If you don’t fancy heading out into the cold and want to build your fitness over the winter months, cycling Youtuber and Zwifter Katie Kookaburra shares her best tips for getting the most from Zwift.
Get the Zwift Companion app.
To be clear, there is the main Zwift app which is used for seeing your riding avatar and the Zwift Companion App for controlling elements of the main app. Using this app is great for taking pictures as you ride, giving other riders Ride-Ons (kudos in Zwift world), and for using Power-Ups. You can just use the main Zwift app but it makes it a lot more interactive getting involved using the Companion app. One of my favourite features is using the ‘hand’ button. This just makes your avatar wave. So don’t be one of those riders, on or off the road that’s too cool to wave.
Take an FTP test.
This pain-filled session is essential if you are wanting to build your fitness over winter. Basically an FTP (Functional Threshold Power) test is a way of determining what power you can hold for an hour.
But to make this easier than busting your legs for an hour, it’s done in a 20-minute effort and extrapolated from that figure. In the training pages in Zwift, there are workouts for an FTP test. Once you’ve powered through this sweat-fest, it’s onto the training. Don’t worry about what your numbers are, the whole point is to work to improve them. So don’t be comparing your numbers to your club mate or your Mrs / fellas… it really is just a tool to help you train more efficiently.
There are lots of workout programs in Zwift itself, covering lots of areas, so choose whether you want to be a better sprinter or a climber. This is what really improved my fitness, it was a game-changer, to be honest. Rather than just doing base miles in the outdoors, structured training really does build your fitness and it’s super-efficient. And it also means you don’t need to spend ten minutes getting all your winter kit on. We all know that struggle, right?!
Essential kit. You will thank me later.
These are the essentials for any turbo session; a good fan, towel, cracking music and lots of water. For me, the fan is so important, and it’s worth its weight in gold. It gives you more of an outdoor riding feel, as opposed to sweating it out in your garage / spare room/kitchen. It also means you won’t sweat buckets all over your bike.
It’s also good practice to cover your bike with a towel to catch any salty drips of sweat.
Set up your own meet-ups
This is so much fun, especially if you are stuck indoors due to lockdown and it’s really simple and easy to do.
Head onto the Zwift Companion App, head to Events, then click the three people icon. Then click on Meet Up and choose where and when you want to ride. For those invited, Zwift will automatically put you together on the course.
Also, for added socialising, you can chat over the Zwifters’ favourite talking app; Discord. This is a free app that allows you to create your own ‘channels’ to talk in. It’s pretty simple to do and better than chatting over the phone as there is a ‘push to talk’ function. This is ideal to prevent you from having to hear your mates’ heavy breathing and squeaky turbos. Nobody needs to hear that.
Get your very own Ribble Endurance SL…
… and customise it. So you’re getting fitter, and riding with your mates, so of course, you want your bike to look the business. So you can actually choose your very own custom colour Ribble Endurance SL in the garage.
You have to work for it though and be at Level 7 in Zwift which just means you have to ride. Once you’re at that level, just head into the Garage section, choose the bike, and click on the slider on the right side of the page to choose the colour you fancy.
The Endurance SL is also a great all-rounder bike for lots of Zwift rides and races. Little hack, you can ride this bike if you jump onto my social rides. They take place the first Tuesday of every month. There’s a women’s social at 5pm GMT, and a sub-hour effort up Alpe Du Zwift at 7pm GMT.
Races are incredible for pushing motivation and making you work as hard as possible. There are long races, short races, hilly ones and flat ones. There are also racing leagues that you can join with weekly events. You can look at upcoming events and races in the Companion App, and filter them based on gender or category.
ZwiftHacks.com is also a great way to look at upcoming events in the future. It also gives course information so that you can be fully prepared to aim for a podium spot. Drafting and tactics also still come into play in the virtual cycling world and that takes some practice. So get stuck in as soon as you can.
And even if you’re not aiming for gold, it’s a great way to motivate and push yourself.
Finally, last but definitely not least, stretch. As it is so easy to hop on Zwift and put yourself through the Wringer – that is a name of an actual workout – it’s even more essential that you stretch after tough sessions and ideally… foam roll.
There are so many different tutorials online to show you how, search yoga for cyclists on YouTube. As much as it might feel slightly uncomfortable at first, your legs and body will thank you for it. I don’t always do it but when I do, I focus on quads, glutes and ITB band. It can be quite painful at first, but it really does help loosen you up.
You can sign up to Katie’s women’s social on Tuesday, December 1 at 5pm, here.
Or if you fancy being paced for a sub-hour Alpe du Zwift also on Tuesday, December 1 at 7pm, here.