg is 3.88, which I now know would make me a B racer (3.2-3.9). Last week I jumped into my first race and it was at the last minute on a whim because I was getting tired of my training ride. Not knowing what to pick and with minutes until the my first race, I selected the C group and was thus filtered out of the Zwift Power race results when I then posted a 4.00w/kg over the 28 minute race. Honest mistake on my part and one I won’t make again, so fair enough to be filtered out… Read more »
Related (and apologies if the answer is obvious but I’ve only done one Zwift race), really what is the point of the categories? Do some races have split out start times so you are only racing with those of similar ability? If so, that makes sense to me and I can absolutely see the point of that. The race I did had all categories racing together with a mass start, so the categories felt arbitrary as my place was not within my chosen category but across the whole field anyway. If that’s the norm, then I really don’t see the… Read more »
Okay, I now see in ZP where it has my minimum racer category (B) in my profile based on my last race, so I can choose B or A going forward. With my question answered as to what I should pick for my next race, I’d delete my original post if I could, but I cannot figure out how. Thanks!
I think that point based system is an improvement, but it doesn’t address the weight issue. Simply put, the system cannot measure weight it can only measure power, so for racing, people’s weight should be disregarded – by that I mean, just as everyone in a zwift academy race has the same bike, they should be given the same weight , then it is a race based on FTP banded categories with point based promotion. There is enough variation in power profile to make it interesting without weight, what makes racing fun is trying to create tactics that favour your… Read more »
Interesting & well reasoned article which answers a lot of things which were puzzling me. I’m not heavy (68kg), have a typical climber/TT phenotype (no short sprint but good FTP). I ride B category races & never podium but have been puzzled as I always seem to have a higher w/kg than most of the other riders in the race. Had assumed I just rode inefficiently. Whilst this might be the case, as Eric implies in flat races light weight riders have to work harder to stay in touch with the heavier riders in the bunch. Most of my Zwift… Read more »
i was just having a similar discussion with my old lady about watts and weights, etc. if you’re on zwift and intentionally cheating to get whichever fake virtual badge or win whichever fake virtual place in a race, then you’re real-life literal loser. plain and simple.