Are you comparing Trainerroad vs. Zwift?
Trainerroad and Zwift are two of the best-known indoor cycling apps for endurance athletes. They will both allow you to do indoor cycling by connecting to a smart trainer, but Trainerroad also offers structured training plans, while Zwift allows you to ride alongside other users.
While each app offers a good indoor training experience, the type of athlete they're best for is different.
The main difference between Trainerroad and Zwift is that Trainerroad allows you to follow a training plan that you complete on your own, while Zwift isn't based on training plans, but you can ride with other users in the virtual Zwift world.
In this article, we'll discuss all the pros and cons of Zwift and Trainerroad, and we'll answer the following questions you might have:
- What are the main features of Trainerroad and Zwift?
- What are the pros and cons of Trainerroad and Zwift?
- How much do Trainerroad and Zwift cost?
- Are Trainerroad and Zwift good for beginners?
- What athletes should consider Zwift vs. Trainerroad?
BONUS: We'll also discuss our app MOTTIV, which is a good alternative to Zwift or Trainerroad if these two apps don't sound quite right for you.
Trainerroad vs. Zwift vs. MOTTIV Summary
Trainerroad is a web and smartphone-based app geared towards cyclists, but triathletes and duathletes can also create plans on the app. Athletes can train for multiple races at a time, and their workouts are personalized to them.
Trainerroad uses AI to determine a cyclist's strengths and weaknesses and creates training plans designed to create a well-rounded athlete.
Compared to Zwift, Trainerroad is much better for creating a structured training plan that you can follow to prepare for cycling events, triathlons, and duathlons. However, many people find the experience of following Trainerroad workouts on their bike trainer less enjoyable than Zwift.
- Connections: Trainerroad connects to a lot of devices and apps directly. If you plan on doing most of your training indoors on a bike trainer and want an app to control the trainer for you, Trainerroad will do just that.
- Adaptive training: Trainerroad uses your workouts to develop a profile of your athletic abilities, then recommends training based on that profile. Whether this generates improved performance is still uncertain, but it's a cool feature.
- Hard workouts: Some people love how difficult most of the Trainerroad workouts are; you'll feel like you're getting a really solid workout every time you follow one of their individual workouts (although this is also a con for many people).
- Easy to use: Most people can quickly pick up how to build plans inside the Trainerroad app.
- Stats: Users can easily track their stats without having to understand much about the app.
- No free version: Trainerroad doesn't have a free version.
- Burnout: Trainerroad workouts are very hard, and many people report getting faster initially with the app but start to experience burnout and plateau after six months.
- Poor running support: There aren't any running race specific plans, and running workouts can't be sent to fitness devices to follow along. This isn't great if you're a runner, triathlete, or duathlete.
- No strength or mobility training: Strength training is one of the most significant performance enhancers endurance athletes can do, and mobility workouts will help athletes avoid developing tightnesses and physical limitations during training. Trainerroad doesn't include any strength or mobility training in their plans.
- No nutrition guidance: Pairing the right nutrition with every training session will make the workouts much more effective. Trainerroad doesn't provide any nutrition recommendations at all.
Trainerroad Ease of Use
Trainerroad is very easy to use because it is designed for the end user. It is also very simple to understand, and users will be guided through creating a personalized training plan.
The user experience can be complicated for people completely new to setting up training, but most people will get the hang of it within a few days.
Trainerroad doesn't have much information inside the app and the workouts as to how and why the training is designed the way it is, so athletes have to trust that it's correct or figure it out for themselves. However, Trainer road has a very active forum community to help with support.
Who is Trainerroad Best For?
Trainerroad is ideal for cyclists who want a training tool designed by artificial intelligence that addresses an athlete's weaknesses. It is also great for athletes who do most of their training indoors on a bike trainer, and they want an app that will control the trainer for them.
- No free plan
- Paid: $19.95/month, $185/year
Zwift is a computer and smartphone-based app that connects to indoor bike trainers and fitness devices like heart rate monitors.
In the Zwift virtual world, you can cycle around and explore, finish fitness challenges, ride with friends, or join a virtual race with other people from around the world. The community of athletes from all around the world is incredibly motivational and makes indoor riding much more enjoyable.
Zwift also offers thousands of pre-made workouts you can perform in the app, but they don't have training plans you can follow to prepare for events. In Zwift, you can create your own workouts or load up workouts from your MOTTIV training plans.
- Virtual world: Riding in Zwift's virtual world feels like riding outside if you have a nice indoor bike trainer setup.
- Huge community: Zwift has roughly 1 million users, so you'll have no shortage of athletes you can ride with. The community features are very motivating and make you feel like you're actually on group rides with other people.
- Races: Zwift races are incredibly intense; they're some of the hardest workouts you can possibly do. Zwift racing has become so popular that some riders even specialize in virtual racing and not real-life bike racing.
- Badges: Many people get into the gamification of Zwift and start pursuing all the badges, achievements, and rides they can collect.
- Expensive: While Zwift itself is not expensive, getting a bike trainer setup that provides a realistic cycling experience may cost thousands of dollars.
- Training plans: Zwift doesn't really offer any structured training plans to prepare for races.
- Graphics: Zwift was released in 2013, and the graphics haven't changed much since then. Many people find the graphics cartoony and not realistic.
- Workouts: Zwift pre-made workouts are very random, not relating to any specific goal or training plan. Some coaches have criticized Zwift training plans for being created to be interesting and hard instead of effective or good.
- Stats: Zwift can also track all of your activities but doesn't do any performance tracking to let you know how you're progressing or if you're making any progress at all.
- Pricing: Zwift is primarily an app used in the winter months, but there's no annual membership option or long-term pause feature, so many athletes cancel Zwift outright every year.
Zwift Ease of Use
Zwift is very easy to use once you have your indoor bike trainer setup put together.
The user interface is very easy to understand on every single ride. The only thing that's a little confusing to learn about as a new user is that to use the full features of Zwift, you need the Zwift Companion app.
Who is Zwift Best For?
Zwift is best for athletes riding indoors on a smart bike trainer setup. If you want to ride around and collect achievements or race in virtual events, Zwift will be great for you.
If you have a training plan from another app, like MOTTIV, you can perform your bike workouts from the MOTTIV app in Zwift.
- No free plan
- Paid: $14.99/month, no annual option
BONUS: MOTTIV Review
MOTTIV is an app that can be used on the web or in their mobile application that creates a personalized training plan for athletes looking to prepare for any combination of running races, triathlons, cycling events, duathlons, and swimruns.
Athletes just need to enter the dates and distances of their races, how much time they're able to train, and their current fitness abilities, and they'll receive a personalized training plan that gets them ready for all their races at the same time.
Of course, we're biased, but we believe MOTTIV's workouts and training plans excel at keeping athletes on track to reach their goals. Getting a training plan is one thing, but having the support and motivation to stick to that plan is far more important. The MOTTIV training platform keeps you motivated throughout the training process so you always know you're on track and your goals are within reach.
- Ease of use: MOTTIV is designed for athletes who want a training plan that's done for them and easy to follow. All you need to do is input some data, then be ready to show up willing to work and follow the plan every day you have training scheduled.
- Unlimited training plans: Whether you have one race or 20 races to train for, MOTTIV can create a training plan that prepares you for all of them. Premium members can add as many races as they want at no additional cost.
- Strength & Mobility: MOTTIV strength and mobility workouts are full-length videos you can follow to ensure you're doing the movements and workouts correctly.
- Nutrition guidance: Eating the right thing before, during, and after your workouts will make every workout you complete much more effective. Every single workout in the MOTTIV app has nutrition recommendations that are personalized to you.
- Progress stats: MOTTIV tracks and displays all your workout and progress stats. You don't need to learn how to work the app or where to find stats to know whether you're on track or not. MOTTIV easily shows you if you're headed in the right direction.
- Motivation: MOTTIV has some excellent features that help keep you on track with your training plan because we all need a little support sometimes.
- Cost: MOTTIV provides all your endurance training, strength training, mobility training, personalized workout nutrition, and stats tracking, all in one place for one flat fee. Getting all these services separately would cost well over $60/month.
- Workout complexity: Some people find some of our workouts a little bit hard to understand when they first start using the app.
- Device connections: MOTTIV offers full workout synchronization with Garmin, and connections to popular sites like Trainingpeaks, Strava, and you can send your workouts to Zwift and others. However, our list of possible connections isn't as robust as some other platforms.
- Lack of flexibility: While most people want a training plan they can just follow and get great results, but some people want one they can customize themselves, with the ability to modify workouts and/or add and subtract workouts as they see fit. MOTTIV is designed for you to follow along as closely as possible to get the best results.
- Slow interface: MOTTIV hasn't been around for as long as Zwift or Trainerroad, so some screens take a few seconds to load because full speed optimization is still in progress.
MOTTIV Ease of Use
MOTTIV is designed to be the easiest app for endurance athletes to use. All you need to enter to create a personalized training plan are your race dates and distances, how much time you can train, and your current fitness abilities.
In addition to it being easy to create training plans, the MOTTIV app has features throughout the app that tell you why and how to perform every aspect of your training, so you're never left guessing.
Who is MOTTIV Best For?
MOTTIV is best for athletes looking for a holistic training plan to follow that includes endurance workouts, strength training, mobility workouts, and nutrition guidance.
If you want to know what to do and have just a little help knowing that you're on track and doing it right, then MOTTIV is for you.
- Free plan
- Paid: $19.99/month, $179.99/year
Trainerroad vs. Zwift vs. MOTTIV: Which One is Better?
When comparing Trainerroad, Zwift, and MOTTIV, the answer to which one is better is like most things: it depends.
If you're primarily a cyclist and you're looking for an app that creates a training plan that you can connect to an indoor bike trainer to guide every single workout, then Trainerroad is a great option.
If you're a cyclist who already has a training plan and you're looking for a more engaging indoor experience where you can ride around a virtual world or race alongside other athletes, then Zwift is for you.
If you're looking for a holistic training plan app that can create a personalised training plan for multiple races at a time and keeps you motivated to stay on track to reach your goals, then MOTTIV is the app for you. As a bonus, MOTTIV training plan workouts can synchronize with Zwift, so the two apps work well together.