Cycling has been one of humanity’s favourite pastimes over the last century and the advent of indoor cycling has made it easier than ever to reap its benefits from the comfort of your own home.
If you’re a beginner cyclist, then you’ll enjoy how technology and fitness have synthesized to help bring you a world-class cycling experience that is built around fun. Zwift, for example, has spent the last seven years revolutionizing indoor cycling and connecting people from all around the world.
Zwift is great for beginners because it puts fitness back into their own hands (or, legs, rather) without shelling out the money for expensive gym memberships and personal trainers.
What Is Zwift?
Zwift is a virtual training app that allows users to explore a variety of fictional and real-world locations on their smartphones, computers or Smart TV’s.
Since its launch in 2014, it has amassed a large global following of interconnected users who are all dedicated to improving their fitness.
Users have the option of getting involved with social rides or pushing their limits in a solo workout. There are a host of tracks available that all offer their respective qualities. Some tracks are demanding due to their length, others more challenging due to their steep gradients and inclines.
No matter what your fitness level is, Zwift has the courses and workouts to suit your needs.
What Are Zwift's Key Features?
One of the key reasons behind Zwift’s prolonged and versatile popularity is the fact that is versatile, multi-faceted, and easily malleable to your fitness level.
As much fun as cycling is, it can be difficult to inject structure into it and it’s easy to spend your workout time mindlessly peddling without any clear direction, purpose, or goal.
Zwift remedies this by offering a host of structured workouts that are built around goal-setting and target-hitting. Beginners can get started by joining casual rides or doing rudimentary solo workouts. Intermediate and advanced riders can set their goals accordingly.
Appeals to Both Professional & Amateur Riders
The general public isn’t the only demographic that have joined the Zwift revolution. The platform has also been embraced by a number of professional athletes and cyclists and wouldn’t look out of place in an elite-level gym.
Fun and Motivational
Sticking to a fitness regimen is a hard task, especially if you’re doing it solo. In order to keep progressing, your workouts need to achieve the perfect balance between being structured and being fun.
Zwift offers both these qualities in abundance. Not only can more serious-minded trainers get their fix by partaking in seriously challenging courses, but the casual cycling enthusiast can join other uses in differing virtual locations. Whether it’s a fictional landscape such as Watopia or a real-life one such as New York or London, Zwift’s versatility ensures you’re never bored during a session.
Creativity is such an underrated facet of fitness. It’s easy to get bored doing the same thing day-in and day-out, and Zwift’s range of courses will help keep you on your toes and eager to continue peddling.
If you’re someone who gets the most out of training when it’s social, Zwift will be right up your street.
The program takes you out of the confines of your home and transports you to a virtual reality where you can train alongside others in your fitness category. In today’s world of lockdowns and seemingly-endless quarantines, being able to interact with others via the virtual realm is a god send.
Your fellow riders can help keep you accountable to your goals and inspire you to push through your limits. Friendly competition is encouraged and watching someone whose fitness levels are similar to your own is always a relieving experience.
The interactivity is brilliant for your mental health, too, as users feel like a part of a wider community rather than mere individuals training by themselves.
What Do I Need to Connect with Zwift?
Although Zwift is easy-to-use and highly convenient, getting fully set up may take a little bit of time.
What Bike Setup Do I Need for Zwift?
This is really your choice.
- You can use an outdoor bike and connect is to a turbo trainer.
- You can use a standard indoor bike and connect either a power meter or speed & cadence sensor. Or if your indoor bike is Bluetooth or ANT+ enabled, even better.
- Or if money isn’t an issue – you can use a smart bike such as the Wahoo Kickr Bike.
Principally, it’s vital that your chosen bike is comfortable and has the right setup or you to connect to Zwift.
Using a Turbo Trainer
A turbo trainer is an essential accessory of the Zwift experience if you are using an outdoor bike and possessing one will take your training to the next level.
Direct-drive turbo trainers clamp around your bike’s removed rear wheel and are more accurate at re-creating resistances and inclines. More serious riders will benefit from direct-drive turbo trainers, whereas more casual and recreational riders can opt for the simpler wheel-on variety.
Zwift requires usage of a turbo trainer so that it monitor your cycling performance on your bike and also allows you to fully replicate the feeling of the road.
Turbo trainers can be expensive, but they don’t have to be.
Wheel-on turbo trainers are a lot more affordable and are suitable for beginners who just want to work on basic fitness for the time being.
If you’re an elite athlete who is getting ready for a competition, then investing in a direct-drive trainer may be better and they’re great for an optimum Zwift experience.
Using a Power Meter
Power meters help you keep track of your performance on Zwift by measuring your watts, cadence and speed. This will provide a very accurate representation of your effort on the bike.
Power meters measure the force you’re putting on the pedals, along with cranks and overall output. Whilst these devices aren’t essential for the beginner, they can still help you gauge, measure, and improve upon your performance as time goes on.
Using Speed & Cadence Sensors
Speed and cadence sensors are individual gadgets that you can buy that simply connect onto the frame of your bike.
A speed sensor does exactly what it says on the tin – it tracks and logs your speed during your workout.
It’s a vital piece of information if you’re looking to outdo your previous sessions and keep progressing your sessions.
Cadence sensors track the rotations of the wheels and keep a log of the undulating power that you’re generating through your legs. This is vital if you wish for a holistic examination of your performances rather than relying on just speed and heart-rate alone.
These do provide a good measurement of your cycling performance but are no where near as accurate as a power meter however, they are a more affordable option.
Check out our list of the 6 best cadence sensors you can get for Zwift!
Bluetooth and/or ANT+ Connectivity
Of course, in order for the power, speed, and cadence sensors to broadcast their information to Zwift’s interface, it needs a service to transmit the information.
While Bluetooth works just fine, it is limited by being able to connect to only one device at a time. If your sensors aren’t integrated, this can be a hassle and you’ll only have one sensor to choose from.
ANT+ connectivity, however, allows you to connect to multiple devices at once without having to disconnect one for another.
Admittedly, the signal can drop for a second or two, but it’s still so much a more convenient option than using Bluetooth.
Subscribe to Zwift
Of course, before you reap the benefits of Zwift – you need to subscribe to it.
Membership isn’t expensive as it’s only $14.99 a month and the software is readily available on the vast majority of smart devices.
What’s great is that to get you started you get a 7-day free trial!
You can check out Zwift here.
Create Your Avatar
Once you’re up and running with your subscription then it’s time to start creating your avatar. The virtual representation of you can be as realistic or as exaggerated as possible and there’s a wide range of unique accessories you can choose from.
Pair Your Zwift Account with a Health-Tracking App
In order for Zwift to record your progress as meticulously as possible, it’s worth pairing it with a health app such as Strava or MapMyRide to help you keep a closer look at your progress such as distance and calories burned.
You’ll be surprised just how many calories you can burn by taking one of the challenges or workout programs Zwift has to offer.
Simply keeping track of your progress is really going to keep you motivated!
Zwift Gives You the Tools to Become Your Own Personal Trainer
The sheer number of metrics that Zwift gives you in relation to your heart-rate, speed, cadence, and power allow you to accurately log your progress over time and improve from workout to workout.
You don’t need to shell out money for expensive personal trainers when Zwift gives you the power to set your own goals all from the comfort of your own home.
If you’re looking for a highly modernized, sociable, and efficient way to train your body at home, then Zwift is absolutely for you. You’ll be sweaty afterwards, but you won’t regret your choice.
Overall, Zwift is a terrific program for beginners as it offers a unique, creative cycling experience that is built on creativity and a feeling of togetherness.
A lot of ingenuity and love has evidently gone into the creating the multitude of maps available and the software is expanding every year. Users needn’t worry about Zwift getting stagnant and repetitive as new maps and worlds are being designed all the time.
If you’re somebody who doesn’t enjoy the gym and prefers the security of home-based workouts, then Zwift is for you. It brings the power of the gym back into your living room without the hassle of cycling on real roads.