Indoor cycling and game platforms like Zwift come hand in hand these days. It makes training more fun and can be a valuable tool for all kinds of cyclists. They even have programed workouts and “plans” to increase FTP etc. Here we explain how to best use these platforms in training.
Indoor cycling is a necessary evil for most cyclists when conditions outdoors do not allow you to ride. Virtual platforms like Zwift can make the monotony of an indoor cycling not just bearable but even fun and can increase motivation. It makes training indoors seem more like an outdoor ride. For this reason they are a valuable tool for cyclists but there are some important things that you should and shouldn’t do here.
- Do – Use the games to help you stay motivated to complete training
- Don’t – Follow the preprogrammed workouts or plans blindly
- Do – Create custom workouts in the platform by exporting your 2PEAK workout
- Don’t – Go too hard indoors on interval or endurance days
- Do – Still follow a plan with built in rest days and workouts customized to you
These games even come with pre programmed workouts and “plans”. However, many experienced cyclists and triathletes have noticed the workouts and plans on virtual platforms often don’t make sense. You will see much better results by using these platforms as a training tool, avoiding the Zwift preprogrammed workouts and plans and sticking to an individualized plan. The workouts planned by 2PEAK can be exported and added to your Zwift custom workouts
It is better to stay away from Zwift workouts and plans and stick with 2PEAK training in and outside of zwift for the following reasons:
It is Individual
Intelligent training for endurance sports needs to be individualized. There are many variables that should influence how your training should be structured. The plans and workouts on Zwift and similar platforms are simple cookie cutter workouts that don’t consider important factors that influence training. 2PEAK plans consider:
- Experience level
- Time constraints
- Current fitness level
- Ability to recover
A good training schedule considers these factors when creating workouts and adjusts future workouts based on actual performance.
Fitting Race Schedule
Related to being individualized, unlike Zwift or other platforms, 2PEAK considers your race schedule. This is not only important to make sure that you peak at the right date for your goal race, but also workouts should be designed to match your racing goals. Training for short crits or long time trails requires very different race specific training stimulus in workouts.
Importance of Planned Rest
It is well known and studies have proven that the best way to improve performance is with a polarized training plan in which rest is an important component. A good training plan incorporates an adequate amount of rest days for you individually and even rest weeks to make sure you peak for your goal races.
In addition to being individual and dynamic, 2PEAK creates its plans with periodization in mind. You can read more about the 2PEAK training philosophy here. If you are regularly following Zwift workouts, it is likely that you over train and don’t get enough rest.
Considers All Training Sessions
If you are following a plan to increase your FTP from zwift but then are able to go out for a ride on outside over the weekend, the plan does not know or care that you did this additional ride. Not considering this extra effort can lead to overtraining but we still want to get outside for some normal riding as much as possible. With a 2PEAK plan we look at the training you do indoors and outdoors as well as any additional weight or cross training.
Training Session are Designed with a Specific Purpose
Often Zwift workouts appear to be randomly hitting different training stimulus without a specific goal. The reason Zwift does this is because a lot of tempo changes within a workout can be fun and keep you interested. This type of workout can effectively keep you interested but it is not the most effective way to train. Here is an example in the back to fitness plan from Zwift a workout called “Power + Climbing”
You can see this workout has efforts in all the zones in a seemingly random way. The reason that random workouts like this are less effective is because you should train a specific stimulus in one time. If you are doing a VO2 max workout and sprinkle in some threshold efforts between VO2 max intervals, the VO2 intervals will be lower quality. workouts planned by 2PEAK are intelligently designed to serve a specific purpose customized for you.
How to Zwift Effectively
Zwift can be a valuable tool for motivation and improve indoor cycling. You might even know some people who have seen significant FTP increases from using Zwift. Anything that can get you to exercise when you otherwise might not is good. But the best way to use it is by avoiding the preprogramed workouts and plans. You will see the most benefit by using Zwift as a fun tool and combining it with a smart training plan.
With a 2PEAK training plan you have a dynamic individual plan specifically focused on your goals. You can export the 2PEAK workouts and upload them as custom workouts in Zwift in order to get all of the benefits of using Zwift without the problems listed above. If you don’t have a 2PEAK training plan yet, you can always try it free for 21 days here.