Beginner feedback on Zwift Workouts

(Nightyear) #1

I’m a beginner and have only done about 18 workouts with Zwift. I’m still figuring out how to smooth out my pedaling technique and ride consistency, and I’m still quite a bit out of shape and overweight.  So I don’t think I represent your seasoned rider demographic, but I wanted to give some casual rider feedback.  

  1. I like the workouts. Not to bad mouth other platforms that begin with a P, but I don’t enjoy the live workout experience of having a strange person yell at me, I like the solitude of riding, and Zwift delivers on that.  I wish there was a “just getting started with cycling” section that gave coaching specifically on technique while riding around zwift, but for now the FTP builder workout has been good.  

  2. I like that there are other riders around me, but their presence doesn’t impact my workout positively or negatively. No drafting, no in-game interaction like me stealing power-ups from them unintentionally, etc.  When I’m ready for group rides that’ll be fun I’m sure, but I like that I can train in peace while still observing others having fun.    

  3. I get frustrated at the lack of feedback in workout mode, telling me if I’m meeting the requirements of a given segment. I’ve gotten “Failed” or “Ok” when I’ve been busting my tail to meet the goals, and have no idea why.  It’s usually on the rest segments when I’m trying to let the trainer spin down a bit before engaging again, and the shorter the segment the greater chance of failure.  Once I get a “Failed” that seems wrong or capricious (e.g. it wasn’t me just being slow or out of breath) it mentally just takes away from the rest of the workout.  Some sort of realtime feedback on what factors into Perfect, Ok, and Failed would be really helpful here.  A realtime avg cadence/avg wattage meter to try and match up against the segment targets would really help. 

  4. The workout app in Zwift companion on my phone crashes a LOT.  This, combined with the lack of feedback on workout success/failure metrics is really frustrating and has tempted me to get over my dislike of that other cycling workout software platform and leave Zwift.  I’m using a Kurt Kinetic Rock&Roll Smart Trainer for power and resistance adjustment, a Wahoo cadence meter, and an apple watch for heart rate. Here’s what I’ve tried to remedy it: 

  • Closed all apps that might possibly be using bluetooth, with the exception of Spotify for my headphones. Speaking of which, a Spotify partnership where you can control music inside the Zwift app would be amazing. You could probably cross-promote subscriptions and help each other out business-wise too.  
  • Verified wifi-signal was strong for all devices, and checked to make sure there was nothing that could be causing 2.4ghz signal interference on the bluetooth side.  
  • Closed out the zwift companion app and the zwift app on my iPad, and restarted my apple watch, effectively restarting my workout. #$&%!!!
  • Bought an AppleTV and paired the trainer and the cadence meter to that, thinking that maybe the ipad/iphone setup was the issue. On the plus side the 30’ monitor looks pretty nice.  
  • Made sure everything was updated on the iOS, tvOS, and app side. The kinetic trainer is running the very latest firmware and I’ve made sure that the kinetic calibration app is closed so it doesn’t interfere.  
  • I power down everything at the end of a workout and I unplug the smart trainer. 
  • My cadence/speed meter has got plenty of battery left, and it’s rock solid during outdoor workouts using Cyclemeter, as is my Apple Watch.  i recently had a heart health checkup where my cardiologist compared a medical monitor to the apple watch and it was 1-2bpm off at most, and we were both surprised about that.  The apple watch also works well with Cyclemeter as a constant HR monitor.  With that said, I know Zwift said it was still in beta.  Is the Apple Watch what’s crashing the workouts app?  
  1. the calorie counts seem a bit dodgy (low), or don’t match up to any other workout app I’ve used by almost 2x-3x. Honestly that’s not a big deal as I’m not counting them that closely, but at 235lbs and pushing myself to 150bpm, sweat pouring off of me for an hour and 10 mins at an average cadence of 87rpm and average wattage of 100, ~300 calories just seems low.  Not sure you’re calibrated for fat old guys maybe? 

Anyway, you guys have built a great workout environment that is helping me get in better shape, and I’m already seeing some good results cardiovascularly with my resting and recovery heart rates dropping down by at least 15 points, so thank you!

Also, posting a pic of my setup in case that helps.  

(Nigel Doyle) #2

Are you doing the workouts in ERG mode (the default)? If so you can’t really fail a workout as you either meet the power target or you grind to a halt. The only time you might fail a segment using ERG mode is if it’s a short interval where it takes a little bit of time for the trainer to settle down to the correct power and your power average for the segment is some way off what the target power was.

Have you done a FTP test? If your FTP is set too high then achieving power targets will be tough.

Make sure your trainer is calibrated correctly. 100 watts power is very light resistance on the pedals.

(Xavier Kraebel) #3

Thank you for your feedback, I’m glad you’ve been enjoying Zwift! There actually is a drafting function in game, if you follow someone close enough it gives you a bit of a speed boost. And I understand why you’d want more explicit feedback on workouts, I’ll go ahead and put a note for our developers to take a look on if that should be improved. 

As for your issue with crashing, could you write in to Crashes are a tricky issue, and they’re best dealt with over email.

Ride On!

(Nightyear) #4

Nigel: Yep, doing them in ERG mode and the short segments with a lot of spin down is where it most often marks me as failed.  Yep,have done an FTP test and am only at 143 right now, working my way back into shape after about a decade of neglect.  Calibration is at 6.92 with 7 seconds being the ideal spin down, which is as close as I’ve been able to dial it in.  Figured 8 one hundredths of a second was close enough? 


Xavier:  Thanks for the help on the workout feedback enhancement. Also, drafting isn’t enabled in workout mode, right?  

(Jon Odwazny) #5

Nightyear, Hang in there.  Stay consistent and keep going at it.  You will reach your goals!  Hey, I am about to get the Rock and Roll trainer that you have.  How do you like it?  Thanks.

(Nightyear) #6

Jon, I like the Rock&Roll smart trainer, but it initially wasn’t staying firm in terms of how much side-to-side motion there was when I got out of the saddle and it was really disconcerting how quickly it’d loosen up mid-workout. I had to disassemble the bottom bracket and re-apply some loc-tite, then re-torque it down.  It’s not trivial to re-assemble with just one person but once i got it back together that did the trick.  I’m told by Kurt Kinetic support that’s a pretty rare thing to have to do, so you may not run into it.  

There’s also a weight limit on the trainer of 250lbs for the rider and the bike combined, so be aware of that before you buy.  I’m 6’1" and 235 and luckily my bike is nice and light, but I’m pretty close to the upper limit.  Hoping that’s going to be less of a problem the more I bike :) 

The only other thing that’s a pain is doing spin-down calibration, as you keep having to get off and back on the bike to get it calibrated each time you re-mount the bike. Occasionally it makes me wish I got a direct-drive trainer, or that Kurt would make a rock&roll direct drive trainer and I could upgrade.  

With that said, it’s working and feels pretty natural, and is definitely sturdy when setup properly.