Is Zwift really that much better than just watching TV while you train?

I've been training indoors for many years without anything like Zwift. I've done a spin class. I've also done my own workouts both on the spin bikes at the gym and on my bike on a basic fluid-resistance trainer.

When I do my own workouts, I've fallen in the habit of 2m-on/3m-off intervals for nearly the whole workout. I find that this is the only way I can get my HR up to the 80% level. (I can't do it while seated, for example.) While I do this, I watch some sort of action drama (e.g., "The Americans"). It's pretty fun!

So, now I try Zwift. I am missing some of the "fun" because I don't have a smart trainer. I have both a spin bike (brand new, still in the box) and my road bike is back on the "dumb" trainer (with speed, cadence, and HR sensors).

It may be just me, but I find watching the Zwift screen is really boring relative to watching TV. Can anyone tell me what is supposed to make this so compelling? What am I missing?
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Replies

  • Theoldguy1
    Theoldguy1 Posts: 2,273 Member
    edited December 2020
    I have never used Zwift, Peloton or similar, have never been a big exercise class person in real life. To me watching those things on a screen while biking would be about as exciting/motivating as watching paint dry or corn grow.

    I'd favor regular TV. Just me.
  • cwolfman13
    cwolfman13 Posts: 40,986 Member
    edited December 2020
    I've been training indoors for many years without anything like Zwift. I've done a spin class. I've also done my own workouts both on the spin bikes at the gym and on my bike on a basic fluid-resistance trainer.

    When I do my own workouts, I've fallen in the habit of 2m-on/3m-off intervals for nearly the whole workout. I find that this is the only way I can get my HR up to the 80% level. (I can't do it while seated, for example.) While I do this, I watch some sort of action drama (e.g., "The Americans"). It's pretty fun!

    So, now I try Zwift. I am missing some of the "fun" because I don't have a smart trainer. I have both a spin bike (brand new, still in the box) and my road bike is back on the "dumb" trainer (with speed, cadence, and HR sensors).

    It may be just me, but I find watching the Zwift screen is really boring relative to watching TV. Can anyone tell me what is supposed to make this so compelling? What am I missing?

    I've played a few times at my trainer's house. I think it's fun because it's basically an immersive, interactive video game....win prizes, level up, ride with other real people in a virtual world, participate in races against real people in a virtual world, set up group rides with friends, etc. I think it's also really cool with a smart trainer that you can feel the hills, head winds, etc as the trainer adjusts

    For people serious about training, the structured training programs are legit...both my trainer and my GP are cat 3 racers and they love the structured training plans. The other regular workouts are great too if interested in training specific cycling aspects.

    I've been thinking about getting it as well as upgrading to a smart trainer...you can get a pretty decent one these days for a reasonable price. Right now if I train indoors I typically do a GCN video on YouTube or a spin class or sometimes watch some football or something...I find it rather boring and I think Zwift is a lot more fun. That said, I'm not much of a TV watcher, but I love video games, and especially video games where you are playing with and/or against other real people. The mountain bike rides are super fun.
  • cwolfman13
    cwolfman13 Posts: 40,986 Member
    Theoldguy1 wrote: »
    I have never used Zwift, Peloton or similar, have never been a big exercise class person in real life. To me watching those things on a screen while biking would be about as exciting/motivating as watching paint dry or corn grow.

    I'd favor regular TV. Just me.

    I think Peleton is more "exercise class"...Zwift is an interactive video game and you ride with and against other real people or you can just go off on your own ride through London, etc...earn points, level up, etc. A smart trainer paired with Zwift will also allow you to feel the rolling hills and whatnot.
  • kcjchang
    kcjchang Posts: 708 Member
    I been a zwift member for 4 years and recently switched to RGT cycling. Yes, you do need a smart trainer to get most out of it. A decent GPU is also must (so no ATV, tablet, or phone except as companion). The entertainment is the replication of real road feel (primary) and the interaction with other users (or bots). I switch to RGT because it's road feel was far superior and I get to replicate my own routes. It also doesn't remind me that I'm in a game with stupid Dinosaurs and such.
  • Djproulx
    Djproulx Posts: 2,809 Member
    kcjchang wrote: »
    I been a zwift member for 4 years and recently switched to RGT cycling. Yes, you do need a smart trainer to get most out of it. A decent GPU is also must (so no ATV, tablet, or phone except as companion). The entertainment is the replication of real road feel (primary) and the interaction with other users (or bots). I switch to RGT because it's road feel was far superior and I get to replicate my own routes. It also doesn't remind me that I'm in a game with stupid Dinosaurs and such.

    I've been only doing casual indoor work lately, but will resume coached workouts beginning in January. I just looked up RGT and noticed it integrates with Training Peaks. Do you use that feature?
  • Djproulx
    Djproulx Posts: 2,809 Member
    I've been training indoors for many years without anything like Zwift. I've done a spin class. I've also done my own workouts both on the spin bikes at the gym and on my bike on a basic fluid-resistance trainer.

    When I do my own workouts, I've fallen in the habit of 2m-on/3m-off intervals for nearly the whole workout. I find that this is the only way I can get my HR up to the 80% level. (I can't do it while seated, for example.) While I do this, I watch some sort of action drama (e.g., "The Americans"). It's pretty fun!

    So, now I try Zwift. I am missing some of the "fun" because I don't have a smart trainer. I have both a spin bike (brand new, still in the box) and my road bike is back on the "dumb" trainer (with speed, cadence, and HR sensors).

    It may be just me, but I find watching the Zwift screen is really boring relative to watching TV. Can anyone tell me what is supposed to make this so compelling? What am I missing?

    @Jthan - If you want to "mix it up" and really get your HR up, you could do Tabata work ( 8 rounds of 20sec max output/10 sec recover) as part of your ride. If you have a power meter, there are a number of other options that will also do the trick.
  • jlklem
    jlklem Posts: 259 Member
    Zwift is awesome, but you got to race or group ride. I have done 30000 miles in that world and I’m a solid A rider.

    Riding Zwift to ride is not so great. I did 5 straight hours on Zwift today in a group ride. Great banter, good people, and staying in the group requires skill and attention. It was not that hard mentally.

    But like everything perception and attitude is everything
  • kcjchang
    kcjchang Posts: 708 Member
    Djproulx wrote: »
    I've been only doing casual indoor work lately, but will resume coached workouts beginning in January. I just looked up RGT and noticed it integrates with Training Peaks. Do you use that feature?

    No have not tried that. I use TrainerRoad, their outdoor workouts with my Garmin riding over my own route with an artificial 2% grade (with slightly undulation up to +0.3% over 25.4 miles) for weekday intervals and real courses for weekend & recovery/endurance rides. With Zwift I normally let TR run my trainer (mostly resistance) but it's not acting nice with RGT and will not interact as a power source only. I actually like current setup much more than having TR run my trainer either in resistance or erg mode.
  • amorfati601070
    amorfati601070 Posts: 2,687 Member
    Yeah, I think so. Having the power constantly displayed means Im way more aware of my effort. If I just watch something on TV I can just drift off. It does get repetitive and has that "adventure" aspect of road cycling missing from the real thing but yeah, its really just a substitute for me.
  • BrianSharpe
    BrianSharpe Posts: 9,160 Member
    If you can, return the spin bike and get a smart trainer. I don't use zwift that often but have been using TrainerRoad and just keep an eye on my power levels while having the boob tube on. It'll get your heart rate up seated or otherwise.
  • Djproulx
    Djproulx Posts: 2,809 Member
    kcjchang wrote: »
    Djproulx wrote: »
    I've been only doing casual indoor work lately, but will resume coached workouts beginning in January. I just looked up RGT and noticed it integrates with Training Peaks. Do you use that feature?

    No have not tried that. I use TrainerRoad, their outdoor workouts with my Garmin riding over my own route with an artificial 2% grade (with slightly undulation up to +0.3% over 25.4 miles) for weekday intervals and real courses for weekend & recovery/endurance rides. With Zwift I normally let TR run my trainer (mostly resistance) but it's not acting nice with RGT and will not interact as a power source only. I actually like current setup much more than having TR run my trainer either in resistance or erg mode.

    Gotcha, thanks. During a build period, I'm "Training Peaks Centric" in my thinking, since my coach puts workouts there and I download to my Garmin, then just follow my power numbers to stay within the prescribed range during the ride. No real entertainment value there, so I just listen to music as I suffer. ;)

    I have been thinking about joining some friends on Zwift for off season rides, just to mix it up and provide some incentive to push a bit in the off season. I'm using a fluid trainer/power meter now without issue, but I have used a smart trainer and may invest in one this year. Decisions, decisions.....
  • NorthCascades
    NorthCascades Posts: 10,925 Member
    If you're the guy wearing bibs and a cycling cap at the coffee shop Zwift is pretty compelling.
  • Jthanmyfitnesspal
    Jthanmyfitnesspal Posts: 3,119 Member
    jlklem wrote: »
    I did 5 straight hours on Zwift today in a group ride. Great banter, good people, and staying in the group requires skill and attention. It was not that hard mentally.

    Wait, when you do a group ride, you can talk to the other riders? How?

  • If you're the guy wearing bibs and a cycling cap at the coffee shop Zwift is pretty compelling.

    Tiny hat hang is open to everyone
  • kcjchang
    kcjchang Posts: 708 Member
    jlklem wrote: »
    I did 5 straight hours on Zwift today in a group ride. Great banter, good people, and staying in the group requires skill and attention. It was not that hard mentally.

    Wait, when you do a group ride, you can talk to the other riders? How?

    Discord for voice & text or text via the app itself. Most of time it's full of huffing and puffing. Lots of canned phases for text by ride lead, lots of complaining about flyers. I only did one century group ride that was just under five hours on Zwift. There wasn't that much conversation in that ride or most of my group rides. Most of my long rides are in the 3-4 hour range and solo.
  • cwolfman13
    cwolfman13 Posts: 40,986 Member
    If you're the guy wearing bibs and a cycling cap at the coffee shop Zwift is pretty compelling.

    Very true...
  • sgt1372
    sgt1372 Posts: 3,969 Member
    I just watch TV while rowing and listen to my iPod while spin biking. They're all I need to pass the time.
  • Machka9
    Machka9 Posts: 21,214 Member
    Is Zwift really that much better than just watching TV while you train?

    I do both.

    It may be just me, but I find watching the Zwift screen is really boring relative to watching TV. Can anyone tell me what is supposed to make this so compelling? What am I missing?

    My husband and I can ride "together" in a virtual world ... and I can ride with other people I know elsewhere. There's the competition between those I know and don't know. There are challenges along the way ... I personally like the sprints.

  • Machka9
    Machka9 Posts: 21,214 Member
    jlklem wrote: »
    I did 5 straight hours on Zwift today in a group ride. Great banter, good people, and staying in the group requires skill and attention. It was not that hard mentally.

    Wait, when you do a group ride, you can talk to the other riders? How?

    I think you can do that through Zwift companion. I'm not positive, but there are several extra features that Zwift companion offers and that may be one.