Zwift Academy Workout Levels

I’ve recently started the ZA workouts and races. I did a couple of the shorter workouts and then completed a long group workout - #3 The Finisher. At 6 minutes into the first 8 min at FTP I had to turn down the difficult by 5% as I was struggling. I figured I wouldn’t be able to put any effort into the free ride sprint portions if I tried to maintain the 100% setting. In the end one of my 30 seconds sprints was reasonable, but the 2 minute efforts were only 10-20% over ftp. I’ve done some other workouts - dirt destroyer plan and some of the gran fondo. I found the ZA long workout to be very difficult. Normally I don’t have to reduce power. But I assumed it was just me. Then my kids tried it. Both fit teenagers and XC mtb racers.
Not sure why, but they struggled, maybe even more than I did. They both had to reduce effort to 95%. Our FTP’s are based off recent tests and they align well with race efforts. Are the ZA workouts meant to be brutal? And are they are good workout for improving your fitness if we are struggling with them.

A couple of things to consider:

Is your FTP set at around 250 and is this still from around February/March time, end of a training season and your best ever power numbers in a race? If so your FTP may be set about 15-20w too high for your current performances considering you have just restarted back on Zwift [ I don’t know what you do April-October to maintain or improve fitness ]

Two days before you did ZA w/o 1 and a very hard ZA race.
The day before you did both ZA w/o 1 & 2 which both have some hard short time power efforts. Possibly you just did too much leading up to ZA w/o 3 and decided to do the long duration effort. You might wish to consider some rest days and easy riding days in between workouts and races.

[ your 21 min ZA race effort of 244w with quite high average HR might suggest your FTP is currently closer to around 230w ]

EDIT: sorry just seen your ZP entry of updating your FTP to 244 on 17th Nov. From what effort was this figure obtained?

The problem your are describing seems to be about the same, to some extent, I experienced and tried to describe in my post (Resistance in Zwift Academy). There is clearly a bug.

Thanks Ian.
My activities don’t accurately reflect my workouts. My family has 3 accounts and two laptops (2 trainers) so we mix and match workouts often on the same account. Normally I don’t use my account.
As changing user is a pain. We avoid racing on each other account. I did an ftp test on another account and came up with 244. My previous test in January 2023 was 246 if I recall. Over the spring summer we ride/race outside. Enduro and XC mtb.
My HR is high in general. A normal race effort it will sit at 170ish. Peaks at 195-200 on sprints. Rolling highlands was a tough one (and fun). Whenever I am above 180, then I a struggling.
I guess the main takeaway - all three of us struggled with this. My eldest does ZTRL time trials and the racing league and has quite a few 5 minute efforts at ~10% over his ftp. Yet he seemed to struggle with this the most. I might try another of the longer ones and see how that goes.

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Interesting. We use erg mode, so in theory our 245 watts should be 245. But we were all struggling with cadence. I might try another ftp test or another of the long ZA workouts. The effort was still difficult at ~230 watt ftp. Maybe that specific one is meant to be tough.

“…meant to be tough.” Tough but to that point…:thinking:
If I have to stand up on the pedals and it is still almost impossible, I assume there’s a problem.
I’m surprised there’s no other comment about that in the forum.

I’m going to assume your FTP is roughly accurate - the tests can mis-estimate FTP for some people. Shouldn’t be a majority, but I know the ramp test over-estimates my FTP by quite a bit.

You could try turning erg mode off. See if you can hit the power targets then. It’s good to learn to hit a power target outside of erg mode anyway. You won’t get the erg mode death spiral this way, and if you are actually struggling to hit the power, you won’t be held to it by the machine.

I didn’t do the ZA workouts, but I know the long ones are in the region of 90 mins. In the past, have you done 90 min interval workouts? It could be that you need to work up to that duration. Glancing at the workouts, it looks like there have 45-ish and 90-ish min versions, with nothing in between. It seems like they could stand to improve this?

TBH, this is one reason I’m skipping ZA. I’m targeting one 1h and one 90 min workout per week. I don’t want to be doing 80-90 minutes both sessions (yet?), and 45 mins is definitely not enough for me. I also prefer to go with simpler interval designs, which are admittedly more boring.

I heard of a possibly related issue reported earlier…

Completed group workout #4 last night. Did notice resistance issues while in the Pen. This only seemed to be a problem at low cadence. And then disappeared with a few minutes before starting. I had noticed this on workout 3, but since there is a warmup during the workouts I wasn’t too concerned.
Also noticed a couple of instances after completing a sprint where you get the “reduce wattage” message, but if you let up on the peddling it almost feels like the trainer has applied the brakes. This results in a slowing of cadence and makes it even harder to peddle (similar to the experience in the Pens). I found by pedaling hard (85+ cadence) for 3-5 seconds after going through the gate, I could avoid this issue and the trainer resistance would at some point let up.
Overall, #4 was a much easier workout that #3. Did not require reducing intensity, and I could likely have increase the ftp setting by 5% and still completed the workout. I suspect workout #3 is just a really tough one. I’ve done the short versions of #1 and 2, but I will maybe go back and try the long versions and see how they are. I suspect #2 would also be a struggle.