Zwift workouts - do they respect the topography of the course?

You will see a numerical gradient display at the top right of the screen. The number increases in size as the grade increases or decreases further from 0.

Also, in the map area, you can see a subtle side profile that shows your position, direct and the grades around you. Using these are key to learning the hills.

Your watts are based on the workout… the course has no effect

However when cycling uphill, even on workout mode, your virtual speed is dictated by your watt output, this can sometimes mean a very slow ascent if you are are doing intervals and in a recovery phase of the workout.

1 Like

Cool thanks for more info. Chad - I had seen the % incline top right but not the map. I am working on a small screen (Surface Go) so the viewing isn’t great. That said I have found the Zwift screens and menus quick counter-intuitive, something I have to say is pretty much nailed on TR.

1 Like

Zwift definitely respects the topography… just like an outside workout would. This means, that if you are holding a set power (in ERG mode) and the topography changes (goes from 0% to 5%), then your virtual speed would decrease proportionally. This is the same way that would happen if we could hold power outside to the level of control that ERG manages - you would see your speed fluctuate as the topography (or resistance) changes on the road.

Technically, outside you have one more variable you can introduce which is gearing. You could potentially change your gear (assuming infinite gearing solutions) to keep the same power output, cadence, and speed regardless of the terrain. In reality, you have limited set of gearing, so something always fluctuates or gives way. Inside, in ERG mode, gearing is not needed.

If you really want to enjoy Zwift, I highly recommend finding a way to push it onto a larger screen. I am crazy, and have a 40" 4K TV about 28" from my head. It gives a feeling of being in the game, not just watching it. I also switch to the first person view to improve that feeling.

Other than positioning in a race or group, I have no idea why people want to watch themselves in the 3rd person view. It’s just odd.

Back on topic, if you can port to HDMI and even a 32" screen, I think you will enjoy your time on there more.

1 Like

Would enjoy the FPV more, but I can’t see the dynamics of the group behind me. In the race this could result losing the wheel or unnecessary energy expenditure. Any tips? This is the only reason I race in 3rd person…

1 Like

I would enjoy the FPV more if they added some head bobbing and movement based on how we actually see the road when riding outside. Having this constant smooth glide makes it feel unrealistic, almost like I’m driving really slowly with a camera mounted on my roof

1 Like

For the first year I was on Zwift late in rides when brain function started to fade I kept finding myself suddenly realizing I’d been happily sucking my own wheel for the past 15 minutes, or worse, getting momentarily frustrated that the dick in front of me kept matching my every acceleration and would not let me pass . . . .

  1. Use either the top right map or the Companion app to have a tight view of yourself (tap or click). That way you can glance up and see your position relative to the group and other riders.

    • It’s not ideal for quick responses to race situations, but I find it works just fine in group rides.
  2. For races, I do use the 3rd person view.

    • I wish there was a “head turn” option like we have in car sim racing.
    • Or maybe even a “rear view mirror”. I know it is very unrealistic in a way, but could give context to your position in the group better.
    • They are already doing the unrealistic option of the 3rd person view, so something else that would give you the FPV and group context better would be a great thing to add, IMHO.
1 Like

You can do a workout in Zwift just like you can in Trainerroad, the problem I always had with Zwift workouts is the topography messes with your head. Like if I’m doing an interval and hit a descent, my mind tells me I don’t have to go this hard to go fast and let up a bit.

I rarely did ERG workouts in Zwift because Zwift workouts always have z6 intervals, and last time I did ERG over 500 watts, I got patellar tendonitis from it.

Workouts use erg mode by default, but you can disable this if you would rather use gears to hit the power targets. I’ll sometimes disable erg mode mid-workout for short intervals so there’s no erg latency or adjustments mid-sprint, then turn it back on for longer intervals.

The easiest way to handle ERG / Resistance mode switching is by using the Zwift Companion app on a mobile device.

1 Like

I don’t do many structured workouts in Zwift, but when I do I’ll choose a course that suits the efforts. If it’s an especially long session, there’s many basically pan flat courses that make it simple enough. I like you find that 400w downhill feels odd. Typically just drop my head and hammer away at that point.

1 Like

Yeah, I did Tempus Fugit, which is essentially pancake flat.

IMO, there’s needs to be a hybrid mode, where its ERG at Zone 5 and Below, and Resistance over. (Hint Hint)

1 Like
  • I can make a Feature Request, if you’d like. I love the idea, BTW. :smiley:
1 Like

That’d be great!

1 Like


if you turn off erg move during a zwift workout, does the topography come into play then? I am on a smart trainer…

No, it swaps between ERG or Resistance mode, just like a TR workout.

If you are in Workout mode in Zwift, you will NEVER feel the terrain changes.

Hah…I’m almost the exact opposite…if I am just freeriding by myself, I prefer the 3rd person view. If I am riding in a large group, I prefer the 1st person view, as it seems to immerse me more and make it more “race like”.

But totally agree that a larger screen helps significantly to improve the overall experience.