I feel like this is mostly a personal preference question. I tried out Zwift when I got my Kickr Core and it just didn’t do anything for me in terms of entertainment. Obviously TR isn’t perfect, but I think in terms of making you fast, it’s probably the best. If that motivates you, TR is what’s best for you. If TR doesn’t motivate you to train, you’ll never make any gains from it even if it’s the best tool in the world. Try both. I’d say if you can get into TR, it’s probably superior in terms of regimented training, but if you can’t get into it, it won’t help you anyway.
Hence the “it’s not perfect” part of my post and the other qualifiers that followed it. I recognize it is not ideal. But I don’t find it “arbitrary” either. It is comprised of multiple bits of data, directly relevant to the rider. It’s not a single data point (like miles or time).
TSS is far better than the other ones that capture absolutely no power or stress info. Yup, you can get the stress a number of different ways, but it is still “stress”, not time or distance.
That said, we should not derail the TR v Z discussion any more than we already have.
TSS discussion can be done in a different thread.
That’s very generous of you, mcneese.chad. Thank you. It is so hard to go easy. Seriously, yesterday’s Taku was maddening. Its going to take some getting used to and will demand some discipline. My issue will also be staying on track. I’ll do it most of the time but, for example, this Sunday’s Glassy workout (4x15 at 75-90% FTP) could be in jeopardy due to a 50-degree day . . . but don’t tell anyone. We’ll see.
Lots of good input listed above. My different observations and reasoning are below.
I have used TR for 3 seasons, mostly in the winter but increasingly in the summer months once or twice a week. I started using Zwift recently too, mainly to participate in some races and to get more “realistic” miles on my legs. TR seems more efficient to me, assuming you complete the workouts and plans. For me, Zwift is more like realistic riding outdoors (I don’t use their structured plans) as It requires you to change gears and you can draft other riders, pace people, and randomly ride different courses, choosing different directions as they are available. (TR is not about realism, I get that…)
My main reason for sticking with TR is the Low Volume Workout Plans. I like to do 3, high-intensity, structured workouts with a total time fo 3.5-4 hours per week; I also do 2-4 outdoor fatbike rides, with the occasional Zwift race or group ride mixed in. I do not want to have to spend 5 days a week on the trainer. I want to complete my 8 or 12 week plans in 8 or 12 weeks respectively.
After completing another Base Build in November, I activated a trial of Sufferfest and Zwift and compared the different workout plans and only TR has decent low-volume plans in place. I do not want to ride 5 days a week in Sufferfest which seems like their minimum, and Zwift plans typically ramp up duration mid plan, some increasing to 4 hours (!) which I have no interest in doing. My fatbike rides are usually 3-5 hours which is my preference.
And after examining the mid-volume TR plans, I concluded that the 2 additional mid-volume workouts were typically easier tempo or recovery workouts, which I handle via outdoor rides or Zwift. So for me, I get the benefits of the structured TR plans in 3 days, and I always complete my plans in my expected timeframe.
This season I helped introduced 8 of my friends to structured training. We have a small private training group and Strava club where we share data and help each other with equipment and motivations and learning: Ottawa Indoor Riding and Training Group
Half of the riders started in TR and half went directly to Zwift. Most interestingly, after a few workouts, some of the TR riders changed to Zwift, and ALL of the Zwift riders remain heavily motivated; not a single Zwift rider skipped a workout over the holiday break, whereas my fellow TR riders have slipped dates.
There is no doubt in my mind that TR is intimidating for people. One thing lacking in TR is clear guidance on how to REDUCE your workload when you are tired and unmotivated. (I’ve written about that elsewhere) There is good advice to this effect on the forum, but it is hard to find and something people have to search for. Some directed scaling guides could help struggling riders with this. Right now, I mostly see people who hit a wall in TR simply switching to Zwift.
As far as I can deduce, Zwift ramps up their programs more gradually, and the gamification, in-ride instruction ability to follow friends, monthly challenges, badges, achievements and overall virtual quality seem to be motivating for many people, at least for novice riders. (All the riders are decent recreational cyclists) Another motivating feature in Zwift structured plans seems to be the big, bold button that says “Substitute Workout” where you can swap an outdoor ride in place of your schedule workout. (Yes, I know you can do this in TR, but it is neither easy nor obvious, and not promoted as a viable training tool) Zwift seems to understand what happens to some riders and is providing the right feedback and motivation to keep people engaged. (and paying $$$)
As a former competitive athlete, I like the focus of TR, the metrics, and I believe and trust the in-built coaching. But Zwift has some great qualities too. Hence I use both.
If @Gav actually wants an answer I think you can boil it down to which one of these describe you better:
- I want to experience cool things on my bike and enjoy the people I do it with.
- I want to get faster on my bike and enjoy the process and rewards that go with being faster.
If it is the first, go Zwift. If it is the second, go TR. Different products for different people.
Bear with me on this and you’ll see where I’m going…
Contorversially, I have just cancelled my TrainerRoad subscription from next month. I have been using it since 2013, so have several years of workouts under my belt. I’ve managed to figure out over the years what works for me, what doesn’t and how to achieve my goals through structured plans. What I’m doing now is putting my own training plans together now based on the experience of getting it both right and wrong.
TrainerRoad has been a gamechanger for me, and I’ve learned a great deal of how to get the best from my sessions and how to understand the numbers.
I’ve kept on Zwift because it’s able to give me the one thing that TrainerRoad can’t and that is the ability to race. The races are as close to proper race efforts that I’ve found and nothing prepares for racing like racing. The need to be alert for moves going, and the requirement to go, then go again, and again, and again, and again when needed is something that’s very hard to simulate.
So think about what you want to get from indoor training and then make a decision. There’s advantages to both, and both have their downsides.
I wonder if this is a potential user drain for TrainerRoad.
Like you I’ve learned a ton about training and my body over my several years using TrainerRoad - to the point that I probably don’t need the plans - I would be capable of building similar structure into my training on a different, less full featured training platform such as Zwift.
I’m not close to dropping my TrainerRoad subscription as I still enjoy the ease of use and not having to do the above activities but if I were in a different financial or available time situation I would, I think, be nearly as efficient in my training without the subscription.
Not really a TrainerRoad vs. Zwift thing - but increasing stickiness is a big part of what everyone is after with these applications and there are definitely risks that people could pick up TrainerRoad for a season, learn quickly, and then move on. Doesn’t seem like a huge % of the user base but it definitely isn’t 0%
This morphs into the “I had a coach for a while… I learned what I need to do… and now I am dropping my coach” that we had in a separate thread.
Most come in with a limited knowledge base for this. We use the workouts, plans and maybe the forum and podcast, to learn about training and what we need. It’s not surprising that people would then choose to take that knowledge and save $ by dropping one service.
I could do all that planning and work on my own, but I don’t want to spend my time on building a workout library or making major plan decisions. I still do small adjustments, but only after choosing a plan that does 90% or more of the work.
It all comes down to things like time, money, priorities (life and cycling) and how you want them all mixed. People can and do choose by what suits them best. There are many options now, which is great, and they can catch about every conceivable need.
You are right to focus on quality over quantity, with an ERG trainer you can put it in big ring and up the virtual speed / mileage but your effort will be largely the same, so what’s the point making all the hardware stress a bit more?
Personally I hide all my TR rides from strava, apart from notable ones like disaster. I can’t imagine anyone would be interested in them
As well as the training plans the podcast, this forum and the approachability of the guys at TR is worth weight in gold.
I was really struggling with V02 work (see post on V02 catch 22) and between Chad at TR via forum with help from others on here recommended a mini booster 3 week plan that has been amazing.
For me Zwift was all about the racing. By mixing in a bit of steady stuff and some races I saw pretty decent gains (from less than 3W/kg to greater than 4W/kg) over the course of a year. The problem I have is that the racing category I fall in now, I am at the bottom and just get spanked every ride. All of a sudden racing doesn’t quite have the same allure! Hence joining TR a couple of days ago
Interesting that you say that…I was toying with the same thing. As of now I turned off the extra data, or whatever its called, so the graphs don’t show, just the names of the workouts. I don’t see TR displayed by anyone on my Strava friend’s list so they’re also hiding it or not using it. Alas, I still want the mileage recorded. I’m all-in on TR at the moment but won’t give up counting miles along the way
I can see how for novices it might be difficult to asses plans and figure out how to reduce the workload on their own.
I have been using TR since October 2018 and through the podcasts, the forum and in workout text from Coach Chad I have learned how to adjust my weeks or the workout at that point when it gets really too much.
Of course an official guideline/wizard on what to do would come in handy and might even be in the works.
But I disagree with you that the advice given on this forum on training stress is just to hang in there.
I’ve seen a lot of threads and comments from various people on this forum such as @mcneese.chad, @julianoliver, @stevemz (just to name a few) with in-depth suggestions on how to change plans or what to do when a particular workout/set of workout don’t work for people.
When I got my trainer I tried both Zwift and TR (not at the same time), but I choose for TR as I felt that the training plans were the thing that I needed the most.
I like the way they were structured in TR, I liked the no nonsense screen whilst training.
The bright colors and big button layout in Zwift didn’t feel serious enough for me.
I started road cycling this year, I ride in events not races and I want to be stronger in those events so I can enjoy them more instead of having to step of the bike on a hill.
If I ever get into racing, I might start using Zwift more as @AndyGajda mentioned in his post to simulate racing.
Good input, thanks. I edited that text.
Exactly what happened to me and a big reason I’m on TR now.
Don’t particularly these users with the skill and experience to do their own training plans still do data analytics (TrainingPeaks / Golden Cheetah…)?
So could some enhancements in that area keep you with TR? If yes, what would that be?
They probably do, and with GC it is also free.
I’m thinking people just process information differently. I spent 45 mins looking at zwift and I can honestly say I hate the interface, the graphics or menus etc. it’s as if it’s visual overload. I do want to try it again though. I like the simplicity of tr interface but I’m also not one to watch tv when on the trainer, I prefer to listen bc holding my neck up to see hurts over time.
I hide all indoor rides, commutes, and even some outdoor ones. I only move rides to be visible by followers if there is something exceptional about it.
I’ve done plenty of both, just don’t use Zwift anymore because that would mean missing a TR workout. I want to be faster full stop so TR is my choice. BTW I don’t use Today’s Plan anymore either with the analytics available in TR