Why ride on Zwift? Four experienced riders discuss how the platform supports their cycling

Could Zwift help to make your indoor cycling experience more enjoyable, and more productive? Hear from four riders who use the popular indoor training app to find out why they’ve made Zwift riding a regular part of their training routine.

The Personal Cyclist
Last updated -

Thinking about giving Zwift a try but not sure what value it could add to your indoor training? From being able to dial into specific efforts, to opening up an entire virtual community to train with. There are plenty of reasons to get set up on Zwift. We spoke to four experienced Zwift riders to get their insights on why they use the platform, so you can find out how it could support your own cycling training.

Meet the Zwifters
Cycling journalist and TV presenter Rebecca Charlton
Cycling Journalist and Presenter
Jenny Lucas-Hill
Writer and Long Distance Triathlete
Nicola Kay
Aeonian Race Team Rider
Leah Thorvilson former Zwift Academy winner
Former Zwift Academy Winner

Riding on Zwift can be a valuable tool to support injury recovery

Indoor cycling gives you the ability to have far more control over your ride than you would cycling outdoors. On Zwift you can take charge of the intensity of your ride by adjusting your FTP for workouts, or selecting a flat route to ensure you won’t have to get out of the saddle or put in any surges to scale any climbs.

I got into indoor cycling at the end of 2015. I had just had multiple knee surgeries due to running injuries, and the last one (a femoral bone graft) required that I not do any high impact activity for a year. I started cycling but was also not allowed to cycle outdoors for about 4 months after the surgery, so I started using Zwift.”
Leah Thorvilson

If you’re managing an injury, or getting back to fitness after surgery this ability to control the variables during your ride is essential for ensuring you don’t do anything that will set your recovery process back a step. Out on the roads you might have to push higher power than is appropriate to get to the top of a climb, or put a surge in to negotiate a traffic junction. If something doesn’t feel right, you’ve still got to cycle home. Meanwhile using Zwift means no nasty surprises, and if you need to stop – you can just stop.

Cycling through pregnancy

The ability to really take control of your cycling environment and intensity is also a reason that many women who are looking for support to cycle safely through pregnancy choose to do so on Zwift.

For cycling journalist and TV presenter, Rebecca Charlton, riding on Zwift during her pregnancy meant she could adapt her position on the bike to remain comfortable – and ensure she was keeping the intensity at an appropriate level.

I followed the baby on board workouts designed by Dani Rowe MBE and Kristin Armstrong, which keep your stress score at about 22 rather than 42, which you’ll see on Zwift. That reassures you of a reasonable intensity but also the interval structure allows your body temperature and heart rate to regularly come back down. I think the moral of the story is, if in doubt rein it in. I was fortunate enough to be able to get on the bike with some towels stacked on my bars because of where my bump was sitting.”
Rebecca Charlton

Many female cyclists want to keep up their riding as much as they can through pregnancy, but the uncontrolled variables (such as traffic and ride intensity) out on the road make that more difficult. The Baby on Board section in Zwift’s workout library that Rebecca mentioned has over 20 workouts aimed at women who are cycling while pregnant, or getting back on the bike after pregnancy. The intensity levels are all kept between 1/5 and 2.5/5. And the use of a static bike or turbo trainer means you can adapt your position to whatever is comfortable.

Efficient – and specific – training made easy

For the riders we spoke to, being able to really dial into specific efforts, train efficiently and ride course profiles they wouldn’t be able to access from their own front door were strong reasons they like to ride on Zwift.

For me Zwift’s proved to not only be a safe and less time-consuming way to get in effective training early in the morning before work, but it’s also my favourite place to do interval training. On Zwift I don’t have to worry about finding a level location that is low/no traffic. I can easily execute intervals and only focus on the work.”
Leah Thorvilson

By taking some of your bike training indoors, you take away the added complication of having to find that small window in the day to ride when traffic won’t be too busy and visibility is good. Completing your interval sessions on Zwift means you can create the right conditions to be able to achieve the desired training effect.

Zwift academy tri specialized shiv
Riding on Zwift makes it easy to focus on specific workouts.

If you’re training for a specific event, riding on Zwift also creates an easy way for you to replicate the course profile you’ll experience – whether that’s a fast and flat time trial course, or a hilly triathlon.

“Tempus Fugit is the ultimate route for either easy recovery rides or if you’re training for flatter time trials or triathlons where you need to focus on putting out consistent power and staying down in your aero bars. If, like me, you live somewhere very flat and getting in any proper hill training is a challenge – riding up the Alpe du Zwift is a great way to find your climbing legs.
Jenny Lucas-Hill

Expand your cycling community

When you think of turbo training, ‘sociable’ might not be the first word that springs to mind. In fact, something that puts a lot of cyclists off indoor training is the thought of boring, solo rides. But the riders we spoke to all mentioned the social side of Zwift as a major benefit to training on the platform.

“From the very beginning, I found a social side that I never expected to – initially with my triathlon club with the Thursday Team Time Trials, but soon after that, with Aeonian, a fabulous supportive ladies team. Riding with such a wide variety of strong talented ladies has been inspirational and it’s been wonderful to be a part of such a supportive community.”
Nicola Kaye
“I’ve made so many friends, many of whom I have never met in real life to this day, but I feel we have met. On the occasion that I have met Zwifters in real life, it always feels like we’ve known each other forever. It’s just a really great and supportive community.”
Leah Thorvilson

Getting involved with the community side of Zwift gives you the opportunity to connect with other riders from all around the world. The support, motivation and advice you can find as a result is not to be underestimated.

For more Zwift tips, head over to our dedicated Zwift section where you’ll find information on getting started, the best Zwift routes and our very own selection of custom workouts.

Kate Auld
Written by
Kate Auld
Writer, occasional triathlete and founder of The Personal Cyclist®, Kate is a British Cycling qualified coach & ride leader, offering bike confidence coaching & bespoke cycling experiences.
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