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Training Tips

Introducing New Cycling and Running Workouts

on April 28, 2020

Hey Zwifters: are you looking for a new training routine that will push your limits, but fit your schedule?

This week we'll be launching a new set of workouts created by coach Shayne Gaffney. The workouts each take less than an hour to complete, so they fit just about any schedule. And each workout is tailored to meet specific training goals, so you can train efficiently and get real results!

Never tried a Zwift workout?
Read “Your First Structured Workout to get started!

Introducing Coach Shayne Gaffney

Shayne is the founder of GC Coaching and holds certifications as a USA Cycling Level 1 (expert level) Coach, USA Cycling Power Based Training Coach, and Precision Nutrition Level 1 Coach. He is also a US Military Endurance Sports (USMES) affiliate Coach and USA Olympic Committee Safe Sport certified.

As a coach, Shayne has worked with beginners to pro athletes from all corners of the globe. His niche recently has been time-crunched athletes looking to squeeze as much fitness from 5-8 hours a week as possible.

As Workout Content Editor at Zwift, Shayne created the highly-acclaimed “Build Me Up”, “Pebble Pounder”, and “201: Your First 5k” Flexible Training Plans. He has also been involved with Zwift Academy since 2019.

Ready to jump in? Here are the new workouts, with descriptions to help you find one you like. Go for it!

Cycling Workouts

Lavender Unicorn
Miracle
Vault
2 by 2
Grin and Bear it
Lactate Shuttle (short)
Step by Step
Wave Rider

Running Workouts

Broken Tempo
Higher and Higher
Over/Unders #1, #2, and #3
Pick Ups
Progressive Fartleks
Pyramid Strides #1 and #2
Run to the Hills
Breakthrough
Down and Up the Ladder
Furtherance
Tempo Run with Surges
3-2-1
Fartlek 5’s
Inspire
Lofty
Up the Ladder

Explanation of Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced Cyclist/Runner levels

 

Cycling Workouts

Lavender Unicorn

This sweet spot “over/under” workout is an excellent way to boost FTP while making for an interesting and fun interval structure. The best of both worlds for a Zwift workout and one of our favorite interval structures! “Unicorns” are also heavily featured in our Build Me Up training plan, with this workout being the light version of Purple Unicorn (hence Lavender). This is a beginner to intermediate workout.


 

Miracle

A 20-minute workout where there is zero time wasted. What better way to get the best workout possible than two fatigued 1-minute full gas efforts? We have found 1 minute to be the sweet spot for you to dig as deep as possible without worrying too much about pacing. This is a beginner to intermediate workout.


 

Vault

Improve your ability to recover under pressure and dig deep when fatigued! The interval structure of this “tempo with surges” workout has the surges looking like a vaulted ceiling upon workout review. This is a beginner to intermediate workout.


 

2 by 2

This workout is focused on improving your ability to make repeated hard efforts well over threshold with minimal rest in between. Perfect for those who like racing on Zwift’s short courses with hills that usually decide the outcomes! This is an intermediate workout.


 

Grin and Bear it

A mainly zone 5 focused workout featuring a 5-minute max aerobic power effort to finish. The 30/30 efforts serve to fatigue you a bit, making the 5-minute effort even more effective and ideally with as much aerobic contribution as possible. This is an intermediate workout.


 

Lactate Shuttle (short)

Lactate gets a bad rap, but it’s actually a crucial component to endurance sport performance. This workout serves to improve your ability to shuttle lactate into nearby fibers where it can be transported across the outer mitochondrial membrane and metabolized, acting as a fuel source. This is an intermediate workout.


 

Step by Step

This zone 5 focused workout features ascending 90-second steps with very short recoveries between. This interval structure allows you to stay in the 90-100% VO2 max range much longer relative to a steady-state effort, with a lower RPE to boot. Maximizing time in the 90-100% VO2 Max range is ideal for improving VO2 Max. This is an intermediate to advanced workout.


 

Wave Rider

A sweet spot with bursts workout featuring ramp efforts and very intense but short burst efforts. This workout is designed to keep you at (but not over) the red line from start to finish of each effort. A perfect workout for improving your ability to stay cool under pressure, similar to what’s needed to ride a wave.


 

Run Workouts

Broken Tempo

A tempo run with micro-rests every 3 minutes. The micro-rests help break up the monotony associated with steady-state treadmill running, and tempo runs serve to improve your lactate threshold and muscular endurance. This is a beginner to intermediate workout.


 

Higher and Higher

An endurance workout featuring treadmill incline increases of 2% every 8 minutes. Start at 2%, finish at 10%! This workout improves endurance and the incline changes serve to break up the monotony while encouraging you to push harder towards the end. This is a beginner to intermediate workout.


 

Over/Unders #1, #2, and #3

Over/unders with the over becoming longer, and under becoming shorter as you progress from workout #1, to #2, to #3. Over/unders are used to improve efficiency with higher intensity efforts and to teach the body (and mind) to recover after hard efforts. These range from beginner to advanced.


 

Pick Ups

This is a fun one designed to improve your kick at the end of a race. The 4-minute threshold interval serves to ideally pre-fatigue you a bit, then the final 1-minute ramp will challenge them to produce speed in a fatigued state. This is a beginner to intermediate workout.


 

Progressive Fartleks

Another Fartlek variation with increasing interval lengths, but decreasing interval intensities. This is a bit of a “kitchen sink” workout, touching on multiple intensities. It serves to improve your ability to adapt to various speeds. This is a beginner to intermediate workout.


 

Pyramid Strides #1 and #2

Strides are a drill-based workout and are designed to improve your running form and mechanics. I called them “pyramid strides” because they have a ramp-up, then ramp-down, effort before the stride itself, looking like a pyramid. #1 features 60-second strides, and #2 features 90-second strides. These range from beginner to advanced.


 

Run to the Hills

The title says it all, but this is a hill workout featuring interval repeats at 10% incline. Hills help to increase leg-muscle power, raise intensity, and add variety. This is a beginner to intermediate workout.


 

Breakthrough

This is a progression run. We like progression runs because they offer the body an opportunity to warm up, help develop a sense of pacing, and train you to hold onto speed in a fatigued state. Start slow, and finish fast! This is an intermediate workout.


 

Down and Up the Ladder

Another ladder workout designed to improve max sustainable speed and fatigue resistance. More specifically, this structure helps to improve race starts and finishes with the hardest intervals being 1st and last. This is an intermediate workout.


 

Furtherance

Another Fartlek variation with longer descending duration intervals. The work intervals of this workout are all at 5k pace, and with the longest interval (8 minutes) coming 1st, this run serves to improve fatigue resistance. This is an intermediate workout.


 

Tempo Run with Surges

Another tempo run featuring short 45-second surges every 3 minutes. This workout keeps you right on your lactate threshold, but hopefully not over it, ideally improving lactate threshold and muscular endurance. This is an intermediate workout.


 

3-2-1

Another speed workout featuring decreasing interval lengths with increasing intensity for each, and very short rest breaks in between. This is another one to increase max sustainable speed and will touch on your VO2 max with the short rest breaks between intervals. This is an intermediate to advanced workout.


 

Fartlek 5’s

This is a Fartlek variation we like because it allows you to go harder over a 5-minute period relative to a steady-state effort due to the small rests in between intervals. This variation is very intense, and will touch on VO2 Max as it serves to improve maximum sustainable speed. This is an intermediate to advanced workout.


 

Inspire

A VO2 max focused workout featuring a 1-minute ramp to gradually bring you up to VO2 Max, then a 4-minute very hard interval to keep them there, ideally accumulating 12 minutes in total at that intensity. This is an intermediate to advanced workout.


 

Lofty

A zone 5-6 focused workout aimed to improve your top-end speed and leg turnover. The hard then harder interval structure also improves mental capacity (pain tolerance). This is an intermediate to advanced workout.


 

Up the Ladder

A ladder workout featuring increasing intensity from start to finish. Ladder workouts are a great way to raise max sustainable speed and increase fatigue resistance. This is an intermediate to advanced workout.


 

Explanation of Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced Levels

Beginner

A beginner runner or cyclist is just starting to learn how to train, and is mostly focused on having fun and enjoying the workouts. Pain tolerance and training volume are typically low at this stage.

Intermediate

These runners and cyclists are starting to understand how certain types of training affect the body, and they may also be engaging in events/competitions. Intermediate-level training is a mix between fun/interesting workouts and specific structured workouts, without much training periodization aside from running more when the weather is nice. Intermediate runners and cyclists generally exhibit a higher pain tolerance and can handle an increased training volume compared to beginners.

Advanced

Competition and specific event training are typical of advanced runners and cyclists, with periodized training focused on “peaking” for 1-2 events over the course of the season. They have a great understanding of training concepts, language, and the ways certain stimuli can help or hamper their fitness. These experienced athletes also possess an ability to push through training pain to complete very challenging workouts, and are accustomed to a high level of training volume.