Although Zwift is great for just jumping on the trainer and free-riding for fun, it’s also a powerful training tool with an abundance of workouts and structured, discipline-focussed training plans to help you take your fitness to the next level.
As they’re all based around functional threshold power (FTP) – the maximum average power you can sustain for one hour – the training plans and workouts are all tailored specifically to your current level of fitness.
Zwift has worked with race-winning coaches like former Italian national time-trial champion, Marco Pinotti, to create workouts and training plans that are designed to improve your fitness and strength on the bike. Once you’ve got your Zwift setup sorted, all you need to do is clip-in and pedal.
How to sign-up to Zwift
Visit the Zwift website to sign-up for a free 7-day trial. After your trial period ends, Zwift costs £12.99 / $14.99 per month.
Rather than prescribing a set workout at a set time, all of the training plans on Zwift are flexible, meaning you can adjust them around your own schedule.
Each workout will give you a window in which to complete any given session, meaning it’s much easier to fit around your personal schedule. You can also complete workouts outdoors – simply mark as ‘done outdoors’ on the plan in game.
New workouts will then unlock automatically once a designated rest period has passed.
As you go, you’ll earn experience points and stars for completed intervals. Best of all, if you workout on Zwift, you no longer have to do it alone and you can join the thousands of other Zwifters on the platform in group rides and races to help you stay motivated.
Zwift offers a wide range of structured workouts and training plans. Zwift
The difficulty level of a workout is measured in ‘stress points’ (sometimes shortened to ‘SP’).
Based on the duration and intensity of a session, the higher the stress points score of a workout, the harder it will be, and vice versa.
The maximum stress score you can generate within a single hour is 100. For reference, this would be generated if you rode at exactly your FTP for the entire hour.
One of the great features of using this kind of metric (it’s similar to Andrew Coggan’s/Training Peaks TSS metric that power meter users may already be familiar with) is that it’s relative to everyone.
Even if you’re fitter, the stress points of any given workout will still be the same – you simply do the workout at higher power numbers.
With this in mind, Zwift categorises its training plans into three different tiers: beginner, intermediate and advanced.
Average stress points per week will tend to rise with the tiers (though this isn’t always the case) and as you move up, you’ll also do more intense intervals and target specific areas of fitness according to the type of plan you choose, rather than simply making broad gains in general fitness.
We’ve chosen a few of our favourite training plans and workouts to get you started, but this is by no means an exhaustive list. For the full rundown of what’s available, head to the Zwift app.
Beginner training plans on Zwift
If you’re new to cycling and/or indoor training, or are perhaps just coming back to the bike from a break, it’s a good idea to start out with one of the beginner level plans.
They’re designed to give you a relatively easy introduction to the world of interval training, while still ensuring you get in a decent workout and make those all important fitness gains.
Zwift 101: 1 week / 2 hours per week
Zwift 101 offers a gentle introduction to the world of structured interval training. Zwift
This plan only lasts a week, so it’s intended to act more as an introduction to Zwift’s training interface and the world of structured interval training.
It contains a couple of introductory workouts and two of the most popular short workouts, as well as a Ramp Test in the middle of the week to help you measure your FTP before you can start on a longer plan.
FTP Builder: 4 to 6 weeks / 5 hours per week / 255 stress points per week (average)
The FTP Builder focuses on building sustainable aerobic power. Zwift
The FTP Builder plan focuses on building sustainable aerobic power, with the majority of sessions comprising of endurance and tempo intervals.
Designed for riders who perhaps haven’t done a structured training plan before, the workouts are simple and easy to understand, and most last under an hour.
Fondo: 3 to 4 weeks / 3 hours per week / 177 stress points per week (average)
Training for a sportive 9Fondo Zwift
Created for cyclists who are building up to a long ride, or sportive/gran fondo, the Fondo is another great plan for anyone who’s new to structured training or coming back to the sport from a break.
The plan focuses mostly on endurance and tempo intervals, but there is also a bit of work at threshold and beyond mixed in to give your fitness a boost.
Intermediate training plans on Zwift
These plans are aimed at the more dedicated cyclist who, perhaps, already has a decent level of fitness and is looking to add structure to their training, or build on specific areas of fitness.
Active Offseason: 8 to 12 weeks / 9 hours per week / 446 stress points per week (average)
The Active Off-Season plan is based on nine hours of training a week. Zwift
If you’re a dedicated cyclist, with a good amount of time to train and looking to add structure to your winter, this could be the ideal plan for you. The workouts focus mostly on building up your endurance, but there is a little bit of tempo, threshold and above mixed in.
There are some big days in this plan, leading to a relatively average high stress points per week, but there are also plenty of prescribed rest days to ensure you don’t overdo it.
Build Me Up: 10 to 12 weeks / 5 hours per week / 318 stress points per week (average)
The Build Me Up plan promises a big leap in fitness. Zwift
If you’re serious about your training but a bit tight on time, the Build Me Up plan will help you make a big improvement to your aerobic engine.
There’s a good mix of intensities in this plan, but tempo, threshold and Vo2 max intervals make up a significant portion of the work.
Advanced training plans on Zwift
At this level you’ll need to have a solid base of fitness already established, because things can get quite intense.
Look to these plans when you’re coming up to a period of competition or have a big event coming up for which you want to be on form.
Crit Crusher: 4 to 8 weeks / 4 hours per week / 233 stress points per week (average)
The Crit Crusher focuses on sprint and breakaway repetitions. Zwift
Focusing on sprint and breakaway repetitions, this plan was created as a race tune-up for criterium (short road races around circuits) and cyclocross races, and will help sharpen your legs for whatever kind of riding you do.
The average stress points per week aren’t high on this plan, but there are a lot of hard and fast efforts, so Zwifters taking it on will want to have a decent base of fitness already in the bank. This is a great plan to use in the run up to competition to hone top-end performance.
TT Tune Up: 5 to 8 weeks / 7 hours per week / 391 stress points per week (average)
TT Tune Up includes six workouts a week. Zwift
With six workouts a week, this plan requires a large commitment, but if you’re looking for a big boost to your top-end power then you’ll reap the rewards when you complete it.
As the name suggests, this will suit those who want to excel in the race of truth, but recovery periods are limited, so you’ll need to be in good condition going into it.
Workouts on Zwift
If you’ve already got a training plan from elsewhere or just don’t want to fully commit to one yet, then Zwift has a large catalogue of individual workouts to get you working hard and targeting specific areas of your fitness.
Emily’s Short Mix: 00:30 / 44 stress points
Emily’s Short Mix takes only 30 minutes, making it ideal if you’re short on time. Zwift
This workout is ideal if you’re short on time. With 44 stress points accumulated in half an hour, it packs a lot of bang for its buck.
2×20 FTP Intervals: 01:20 / 101 stress points
This FTP session is a turbo trainer classic. Zwift
A classic turbo trainer workout, the 2×20 FTP Intervals session is perfect for anyone riding time trials. The long, hard intervals force you to concentrate on holding your power and position constant over longer durations.
If you’ve got a time-trial bike, do this session on that and try to stay in the TT position for the entire duration of each 20-minute interval.
Mat Hayman Paris Roubaix 1: 01:21 / 97 stress points
Mat Hayman used Zwift as a training tool before winning Paris-Roubaix. Zwift
Indoor training on Zwift was crucial to Mat Hayman’s famous win at the hardest one-day race on the cycling calendar, as it enabled him to replicate the kind of efforts required not just to hang tough with the likes of Tom Boonen across the infamous cobbled sectors, but also to outsprint him in the Roubaix velodrome for the win.
Now, thanks to his former coach Kevin Poulton, you can experience something of what it took to win that famous Monument with this session that was built using Hayman’s power profile from the race, condensed down to a more manageable 81 minutes.
Be warned though, it’s as hard as the cobbles of Northern France.
SST (Long): 02:10 – 163 stress points
SST stands for Sweet Sport Training. Zwift
SST stands for Sweet Spot Training, which is a small sub-zone around 90 to 95 per cent of FTP. It gets its name because it’s intense enough to provoke great physical adaptations, but easy enough that you can do lots of it without overly fatiguing your body.
If you’re feeling really keen and you want a longer ride to accumulate those stress points, then this is an ideal session.
Custom workouts on Zwift
You can also create your own custom workouts on Zwift. Zwift
If you’ve reached this point in the article and are thinking that none of the above quite matches what you’re looking for, well, don’t worry. Zwift also lets you easily create custom workouts from its Training page.
Zwift uses a simple drag and drop interface that makes designing your ultimate sweat-sesh a cinch – you just grab blocks from the right-hand column (there are blocks for all the different power zones, plus warm up, cool down, intervals, free riding, text events and cadence) and use the mouse or text boxes to expand the length and difficulty of each interval.
You can then tag your workout with a category and give it a suitable name. Handily, Zwift has a more in-depth guide to building custom workouts if you need a little more guidance.