Zwift Races as Base Season Intensity Ride

What is the general consensus as using a Zwift race to count as the “one hard ride per week” guidelines during base season. Doing a lot of Z2 and I get bored. I don’t feel like doing VO2 or Threshold. But Zwift races do appeal to me. Do these hold any benefit during base season or am I kidding myself?

1 Like

I’m not sure there is a huge benefit, but If you are not doing any structured intensity like TR workouts then I’d say it’s all good.

Only worry to me would be if you added Z races on top of other intense workouts.

I suppose it is better than nothing.

You will definitely get HI doing a Zwift race but it will be erratic and unpredictable and you won’t get as consistent, if any gains, as opposed to structured training. I suppose I don’t see an issue if you occasionally switch a VO2 or threshold day for a Zwift race.

I would ask what kind of events you are training for but if it keeps you wanting to be on bike then you should do it.

1 Like

The old adage of “the best training is racing” still holds water, IME.

If structured high intensity workouts aren’t interesting, and racing on Zwift motivates, then absolutely have at it.


Sounds like an excellent plan to me. You always push harder in racing than training. Do that once a week then fill the rest with lots of ACTUAL Z2, Plus get into the gym as much as possible.
Thats what I do anyway and it works a treat.


I use a weekly Saturday morning Zwift ride as my intensity ride. The “Team EN Hang-on Ride”. It’s 40 miles of slowly increasing pace with a balls-out race at the end. Great fun. lots of endurance but with a sting in the tail :smile:


Another.good option in lieu of a threshold workout would be to do a chase race.


Literally what I’ve been doing. Added 2 heavy gym sessions per week. And increased my training hours to around 16 hours per week compared to 6or 7 last year at this time. But for me 15-16 hours of Z2 on the trainer is so boring. So having a 45-60min Zwift race to look forward to on Saturday is fun. And more appealing than having a VO2 workout that I don’t have the motivation for right now.

Edit: And I know most races aren’t like this, but my last race finished with a climb, so it was a 20min steady all out effort.


Base season or off season? I’m not sure that makes a difference but certainly if a typical offseason I say do whatever makes it fun for you

Whatever you call right now where the only goal is volume. And not going crazy riding indoors.

1 Like

I got your point, although respectfully disagree.

I don’t think our body knows the difference between 5x3 vo2 @ 115% and a Zwift Crit race when you have to smash each climb’s lap.

By the way, I think it’s more beneficial something hectic than precisely executed as long as you are going hard. Races aren’t 6x3 vo2 + 2x20 FTP + 2hr z2. They are crazy all over the place.


zwift races can be good workouts, and i know plenty of people who do races, but they aren’t structured training, so if you’re doing one or two vo2 intervals in a race or some sweet spot, that really isn’t the same as really focusing on a particular stimulus. racing isn’t bad, it just can be unpredictable and not have a progression that good training is comprised of


IMO I think what you’re doing makes sense especially since it’s more enjoyable and keeping you motivated to train.


I don’t differentiate style of training between base season and race seasons any more. One hard, lots of easy, plenty of strength.
Ramp volume up and down as races loom/pass.

Always do the hard day in a group session. There are levels you can go to that far exceed what you can do by yourself.

1 Like

Do zwift races that match the type of intensity you are looking for. If you want some longer tempo/sweet spot → Alpe de Zwift race, threshold repeats → find races that hit Epic KOM or similar, over / unders → crit city?, longer vo2max → hilly london courses, volcano kom, etc.

Basically, figure out what kind of intervals you ‘should’ be doing and then pick races with routes and features that match those types of intervals. Or do repeats of climbs / features on your own. Don’t use races to determine your type of intensity / intervals, do it the other way around.


I should add that this is not my training plan for races. That is, I fully intend to move on to structured intervals probably in the next month or so. I just always hear to do as much Z2 volume as I can and add in a hard ride or session once a week. I was more just curious how a Zwift race would compare to say, a VO2 workout if the “plan” is lots and lots of Z2 with one hard session per week. This is just something for the winter to break up the monotony of Z2 indoor rides.

I personally think this is a great use case for Zwift racing. I’m a big fan of throwing in some low priority racing during base in general- it’s a good opportunity to touch on a bit of intensity without the continued demand of a full race-season build, and IME you don’t need a ton in the way of specificity to move the needle following an offseason. (Especially if you’re getting a good amount of volume in there.)
Keep it fun, keep it flexible, save the real work for when you need it.


I am not training for anything at the moment, but enjoy ZRL on a Tuesday and one other race or a TR workout in a week and my other rides are generally longer Z2.If i was specifically training for something then i would follow a TR plan. But even then I still like a Zwift race every now and then to keep it interesting and hopefully show off the performance gains.

1 Like

This is exactly my approach during my base period - 12-15hr z2 with a weekly ZRL race for some intensity, with 2x strength work. Rinse and repeat for 8-12 weeks. Worked well for me last year (albeit no strength work last year…that’s new). Came out of “base” with a 10m shorter TTE and 10w down on FTP from my peak in-season. Make of that what you will…

1 Like

100% good point and I am backtracking from my stance a bit.

I suppose my fear is Zwift races can be such a mixed bag depending on the format, the field, and the course that you can’t predict the effort/training benefit you get from it.

But at the end of the day if you are going hard on the bike you are most likely getting gains.