Zwift trainer difficulty


I’ve recently bought my first trainer and I’m having a little trouble understanding the trainer difficulty settings.
I’ve done my research and I understand that it is actually a hill gradient which for example sets the gradient from 10% to 5% when using a 50% trainer difficulty setting.
But the power needed to ‘go up’ is actually the same, regardless of the setting. It would only effect the frequency of the shifting you will do.
My main question here is if this effects your workout. Will you have better results if the difficulty is set at 100%? Will your real life climbing be better is set at 100%?

Thank you in advance?

The difficulty setting doesn’t affect workouts. Workouts are in ERG mode, which don’t use the gradients at all.

As you say, the difficulty setting only really affects your virtual gearing on hills.

You’ll notice it mostly in the gears you use especially for hills. At 100% you’ll need to shift to your small ring to do the steeper sections but at say 35% you can probably do everything in the big ring. I like to minimize shifting so finding the right trainer difficulty setting keeps me in a range of gears that work well for me.

100% is as close to real life as you’re going to get. If you are struggling on the radio tower climb at 75%, you’re not going to be prepared for a 14% grade in real life.

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The only downside to high percentage setting is if you are a big person and you grind. I overheated my H3 a couple of time (250W, 40 rpm, 100%, 105kg) and so to mitigate I set it down to 50-60%. This works much better for the trainer and I get more gears to play with. The downside to lower % setting is the downhill is halved again…so at 10% downhill, a setting of 50%, the downhill is 2.5%. I really dislike this aspect.

Niels, you will find most of your answers (and some you may not have thought of yet!) in these two articles…
I do not ride on 100% for the pure reason of spinning out. I am on a MTB mounted on a trainer and gearing only allows me to pedal up to about 47kph. That means on flat rides I can’t even stay in a bunch, let alone pedal on downhills.