Pro indoor training tips from Zwift Academy winner Alex Bogna

Former Zwift Academy winner and Alpecin-Deceuninck rider reveals his top tips to make training on Zwift a breeze

Clock13:50, Saturday 4th November 2023
Alex Bogna won the Zwift Academy in 2021 and now rides for Alpecin-Deceuninck's development team

© Sprint Cycling Agency & Zwift

Alex Bogna won the Zwift Academy in 2021 and now rides for Alpecin-Deceuninck's development team

The dark winter nights have arrived in the northern hemisphere, with evening rides taking in the sunset replaced by indoor cycling sessions on Zwift. Despite not having to leave the house to get a ride in, it can still be hard to motivate yourself to hop on the turbo trainer.

However, there are a few pro tips and tricks that you can use to make your indoor cycling sessions as easy as that sunny Sunday coffee ride in the middle of summer. Where better to get these pro tips from than a rider who earned a spot in professional cycling through his exploits on the Zwift Academy, a fitness programme and a talent identification scheme all in one?

Read more: Zwift announces 2023 Zwift Academy with more professional contracts up for grabs

Alex Bogna was crowned the 2021 Zwift Academy winner after coming through a gruelling five-day final. It earned the Australian a contract with Alpecin-Deceuninck’s development squad with the aim to hopefully join the WorldTour roster in the coming years. GCN caught up with the charismatic Australian last month to rack his brain on all things indoor training and get some pro tips for the winter ahead.

Variety is the spice of life

Bogna’s first tip for making Zwift work for you is to ensure that you mix things up. For starters, there are so many worlds and routes to choose from on Zwift - we have a helpful guide that lists them all here - from the shortest 3km jaunt to the longest 173km ride.

Yet it's not just the worlds and routes you should switch between on Zwift, but also the type of rides you tackle. The 20-year-old Australian has three types of rides that he takes on throughout the week when training during the winter.

“I’d do some long endurance rides and then on the weekends there are generally some nice races on with lots of people. Then I’d be using it throughout the week with forced intervals on it,” he explained.

Race pace replacement

While nothing can quite compare to the intensity of a road race in real life, Zwift does its best to replicate the speed and ferocity of battling it out on the road with its range of races fit for all levels of rider.

When the weather is less than ideal - and that’s fairly often at this time of year - an indoor training session offers the perfect replacement.

“Back in Australia, I was using it quite a bit for training. Where I’m from it rains for quite a few months of the year so I had to use it then. It's good preparation for races as you can get a race intensity,” Bogna added.

Those of you living in warmer climates might argue that the wet and cold weather isn’t a problem, but an ill-timed injury can happen to anyone. Thanks to indoor training, it shouldn’t necessarily mean a prolonged period of time away from the bike.

Even when training for the most defining competition in his life at that point, the Zwift Academy 2021 Finals, Bogna demonstrated the indoor training platform’s value. Unable to ride on the roads due to a small injury, Zwift ensured he didn’t lose sharpness.

“When I was doing the Zwift Academy I had a shoulder injury so couldn’t do much on the road so I did lots of Zwift,” admitted the Aussie.

Read more: Riding through pain: Signs that your riding position needs changing

Listen to your favourite playlist

The launch of Zwift saw indoor training become much more interactive and engaging than ever before. No longer are we spending an hour or two sitting staring at our legs or the wall of our pain caves, instead we’re exploring all of the worlds that Zwift has to offer alongside friends or fellow cyclists from around the world.

However, how do you stay motivated when you’re in a real indoor cycling rut? Bogna’s top tip would be to find something or someone that helps you pass the time.

“Maybe the hard thing about Zwift is that, when you haven’t done it for a while, it can be a bit mentally boring but you get used to it.

“I find putting on a movie, watching YouTube, playing some music or even if you have someone next to that you talk to, [it] actually helps a lot,” explained the Australian, who has a soft spot for bogan music.

There’s no hard and fast rule for what helps to make the kilometres tick by quicker, it's often a case of experimenting to see what works for you.

Read more: Getting started with Zwift indoor training

Remember to enjoy it

As is the case with any cycling activity, if you don’t enjoy it you’re not going to want to do it again. This rule applies to the pros too, even if they’ve got added motivation to hop on the bike day in and day out.

“I really like using it for fun, I would say a pro tip is to simply enjoy it,” Bogna said. It might sound like obvious advice but it's easily overlooked when we’re consumed by targeting new PBs and trying to improve our FTP.

The convenience of Zwift, and indoor training as a whole, is another factor that makes it perfect for getting some training in, come rain or shine. Bogna added: “I use it when I feel motivated all of a sudden, I can just hop on it in the day.”

Not only does Zwift allow you to make the most of that motivation, it also means you can squeeze a workout in regardless of whatever else is going on in your day. With a range of rides to choose from, Bogna finds that there’s always something to work around his schedule.

“It's a really easy way to access training, [even] if you’re time crunched you can hop on it.”

It’s that ease and accessibility that makes Zwift Bogna’s perfect training companion. The former Zwift Academy winner rounded things off with some timely advice, adding: “It's all about fun, if you’re thinking about doing a race then you should just do it.”

Need more turbo training advice or motivation? Check our GCN's complete guide to indoor cycling, linked here.

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