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Training Tips: 5 Zwift Sportive Training Sessions

We're excited to bring you five sportive-specific indoor training sessions to upload to your Zwift Workouts menu, which have been expertly created by Coach Tom Townsend of Downing Cycling.



Struggle Training: #1 Hard Starts

Hard Starts is focused on your ability to buffer the lactate you produce when you go above FTP. We surge above FTP for one minute to flood your legs with lactate, mimicking hitting a steep pitch on a Yorkshire climb.

The Struggle sportive Yorkshire climbs are longer than a minute, so it’s important you can then settle into a more manageable, sustainable pace once you have conquered the worst of the gradient.

To replicate this we follow the minute above FTP with 9 minutes at 90% of your FTP to force your body to clear the lactate you have accumulated whilst you continue to work close to your threshold to reach the top of the hill.

Download Zwift Training Session for Sportives


Sportive Training on Zwift

Struggle Training: #2 Hill Attacks

Hill Attacks focuses on your ability to deal with the punishing gradients of the toughest Yorkshire climbs like Park Rash and Malham Cove on Struggle Dales sportive.

The gradients require you to produce big power surges for the steepest sections, before only easing off a fraction and therefore requiring you to continue at a punishing pace.

For this, we perform a big 30 surge above FTP, before settling down into FTP for the remaining 5 minutes of each interval.

Download Zwift Training Session for Sportives


Sportive Training on Zwift

Struggle Training: #3 Over/Unders

When you perform this Over/Unders sportive Training session on Zwift, we make the capacity surge slightly harder to perform by making you perform it while you are already working right at your FTP.

You must then follow this up by settling straight back down into Zone 3 to develop your ability to recover from spikes above threshold whilst keeping the pressure on.

This session will help you to deal with the undulating sections of road throughout the sportive routes, especially on Struggle Moors.

Download Zwift Training Session for Sportives


Sportive Training on Zwift

Struggle Training: #4 Sweet Surges

Combining surges of pace with sweetspot training helps to mix it up a little bit, whilst maintaining the same broad theme of improving the efficiency of your aerobic system by pushing its ability to buffer lactate.

This time we perform a set of 4 x 40/20s which is immediately followed up by settling down into sweetspot intensity with no let up.

This Zwift Struggle sportive training session develops your ability to deal with the punishing but undulating gradients of Yorkshires hardest climbs by continually going above and below your threshold.

Download Zwift Training Session for Sportives


Sportive Training on Zwift

Struggle Training: #5 Spikey Tempo

This training session isn't your ordinary 2 x 20 minutes in the middle of zone 3. It includes 30 second surges up into Zone 5 every 4 minutes which replicates the steeper sections of climbs.

Settling straight back into tempo after each surge teaches your body to deal with the lactate you produce when you go above your FTP and clear it without getting a proper recovery period afterwards.

Download Zwift Training Session for Sportives


Sportive Training on Zwift

How to Upload Tom’s Session to Zwift

It's so easy to add Struggle Training sessions to Zwift custom workouts. Simply download the files above and drag them into your Zwift folder on your computer. Look for Documents\Zwift\Workouts\Your Numeric Zwift Id Folder.

Any .zwo files you move to your Zwift workouts folder will be added to your custom workouts in the training menu next time you launch Zwift. Find out more about importing sessions to Zwift here.

You'll need to make sure you have the correct FTP set for your current fitness level. You can take an FTP test in Zwift.


Progress Your Training with Downing Cycling

Coach Tom says: "Doing the same sessions repeatedly works well to improve your basic endurance and FTP. But there will come a point when doing the same sessions will not continue to give you the same performance improvements as they used to.

"You will then need to implement progressive overload into your training to ensure that you continue to see performance improvements. Navigating this, along with ensuring adequate recovery is built into your plan, can be a minefield and have catastrophic consequences on their performance.

"As a coach at Downing Cycling, I specialise in ensuring that the progressive overload each athlete undergoes is tailored to their unique characteristics and training responses. Find out more about how I can help you apply this to your training in your prep for the 2022 Struggle Events." Contact Tom

Downing Cycling

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