Choosing right plan for Zwift Racing

I know there is a 12 week eSports Racing plan and I have done it once before but I have some very specific issues that I need to concentrate on and I wonder if it is the best plan for those.

As anyone who has done any Zwift racing will know, they are crazy hard from the beginning. It is mainly the first 3/5 minutes i struggle with. Those minutes are super important because once you lose contact with the front group it is impossible to bridge back to them.

My avergage W/Kg is between 0 and 0.2 difference to the top 10 positions at the end of the race. The other significant difference is that they have greater variability in power. i.e. there Normalized power is 10%+ greater than average power.

4DP has me down as a sprinter.

I should also mention that I have Pulmonary Hypertension which does effect the flow of oxygen to the heart. I’m not after medical advice and my doctor knows I race.


@MunkiiYebee How do you warm up prior to the race? I have found with other sports that when you are redlining your heart at the start of a workout that it is helpful to warmup just prior so that you have a higher heart rate going into the session to help adapt. With cycling it generally takes me 10 to 15 minutes to really feel that I am at my optimal condition.


I would have three initial thoughts just from your post, more discussion points than advice though.

  1. Exactly as @JSampson has said, it’s critically important to be warmed up before the race. Are you doing anything prior to the race to get yourself ready for it? Something like “Igniter” in Sufferfest is designed for this.

  2. You mention that you are close to the lead group in Watts per Kilogram, but that doesn’t really say much. W/Kg only becomes particularly useful if there is a lot of fairly steep climbing involved. Are most of your Zwift races big climbs, or more on the flats?
    If one person is pushing 400w and another 200w, but the latter guy is half the weight then they have the same W/Kg, but on the flat Mr 400w is going to be moving faster.
    You need to assess the course and peak outputs as well as just W/Kg.

  3. You mention that their Normalised Power is typically significantly higher than their average. This would be indicative of either big pulls in a chain-gang/peloton or going hard up hills and coasting down. Where you choose to create power is at least as important as how consistent your average power is. Once you’ve dropped off the front group do you tend to find yourself in a chasing pack, or trying to bridge on your own? The power required for a given speed is very different in the two scenarios.
    If you’re trying to bridge the gap you really need a partner or two to come along and to rotate pulls, if you’re trying to bridge solo then your power needs to be far higher than the leading group.

Managing to stick with the front group is going to be the easiest solution, because bridging is going to require more effort than just sticking with them to start.
Lots of MAP and AC work combined with a solid warm-up would be your first go-to, I would think.


I am doing a warmup, this one although I have tried Igniter too. The only think I have not tried is no warm up :slight_smile:

WRT W/Kg and Watts good point, I went with W/Kg to try and factor out the weight issue but as you say that’s not that easy to do.

I am not trying to bridge back to the front group alone as that’s just not going to happen and I have found it very hard to find a partner mid race. The sort of communication you could do IRL is not that easy on Zwift.

My “identified weakness” in the app is “VO2”. I need to find some way of not getting dropped from the front group. Easier said than done!

Having read this post VIRTUAL RACING AND ESPORTS TRAINING PLANS NOW AVAILABLE I feel like I need to give the eSports plan another go

The options are Sub 20, 20-50 and 60+minute races. Of the last 11 races the average has been 57min with the longest being 1hr 22min and the lowest being a 40min TTT

Therefore I am going to opt for the 60+ min option


It sounds like what’s happening is that you get dropped in the beginning, right, and then can’t catch back on? So even though your total output is not that different from the lead group, your time is way back? That’s what i assume you mean when you talk about having trouble at the start but let me know if that’s not right.

So here’s the thing, you can pick plans that are very specific to your weakness and that focus on short, sharp power, or slightly longer but still fairly short, sharp power, repeatability etc., but you also will greatly benefit simply from building a stronger, more powerful aerobic engine. Because if you build that engine then the hard efforts in the beginning are less hard, and you recover from them better, and as you know sometimes even a small improvement can mean the benefit between hanging on and recovering vs. getting dropped.

I mean if you take for example mountain biking vs. road racing, each has specific demands that are very different from the other. But for most of the year (i.e., during general prep or what people would call base and some of build), the training can be basically the same. Because in both cases you’re trying to build the strongest engine, then you tune it to your specifics later on.

I’ll be honest that i struggle with this a bit too, i.e. the sharpen up vs. build the engine question. For traditional outdoor racing, you somewhat fall naturally into a periodization based on the racing season that you’re targeting. But for indoor e-sports, the season is all the time!

So i don’t really know the right answer but would just urge you to consider, rather than repeatedly slamming steady doses of the e-sports plan, to also intersperse periods of more general training.

Exactly that.

The next Zwift Racing League season start in September so I have time. Might do one eSports and then do something more general

1 Like

sounds like a good plan. You can also use periodic 4DP tests to see if you’re still improving. Once you stop improving, switch it up.

In terms of like, super duper strict periodization, i think everyone except the most old-school among us probably accepts that’s not necessary, but there IS something to be said for building the engine vs. fine-tuning it.

Sorry but could you just clarify what you mean by “periodization”

periodization is basically how your training changes throughout the course of a year as you get closer to the event or competitive season.

The old school version was very strict that you only did long, low intensity training for a period of time (base), then moved to higher intensity training as you got closer to race.

Nowadays, athletes still periodize, but they will do intensity in the base or off-season; they are not as strict anymore. But they do modify the focus of their training as they get closer to race day.

Two examples. For a crit specialist they might focus on longer intervals like FTP and tempo whn they are still months away from their event, to build up their endurance as much as they can, since endurance and aerobic capacity will be essential for them to have later to recover from the repeated hard efforts. Then as they get closer to racing season, they’ll start adding in AC and MAP intervals to build up their top end.

On the other hand, for marathon MTB, the athlete might focus on MAP more in the general prep period, to raise the ceiling as much as possible, even if they take a temporary hit to their ability to sustain power for a long time. Then as they get closer to event, they might switch down to more tempo and FTP to work on extending their ability to maintain a power output, which is more important than pure top end for their events.

Basically you have limited chips to spend, what you choose to spend them on will vary throughout the season.

one thing to note is that periodization, while i think universally practiced by elite athletes, is not as important as consistency, intensity distribution and progressive overload. It’s more like, the last 5% once you’ve got the 95% dialed. See:’s_Hierarchy_of_Endurance_Training_Needs

1 Like

My experience racing quite a lot on Zwift is that VO2 max is critically important. The hard section at the start rarely lasts more than 3-5 minutes. Most climbs in races are less than 5 minutes. The finish often turns into a VO2 max effort followed by a sprint. Given VO2 max is also your weakness, I’d suggest focusing on plans and workouts that really build up your VO2 max. Eg 9 Hammers, AVDP. If you’re a sprinter and can be there at the finish then you will probably win…