Newbie Zwifter - training plan advice needed

Hi fellow Zwifters,

I need a little advice. I have recently got back into cycling after a long time out and after an Achilles rupture in 2018. One can assume that I had zero cycling experience prior to my starting On Zwift 5weeks ago for the purpose of this discussion.

I am 5weeks into the 6week FTP builder and I am wondering what to do next. I really like the structure of the the workouts ( fixed time in various zones) but I find that 1hr (length of most sessions) isn’t enough so I usually stay on a little longer. I find that when on free ride my power/HR/cadence are all over the place which is Maybe due to lack Of experience.

I am 90kg, 47yrs old and ftp of 150 (was 130 at start)

Strava id is 2409216

I can commit 8-10hrs per week maybe more but don’t want to burn myself out.

I was thinking about the active off season plan next after performing a ramp test to establish my new FTP once current plan is finished.

Any help or advise would be awesome and very much appreciated.

Thanks I’m advance for your replies.

These are just my thoughts as I’m no authority on this.

Since you are doing interval training and if you are doing it right then when you finish a workout you should be basically spent. If not your workouts are not challenging enough. There is a bias function that will allow you to either reduce or increase the intensity of the workout, in other words allow you to adjust your ftp on the fly. Do this sparingly if at all.

When you finish the ftp builder after 6 weeks and do the ftp test you should be showing a much higher then 150 ftp if you still now have the energy to continue riding after you do all of the workout in your current plan. So using the new ftp should make it a lot harder at least in the beginning of what ever training plan you select next.

I have been on Zwift for a little over a year. Started this as an intermediate beginner if there is such a thing. For the first full year I did a few few races (LOL), a lot of group social rides and received all of the route badges, completed all three of the challenges and got the Tron. About 5000 miles and 385,000 feet of climbing. But I had not done any structured workouts at all. So I was in a decent state of fitness (age 62, 61.7kg). My ftp went from 130 to 190 but has been stalled at 190 for about 4-5 months.

With a reasonable degree of fitness, I then started my first workout program, I’m now in week 6 of the Build Me Up program. With my ftp set at 190 where it has been for a while, I can tell you that I struggle to complete most of the workouts in the program and have cut way back, but not totally eliminated my riding outside of the workouts. Mainly because I want to put as much as I can into the workouts and secondly I don’t have the energy to do my typical 150 miles a week while doing these workouts.

All we can do is start from where we are at and go from there. I applaud you for putting in the effort and wanting to be challenged. So, without knowing anything about you except what you have posted, and not knowing your goals I would say that most likely you are not challenging yourself enough in the workouts you are already doing.

I don’t think it’s a good idea to do ftp tests while in a program because the workouts are designed to increase your ftp by scaling up the intensity as the weeks go by. Finish what you are doing, take an ftp test and give it your all, then select another workout program and concentrate on getting all of the stars available and doing easy recovery rides as extras. Make sure you have the correct ftp in Zwift when you start your next workout program. I assume that you are using a Zwift supported trainer and have it calibrated correctly.

Thank you Thomas!

I think you have it spot on. I will do the ramp
To estimate my FTP once my current plan is finished. I don’t feel confident in pacing a full ftp test yet.

Have a great Christmas!

Thanks for asking this question. Because I’m in a very similar, if not totally identical, position to the one you’ve described. And your question has made me stop and think about where to go next.

Some thoughts:

  1. The law of diminishing returns needs to be respected. It’s (relatively) easy to go from an FTP of 140 to 160 or 180. It gets that much harder to go from 180 to 200. Harder still to go from there to 240 or more. Take the gains we’ve made and enjoy them. But don’t assume that the next steps up the ladder are going to be quite so easy.

  2. Think about where you want to end up. For me, the end result (for the coming year) is to be able to handle any climb I’m likely to encounter within a ±50 mile radius of my house. A look at Strava tells me I’m looking at climbs ranging between 100 and 500 feet or so. Mostly less than five minutes, albeit sharp and often steep. My takeaway: Do the “Gorby” workout one or two times per week, since this addresses directly the challenges of short climbs.

  3. Think about how your workout schedule works with the rest of your cycling plans.

I really cannot over-emphasise how important this last piece is. I know I need a) one or two high-intensity workouts per week to improve my strength and FTP; b) at least one or two days of rest and recovery each week. and c) two or three days of exploration and/or fun on my bike. Either outdoors, or in my Zwift cave, or wherever.

If I hit all of those requirements, then I think I’ll be a happy biking bunny.

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Thanks Andrew, very insightful and a great perspective. I am only 5weeks into cycling so I guess I just need to get out and ride whilst not burning myself out.

At 90kg hills scare me… so I guess I need to face my fears head on.

Cheers and good luck for the coming year!



Give the plan descriptions in Zwift a good read. They do a good job of describing what they are about. They also show how many hours per week is needed. @Andrew_Henderson #3 in his list is truly important. Make sure you have the time in your weekly plan for the hours the plan needs. I’m in the midst of the Build Me Up which is 5 hrs / week. I’m finding that is a stretch to do that plus do the other riding I want to do, other activities beyond riding, and get necessary recovery time (which is important, especially as we age).

With that said, for a new rider, reading through the plans you might consider either the FTP Builder (which is reasonable intensity rides, not killer, but 4 to 5 per week) or the Back To Fitness (which is 2 rides / week about 30 minutes each, at moderate intensity).

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@Mark_Rogers4, I would suggest trying to do the FTP test once you have finished your currrent program. It seems tough… because it is! But it will give you the appropriate FTP you are currently at. If you fail to do… so what?! Take a couple of weeks '“off” doing some fun rides as you wish and try tackling some hills. Try it out again. You’ll know what awaits you.

I also suggest the Build Me Up plan. It is great and will definitely challenge you.