Zwift workouts, group workouts, and workout plans are an engaging and effective way to improve your fitness. This guide aims to explain everything you need to know to use Zwift as a training tool for workouts.
Here is an outline of what this post covers:
1. What you need to know before you start a Zwift Workout or Training Plan
2. Workouts and training plans available to Zwift subscribers for FREE and how to use them
3. Custom workouts that anyone can download for FREE and use on Zwift
4. How to:
Before you start a cycling workout in Zwift, you will need to know your Functional Threshold Power, or FTP. That is because all workout intervals are automatically calculated on percentages of a rider’s FTP. Not familiar with FTP? Check out this helpful post, “What is Functional Threshold Power?“. It explains FTP and discusses how to establish it in Zwift.
Keep in mind that your choice of route in Zwift (flat, hilly, mountain, etc.) will have no effect on your workout resistance. That is because Zwift provides constant resistance as if you were on a flat road when you are in workout mode, therefore a smart trainer will ignore the changes in terrain.
If you have a smart trainer and do Zwift workouts in ERG mode, your trainer will automatically adjust the resistance to “force” you into the target power for each interval based on your FTP, so that you do not need to change gears. In other words, the trainer controls your efforts. Therefore, all you have to do is pedal! The option to use ERG mode is a checkbox found in the workout selection screen.
Once you start doing the workout, messages and “gates” in the form or colorful arches will pop up on your screen to guide you through the required intervals, showing you instructions, target power, and duration of the intervals in countdown mode.
In addition, once you finish a workout, a post-workout ride report pops up on your screen summarizing your effort, calories, duration, etc.
Subscribers can also chose to join group workouts by signing up for a group workout event. Workout events are listed along with other Zwift events and can be seen on the Zwift website under “events” or in the Zwift Companion app. Some group workouts have leaders or coaches to guide you, but most group workouts don’t. Some have a Discord channel for participants who want to join a voice chat. Check the event description for details.
You may sign up for an event at the start of a ride once you are logged into the game or via the Companion app before you log into the game. About 30 minutes before your event starts, a message will appear on the left bottom corner of your screen if you are in
During group workouts all riders are bundled up and stay together for the duration of the workout, regardless of their different power outputs and as long as they keep pedaling. This is referred to as the “rubber-band” effect.
Zwift subscribers have access to a substantial menu of free workouts and training plans that were either created by Zwift coaches or by other veteran athletes and coaches. Riders may do these workouts at anytime.
Unfortunately, there is no easy or organized way to see all available workouts either in game, in the Zwift Companion App, or in the Zwift website without scrolling through a long list. On the other hand, What’s On Zwift offers a more user-friendly way to see workouts and is run by a third party.
Although the workouts are grouped by category and labeled as “plans”, they are different than the actual “Zwift Training Plans” discussed below. Zwift does not track workouts under the “Workouts” tab, and therefore users are responsible for keeping track of which workouts they are doing and when on their own.
Zwift offers several Training Plans targeted at outdoor events/races and certain cycling goals. These plans function as a calendar with some built-in accountability that makes it easier for users to follow. Follow the steps below to find and use a Training Plan:
Users have a window of time to complete each workout in a plan. If you miss a workout, the plan automatically adjusts the rest of your training week. However, if you do not complete a workout within that period, that workout goes away and is no longer available. It is not possible to move workouts around either; you have to complete them in a predetermined order.
In conclusion, these training plans have limitations when it comes to adjusting the calendar to accommodate busy schedules, travel, commitments, etc. In addition, you won’t be able to upload/export Zwift workouts into training tools such as TrainingPeaks or Today’s Plan for further scheduling adjustments. Once you complete the workouts in Zwift, however, you may upload them into these platforms.
Cycling Plans for beginners / all riders
Cycling Plans for intermediate riders
Cycling Plans for advanced riders
In addition to the workouts and training plans available to subscribers in-game, you may find free custom workouts and plans that coaches and athletes design and share with the community. These workouts are in .zwo format, therefore you can only use them in Zwift.
To find and use free custom workouts in Zwift:
Users can create their own workouts directly in Zwift. Here is how:
You may use workouts purchased from coaches or similar service providers in Zwift, as long as the files are in .zwo format. Consequently, before you buy a training plan, check to make sure that the workouts will be in a compatible format.
If you purchase workouts in .zwo format, read this post on how to install them into your computer to have them available in Zwift.
If you purchased a training plan that has been shared with you via TrainingPeaks, you have two options for uploading the workouts in Zwift:
Use the automatic workout sync so that each day’s workout will automatically show up on your list of workouts in Zwift.
Note however that a given workout will appear under the game workout menu only on the day that it appears on your TrainingPeaks calendar. You may be able move your workouts around the calendar in Training Peaks as needed, depending on whether you have TrainingPeaks Premium. Therefore, if you want your workouts permanently available in Zwift, use Option 2.
Export each workout from TrainingPeaks to your computer in .zwo file format to have it permanently available in Zwift.
There are several fitness apps and tools that can be synchronized with Zwift, including Today’s Plan, TrainingPeaks, Garmin Connect, and Strava. Once you select auto sync between Zwift and these applications, your completed workouts will be automatically uploaded:
Having a wide variety of available workouts and training plans is certainly a welcome feature for Zwift users. On the other hand, many athletes find themselves asking questions that require guidance that is not available from these off-the-shelf plans, including:
To address these needs, the Endurance Lab created a group coaching program that provides custom Zwift training plans to meet athletes’ goals AND the coaching to guide and support the human element that a plan (or an app) alone cannot provide. Perfect for athletes who are not looking for 1:1 coaching, but want guidance from a coach in a more affordable way.
In addition, cyclists and triathletes in the Lab follow a structured training plan that is compatible with Zwift, so they can do their workouts at anytime. They also have direct access to certified coaches to guide them and answer questions through a members-only forum. Likewise, they get to interact with a supporting community of motivated athletes from around the world. In short, it’s Zwift workouts meet group coaching.