Zwift How-To: Choosing & Completing a Zwift Workout

January 27th 2018

Zwift workouts are a different and energizing way to explore the game’s virtual roads. They add structure to your rides, and are great tools for boosting your cycling fitness. You can choose from dozens of Zwift workouts, and always find something that matches your ability, available workout time, and training goals.

Here’s everything you need to know about how to pick a Zwift workout, and what to expect as you Zwift to better fitness.

Pick the Workout You Want

Log in and click the blue, “Select Workout” button at the top of Zwift’s Start page. The next window you’ll see offers a list of workout modules. Click on any of them and you’ll find drop-down menus with workout options. The workouts are designed by top coaches and veteran riders, and some are grouped as training regimens that can extend for weeks or more. They’ll prep you for racing, or other epic rides.

Click on any workout and you’ll find a full description, as well as a chart, to let you know what you’re in for. While workouts can be easy or challenging, they all mold to your own cycling abilities. That’s because Zwift automatically bases each workout on your personal FTP, or “functional threshold power” —the average amount of power that you can generate for one hour.

Determine your FTP (explained here) and every Zwift workout becomes a chance for you to improve qualities like speed, power, and endurance. Zwift workouts, like these great choices, coach you to become a better athlete:

  • Foundation (day 1 of week 1 of the “6 wk Beginner FTP Builder” workout module). 50 minutes of low-intensity riding that teaches pacing and builds endurance.
  • SST (Short) (inside the “Less than an hour to burn” workout module). Just enough riding at a hard pace to make you realize that you’re tough. Also builds great fitness.
  • Jon’s Mix (inside the “Less than an hour to burn” workout module). Work on your sprint, power, and endurance, all in less than 60 minutes. Challenging!
  • Strength Training (day 1 of week 1 of the “8 wk Race Day Prep” module). In a little more than 90 minutes, get a taste of how racers train to prepare for competition.

What’s in a Zwift Workout

Choose a workout and you’re ready to ride. Check out the data table on the left side of the screen. You’ll find a countdown timer for the entire ride, and just below that is a list of every single block, or specific task, of the entire workout. From the start of a Zwift workout, you know each and every demand expected of you.

Begin to pedal and you’ll immediately feel the difference between your regular Zwift rides and a Zwift workout. With classic and some smart trainers, you’ll use your bike’s gearing instead of terrain changes in order to increase or decrease resistance. Smart trainers that feature an optional ERG mode (controlled by a checkbox also found on Zwift’s workout selection screen) will precisely control the power that you generate. By managing your power, ERG mode prevents you from warming up too hard and too fast. You’re perfectly prepared to take on the workout’s toughest challenges.

Workout Mode

Stay with it! The magic of workouts is that they often demand you pedal at speeds and efforts that you didn’t know you could maintain. Every time you complete another piece of the workout, a gold star appears in the completed workout block.

While Zwift workouts steer you to pedal at your own pace instead of riding with others, you’re never alone during a workout. A holographic tablet set just ahead of your handlebars displays your pedaling wattage, and lets other riders know you’re performing a workout. Give and receive Ride Ons, allow Zwifters to draft behind you, and send encouraging messages to others. Just because your workout is your own doesn’t mean you can’t be social while you ride.

Pedaling Through Challenges, and All the Way to the Finish

What if a workout block gets a little too tough? Don’t worry. You can quickly make the workout easier. First, keep pedaling, because if you stop or pedal too slowly in workout mode your smart trainer might continue to increase its resistance in order to match the wattage demands prescribed by the workout. Second, choose one of several optional ways to temporarily reduce the workout’s demands. From your computer or the Zwift Companion app, click on the menu keys that will immediately make pedaling easier either by lowering resistance, pausing the workout, or skipping the workout block altogether.

 

Blue Menu Bar

As Shane Miller explains, you can also click menu buttons to disable ERG mode. You can even turn it on or off, mid-workout. “Enabling and disabling ERG mode during a workout gives you a little more flexibility, a little more recovery, to regroup, re-gather your thoughts, get that power back in your legs, and hit it for the next interval,” says Miller.

Complete the workout and a performance report pops up on your screen. You can stop pedaling and dig into the details. Or return to moving at your own pace on Zwift, knowing that you’ve already finished a great ride.

As for your next Zwift workout? Try something completely different, take on another workout in a training plan that prepares you for a huge riding achievement, or check out Zwift’s group workouts. In group workouts, you ride with others but at your own pace. An “invisible rubber band” keeps the hard-working group together, and you’ll want to cheer on the others through Ride Ons, and chat through a private message thread. Find group workouts on our events page, or reserve your spot through the Zwift Mobile Link.

You’ll soon believe that one great Zwift workout deserves another (and another)!