The Problem with Zwift Workouts and Training Plans

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what is up guys welcome to another video my name is Dylan and I’m a cycling coach at Carmichael training systems and today we’re going to be talking about the problem with the majority of Swift workouts and why you should use caution before embarking on a swift training plan so whiffed is great for keeping your motivation up when you’re riding indoors but a lot of their workouts and training plans are overly complicated – high-intensity for the winter lack proper recovery and aren’t individualized to meet your personal needs I’ll go into more details on that and some of the science behind it and at the end of the video I’ll go into what a proper training plan should look like so be sure to stick around for that if you’re new to this channel I make weekly training topic videos going over tips and tricks that I’ve learned in my 12 years of racing and training experience that have gotten me to the top of the ultra endurance mountain bike game in the US and as a cycling coach at cts I also go into the science on your training questions so if you want to learn how to get faster or just more about sports science in general be sure to subscribe and if you have a training question be sure to leave it in the comment section down below and I’ll either answer it down there or do some more research and make a whole video about it this video idea came to me from a viewer who was asking me about Swift’s FTP booster plan and whether or not he should follow it I took a quick look at the plan and was absolutely shocked at how poorly it was written I quickly responded back and told him not to do it now I want to start off by saying that I’m in no way against using Swift for training in fact I highly recommend using Swift if you spend most of your training time indoors so if does a good job of keeping you motivated and making it feel like you’re actually riding and not cooped up inside I mentioned Swift in my trainer motivation video and if you guys want to check that out you can click the link at the top of a screen or down in the description all of that being said those Swift has some extraordinarily bad workouts and training plans for a number of reasons that I’ll go ahead and get into now first things first Swift workouts are notoriously overcomplicated Swift workouts can hit every single zone with ramp ups and ramp downs in seemingly random order for example here’s a workout from the Swift Bambino plan where you do a 5-minute zone to ramp up then hold zone 2 for 5 minutes then zone 3 for 3 then zone 4 for 3 then ramp from zone 2 to zone 4 then more – then another ramped up and then out of nowhere a zone 6 and then you ramp down then back to zone 3 and a ramp down to cooldown what and no point in that workout did you target any specific zone and the order makes about as much sense as if you told a five-year-old hey arrange these colorful blocks on the computer for me and there are countless examples of this across the availables with workouts and training plans this isn’t the secret formula to success and often times there isn’t any rhyme or reason for all this complexity and a workout this isn’t spin class a workout doesn’t need to be complex it’s just about accumulating time at certain zones this complexity can actually detract from the workout and here’s why if you’re doing a vo2 max workout and you sprinkle in little bits of tempo and threshold like a lot of these whiffed workouts do then that vo2 max effort won’t be as high-quality as it should be and you won’t get as much fitness gain out of it this isn’t to say ssin makes a variety of intensities on certain rides but in just a minute I’ll get into why intervals on the trainer in the winter is not the place that you want to be doing this the reason for this complexity is so that Swift can keep you interested when you’re on the trainer changing zones every 2 or 3 minutes is a lot more interesting than a proper straightforward workout where you warm up and hold one zone for the entirety of the workout at the correct duration with even rest intervals and then cool down the next problem with the majority of Swift workout plans is that they’re not what you want to be doing in the middle of winter which is when most people do these workouts due to lack of daylight and poor weather conditions I can’t stress this enough the season is long and you don’t want to peak too early or burn yourself out higher intensity efforts will get you fitter faster but they’ll also lead to a plateau faster many of these Swift training plans are extremely high intensity so you’ll see fitness games pretty quickly and then Plateau so come March or April you’ll be in great shape but then you’ll have no to go from there you’ll stagnate and stay at the same fitness level or worse and far more likely your fitness goes down and you experience a Midsummer’s slump and risk burnout so scrolling through their FTP booster plan I’m seeing a lot of red and orange zone five and six same with their gravel plan and their fondo plan these are all workouts I wouldn’t hit until much later in the year another huge problem with Swift training plans is lack of proper recovery days now to Swift’s credit if you follow their plan exactly as they have it written out they don’t have a workout scheduled for every single day of the week so if you were to follow the plan then presumably on the days that they don’t have anything written you wouldn’t do anything and then that would be arrested what’s far more likely though is that riders are following these plans during the work week when they have less time and then going and doing bigger rides on the weekend when they’re free let’s take the FTP booster plan for example if you follow day one through five Monday through Friday and then rode extra on the weekend then you wouldn’t have a single proper recovery day in the whole week these foundation days are lower intensity but still not low enough intensity to be a true recovery day also many of these plans last many weeks and don’t have any discernable recovery weeks built in which is a recipe for overtraining burnout and fitness plateaus because these plans are so interval focused hitting our variety of zones as much as four times per week then you aren’t truly going to be doing these workouts at the intensity that you need to be because you won’t be well-rested enough between them and you won’t make as many Fitness gains as you could a study on the impact of training intensity distribution on performance in endurance athletes took 12 endurance runners and put them into a group that emphasized low intensity and one that did moderate intensity the lower intensity group made greater performance gains and the study concluded that these findings provide evidence supporting the value of low intensity training as long as the contribution of high intensity work remains sufficient basically in order to make your interval days really high-quality you want the rest of your training that you’re doing to be lower intensity endurance

if you do intervals every day or four times a week like Swift as you do on some of their training plans then none of your workouts are ever going to be high quality you only want to are on occasion three interval days per week and Swift often has you push into for interval days per week where you’re at greatly increased risk of burnout a review on the best practices for training intensity and duration distribution in endurance athletes stated that two high-intensity training sessions per week seems to be sufficient for inducing physiological adaptations and performance gains without inducing excessive stress over the long term the article also states that an established endurance base built from high volumes of training may be an important precondition for tolerating and responding well to substantial increase in training intensity over the short term this is something that Swift training plans definitely fall short on there’s no endurance based build before throwing you into a series of high-intensity workouts now you may already have an endurance base built up or you may not but Swift doesn’t know because it’s not personalized to you this brings me to my next point about Swift workouts which is that they’re not individualized there are a whole host of factors to consider when writing a training plan from the riders age and experience level to their current fitness level and ability to recover and so on but by far the most important factor is race specificity you want the intervals that you’re doing to be specific to your race goals and the intervals need to get more and more specific as you get closer to that race now two slips credit they do have some training plans like the Creek crusher that actually do have some very critic although if you were to mix this plan with regular riding you would still be struggling with proper recovery others with plans however like the FTP booster or the fondo one or the gravel grinder one are just a mishmash of seemingly random workouts I can’t stress this enough this complexity that you’re seeing is not the secret sauce to get you faster it’s just designed to keep you interested while you’re riding on the trainer if we take a look at the gravel grinder plan we can see that it’s a mix of all sorts of different efforts all over the place a ton of which are in zone 6 you’re never truly targeting a zone and these workouts aren’t at all specific to riding a long gravel race the same goes for the fondo 1 the workouts are close to random pattern is a good thing when it comes to training now you don’t want to be doing the exact same thing every week you want to give yourself some progression by either increasing the intensity or the volume or both but you want to give yourself time to develop certain zones so that means a lot of similar workouts over a certain time period but with these Swift workout plans your guess is as good as mine what the next workout is going to look like another important consideration is that the order of your efforts matters both in an individual workout and over the course of a training week you want to do the more in high-intensity workouts at the beginning of the block when you’re fresh and then move to lower intensity the same goes for individual workouts do the more high-intensity efforts first so you get the most out of them now there are some exceptions to this like for example if you’re training for a road race and you want to get really specific and you know that you’re gonna have to sprint at the end of the race then you might do some sprints at the end of your workout however for the majority of the time you want to start with the high intensity efforts when you’re fresh and then go to the lower intensity ones so if completely ignores this for their individual workouts and for their training plans let’s take a look at an example work out from Swift’s FTP builder plan now this workout is actually pretty simple for his whip workout so kudos on that but they’ve got you doing four minutes zone three efforts before five minutes zone four efforts now step in the right direction would be to reverse this and do the zone four efforts first but generally I’d say just stick to the zone four efforts especially in a workout that’s supposed to be targeting threshold development essentially with this workout you’re timing yourself out with zone three stuff before you get to the important part of the workout that you want to be high quality which is the zone for efforts let’s also talk about these interval lengths for minutes zone three and five minutes zone four intervals the higher the intensity of the intervals the shorter the interval needs to be so it makes absolutely no sense that the lower intensity zone three intervals would be done at a shorter interval length in the zone four intervals also this workout came after a foundation day that had zone three efforts mixed in now this is the lower intensity day of the two days so the order in which you do then then needs to be reversed on top of all the other modifications that you need to do inside the actual workouts themselves on top of all of this the trainer is not the best place to be doing high intensity intervals now if you don’t any choice and you have to do your high-intensity efforts indoors then so be it but if you have the choice you always want to choose outdoor for high-intensity workouts anyone who uses a power meter while riding inside and outside knows that it’s much easier to put out power when you’re riding outside this is for a variety of reasons from motivation to real Road feel to overheating when you’re on the trainer but the point is your workout is going to be higher quality if you do it outside most of these extremely high intensities with sessions our workouts that I would never consider doing inside on the trainer unless I absolutely had to so what does a quality training plan look like well you want to have two to three interval sessions per week for example purposes R I’ll use a nine-to-five worker who has an hour to two hours to Train on the weekdays and can go and do bigger rides on the weekends good days for rest days with this schedule are Monday and Friday so that you alternate between a higher intensity lower duration block on Tuesday Wednesday and Thursday and a lower intensity higher duration block on Saturday and Sunday I’d start off with putting their most intense interval sessions on Tuesday after a Monday rest day put a less intense interval session on Saturday since Saturday will turn into a longer ride but you’ll be fresh after Friday’s rest day Wednesday can be either a lower intensity interval day or an endurance day depending on the time of year specificity etc Thursday and Sunday shouldn’t have any intervals at all the goal should be staying in endurance zone and getting in time on the bike if you can go really long on Sunday that’s great because there are some benefits of a longer ride that you don’t get from doing shorter rides now this was a really quick overview on how to properly plan a training week but if you want to see me go into more detail on it then I have a video on how to get fast in less than 10 hours per week and I’ll leave the link for that in the description below or you can click the link at the top of the screen those are the reasons to avoid Swift workouts and training plans to review Swift workouts are notoriously overcomplicated this isn’t the secret formula for success it’s just designed to keep you interested while you’re riding on the trainer intervals don’t need to be complicated is just about accumulating time at certain zones for 90% of the time a lot of Swift plans are to high intensity for the middle of winter when race season is so far away and could you peeking too early or burnout by the middle of summer if you follow his lip training plan during the weekdays and then ride on the weekends as well you could be missing out on valuable recovery days when your body repairs itself and gains fitness and you could be on the path to overtraining so if training plans aren’t individualized and there’s a whole host of factors that aren’t being considered by far the biggest one being race specificity even if the plan claims to be a fondo or gravel specific the order of your efforts matters and ninety percent of time with few exceptions you want to do the most high-intensity work first Swift generally doesn’t follow this principle both in their individual workouts and in their training plans finally even if you are in the time of year when you want to be doing high-intensity you generally don’t want to do it on the trainer because your quality will suffer now if you have to do it on the trainer because of weather or work or whatever it is then I get it but if you have the choice you want to choose outside for high-intensity efforts every time now I just want to reiterate this I’m not anti Swift quite the opposite actually so if does an excellent job of keeping you motivated when you have to ride inside but I would just stay away from their workouts and their training plans thanks for watching and I hope you guys found this information helpful if you like this video be sure to give it a like share it with a friend and subscribe for more training tips if you want to see more coaching content follow me on Instagram Twitter and Facebook and if you want to follow my training leading into this upcoming season be sure to check me out on Strava finally if you’re looking for a coach shoot me an email at D Johnson a train ride calm [Music]

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