13 minute progressive climb too easy


(deborah nixon) #1

 I  have done the FTP and while I found the average kind of low, I’m surprised at how low Zwift has set my climbs.  At no time did this ride feel the slightest bit difficult. The screen was showing 6% climbs and I felt like I was on flats.  I was having trouble staying within the wattage or RPM because the effort was so easy.  Why would that be?

Also, why is Zwift so concerned with making sure I don’t spin faster than what they recommend or use more power? Isn’t it good if I can go harder?  Why is it always telling me to slow down or power down? 

Are there settings I should change? I’m at 50% on the range for the climbs. And I did a calibration.  All seems ok. Should I increase the climbing difficulty? although this won’t account for the low watts it is asking for.

Also, I did the volcano climb (I think that’s it) and it was really hard which I loved.  I was hoping a progressive climb would be somewhat hard.


(Mr. Alpaca The Avatar) #2

https://zwiftinsider.com/using-the-trainer-difficulty-setting-in-zwift/


(Kevin Brown) #3

During workouts (e.g., an FTP test), the road gradient is not use.  It’s a constant 1% grade I think.  Your speed will factor in the gradient but the trainer will not vary resistance based on gradient.


(deborah nixon) #4

Kevin. That’s interesting- so why would it be called a progressive climb. And the leader was telling us to position ourselves accordingly in the saddle as we would on an outdoors ride.  So if there was no climb, why call it his and give those instructions?

If you’re right, and I don’t doubt you are, then that explains it. but then it wasn’t a very hard training session.  

I also found it odd that my watt/lbs ratio was the same whether I was doing this supposedly flat ride and the tough volcano climb where I worked much harder.

I’m new to watts and to zwift so maybe it’s my inexperience speaking. I have only trained with HR until now.  Love watts but sometimes doesn’t make sense to me


(Kevin Brown) #5

It’s probably called a progressive climb because the power is increasing over the intervals not because the gradient is changing.  When doing workouts, I never have to change gears regardless of the gradient.  If I’m doing a free ride (i.e., not a work out), I have to use my smallest gears on the steep uphills and my biggest gears on the downhills.  As to why the leader would say that, I can’t say.  

Based on your description, I’m questioning if you had an issue with your FTP test and got too low of a number.  If your FTP is set too low, the work outs won’t be challenging.  Compare you FTP # to your average watts going up the volcano climb.  If you put out a lot more watts on the volcano climb than your FTP (based on your FTP test) then your FTP test was bad.  Note that some workouts are by there very nature meant to allow recovery or build endurance and never push you out of Zone 1 or Zone 2 which will feel easy.

I’m at best an average rider with an FTP of 230 W weighing 77 kg so ~3.0 W/Kg.  On the volcano climb which takes me a little under 10 minutes, I can average ~250 W (above my FTP since it’s shorter)…  I would expect you to see a similar trend if the FTP test and the volcano climb were close to max efforts.

I hope this helps.

 


(deborah nixon) #6

Mr. Alpaca. Thank you- that is super helpful. I have to think about it. I’ve noticed that when I’m on a flat or on 2%, they feel the same. Maybe this explanation is why? So if I’m on 7%, then it’s really 3.5% because I’m at 50%. So I’m worse than I thought because 3.5% isn’t easy.  When I “feel” the hill, I definitely work harder. The resistance is there. So I’m not sure what Zwift mean that it’s only a feeling.  It isn’t make believe resistance- so what does that mean?

 Kevin. That’s interesting- so why would it be called a progressive climb. And the leader was telling us to position ourselves accordingly in the saddle as we would on an outdoors ride.  So if there was no climb, why call it his and give those instructions?

If you’re right, and I don’t doubt you are, then that explains it. but then it wasn’t a very hard training session.  

I also found it odd that my watt/lbs ratio was the same whether I was doing this supposedly flat ride and the tough volcano climb where I worked much harder.

I’m new to watts and to zwift so maybe it’s my inexperience speaking. I have only trained with HR until now.  Love watts but sometimes doesn’t make sense to me


(deborah nixon) #7

Thanks Kevin.  Your explanation is very helpful. 

My FTP is usually 2.5 W/kg.  My FTP was 90 but has been adjusted to 115. I weigh 48 kg.  On Volcano I was 2.5-2.8 but took me much longer (don’t recall).  

I’ll pay more attention to what the rides are all about before I do them. I haven’t done any races yet; I don’t race in real life but it might be fun on Zwift.

 


(Joe Daknis) #8

Deborah,

“The resistance is there. So I’m not sure what Zwift mean that it’s only a feeling.  It isn’t make believe resistance- so what does that mean?”

I think your confusion is understandable, because I wondered about all of this stuff and what it meant before I got a smart trainer and finally ‘felt it’ for myself.

I’ll probably do an awful job trying to explain too, but here goes: 

From the link above, there’s this bit with ** emphasis added by me…

" It is important to understand that lowering or raising Trainer Difficulty does not change the power needed to get up the hill.  You still have to put out the same **cumulative watts** to move the same distance as before… you’ll just be doing it in a different gear."

I keep my trainer difficulty set at 100%, and as resistance ramps up on a climb - it becomes increasingly difficult to turn the cranks. It takes more power to sustain a given cadence in a given gear as the gradient increases, and that increase in power is measured by my trainer and reflected in the number of watts displayed by Zwift.

If I downshift *and maintain the same cadence* while the slope remains constant, it is easier to pedal. I am, therefore, putting out fewer watts per pedal stroke - so my speed will decrease compared to what it was in the higher gear, and I have to turn the cranks through more revolutions to go the same distance.  My speed up the hill is lower and I spend more time on it turning the cranks at a lower effective resistance level BUT the **cumulative** amount of work it takes to from the bottom to the top is the same - regardless of your gear choice.

Essentially, the Trainer Difficulty setting has the same effect.  Dropping the difficulty doesn’t change the amount of work you need to do, it just offers you a (potentially) less difficult way to get that work done.

Pick an easy gear. Climb a 10% grade at whatever steady cadence you can sustain @ 100% difficulty and look at the Watts and speed displayed.

Keep the same gear. Climb the same 10% grade again (at the same cadence as above) at 50% difficulty. Look at the Watts and Speed.

Your power (and, in turn, your speed in the game) will be lower @ 50% difficulty if everything else is equal.  But - as above, the total work done will be the same going from point A to point B - it’s just spread over more time.

If you want to *maintain the same speed* in both cases, then @ 50% difficulty, you have to choose a higher gear and/or cadence to get your power to match what it was going up at 100% difficulty (which you may in fact be able to do, because effective gradient is not as steep - but because you’re now turning a bigger gear and/or pedaling faster? It’s not going to feel any different effort-wise vs. 100% difficulty - because you’re doing the same work in the same amount of time!

The only good reason to use anything other than 100% (strictly IMO) is if you want to climb hills that are either a) *significantly* steeper than the max %grade your trainer is capable of simulating or b) you don’t have suitably low gearing to enable you to sustain a high enough cadence to get up the mountain w/o grinding painfully to a halt. 

I hope that helps?

 

 

 

  


(deborah nixon) #9

Joe. I’m so grateful for your time and patience. That really helps. I’m at 50% as the default setting. I have a Vortex so it maxes out at 7% but honestly, I doubt I could climb past that. But I have no idea. I have never known what grade I climb outdoors.  But it seems odd to me because on Zwift, 3% feels super hard.  And that’s a mild grade.  I’m sure I’ve ridden steeper hills than that so puzzling why it seems hard on Zwift. And in fact, if it says 3% on the screen, then it’s really 1.5% and that just can’t be.

Maybe I’m dense but I’m finding it hard to wrap my head around this simulation. I was on a tough ride where my watts/kg were the same but one ride wasted me and the other was somewhat non-taxing. so how can that be.

I’m going to switch to 100% to see what happens.  I’m sure it’ll be very tough. But is there any advantage from a building perspective to doing those watts with tougher gearing?  


(Joe Daknis) #10

“Maybe I’m dense but I’m finding it hard to wrap my head around this simulation. I was on a tough ride where my watts/kg were the same but one ride wasted me and the other was somewhat non-taxing. so how can that be.”

I’m not sure I follow… are you saying you did the same ride (same route) twice and had similar average w/kg both times, but the perceived effort was totally different? Or just that two different routes might net the same average power/weight while one is very hard and the other not so much?

If the former, it could be a trainer calibration issue. Do you inflate your tire to the same pressure and perform a spindown calibration before every ride? From what I’ve read, this seems to be paramount w/ wheel-on smart trainers.

Plus, even under ideal circumstances, the vortex is only stated to be accurate to within 10%. There’s a fair amount of room for error there. If your FTP is 115W @ 48kg - on any given day you could see 104 W to 127W for the same effort.  Put another way, if your ‘true’ FTP is 2.4 w/kg and the trainer has a 10% margin of error, one day you might actually be going at an average <2.2 w/kg (easy) and the other day at 2.6+ w/kg (much harder) - even though what Zwift ‘sees’ from your trainer is 2.4 w/kg on both days.  

Now, that may be a bit extreme and *hopefully* any inaccuracy in the trainer tends to be a more consistent bias one way or the other instead of all over the place, but it’s hard to know for sure unless you have a power meter on your bike for comparison.

Anyway - if you mean the latter (diff courses, same avg power, very different efforts)? That’s a different story entirely, and probably has more to do with the nature of the terrain (hilly vs. flat) or (in the case of a workout) differences in the way power was delivered - i.e. lots of short high-watt intervals with periods of rest in between are likely to be more taxing than a steady-state ride even though both may net the same average power.  

“But is there any advantage from a building perspective to doing those watts with tougher gearing?”

Surely there’s an exercise physiologist or a coach on here who’s better qualified to answer this (I’m neither) - but my short answer is “it depends on what your goals are and whom you ask.” 

Using the tougher gearing will necessarily mean delivering those watts at a lower cadence, which - over time - will build leg strength.

Using a lower gear at a high cadence is generally more efficient and will tend to improve your pedalling form, cardio fitness and endurance.

So, there are good reasons to do a mix of both!