Zwift training plans: A beginner's guide

Zwift Training Plans
(Image credit: Zwift)

The key to fitness is consistency. One ride per week is never enough. Two rides and you’re starting to get there. Three, four, or five rides per week for six weeks straight and you’re well on your way to setting PRs across the board. 

Consistency is key – this is where Zwift training plans come in. Training plans set out a long-term structure (usually 6-12 weeks) of fatigue balanced with rest, filled in with detailed workouts almost every day of the week. Plans range from basic fitness builders to highly-structured race preparation plans. Zwift is a massive virtual riding platform that connects millions of users for group rides and races, but it also includes a number of solo riding features such as carefully crafted workouts and structured training plans. 

If you're looking to get faster, the best turbo trainers can provide a great tool to maximise the efficiency of your training time, and there are various indoor cycling apps that can help you along the way. We've already put together an ultimate guide to Zwift, as well as a guide to some of the most effective Zwift workouts, and here is a quick guide to Zwift Training Plans, and how to find the training plan best fit for you.

Zwift training plans for beginners

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Short-term plans to get you acquainted with Zwift workouts and power training zones. Perfect for Zwift newbies and those trying out a structured training plan for the first time. 

Zwift training plans: Zwift 101

(Image credit: Zwift)

Zwift 101: Cycling (Five workouts)

  • How to find: Zwift App > Training > Plans > Zwift 101: Cycling

At just five workouts, the Zwift 101: Cycling plan is less of a structured training calendar and more of a quick introduction to Zwift workouts. The first couple of workouts will teach you the basics of power training and threshold zones, with a ramp test following to test your current level of fitness. After that are two short workouts designed to give you a quick taste of everything – tempo, threshold, VO2max, and sprints – and soon you’ll be well on your way to tackling four, six, and eight+ week training plans.  

Zwift training plans: 4wk FTP Booster

(Image credit: Zwift)

4wk FTP Booster (4 weeks; 6hrs 30min/week) 

  • How to find: Zwift App > Training > Workouts > 4wk FTP Booster

This training plan is a great place to start for those looking for a boost in fitness without a huge time commitment. This plan offers the whole lot, from sprints to 45-second VO2max efforts, to tempo intervals, endurance rides, and 40/20s. Week four includes both a 10-minute power test, followed by an FTP test a few days later to test your progress. 

Zwift training plans for building fitness

For riders with some experience, looking to build fitness in the off-season, or test themselves as race season approaches. 

Zwift training plans: 10-12wk FTP Builder

(Image credit: Zwift)

10-12wk FTP Builder (12 weeks; 5hrs 29min/week) 

  • How to find: Zwift App > Training > Workouts > 10-12wk FTP Booster

A longer version of the 4wk FTP Booster, this plan offers a more gradual approach to building fitness, ideal for the off-season or base training. Beginning at 4-5 hours/week, the plan builds to 6-7 hours/week by the end of the plan, and includes a mix of short anaerobic efforts, tempo intervals, and over/under threshold efforts, in addition to recovery and endurance rides. 

Zwift training plans: Zwift Academy 2019

(Image credit: Zwift)

Zwift Academy 2019 (12 workouts)

  • How to find: Zwift App > Training > Workouts > Zwift Academy 2019

For those looking to truly test themselves, the Zwift Academy 2019 (the 2017 and 2018 editions are also available, and if you act fast, the Zwift Academy 2020 has just launched) plan offers a unique array of field tests, from 20-second and one-minute intervals, to race and breakaway simulations. Be warned: these workouts are hard! Almost every one requires one or multiple maximal efforts that will leave your legs bursting with lactate. The Academy culminates in a 2x8-minute power test, similar to the FTP tests used at the tail end of other training plans. 

Race-Focussed Zwift training plans

For racers just a few weeks out or in the midst of race season, these plans can serve as race simulations or key form finders before your biggest goal races. 

Zwift training plans: TT Tune-Up

(Image credit: Zwift)

TT Tune-Up (9 weeks; 5hrs 49min/week) 

  • How to find: Zwift App > Training > Plans > TT Tune-Up

This training plan specifically targets threshold and sub-threshold intervals with the goal of improving sustained time trial power. One key workout in this plan is 'Cruiser Intervals', which target 92% and 97% FTP at TT cadence, often following a short anaerobic effort. These challenging intervals will help train the body to shuttle lactate quickly and efficiently at a high workload, one of the key markers of a great time trial specialist who can recover almost instantaneously following a surge up a hill or out of a corner. Other workouts include 15 or 20-minute tempo intervals at specific cadences, meant to increase aerobic efficiency in the TT position. 

Zwift training plans: Crit Crusher

(Image credit: Zwift)

Crit Crusher (8 weeks; 4hrs 4min/week) 

  • How to find: Zwift App > Training > Plans > CRIT Crusher

This short and sharp plan emphasizes explosive, short-term power and on-the-bike strength training. High-intensity intervals range from 15-second sprints to five minutes at FTP, while strength sessions include sub-threshold hill reps and Zone six (125% FTP) power efforts. Week four includes the graduation to 'Micro Bursts', an incredibly intense workout that includes 10 and 20-second efforts at 200% FTP. This plan is perfect for crit specialists getting into race form, and also for all-rounders looking to improve their sprint and short-term anaerobic power. 

Zwift training plans for building endurance

Two plans for riders of all ages and abilities focussed on improving endurance and overall fitness, with fewer sprints and explosive efforts than other race-focused plans.

Zwift training plans: Gravel Grinder

(Image credit: Zwift)

Gravel Grinder (13 weeks; 5hrs 6min/week)

  • How to find: Zwift App > Training > Plans > Gravel Grinder

The longest plan on this list, the Gravel Grinder hits all the intensity zones, with extra emphasis on sweet spot and endurance – the keys to success in long gravel races. There are a number of specific workouts focused on tempo climbing and cadence intervals, meant to increase core strength and overall efficiency on the bike. One or two workouts per week include threshold-or-above intervals, with an increased focus on cadence (75-80rpm is more realistic to gravel than road riding) and short bursts at 105-115% FTP. 

Bonus: For the most entertaining workout descriptions, check out this plan. 

Zwift training plans: Fondo

(Image credit: Zwift)

Fondo (4 weeks; 2hrs 51min/week)

  • How to find: Zwift App > Training > Plans > Fondo

The Fondo plan is a low-volume, beginner-level plan designed for the Zwift Hondo events. Weekly workouts cover all intensities from recovery to endurance, tempo, sub-threshold, and FTP. The workouts are far less complicated than more intense plans such as the Zwift Academy or Crit Crusher, making them ideal for all-rounders looking for a four-week fitness booster. The Fondo stands out for its focus on tempo and endurance riding, including many days of 86-98% FTP intervals meant to improve sustained power and aerobic efficiency. There are few intervals exceeding FTP, making the Fondo an ideal plan for the base or build season. 

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Zach is a freelance writer, the head of ZNehr Coaching, and an elite-level rider in road, track, and e-racing. He writes about everything cycling-related, from buyer's guides to product reviews and feature articles to power analyses. After earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Exercise Science at Marian University-Indianapolis, Zach discovered a passion for writing that soon turned into a full-fledged career. In between articles, Zach spends his time working with endurance athletes of all abilities and ages at ZNehr Coaching. After entering the sport at age 17, Zach went on to have a wonderful road racing career that included winning the 2017 Collegiate National Time Trial Championships and a 9th place finish at the 2019 US Pro National Time Trial Championships. Nowadays, Zach spends most of his ride time indoors with NeXT eSport.