I'm getting discouraged

So I have been using Zwift for over a month now. I really like it. I can tell I have gotten stronger and have more endurance than when I started. Today I did a full FTP test, gave it my all and at the end my FTP went down to a 101… I think it was at a 105 but I don’t know. I wish I could see what my FTP was through time.

This is really getting to me. I started this, knowing I was out of shape and as time went on I would get better and I would get to enjoy Zwift even more. But seeing my FTP go down after working out nearly every day, sometimes over an hour and a half to the point my legs feel like they are going to start cramping. I try to workout even if I’m just not in the mood. I at least go a minimum of 30 min. I’ve skipped some days because my legs were just too sore and I needed to recover. This is very discouraging.

The last few days as I am huffing and puffing pedaling my ass off, it just all feels so pointless. I’m running along at 1.0 w/kg, if I hit 1.5 I am going along at 80% of my capacity and can only hold that at maybe 5 min and at the end of that 5 minutes I am completely destroyed. People are passing me effortlessly riding along at 2.5 to 3 w/kg leaving me in the dust like I’m going backwards. I mean, when I am going up hills, I am being passed by people running! I might as well just hop off and walk on the treadmill… at least I would get places faster. I feel like I will never get to ride in big groups of people or go on any of the events because I will never be able to keep up and will just get left behind. This sucks.

I’m sure I am just in a funk after seeing the disappointing results of my FTP test. I want to keep going. Does anybody else experience this out in Zwifty Land?

If you are using a dumb wheel-on trainer and a speed sensor then you shouldn’t rely too heavily on the numbers as they can be out by as much as 50% depending on how much tension there is on the wheel and whether you’ve pumped the tyres up to the exact same pressure every ride. For example, if you haven’t pumped the rear tyre up in the last month then it is slowly losing air and increasing the rolling resistance which will slow the wheel speed down and this will appear as lower power on Zwift.

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A couple things. First you may be overworked a bit. Take a rest and let your body fully recover. We’ve all been there.
Second, the same thing happened to me because Zwift riding can be very constant as opposed to outside and as such I actually lost ftp. What you need to try is a structured program like ftp builder. Intervals are the way to get stronger. The problem with that is that it will impact your fun casual riding but if you want to get stronger the best way is with a program.


I tried starting a FTP builder a week ago but I had to drop it because I didn’t quite understand what I was supposed to do. It was saying I had to do 2 workouts in one day or something but I don’t have time to do that. That or I was supposed to do one or the other. It was kind of confusing. I have to get up at 4am for work and I don’t get home till 5:30pm so with workouts during the week I am kind of limited. So I gave up on it and just did what I could do after work. Sometimes after a long day at work doing a hour and a half workout is not really what I want to do then have to go to bed immediately afterwards. So I’d attempt a quick climb on AdZ to see how far I can get or go for miles. Several really hard sets of HIIT. Trying to keep my pace up in the yellow or light red zones in my FTP for as long as I could. I am probably totally doing this all wrong and doing things my own way is detrimental causing my problems.

At the moment I am using a dumb wheel on trainer (The fluid Kinetic Road Machine Smart 2) and I have been keeping the tire up to pressure, wiped it down good with alcohol to get all the dirt and grime off it when I set it up and the roller is just tight enough so the wheel only slips an inch if I give it good yank in either direction. I’ve been thinking of getting a Wahoo Kickr, a used bike frame, front wheel and building a indoor only trainer bike. But seeing how I am struggling now on something that practically has no resistance I think I would be even more miserable on something that is more unforgiving… I don’t know.

The past few days I have just been in a funk I guess. I bust my ass on this bike and it just seems like I am not getting anywhere, no pun intended. Seeing my FTP go down kinda deflated my balloon discouraging me. Maybe I am expecting too much too soon.

AdZ is hard. And runners don’t have any incline to deal with in Zwift, so it’s not hard for them to overtake cyclists.

Don’t focus on the numbers too much. The FTP test is quite hard to pace correctly, and that can have a big effect on its results.

Try and do things on Zwift that you enjoy doing, don’t overtrain and I’m sure over time you really will improve.

Concentrate on and celebrate this!!!

Ignore the FTP test for now. After a month, you have learned that there is a “skill set” needed for Zwift, and the FTP tests take skill to do right too. If you really need a number to look at, do the “Ramp lite” test. It’s made for lower power riders like you and me.

As for group rides, search for “D” rides not races. There are a few groups that have rides that you will fit in perfectly. Rides by “HERD” or “ZER” are slower paced rides with hundreds of riders so you always have someone to ride with and make the ride seem like less work.
Plus, on the group rides there are no joggers to pass you on the hills! :slight_smile: It happens to me too when I’m solo riding.

Hang in there…you will get better as you ride!


Go visit your local bike shops, they might have a wahoo or tacx on display with zwift running as well. Give a direct drive trainer a try, you might find it much easier to put out power and will be more accurate than your current setup.

Keep at it. Only measure yourself against yourself and don’t worry about others.

In terms of fitness gain, it will not be a linear gain. As other have said, if you’ve been over training you will see a drop in performance and you need to take some time off and rest and recover. The other thing you have to realize is you will hit plateaus where for some period of time you will work and see no gain. Then all of a sudden following a plateau you will see an increase in performance.

FTP tests are good measures but only once you reach a certain level of fitness and learn how to dose out your effort. When done right, the power for an FTP test is basically constant for the whole effort (assuming you’re doing the 20 minute test not the ramp test) and that takes experience and really knowing yourself which only comes with time. I can’t speak to the ramp test because it’s not a test I’ve ever done.

Many years ago when I started riding, I did 1-2 miles and was so destroyed all I could do was lay on the floor for a while. After many years, I was able to easily ride a century (100 miles) and while I’ll never be an athlete, I’m happy with my ability… Don’t give up because of others or you aren’t seeing a rapid linear increase in performance. Stick with it and you’ll get there.

dont compare results from different FTP tests with each other.
if you want to measure your progress, make sure you use the exact same FTP test method each time.
different tests will give slightly different results, so not good for measuring progress.
don’t get discouraged, I’m sure you’ve made a tonne of progress if you’ve been putting in the work, however once you plateau it might take a lot longer than 1 month to make any significant gains…!
if you’re just starting out, don’t expect to be able to hang with people pushing 2.5-3w/kg straight away. those are casual club ride numbers, likely ppl who have at least a year of exp under their boots.

FTP tests are good measures but only once you reach a certain level of fitness and learn how to dose out your effort. When done right, the power for an FTP test is basically constant for the whole effort (assuming you’re doing the 20 minute test not the ramp test) and that takes experience and really knowing yourself which only comes with time.

Yea I was doing the full 20 minute FTP test. I thought that would give a better more accurate FTP. I know by the time I got to the actual 20 minute test I was pretty wore out. I had to actually stop a few times and pause during the test because I thought I could sustain a 120 watts through the whole thing and found out about halfway in I was sorely mistaken. I wanted to at least keep my average over 110. The last 5 minutes of the 20, I pushed myself to the absolute point of destruction just to get my average wattage up. 150 watts was the absolute most I could push out.

I wish I could stand up and pedal but when I do, it feels really awkward. Plus I don’t know if my bike and trainer can take the strain of 240 lbs twisting and rocking everything as I pedal standing up. Last thing I want to do is snap something and the bike comes off the trainer and I go shooting off into the TV and stuff mounted on the wall in front of me. I am still pretty new to this and I don’t really know what the limitations are to my set up.

One thing I have learned about this community in Zwift is everybody is pretty nice and they are encouraging. Its nice to know I am not the only one that has had struggles and there are people out there that has been in my shoes. I just need to “Ride on” enjoy it and not put so much on myself to where it takes all the fun out.

p.s. FTP test should be done seated, it’s measuring threshold power not sprint power and sprinting at the end messes it up (makes it higher than it should be which will screw with all ur workouts)

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So did I screw things up at the end of my test when I started really shoving up the power? I got to looking at my stats from the test and I was cranking out numbers much higher than I thought I was putting out. Around 180-220 watts. But that was for only about 2-3 min and I stayed seated the whole time. Ugh I’ve probably screwed everything up now lol.

By getting on the bike and soldiering through your first month, you’ve already taken the hardest and most important step. Please, please don’t get discouraged.

As others have suggested, you might want to check with a local bike shop about direct-drive trainers. You might also want to to test yourself on a trainer at a health club (if they are open) or a gym, double-check your power readings are accurate. One thing youalso might want to look at is keeping your drive-train as efficient as possible. Make sure your chain, sprocket, and all other components are spotlessly clean and properly lubricated. Always try and ride with your chain as “straight” as possible. Avoid “Crossover” gears - ie. Riding in the big chain ring with the largest rear sprocket, etc.

A few other suggestions: make yourself as comfortable as possible on the bike. Proper cycling shorts are a must. Keep yourself hydrated. Do what needs to be done to avoid chafing, etc.

A couple of technical issues: Do you have a cadence sensor? I often see new or inexperienced cyclists grinding away in too high a gear. If you watch proficient cyclists, they tend to spin the pedals much faster (ie. 100 rpm or faster) than newbies. For a host of reasons this is actually a much easier way for most humans to “make power”.

At this stage don’t worry about FTP numbers or even wattage. Those will come in time. In the meantime, enjoy your time on the bike. Set yourself reasonable, achievable goals. Maybe stick to the flatter routes. (I’m a huge fan of Fuego Flats, but there are others.) Pick a flat route, and see what your time is. See if you can improve on your time over the course of a couple weeks or months.

Some things to remember about fitness: First, you don’t actually get fitter while you are exercising. That process happens while you are sleeping and resting afterwards, as your body adapts to the stresses you’ve placed upon it. And secondly, it takes some time for this process to take place. The exercise you do today isn’t going to show up in your FTP results tomorrow, or even next week. Two weeks to a month is more likely. Maybe even longer is possible. Overall fitness is the combination of multiple different “systems” in the human body. And each one adapts and responds at its own rate.

Don’t let yourself get discouraged. I can absolutely promise you that no-one on Zwift thinks any less of another rider because they don’t have a high FTP number. Nobody has their ride, or their race, or their group meet-up “spoiled” because of riders who are slower than them. That’s not how the App works. Just by being part of the platform, and part of the community, you are contributing to the growth and strength of Zwift and the experience.

Please stick with Zwift. Stick with it, ask questions and learn about how to be a stronger cyclist, and I promise you that in six months (or less) you’ll see results that will give you great satisfaction.

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Actually, your Kinetic Road machine with Smart 2 sensor is considered a wheel on non interactive smart trainer.
If you calibrate it regularly, then it is very accurate.
Switching to another trainer, including power pedals, would not make your set up more accurate.

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Lots of great responses here covering a variety of areas related to improvement or perceived lack thereof. What I would say is be patient. One month of training is nothing. Yes, you’ve no doubt improved in many ways, but look at progress as a long haul achievement. After a month I thought I was so much stronger and in some ways I guess I was. But at 6-months after my stats began going up as I raced and rode I laughed about how I thought I was so improved after a month. At 8-months I was even stronger, but actually hit a wall related to statistical improvement that last about two months. I was really down about it. So I started giving myself more rest days, made sure my setup was calibrated correctly (it wasn’t - had the wrong wheel size in trainer app) followed a smart pre-planned training program and within another month my ftp jump 10w and my w/kg improved to almost B category. All this to say it’s taken a year to go from newbie D rider to almost B and winning races. And now my 6-month strength looks silly. I’ve lost 27lbs and feel great. But my real goal is to maintain and enjoy the process for years to come, not worry about results after a month. Stick with it. Go long!

Thanks for all the encouraging words everybody. It’s nice to get all this great advice and I will definatly put it to use.

I think thats one bad thing about living alone and not knowing anybody that cycles. You dont really know if you are actually progressing or you just have one boot nailed to the floor and running as fast as you can with the other. Because of that, its easy to get in your own head and start really doubting yourself and no one to really talk to when you do.

if ur seated that’s fine. you’re supposed to spin til you can’t spin any more. so go ham as much as you like towards the end, as long as you stay seated, ur gucci. standing power is a whole different ball game.

Chill out a bit and try to enjoy the effort. From a pure health lens, one hr keeping your heart rate 120bpm, 5-6 days a week will deliver you results you will be proud to share. These results will raise your power over time. If you don’t enjoy it its gonna be hard to sustain or even do

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DC Rainmaker and GP Lama reached different conclusion.
Their critique was for the InRide 3 specifically and not the newer R2 resistance unit.
I think the Road machine smart 2 is road machine with the InRide 3 already installed.
The included chart does not identify what was being tested.
I suspect it was the R2 unit.

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