Zwift Academy 2023 – Group Workout #1: Short | Explosive 30s

Explosive indeed.

So explosive I ended up blowing up, big time.

The big takeaway from today’s ride was this: eat properly before tackling this one.

I’d started the day not even thinking about Zwift. I mean I knew I would be on Zwift at lunch time, but that’s just a regular Tuesday for me. The fact I was doing the first Zwift Academy 2023 workout didn’t even cross my mind.


My typical breakfast is two slices of brown toast with butter, and a cup of coffee. We were out of bread this morning so instead I had some super sugary granola I found in the cupboard. It had some seeds and berries, and though I didn’t check, I’m guessing several spoon fulls of sugar added. Yikes.

For what it’s worth, a much better breakfast for riding is porridge with whatever nuts and seeds you can find in the cupboard. The more the merrier, I find.

My next mistake was then remembering the Zwift Academy ride some time around mid morning. I looked at what it entailed:

That’s the long one by the way. The short one is basically the same, minus the (10? 15? minute) tempo / green block at the end.

There’s four ‘free ride’ sections in there, also. Hard to see the first two, but they come after the blue block, immediately after the three reds.

The first two ‘free ride’ sections are 30 seconds a piece, followed by 3 minutes recovery between.

Then the other two squiggles in the middle, they are the 2x 2 minute max efforts, followed each by 6 minutes recovery.

When I saw that this was a 2 minute max effort, I foolishly fired up Golden Cheetah and pulled up my all time best 2 minute effort:

Good stuff.

That’s my target!

Let’s try and hit 400 watts though this time, right?


🤦 what an idiot. 🤦

The ride itself was well attended. 210 people in my session, which is a lot for a random Tuesday lunch break.

It does beg the question how many of those 210 will still be there in Workout #6, especially after how horrible this one was. We shall see.

We got underway and I was feeling fine enough. Fairly fresh, no knee pain, no complaints really. I didn’t get a pre-ride warm up, but the Zwift Academy rides tend to give you a good amount of prep from prior experience, and this one was no different with a full ten minutes warm up factored in.

Then we hit the primers.

Two lots of 20 seconds at 305w for me.

I’m not sure what that is in terms of watts per kilo, but it’s a good 60+ watts over my FTP.

I fudged the first one. I span too fast and Zwift struggles to normalise the power when I do that, so I breezed the first interval because I wasn’t consistently sat at 305w, more like 280. Twenty seconds at 280w isn’t fun, but it’s not a killer on fresh legs.

The second primer went better, with a more consistent hit and a lower cadence doing the job.

Before I knew it, it was time to do the first 30 second max effort.


I’m struggling to get super accurate stats out of the Zwift website on this one, and at the time, whilst it did display the on-screen wattage averages for all four efforts, I have to say I was not paying attention to the screen either during, or immediately after the efforts.

Well, that’s not strictly true for all four … as we shall see in a minute.

It looks like I hit a peak of about 733w in the first 30 second effort, but my effort fairly rapidly fell off the cliff.

In the second 30 second effort I came up short of that first attempt, but sustained slightly longer.

All in, nothing major to write home about, although in truth I wasn’t trying to max the 30 second effort. My head was on the 2 minute efforts today.

That said, I did not leave anything in the tank for either of the first two attempts. They just weren’t amazing. I guess the one good thing is I hadn’t eaten within about 2 hours of the ride, as I reckon I would have puked after the first one in particular.

They were savage.

The breather between the first and second intervals was 3 minutes at 130w, a true recovery, and then a step up to 150w / endurance for a further three minutes.

Enough time to recover?

Not really.

But that’s what it is, and it’s the same for everyone so you can’t complain.

Then, bam.

2 minutes, full gas.

Or, as full gas as you can realistically sustain for 2 minutes.

My target?


And boy, what a total disaster.

I completely blew up, one minute in.

In fact, within 15 seconds I knew I was going to massively struggle. And struggle I really did.

It’s rare that I give up.

It’s certainly not rare that I want too, but today I couldn’t hack it. There was no way, mentally, that I was making it another minute.

So I sat up and eased off.

Really disappointed in that, but even if I had continued it would have been a massive slump and a grind to the line at some low wattage.

The plan then, shake off the feeling of failure, and the embarrassment, and try harder in the second effort.

Compared to everyone else, I would be getting a 7 minute breather. The six everyone gets, plus 1 minute of the 2 minute effort where I had died.

If that wasn’t enough then I didn’t really deserve much else.

I tried again. Not much choice in that. The clock ticks down and then it’s go time.

But my result wasn’t much better.

I managed the 2 minutes but the graph tells the story. It was a very steady downward progress. At the start I tried to maintain 350w-ish, with the idea in my head that I would find my rhythm and step up. But of course that didn’t translate to reality.

Instead I found myself dropping gears trying to keep my cadence high in an attempt to find some watts. It didn’t happen.

Time ebbed on, and my output declined steadily.

Ahh well.

I’m at least pleased I gave a better second attempt.

As much as I don’t want too, I am almost certainly going to retry this in the Longer workout on Saturday. It’s pretty horrible, and I’m not sure exactly how much benefit it’s giving me for my style of riding or whatever, but hey, why not?

My mind is still set on the 2 minute effort over the 30, truth be told.

All I have to do is do better than I just did. Which in reality means finishing both of the efforts in at least some kind of fashion. AKA, not giving up.

But yeah, a pretty brutal start to the Zwift Academy.

Last year I’m sure it felt comparatively easier than previous years.

It feels like normal service may well have resumed.


6 thoughts on “Zwift Academy 2023 – Group Workout #1: Short | Explosive 30s”

  1. Offft yeah, I don’t have fond memories of the first work out. I did the long one, also looked at my best 30s and 2min power and wrote it down on paper to look at while riding. I felt like I was going to throw up after the first 30s effort and that feeling never quite left until after the last 2min efforts recovery. I did manage to beat my 30s by about 20w but came up 6w short of my 2min best. Interestingly my second attempt at each was better than my first.

    Oh and the final green bit is 20mins long, but it wasn’t as bad as I was expecting it to be.

    Also, got my refund from BikeInn after many months of no XDR hub for my Wahoo. Not sure now if I should just keep my SL5 as a trainer bike or sell it and buy another XDR hub for the Wahoo and use the SL7 on the trainer. First world problems right?

    • I’m not looking forward to it, but I’ve resolved to trying again on Saturday. Thing is, no matter what I seem to do lately my stats are just generally down. I shouldn’t have even tried to hit the previous numbers, let alone aimed to better them. Maybe if I find out whatever cheat I was using earlier this year, I might be able to beat it… but not right now.

      Congrats on your numbers, and for getting through both with better results. That takes some doing. I’ll consider it a win to better the first workout on the second attempt 😀

      It does make you think how insanely different the pros must be. I watched a video at the weekend – – where he goes into his numbers for the 12 minute climb, and he’s hitting like 480’s (if memory serves) for 8 minutes, and then ramps it up to 520s or something for the final 4 minutes… I mean, come on! With those kind of number’s he could be competing for third or maybe even second in my weekly Cat B races 😀 😀 😀

      Good to know re: the 20 minute tempo block.

      Also good to hear about the refund. That’s wild. How many bikes do you have right now?

      • Good on you for trying it again! I don’t think I could face it again so soon!

        Yeah crazy numbers! I don’t know how those guys do it. I’m ruined after a long ride this morning and then commute home from work.

        Currently got the three bikes. SL5 I’ve had since early 2018, Canyon Grizl and the SL7. I was quite keen on a MTB again, but also have a mate who crashed his in August and still hasn’t recovered. Broken collar bone and 3 broken ribs. That’s somewhat cured me of wanting one for now.

        • I’m sure I will regret it as soon as the first 30 second effort is underway.

          Jeez yeah, mountain biking is too dangerous for me. I was going to get a basic MB a while back and then realised I need all my bones. It was literally a case of not wanting to injure myself dicking about on a MB and then not being able to ride the bike I actually do enjoy.

          That’s one heck of a collection you have btw.

  2. Speaking of mad watts…. on the commute home this afternoon, stopped at the lights with this guy on a gravel bike. I’m thinking “yep can take this guy”, so start laying down some watts. This guy is stuck to my wheel for a few km, finally passes me and holy crap, he turned on the afterburners and dropped me like a pile of crap! This was a segment I ended up with a top 6 out of 4,228 riders.

    Asked around the lads and apparently this guy is a total unit, has won pro series ZRL races.

    I watched one of his Twitch videos and jeez, his Z1 is my Z3.

    So yeah, that was my Friday, dunked on by a unit with a big backpack on a gravel bike with chunky tyres.

    • I’ve experienced this though I was so awed I didn’t get a chance to take in what he was riding.

      It’s one thing to get dropped on Zwift, but in real life getting passed and left for dust is something else. A humbling experience 😀


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