The Digital Cyclist

Zwift 4 week FTP builder

Zwift 4 week FTP builder

With the January UK Lockdown stopping all but essential travel and asking cyclists to ‘stay local’ on rides I decided to give a Zwift training plan a go.

Asking around not many people had completed the plans so the jury was out on how good they were. I had nothing better to do so here is how the last 4 weeks went.

The first step in the process is a ramp test.

If you don’t know what a ramp test is it’s a way to test your FTP by progressively adding load minute after minute. It starts with a 5 minute warm up (I prefer to have warmed up for 10mins before this warm up too) then you progressively add 20watts each minute – simple.

This sounds easy – and is – until it’s not. You quickly go from spinning your legs to being unable to move your legs or turn the pedals.

After the test my FTP was calculated as 255.

So here came the training. Every week is split into 5-6 rides varying between Tempo and rides at threshold. You can see a more detailed view of the workouts here.

Example Tempo ride within the plan

Trust the plan

Overall my feeling in week 1 was that this was all ‘too easy‘. So I ended up adding 10-15% for the first week. This came from me Zwift racing the two weeks before starting the plan. If you’ve ever raced on Zwift you know how steady these are…

Soon the continual training load built up and I reduced this back to what the plan set me originally.

Throughout all 4 weeks the workouts were all eminently doable. I never felt that I would not make the numbers, and while each day I could feel my legs aching, by the time I got to putting my kit on and in the evening I was feeling fresh.

The final ramp

After completing the last workouts I took a couple of days to rest then went for a final ramp.

Amazingly this shot my FTP up from 255 to 287 a 12.5% bump over 4 weeks!

I don’t think this can all be attributed to the Zwift plan, I think a chunk of this was me getting my fitness back through consistent riding from pre-Christmas but a healthy increase nonetheless without killing myself with crazy workouts.

Overall I’d recommend this plan. It’s not the most exciting (but what structured training is?!) the immersive world of Zwift kept me entertained and it did the job in 4 weeks. I still can’t wait to get back to riding outside again though.

If I do a Zwift plan again I’ll probably swap out some of the 1hr threshold sessions with a 1hr race to make it a little more interesting, but that’s me.