Recovery/low intensity rides - How to?

Ok, this might sound like a ridiculous question to some but i’m new to all of this so please bare with me.

I have been riding on zwift for the past 3 weeks and i’m really enjoying myself, especially trying different routes, but i’m finding that most rides that i’m doing I end up in zone 4 and 5 as I can’t help myself and go as hard as I can.

Today I noticed that I was starting to get really exhausted in the middle of a ride and I didn’t have as much energy as I normally do. Now i’ve been reading about the need to do a recovery ride but i’m struggling to figure out what that would look like for me, I know people ride way longer than I do on zwift so it may not be the same for everyone.

I have been doing 20 - 40km rides nearly every day that end up on average 90% of my FTP and mostly in zone 4 and 5.

If I were to create a custom workout what would a good recovery/lower intensity ride look like? I’ve looked on the workouts page and I see that low intensity endurance rides are usually ‘on your own’ but i’d like to know what that might actually look like in terms of FTP % and length on the bike.

I really appreciate the help or any directions you can provide.


Zone 1, 30 to 60 mins. Don’t use erg mode, don’t be afraid to coast down hills. I prefer to do recovery rides based on HR rather than power, below ~70% of anaerobic threshold HR. Having a power target shouting at you on the screen is absolutely antithetical to the concept of a recovery ride.

Sounds like you could do with some longer (90 mins or more) base (zone 2) rides as well…



Recovery is very important, if it is hard to stay in Z1 then create a workout at 50% of your FTP for 60 min. then you won’t go over.

As Anna said, a good Z2 70% of FTP for 90 minutes will be good.


You should start following an 80-20 plan. You are going too hard too often, which can cause burnout, sickness or injury.


Thanks, this is incredibly helpful. I like the idea of focusing on HR rather than power.

I have yet to do 90mins on the bike so I think sticking to zone 2 would be a good way to start. Thanks!

You could also look for some D group rides. These are generally at a recovery pace, and can be more fun than just riding by yourself, as there is usually some group chatter and (bad) jokes.

I had to look up what an 80-20 plan meant. This turns everything that I know (admittedly very little) about exercising upside down, it’s going to take some more research to understand it but wow! Thanks for this, I have a lot of learning to do it seems.


There are a few good books out there:

I like this one.





Yeah, recovery is all about the state of your body, and HR is a much better metric for that than power. If you are overtrained or getting close to it, you might hit 80–90 % of threshold HR (Z3) even if you are only doing 50% of FTP (Z1), and that just means you have to slow down even more.


For easy or recovery rides, I just free ride a route. Any event I sign up for leads to me eventually racing vs people. But on my own, even among the world of zwifters I’m rarely around any individual long enough to get competitive and I just cruise.

Easy rides don’t have to be a workout ride

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Try these two sites that I have found to be very helpful. You can filter workouts by zone and other options and choose from a variety of recovery rides. You can also create custom workouts based on actual routes.

Use bikemap to creates routes from anywhere in the world and upload the custom workout to Zwift.


+1 to freeriding, and if you select an empty world (using the world hack or a “meetup”), you won’t even have (almost) anyone in front of you to tempt you to a chase.

I guess doing a recovery ride as a workout in erg mode can work if you really can’t constrain yourself, but I tried it once and found having to push harder against the spiral of death after easing up much worse than maybe going a bit too hard on occasion.


Helpful hint, Anna! I have a high pain tolerance and don’t always perceive how hard I’m actually working on a recovery ride. My Wahoo Tickr is a better way to keep myself in the right recovery mode than using power output, at least for me. Back when I was doing triathlons (in the 1990s and 2000’s), I never used a heart rate monitor. Now that I’m in my late 50s, I find it very useful!