At its heart, Zwift is as simple as riding a bike outside – once you’re all connected you just start pedalling and away you go.
However, to help you make the most of the online virtual training and racing platform, we’ve compiled a list of our top ten tips.
Otherwise, check out our buyer’s guide to the best Zwift setups and advice on how to choose the right training plan.
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.
Smart trainers aren’t as expensive as you think
Smart trainers make your Zwift experience much more immersive, and while the top of the range models can be pricey, there are plenty of good options at the cheaper end of the scale.
The Tacx Vortex Smart, for example, which we gave four out of five stars, has an RRP of £379 but can typically be found online for a fair bit less.
It’s a little louder than a direct drive trainer, but otherwise it has everything you need to get started on Zwift, like power measurement, the ability to simulate gradients and ERG mode for third-party resistance control. Otherwise, the impressive Wahoo Kickr Snap is now available for £429.
Zwift also offers financing options on smart trainers through its own store, and if you purchase one there you’ll get 30 days of free Zwift membership to test it out at home. If you’re not satisfied at the end of the trial period, you can return the trainer free of charge.
Use a fan
Without any wind to cool you down, you’ll quickly overheat when riding indoors, so a good fan is invaluable.
If you live somewhere consistently warm, then a big fan is a good idea, but most people will be fine with something relatively small but powerful.
The Zwift companion app puts everything at your fingertips. Zwift
Download the Zwift Companion app
Available on the iOS App Store and Google Play, the Zwift Companion app has been designed to put everything you need to operate the game right at your fingertips.
It’s the place to control your avatar, view the activity feed, create goals, follow your training plan, browse and sign-up for events, chat to other Zwifters and loads more, so don’t forget to use it.
Get yourself prepared before you get on the trainer
Whatever you’re doing on Zwift, whether it be free riding, working out or joining a group ride or event, make sure you’re prepared for the full duration of your ride before you start.
You’ll need full water bottles and, if you’re planning a long ride, maybe even some snacks. On top of that, make sure all of your devices are fully charged or plugged in because you really don’t want to run out of battery mid-ride.
Don’t sweat it
A simple headband or classic cotton cycling cap is ideal for absorbing sweat off your brow and stopping it from dripping into your eyes or, more importantly, onto your precious bike.
Furthermore, a towel draped over your front wheel will be easily accessible to wipe excess sweat from your hands and body in between efforts.
A trainer mat will also help protect your floor from sweat (and oil from your bike), plus it can also help to keep the noise down as it reduces the vibrations transmitted through to the floor.
Get some (Bluetooth) headphones
It’s generally acknowledged that you’ll want some suitably up-tempo music to help motivate you on your ride. Let’s be honest though, not everyone else in your house/flat will want to experience the full glory of your Tiësto-fuelled sweat-sesh, so a set of headphones is advisable.
Standard headphones will do if that’s all you’ve got, but wireless Bluetooth ones are better for the simple reason that there’s no wire to get in your way or get caught on your bike.
When you’re riding on Zwift, you’re never riding alone, so be nice and take the time to socialise with those around you, just like you would in real life.
If you see someone giving it their all in a workout, or going for a sprint/KOM, give them a Ride On (a thumbs up) and help them on their way. After all, what goes around comes around, and when you get a couple of Ride Ons in the middle of a hard effort, you’ll appreciate it.
You can also send both public and private messages to other Zwifters through the Zwift app or the Zwift Companion app if you’ve got something more specific to share.
Plus, if you’ve got a compatible phone, you can tap the microphone icon in the messaging part of that Zwift Companion app and dictate a message – the app will convert your message to text automatically.
Don’t forget about heart rate
Zwift is primarily based on the power you produce, but if you want to get the most from your training on the platform don’t forget about heart rate.
Zwift gives you a whole range of info at the end of a workout, and tracking your heart rate response to various intervals is a great way of benchmarking improvements in your fitness. If your heart rate has gone down for a given wattage/time, for example, then that’s a good sign your fitness has improved.
Zwift has expanded the bikes and training plans available to mountain bikers. Zwift
Sign up for a training plan
Just like riding outside, you’ll probably make much larger improvements if your training is structured.
Zwift has a whole suite of workouts and flexible training plans to suit all types of riders, so whether you’re just getting into training and looking for something basic, or you’re a seasoned rider wanting to push into new territories of fitness, you’re sure to find something that suits.
More off-road specific training plans have been recently announced too, so there really is something for almost everyone.
You can also sign-up for group workouts via the events page. The group is tethered together for the duration of the workout, so you won’t get dropped as long as you hit your numbers. These are great for adding a little extra motivation.
There’s so much more to Zwift than free-riding and training. It’s also a massively social platform, with events happening every day that enable you to ride, workout and race with others.
You can check out all the different events on the event calendar or via the Companion app, and sign up for anything that takes your fancy.
Don’t be afraid to try out a group ride or race, too – the worst that can happen is that you’ll get dropped, but there’s no shame in that, just use it as motivation to work hard and try again at a later date!