Zwift racing vs Base Building: Which is the best way to build fitness over winter?

During another national lockdown, Vicky Ware assesses whether continual Zwift racing is a safe and effective way to build fitness over winter

(Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The virtual world of Zwift has offered a much-needed outlet to cyclists stuck in their homes during this year’s lockdowns. It has filled the gap, providing opportunities to ride, train and race with others around the world. Provided you have a turbo-trainer, all you need to do is sign up to the service, log in and select your event. Whereas the vast majority of real-life races have been cancelled, the action on Zwift never ceases – easily fitted into your schedule. Hardly surprising, then, that this form of cycling has provided the impetus to stay fit. But, given the high intensity of most Zwift races, are we inadvertently pushing too hard when we should be backing off and building a base?  

Unlike real-life racing, Zwift competition happens throughout the day and year, with no pre-defined seasons or built-in precautions to stop you burning out. How much Zwifting can you get away with without taking liberties with your fitness and overdoing it? In short, is it really OK to race all year round? We asked a selection of training experts – including Zwift specialist pro racer Ashleigh Moolman Pasio – for their guidance.

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Founded in 1891, Cycling Weekly and its team of expert journalists brings cyclists in-depth reviews, extensive coverage of both professional and domestic racing, as well as fitness advice and 'brew a cuppa and put your feet up' features. Cycling Weekly serves its audience across a range of platforms, from good old-fashioned print to online journalism, and video.