The Ultimate Guide to Training with Xert and Zwift

The Best of Both Worlds

With the cold winter weather, even the toughest riders are forced inside for the relative warmth and safety of their trainers. Thankfully, structured workouts like those from Xert and online virtual rides from the likes of Zwift can not only reduce the boredom associated with riding indoors, but they can even make these rides fun and productive.

We like to have our cake and eat it too so we sometimes do our Xert workouts (of course) on Zwift and we’d like to show you how you can too. This blog post is a comprehensive guide to help you set up, enjoy, and benefit from combining Xert and Zwift.

First Things First

  1. Zwift connects to your ANT+ and/or Bluetooth devices. So does Xert. If you want to share connections between both Xert and Zwift, you’ll need to use ANT+ interfaces. We always recommend using ANT+ interfaces; they are better supported and more robust than Bluetooth. If you do, you won’t be wondering why an application can’t see your sensors.
  2. Either Xert or Zwift should be configured to control your smart trainer. Not both. If you set them up to control the trainer at the same time, you’ll get strange resistance behaviour from your trainer.
  3. The Xert Remote Player (on your PC) does not connect to your trainer or sensors. It merely displays the data going to the Xert app running on your Garmin, Android or iOS device. The Xert app transmits this data over the Internet so that you can see it with the Remote Player.

Remember these points and you’ll save yourself time trying to figure out why you’re not getting the right resistance on your trainer.

Terms We Use

We’ll use some terms throughout this guide…

  1. Activity – A session on the bike (or running) that starts and finishes. You will collect data for an activity. Xert manages & analyses data from, and during, your activities.
  2. Structured Workout – An activity that includes a set of specific power targets of various durations. Structured workouts better manage the type and amount of strain applied for performance improvements.
  3. Unstructured Workout – An activity that does not include specific power targets but can have goals for the workout. For example, “Ride for 60 minutes close to your Lower Threshold Power with several sprints at full power” is an unstructured workout.  “Accumulate 100 XSS points with a Focus Duration of 3:00.” is also an unstructured workout.
  4. Workout – If the word “Structured” or “Unstructured” isn’t used, it is assumed that the workout is structured.
  5. Power-controlled workout – When using a smart trainer, the power output during intervals in a structured workout are controlled by the smart trainer.  It does this by varying the resistance automatically.
  6. Athlete-controlled workout – The power output during intervals in a structured workout are controlled by the athlete, normally by varying cadence and changing gears but may also involve changing the resistance on a smart trainer using “slope mode” or “resistance mode”. If you don’t have a smart trainer all workouts are athlete-controlled.

Basic Ride Types

There are two basic ride types you’ll use almost every time…

A: Structured Xert Workout with Overlay

B: Just Ride with Overlay

A: Structured Xert Workout with Overlay

This ride type supports power-controlled, structured workouts driven by one of our players: Xert Player for ConnectIQ, Xert Mobile for Android or Xert Player for iOS. The intent is to have the Xert player control the trainer during your workout while you’re in the Zwift environment. The Xert Remote Player receives your data from your workout and overlays it on the Zwift app on your PC. If you don’t have a smart trainer see the setup for Athlete-Controlled Workouts below.

Step 1: Zwift Setup

There are two main changes you’ll need to make in order for this to work:

Step 1a. Disable the controllable smart trainer

Note that there are no trainers listed under CONTROLLABLE.

Step 1b. Enable Windowed Mode

On MacOSX, move the mouse cursor to the top-left of the screen and click the green circle to make sure you’re not in ‘full screen’:

On Windows, under SETTINGS choose Windowed and not Full Screen:

 

Step 2: Xert Workout Player Setup

Set up Xert Player for ConnectIQ

To use the Xert Player there are no special setups. Simply follow the regular setup guidelines as described in our video.

 

By default, the Xert ConnectIQ Player supports powermatch enabling you to use the power coming from your pedal/crank/hub power meter to control the trainer.

(Alternate) Set up Xert Mobile for Android

For Xert Mobile for Android simply set up the app as you would normally to run your workout on your trainer. No special settings are needed. Check our FAQ for step-by-step configuration.  The Remote Player is enabled by default but can be configured in the Settings/Options tab:

  

 

Note that it’s best to use ANT+ FE-C (Fitness Equipment Devices) when setting up Xert Mobile for Android as it’s the best supported. Also, if you have a power meter on your bike, it’s best to setup the trainer to use Powermatch so that your power meter is used as the power data source rather than the power data coming from your trainer.  N.B. The power meter you choose in Zwift doesn’t affect your data.

(Alternate) Set up Xert Player for iOS

We recently launched the Xert Player for iOS and it can also be used. There are some minor limitations to note:

  1. The app only supports Wahoo, Cycleops and Minoura Bluetooth trainers.
  2. The app can only connect using Bluetooth at this time.
  3. There are no powermatch or optimal cadence features available with the current version.

There are no special setup options needed within the app. Just set up your smart trainer or power meter and you’re all set. Be aware that the connections use Bluetooth and that your set up in Zwift should use ANT+ in order to avoid conflicts.

Step 3: Xert Remote Player / Desktop Setup

Although the addition of the Remote Player interface is optional you may find the ability to view the Xert Remote Player nearby, or on the same screen as the Zwift app, helpful during your workout.

Here’s how…

Navigate to your XertOnline.com account and open the Remote Player from the left menu or the link provided in the Advisor Recommended Workouts panel on the home page:

The Remote Player default size is quite large. Use this default size setting when using a separate dedicated device for the Remote Player and place the device within view. You can run the Remote Player on a tablet, like an iPad, and put that in front of you while you ride Zwift on another screen.

If you would like to overlay the Remote Player on the same screen as Zwift, first reduce the View Zoom to 66% or so, depending on your screen resolution. Use Option “-” on MacOSX or Control “-” on Windows to reduce the zoom:

Using the pop-out links on each section, turn each section into a dedicated window. Reposition and resize your browser windows together with your Zwift app. Here is an example desktop on MacOSX:

You’re all set! Once you’ve done this once or twice it becomes very easy to setup and use every time you do your workout.

If you use Google Chrome as your browser you can enable the browser to open the same number of windows and in the same locations as the previous session. This is convenient as it will open all the same windows and you simply need to login to one of the them and refresh the others for the Remote Player to be all ready to go.

Looking at your Xert Smart workouts using Zwift can also provide an interesting view:

B: Just Ride with Overlay

This ride type is similar to the above with the main difference being that you allow Zwift to control the trainer’s resistance and disable trainer control in Xert. Here are the steps to follow…

Step 1: Enable the Controllable Trainer in Zwift
Step 2: Disable Trainer Control in the Xert Garmin ConnectIQ Player

While in the player app, click/tap the back button and select OFF:

Ensure REMOTE PLAYER is ON (default setting). Click the select button (Edge 520) or tap the screen (all other Edge units):

(Alternate) Step 2: Disable Trainer Control in Xert Mobile for Android

Using the SCAN tab, uncheck Trainer Control for your trainer or disable the entire trainer device configuration and just configure a power meter.

Step 3: Xert Remote Player / Desktop Setup

Before launching the Remote Player be sure to select your workout at XertOnline.com first. If you are planning to Just Ride, i.e. using just XSS and Focus targets for example, choose one of the Free Ride workouts available in the Xert Workout Library. Choosing one of these workouts allows you to ride in the Zwift environment whilst monitoring your Xert metrics like MPA, XSS and Focus, both with the Xert apps as well as on your computer screen. In addition, the Remote Player will show you a medal if you achieve a Fitness Breakthrough! Here is a screenshot just after achieving a breakthrough:

Advanced Options

Structured Athlete-Controlled Workouts with Overlay

It is also possible to use the Zwift app to simulate doing a “real-world” workout. Some of the Xert workouts are best suited to doing them athlete-controlled. Xert Fitness Tests, Sprint-Focussed workouts and long Lower Threshold Power workouts like SMART – Iron Man are good examples of workouts that can, and in many cases, should be done athlete-controlled. The realistic variability of a Zwift ride is well-suited for this as well.

There are two ways to perform these workouts:

A. Athlete-controlled workout with real-world simulation

B. Athlete-controlled workout using Trainer Resistance

A. Athlete-controlled workout with real-world simulation

To perform these workouts follow the same procedure as in the Just Ride with Overlay setup, only follow along with your workout interval targets by changing gears and adjusting your cadence. Keep an eye on the target wattage and use the app or gauge to help modulate your power.

B. Athlete-controlled workout using Trainer Resistance

In this mode you’ll also use gearing to modulate your power. However, you’ll use fixed or manually-controlled resistance rather than letting Zwift set the resistance according to the virtual terrain.

Step 1: Disable the controllable trainer in Zwift

Step 2: Setup Garmin Xert Player with RESISTANCE mode

The buttons on the Edge 520 / left-right swipes on the other Edge units will control the resistance on the trainer.

(Alternate) Step 2: Setup Xert Mobile for Android for Resistance Mode

  1. Enable Trainer Resistance Mode in SETTINGS/OPTIONS
  2. Tap-and-hold a cell to set it up for Trainer Resistance
  3. Tap the Trainer Resistance cell to set the resistance

   

Multi-User Overlays

Things can get really interesting when you combine the ability to view other athlete’s Remote Player on your screen. In fact, you can put your entire team’s Remote Player gauges on your desktop while in Zwift allowing you to monitor their fatigue and see how close they can get to a Fitness Breakthrough. Using this option you can improve your racing strategy with knowledge of each other’s fatigue and awareness of how close they are to blowing up, something that you’ll see happening on the display well-before it does. Set up a Squad in the Xert Communities feature. Here is a sample Squad screen:

Notice the LIVE icons showing that the athlete’s Remote Player is live and can be viewed by clicking on the link. Clicking on all the squad members’ links and arranging them on your screen can be performed to enable a single view of all the athletes’ gauges at once, all active in real-time:

The Remote Player gauges showing both power and fatigue could make for exciting spectator viewing for road and online racing!