After spinning on Watopia, and chasing on Richmond, we can really get the Winter off to a good start (pretty sure I missed Autumn!) as Zwift have now released their Zwift Workout mode. It’s everything we hope and more! The question is, in its current state is Zwift Workout Mode going to be able to draw people away from TrainerRoad?
Zwift Workout Mode Review
Rob Bolt of the Zwift Riders group has produced a great downloadable PDF containing a breakdown of the workouts, which is a really useful print out to save you firing up the PC or just keeping as a file on your smartphone
Zwift Workout Mode
To start off, when you log into Zwift the next screen you see has changed. At the top, there is the option to select Workout mode, join another rider, or conversely select the orange “Ride” button at the bottom.
The older “Ride With” and Ride On” buttons have disappeared. If you want to join another rider, you now just select their name.
Hitting the blue Workout button at the top will bring up the workout selection screen
However, if you are already logged in the game and decide that you want to access the workout mode, you can do that at any time by just pressing “E” on your computer keyboard, which will also bring up the option to select your workout mode.
Different modes for different folks
There are currently nine different types of workout mode in Zwift, with each with a range of different training activities inside. Across all types, there are currently 21 different training activities.
But a couple of caveats first. You still run through the usual banners, KOM etc., but you don’t register on them. You can’t access any power-ups (would slightly defeat the point). Similarly, you are not able to draft. Your distance does still count towards your total rider mileage, and thus the points you need for toys!
You also generate points based on activities, but I’ll address that below.
Your rider displays a HUD as they cycle along, you can’t see it really from the cyclist view, but other riders can, so they know you are in workout mode so that you won’t be drafting.
The HUD is seen to change colour as you cycle along, this related to the colour of the bottom graph on your own HUD screen. The colours of your graph, in turn, represent the power zone the user is in while doing a workout – the colours reflecting “Coggan Power Zones.”
For both tests, you use the slider on the right side of the description to set your FTP target, which then determines the wattage targets during the ride. If you haven’t entered an FTP before on Zwift, the system will automatically calculate an expected FTP based on 2.5x your weight
FTP test – 1:13
The comment of 4 out of 10 stars relates to your performance during the test, specifically how many of the target wattages you were able to maintain during a segment. Stars = Rewards, and rewards mean POINTS!
You gain points for completing difference sections correctly, and also for staying close to the intended target. It looks about 100 points per star, but we need to find more information, as it also looks like there may be a sliding scale involved. So it looks like doing workout will be another way to generate points – remember in the workout, you don’t get the opportunity to generate the 50 or 250 boost points from passing through segments
Each of the starred sections, has its instructions appear in the top middle of the screen, including a time bar, showing how long left remaining. As you are training, your wattage becomes a central readout, with your HR and cadence just to the RIGHT
You complete a section by passing through a checkpoint as on Zwift normally. When you do, your instructions change for the next section
I very carefully say sections at this point rather than segments. As the positions of the barriers/checkpoints are dependent on the rider, as they are time barriers, not performance barriers. To this end I have actually sped up towards one, only to see if move further AWAY, as I was going to complete that distance in a shorter time suddenly!
May this was one of the features Zwift were developing when they tested the ETA feature on the jersey segment?
Throughout the FTP test, your power is also represented graphically on the bottom of the screen. There is no indicator auto your average so far, so you’ll have to keep on eye on the graph
One of the things I don’t know is are the zone colours general, or related to your specific FTP target. I’d assume they were person-specific, as I found I passed into the orange and red when going above me 300watts target.
As in packages such as TrainerRoad, there is rudimentary coaching during your FTP, telling you to increase or decrease your power to hit your target, and similarly delivering encouragement towards the end of the test
One interesting point, as you can see in the above to pictures, at points the graphics go blurry, for want of a better phrase. Blue riders are practically a blur
I think this is the graphical encouragement to push harder, as it is something that progresses as you get closer to the finish of each section.
At the end of the FTP, it’s practically tunnel vision!
Crucially as you pass the end of section banner, it tells you the FTP from that test – although it would appear Jeremy Samuels wasn’t particularly impressed with my effort?
6 Week FTP builder – Coming soon
12 Week FTP builder (Advanced)
Zwift has partnered with Marco Pinotti for some their training plans, particularly for the 12-week builder. A coach of 15yrs experiences including all the major cycling events and the London 2012 games. Given his preference of TT events, coming 1st in the National Championships in 2013, it’s also not surprising the Zwift worked with Marco for their TT training plans
TimeTrial Specific training
TT#1 The Polish
TT#3 Dynamic TT Course Work
TT#4 Training for the 1st 5mins
Less than an Hour to Burn
A series of workouts, from Jon Mayfield, and Mike McCarthy
Jon’s Short Mix
SST (Short) *Sweet Spot Training
The McCarthy Special
60-90min to burn
For those with a little more time on their hands, or a greater preference for pain
2×20 FTP Intervals – because that sounds like fun, said no one EVER!
90+mins to burn
2×30 FTP intervals
A trainer package to get people to spend 100km, or 100miles sitting on the turbo trainer. It’s a Zwift achievement you have to complete!
These long distance plans have been produced with the assistance of Hunter Allen: Peaks Coaching Group who uses the great slogan:
With clear and specific information about what it is, you need to be focusing on each day.
Better yet, Scotty even makes an appearance on the rest days!!
Finally – 12-week winter trainer (beginners)
Again looking to Peak Coaching Group for a 12-week program over winter. This is an overall conditioning plan, to keep you toned and fit, rather than a specific goal in mind.
I can see this being useful for the beginners who need a bit of support regarding knowing what to do out on the island.
Although currently this plan is only populated up to week 3
Zwift Workout Conclusion
For me, the Zwift Workout mode looks to be a great start, which is clearly going to be built upon over the winter season
Even at the moment, Zwift is not standing still and has plans for a training plan creator system, which will be very interesting to play with, especially as the Team becomes more structured and competitive. I imagine this will allow a team to identify weaknesses in the group, and with riders to produce training plans to attack those issues.
So far I have only completed the FTP test, but do intend to cover each of the training plans in time.
One issue that is brilliant to my mind, is that you are still running on the island along with the virtual friends and riders you already know. This will change even the nature of an FTP test. So rather than sitting at home alone, you’ll be able to get a group of very similar abilities together to work on an FTP test and possibly spur each other on, almost in a race situation.
Certainly, this winter’s training is going to be very interesting!
Oh, and as for TrainerRoad, I’m putting that money into the Zwift subscription instead!