I’ve dabbled with Zwift over the last couple of years but I’ve certainly not put as much time into it as some people (hence my current standing at Level 10), in fact I’ve only just opened the Jungle course on Watopia and Alpe du Zwift is another 2 levels away for me! I’ve referenced my issue with this in another post, for the now £13.99 a month I think I should have access to everything1 That, however, is by the by where this post is concerned.
I have been going to the gym regularly, twice a week, for two years now but, although I have seen some pretty significant changes in my body shape and overall fitness, I haven’t really ever felt like I was doing anything that was focused and targeted. Recently I have changed my habits and I can already feel some considerable differences. My Tuesday gym hasn’t changed so much; some stretches, core work, light weights, leg raises and then a 5k run on the treadmill. Thursday is where I have made the change, I’ve turned to Zwift in my shed rather than heading into the gym to work on my base cycling fitness.
Now, in the past, I’ve gone and smashed out an hour and a half on Zwift, aimlessly pedalling around whatever world was on rotation and then spent the rest of my day wondering what (if any) benefit there was to that effort. This time I have been using the Zwift workouts and I can already tell the difference, the under 1 hour workouts are extremely time efficient and you leave the trainer knowing you’ve benefitted from the effort. My favourite, for my Thursday mornings, is the SST (Short) workout
SST stands for “Sweet Spot Training”, essentially getting you to hit a level that will build your base cycling fitness, it is all based on your overall FTP score so you will need to measure that in game beforehand (and that is tough!). The workout warms you up, then mixes four periods of five minutes at 96% of your FTP with four periods of five minutes at 88% of your FTP. You definitely get a great return for your time, without being taken into the red, so it is ideal for a pre-work workout.
The second workout I tried was an interval workout called ‘The Wringer’ and, my god, I thought I was going to pass out! It included 12x 30 second bursts of effort at 400w based on my (very low) FTP score. I managed 8 before my legs told me they weren’t going to comply with any more requests!
I was glad that I tried this but disappointed that I hadn’t managed to finish it. I wanted to do more intervals as I’ve heard they are extremely beneficial so, with one eye on completing The Wringer in the future, I made my own Zwift workout……meet the Mini Wringer!
I used the full wringer as a guide and reduced the interval watts to give me a chance of completing the whole workout. I dropped them from 400w to 350w and I’m glad to say I completed all 10 reps, but even better was that I could feel the exertion in my legs so it was testing enough to ensure that the workout wasn’t a waste of time. The SST workout will remain my go to workout with the intervals coming in where I cannot get out on the road due to time or the weather.
I also got to ride the New York course for the first time today. Yes, that’s how little I have used Zwift till now. I did the Central Park loop and it seemed like a nice course although I have to admit that the futuristic aerial skyways that appear in other parts of the course have put me off worrying about riding this before.
So, there it is, I actually think I am starting to understand what Zwift can do for my fitness and how I can maximise the time I have in the virtual world