There’s no doubt that with the invention of Zwift people are riding much more through the winter and consequently staying fitter. This means that when the weather improves and people get outside more they’re better prepared to start training in earnest and hit those early season races hard.
But is Zwift really the answer, or are there other ways you can train indoors more efficiently?
Zwift has many positives – the flashy graphics and virtual racing really motivate lots of people who would otherwise skip indoor training. There’s no doubt that your general fitness will benefit simply because you ride more in the winter. However, in terms of specific improvements, ‘racing’ on Zwift is a bit of a scatter gun approach to your training. Virtual racing also means that you’re in danger of doing too much unstructured high intensity work in the winter which can be to the detriment of your performance later on when you really want to be going well in the races or sportives you’re actually aiming for.
If you are really serious about improving your performance then you need to train smart and target certain areas of your fitness. How do you know which areas to target? Ideally you’ll have lots of data from training and racing last year. Otherwise you can do stand alone FTP and other fitness tests. From these results you can build up a picture of your strengths and weaknesses and devise a plan to improve your weaknesses whilst maintaining your strengths.
This is where the ‘smart’ part comes in. Now you have all this knowledge about yourself you can target the areas you really need to work on. Even just a couple of structured workouts a week, targeting specific areas of fitness or your performance will bring your riding along in leaps and bounds.
So if you are really serious about improving for next season, add in some specific structured workouts, or even better a training plan targeted on the improvements you want or need to make to take your cycling to the next level.