Zwift – Your Guide to the Latest Fitness Training Game

Due to the imposed restrictions we currently have going on, it can be quite difficult these days to find the right conditions for running or cycling outside. As more and more people started taking up indoor workouts, indoor cycling apps, as expected also grew and now are becoming quite popular.

Zwift, an online gaming platform focused on indoor cycling, has nearly doubled its user-base during the Pandemic. More and more indoor cyclers resorted to Zwift to gain access to the virtual cycling world and compete with their friends and relatives.

In this article, we will talk about various aspects of Zwift and how it has completely revolutionised the fitness training game. 

What is Zwift – What Do You Get With the Subscription?

Zwift was originally designed for indoor cycling, but it has been modified to include running and walking by becoming compatible with treadmills.

Zwift offers running courses, monitors your vital stats and heart rate, and keeps track of the calories you are burning via the Zwift compatible treadmill.

Zwift has an extremely simple interface, and it’s also quite entertaining, as you will see an animated version of yourself on the screen, running in a futuristic world. 

Because of the growing popularity that Zwift has seen lately, it now has a very diverse user base; hardcore gamers, juvenile cyclists, marathon runners, professional cyclists, fitness trainers, the list goes on. 

How Much Is a Zwift Subscription?

The cost of the Zwift subscription is 14.99$ per month. It might vary depending on the local taxes of your region. 

Can You Get Zwift for Free?

 When you sign up for Zwift, initially, it is free for a 7-day trial period. After that, you have to avail of the paid subscription, but you can cancel anytime you want. 

The paid subscription gives you access to everything- the Zwift worlds, training programs, and the software, all of it. 

Where Can You Use Zwift?

Other than exercise bikes and treadmills, Zwift is compatible with computers (both PC and Mac), iPhones, iPods, Android smartphones and tablets. Zwift is now also usable on the Apple TV and Roku TV.

Equipment needed for Zwift

To use Zwift, you need to have the following equipment:

  • If cycling, a Zwift compatible exercise bike. It is better if it is a Smart Bike.
  • If running, you will need a treadmill that works with Zwift. Here is a list of ones that will work.
  • A set of fitness rollers
  • A Bluetooth measurement device. 
  • A PC, Mac, Smartphone or tablet

The Bluetooth measurement device you use is really significant because it will be the source of all data used by Zwift. If you use a Smart Trainer, it will automatically calculate the speed and power of your workouts and upload that data to the Zwift servers.

A Smart trainer can also be governed by Zwift during a specific workout to monitor whether or not you are hitting the right strides. 

The cheapest option for a Bluetooth measurement device is a speed sensor, which will simply transmit the data from your regular trainer to the Zwift servers. 

How to Set Up Zwift

First, you need to sign up for a Zwift account. You can immediately avail of the paid subscription or access the free 7-day trial. Then you can download the Zwift Companion app from Google Play or the App Store. 

The app makes it easy for you to optimise your cycling avatar, interact with other Zwift members, and gain access to the various facilities Zwift offers, like group workouts and virtual marathons.

After you have set up the app, you will now have to connect your equipment with the device. Once you are done with that, you are good to go. 

You can now simply choose the Zwift environment you like and start riding.

What Do You Get with a Zwift Subscription Membership?

Indoor cycling can sometimes become a quite dour activity. Zwift is focused on making that experience interactive and enjoyable. 

With a Zwift membership, you get access to the following features:

  • According to Professional cyclist Andrew Talanski, Zwift is the most realistic and enriching virtual cycling experience one can have. Zwift allows you to simulate the real-world experience so that you will feel you are cycling outdoors again.
  • Zwift allows you to choose from various routes to cycle through. Popular routes include Zwift Island, New York City, Innsbruck, etc. The routes are not just cycling paths but accommodate entire virtual worlds with flying vehicles, dystopian cities, and futuristic houses. 

These virtual worlds are continuously being upgraded by the Zwift programming team.

  • The Zwift cycling experience never gets monotonous. Apart from the plethora of choices with respect to routes, you also get plenty of alternatives along the route.

For example, while you are cycling through the Zwift island, you will come across several forks in the road, and the path you choose to take will determine the kind of training you will be doing. Will you need to be standing or will you need to be sitting? This is just one of the styles of training the you have to master with Zwift.

Thus, with Zwift, you get a lot of options to personalise your fitness training and include your own preferences and choices.

  • With respect to your virtual cycling avatar, you can customise it to resemble you. You can edit the skin tone, the colour of the hair, even the sock length. Zwift also has a map-tracking feature where you can constantly check your position within the Zwift environment.
  • Zwift’s training programs can help you to reach your fitness targets through personalised fitness tutorials and training plans that are developed by experts after considering your fitness history. This will let you progress seamlessly through the challenges so that you can unlock more advanced workouts.
  • The ubiquity of Zwift lies in its interactive nature. With Zwift, you won’t have to ride alone ever again. You can see the avatars of the other riders riding with you, and you can even talk to them through text messages while cycling. 

The Zwift group rides have strict etiquette codes, and the designated leader of the group will expel you if you violate the group norms. The basic idea is simple; to engage everyone in a common spirit of cycling.

  • You will also get access to hundreds of virtual races through Zwift. You can compete with other dedicated runners and measure your progress. 

Virtual races will also increase your motivation to work harder and be at your absolute best level.

  • The simulative experience is made even more realistic through the presence of the Zwift Anti-Doping Agency (ZADA). It will monitor your training and will make it absolutely impossible for you to indulge in any kind of cheating to artificially prop up your workout gains.

Zwift Treadmill

The Zwift Run platform allows users to combine the treadmill experiences with cycling. If you have access to a treadmill that supports Bluetooth connectivity, you will be able to compete with cyclists in the Zwift world through your treadmill.

You can also use a ZwiftPod to make the experience even more engaging.

Zwift Treadmill Training Workout Plans for Beginners

If you are a beginner in walking or cycling, you would need a completely different workout plan. Here are some decent workout plans on the treadmill that you can follow as a beginner via the Zwift app. 

Simple Walking Workout

  1. Start this workout with a warm-up routine of five to seven minutes, at roughly two mph speed.
  2. Then do a high-intensity workout for as long as your body permits, at around four mph speed.
  3. Then cool-off for five to seven minutes at significantly lower speeds, around 1-2 mph.

The advantage of this workout is that there is no fixed time limit; you can do it as long as you want once you have reached the minimum twenty-minute mark.

Interval Workout

Interval workouts are excellent ways to burn even more calories on the treadmill.

Here is a workout plan that will burn a lot of calories within a short time:

  1. Walk at 2.8 mph for one minute, then run for thirty seconds at double that speed, i.e. 5.6 mph.
  2. Repeat this routine, but this time the running will be for 45 seconds.
  3. Repeat it again by increasing the running to 60 seconds.
  4. Do this three times, and end with a cooling-off session of 75 seconds.

You can also use the more than a thousand structured workouts designed by top Zwift trainers. 

Zwift FAQ & Things You Need To Know

Zwift FTP

The Zwift FTP (Functional Threshold Power) is a test that determines your current fitness quotient. Before plunging into the Zwift experience, both you and the Zwift experts need to know exactly where you stand so that the programs can be customised accordingly. 

FTP tests calculate the maximum possible power that you can offer for an hour-long workout. After completing the FTP test, you have the option to construct training zones based on the results of your FTP test. 

You can optimise the speed and the distance of the ride, and if during the process you want to change certain parameters like changing the nature of the track or riding longer distances, you can do that also.

How to Chat in Zwift

If you are using a PC or a Mac, just push ‘M’, and start typing in the chatbox. Your texts will be visible by your nearby riders. 

If you are using the Zwift Companion application, use the group text feature to communicate with riders from the same groups or races. If you want to send a private message, use the chat box next to a particular rider. 

How To Join a Group Ride on Zwift

After joining Zwift, you will see a list of rides on your screen. If you want to get detailed information on them, you can get that from the Zwift Companion App. 

If you find a ride you like, just click the option, and you will be enrolled. Usually, you can optimise the intensity of a group ride from the options given on the screen.

Before the ride begins, the app will send you a reminder. At the starting time, your cycling avatar will be shown on a virtual start line. You will be able to see the other riders and communicate with them through the chatbox.

Zwift Power-ups

Zwift power-ups further enhance the gaming quality of the platform. It rewards you for your workouts through Experience points or temporary boosting the speed of your avatar in a virtual race.

Zwift Power-ups are achieved when you complete a workout or finish a race. There are various types of Power-ups in Zwift:

  • The large bonus which immediately awards you 250 experience points
  • The small bonus which awards you 10 experience points.
  • The feather lightweight which will decrease your weight temporarily for 15 seconds. You can use this feature on steep paths, where a lighter body will help you climb faster.
  • The Truck Draft Boost increases your speed by 50 per cent for 30 seconds. 
  • The Helmet Aero Boost decreases your avatar’s drag by 25 per cent temporarily and is useful in flat tracks when you are competing with someone at high speed. 
  • The Invisibility chip makes you untraceable by other riders for 10 seconds. You can use it when you are trying to establish a commanding lead in a race, and you disappear before everyone realises that you are gaining on them.
  • The Anvil, which basically does the opposite of what feather lightweight does. It makes your cycling avatar temporarily, which will come useful when you are descending at high speed.
  • The Steamroller decreases the rolling resistance for 30 seconds. This makes riding on dirt roads exceedingly easier.

You can activate these Power-ups by simply pushing the space bar on your computer or the Power-up icon in the Zwift Companion app. 

Structured Workouts on Zwift

Zwift - Your Guide to the Latest Fitness Training Game

Zwift gives you the option to do structured workouts devised by experts or even design your own workout. You can choose workouts that target specific goals, like the ‘TT-tune Up’, which focuses on achieving aerobic power. 

Or you can resort to more expansive workouts like the ‘FTP builder’, which will work on your general fitness and stamina. 

Final Thoughts:

Indoor cycling alone can be a quite excruciating experience, which becomes a supremely enjoyable experience because of Zwift. It manages to include the fun and games vibe while ensuring that your body gets workouts of the highest quality.

So if you are starting with indoor cycling now, consider entering the world of Zwift to participate in the latest fitness training Game.