Why should I choose TrainerRoad over Zwift???
Does TrainerRoad really make you faster??
Why should I choose TrainerRoad over Zwift???
Yes it does.
Zwift is for if you really like video games and chat rooms and want to combine those with riding your trainer. TR is for if you want to get faster on your bike.
You shouldn’t. You should try both and see which best suits you. Some people will be better suited to TrainerRoad, some people will be better suited to Zwift. It totally depends on your personality type, cycling goals, and a variety of other things
Most cyclists will see significant performance improvements if they buy TrainerRoad and adhere to their training plans. However - as with most things in life - you get out of it what you put into it. If you subscribe to TrainerRoad and don’t follow a training plan and just do random workouts periodically you probably won’t see much improvement
It should also be noted that Zwift can also make you faster. They have training plans, racing and just generally riding more will make you faster, especially if you’re a novice. A key difference is that TrainerRoad is 100% focused on trying to make you faster. They have no other objectives. Zwift is more focused on making indoor riding social/fun, so group rides, races, chat rooms, virtual riders, etc all fall into that category. I think most people would agree that the broader appeal Zwift is trying to create comes at a cost for the more performance oriented rider. I agree with @trpnhntr that mostly it comes down to personal preference. Try both and see which one is more likely to get you motivated and riding more. I have buddies that are faster than me that love Zwift for racing and my wife who is only trying to be fit prefers TR.
@Gav if you’re looking for a 30 day free trial of TR, send me a PM and I’ll give you a Referral for it.
Pretty much what @trpnhntr said. Go with the one that motivates you to complete the workouts and follow the plan. Some people prefer the virtual world of zwift, others the data driven approach of TR. only you will know which one hooks you in.
But, yes TR will make you faster
I’ve recently returned to TrainerRoad after spending the vast majority of my time on Zwift doing individual workouts. I’m maintaining both accounts though. The calendar, analytics, and planning features on TR lured me back and has become my primary training log even supplanting Strava. I find the training plans in TR to be more robust and offer greater flexibility and customization. Zwift provides the social motivation when I can’t motivate myself. Some days I prefer the virtual incline/decline on the virtual roads on Zwift courses when I just want to “go out and spin.” The structured sessions are what I prefer when I’m looking to work on specific adaptations.
As said before, it totally depends on your goals.
If your focus is entertainment and you’re a fan of the cafe ride with your friends, Zwift all the way.
I use TR because I want maximum benefit with minimum time. The amount of quality work and improvement I see from 8-10 hours of a high volume TR plan easily equal or surpass what I’d get out of 15 hour training weeks outdoors when I used to race years ago.
I’d also advise you to not let all of the data discussions on here overwhelm you or dissuade you from trying TR. You don’t need to spend all day analyzing numbers or worrying about whether your latest ftp was perfect to get faster. You just need to ride your bike.
TR - because Nate and Chad want to be able to sell out for $$$$$$
First things first: Got to TR because of the podcast, which I love dearly. I signed up for TR mostly just to pay the crew back for all the fine content of the podcast.
That said… I’m only interested in structured workouts. I did my first 5 weeks of structured training on Zwift (followed their “4 Week FTP Booster” plan), then switched over to TR. I might be going back to Zwift after my month on TrainerRoad is up. The whole “TR for structured workouts, Zwift for games” thing hasn’t been my experience. It’s the little things. Specifically:
- The Zwift companion app is kindda awesome during structured workouts. It has a nifty little gauge where I can clearly see my current power and my target power. With TR, I’m guessing there is some red/green color coding to the graphic? I’m guessing because I’m red/green colorblind and can’t tell. There is also a circle and a line, but frankly my eyes don’t instantly pick up if I’m at the right level. I have to look at the numbers. I’m surprised how much more natural the Zwift companion app screen looks and feels. Maybe I would care less if I had a smart trainer, but I have dumb fluid trainer and a crank-based powermeter, so my current/target powers are my main point of focus, and Zwift just makes it easier.
- Zwift logs my (virtual) miles when I upload to Strava. I know, I know, I know: MIles don’t mean anything on the trainer. I’ve read the threads on this. I get why TR doesn’t think it is important. But they do mean something when I schedule my Speedplay pedal regreasing “every 2000 miles”. And miles are what people talk about at work. I’ve only done the ramp test and two rides from my TR plan, but I’m already annoyed that the “miles” didn’t show up on Strava. Map the power to a speed, integrate over time, and optionally report miles to Strava. It wouldn’t be hard to do. It doesn’t have to be exact to be useful.
- TR brags about having a bazillion different workouts/plans, but I’m from the school of “A simple strategy, violently implemented now, is better than a perfect plan tomorrow”. Zwift was more approachable. I poked around on Zwift for a bit, then thought maybe I would try a structured plan. Found a plan that sounded good is ~20 seconds, and started it. I’ve spent as much time picking a plan and futzing with my calendar in TR as I’ve spent training in TR. Maybe that will change over time, but the upfront time/energy cost just felt weird.
- I know you can get a refund if you don’t like your first month of TR, but Zwift was just f’ing free to try. Again, Zwift is more approachable.
I only did a few unstructured rides (and one race) on Zwift. So they aren’t a huge draw for me. But if they were, TR has absolutely nothing to compare.
Sorry if this all sounds harsh. That wasn’t intentional. I really like TR as a company, and appreciate the passion for training. But as it stands, the “TR for training, Zwift for gaming” moat might not be as wide/deep as everyone hopes. Zwift is already a workable platform for training.
I use both at the the same time. TR is minimized and Zwift takes the rest of the screen. You’ll need multiple ANT+ dongles and specific Bluetooth dongle to make it work but it works. Just make sure if you have an ERG based trainer the resistance is controlled by TR and not Zwift.
- And I get “miles” from TR workouts pulled into Strava too. Likely an equipment difference or setting on your side.
- The key difference between the plans is the fact that TR offers 3 different volume levels for every plan they have. That gives each person a better starting point whether they can fit in 3, 5 or 6 rides per week.
- Add to that the much more specific plans tailored to different disciplines with emphasis on specific energy systems relevant to each.
- And then you package the Base, Build, and Specialty phases to make a typical 28 week plan towards an A-event.
Zwift does have training workouts and plans, but they fall well short of the depth (limited weeks covered, and few volume options) and consideration put into those in TR. I live in both worlds, and know plenty of people using Zwift to get super fast. But most are NOT following the limited plans offered from Zwift. They are racing and using plans from outside sources (coaches or even TR plans).
I also use both, but 90% of my time in Zwift is while I am having TR control my trainer in ERG while doing a workout. I do the Fondos and other fun tour rides in Zwift for some variety.
Both are great, but they each have strengths and weaknesses. Review them and choose what best suits your needs.
I started with Zwift, but changed over to Trainerroad because (at the time) Zwift didn’t have decent training plans. I’ve had a look at Zwift again (my wife now uses it instead) and there ARE training plans available, and their functionality is improving. However, Zwift training plans are much clunkier to navigate, especially if you are trying to mix and match things a bit.
The calendar feature for TR came out about the same time as Zwift ramped up its training plans, and that keeps TR head and shoulders ahead, in my view. Being able to assess your week/month/season via the calendar is awesome.
TR also allows much greater analysis of your data. Zwift is much more focused on the in-ride immersion.
Both platforms are excellent for what they do. If you want to race against other people virtually, go Zwift. If you want to focus on training analytics, target really specific outcomes, and be able to manipulate your training structure to suit your real-life challenges, go TR.
I started on Zwift and was off again about 5-6 months later. At first, it was the game aspect that I thought was cool at the time. After that got to be boring (I’m an old fart and don’t care for the gaming ), I tried their training plans. At the time they were the CTS plans, which IMO, suck. Moved over to TR and have been on TR for 3 years now.
I have both. I do endurance type riding on Zwift. Trainer road is for structured training. In my opinion they compliment one another.
Yes, there is an indicator that turns red/green. But there is also a display of your current power right on top of your target power. I’m not trying to convince you of TR vs Zwift, just pointing this out in case you weren’t aware.
I used Zwift while being coached as it allowed my workouts to be automatically imported from Training Peaks.
Now that I am free from that, I find Traineroad to be working better for my needs.
The Power/Target numbers were of course obvious… But even GoldenCheetah (freeware and with zero UX effort put into it) has those. TR feels a lot like GoldenCheetah with a calendar and in-depth training plans.
Here’s what I’m talking about with the Zwift companion. Even with it using red/green (grrr… being colorblind stinks!), it is still 100% obvious what my power is and what it needs to be. I’m surprised how much this matters to me. I’m a software engineer by trade so it’s not like I’m scared of math. I just think pictures are better than numbers for this kind of thing.
If $ weren’t a factor, I would almost certainly do what others here have suggested and have a smart trainer in Erg mode on TR, at the same time as Zwift for visuals. Alas, that’s not where I’m at. I’m going to do a tour which includes Zwift (done), TR (doing), and probably Rouvy and/or Sufferfest next. Then I’ll go with what feels best.
Zwift just seemed silly to me. I spent like 8 years just doing dumb trainer workouts with music or YouTube so I didn’t need a whole lot extra. TR is like having a coach who uploads my workouts in their own training peaks, and then gives you a screen showing the workout and what part you’re at now.
Using my smart trainer I don’t use erg mode because I like switching gears and being more in control of the wattage. I find TR to be more let’s get down to business. In fact the one problem I had (warm ups where too short) has already been fixed!
I started on Zwift, then had both Zwift and TR, and now I only have TR. I found that I only did the Zwift workouts and never did anything social on the platform. At the time (and this could have changed since then…nearly two years ago), Zwift didn’t have good structure to their workouts or at least not good enough messaging to educate me on how to use them. Thanks to the excellent TR descriptions, the podcast, the FB group, and now the forum, I’m much smarter at training.
I don’t miss any of the UI elements of Zwift because I only care about the data. I run TR on my phone mounted to a tall tripod in front of my bike while I watch cycling on NBC Sports Gold on the tv.
As many others have said, try them both and see what works for you. Even if money is a concern, I feel like a single month of overlap would be worth the investment.
I’d think Zwift has more realistic “math-ing” to their miles values since they apply your wattages to the virtual landscape with physics equations while the estimates from the trainer are simply how many times your wheel turns based on the wheel size in settings. Strava considers virtual cycling activity mileage applicable to challenges, vanilla trainer miles not so.
I’m actually working on eliminating the speed/mileage values from my indoor ride logs, previously I had been running Zwift concurrently solely to add miles to Strava but have since decided that’s a silly use for $15/mo.