Zwift is essentially a game, set in the land of Watopia. As you progress through the game, you gain XP (experience points), and that's what makes it so addictive! Everybody starts at level 1 and moves up to the next level as they accumulate more and more XP.
There are currently 50 Zwift levels (reach level 50 and you are a Zwift Master!) and the first 6 require you to have 1000 XP points more than the previous level (so getting to level 2 is 1000 XP, level 3 is 2000, and so on). Once you get to level 6, however, the XP requirements to move up get bigger, making progressing more challenging when you are already hooked to those level-up achievements! Here is a list of all the Zwift levels and the XP required to reach them:
ZWIFT LEVELS AND XP
|Level 1 = 0 XP, everybody's starting point||Level 11 = 19,000 XP||Level 21 = 78,000 XP||Level 31 = 180,000 XP||Level 41 = 330,000 XP|
|Level 2 = 1,000 XP||Level 12 = 23,000 XP||Level 22 = 88,000 XP||Level 32 = 190,000 XP||Level 42 = 340,000 XP|
|Level 3 = 2,000 XP||Level 13 = 28,000 XP||Level 23 = 94,000 XP||Level 33 = 200,000 XP||Level 43 = 360,000 XP|
|Level 4 = 3,000 XP||Level 14 = 33,000 XP||Level 24 = 100,000 XP||Level 34 = 220,000 XP||Level 44 = 380,000 XP|
|Level 5 = 4,000 XP||Level 15 = 38,000 XP||Level 25 = 110,000 XP||Level 35 = 230,000 XP||Level 45 = 400,000 XP|
|Level 6 = 5,000 XP||Level 16 = 44,000 XP||Level 26 = 121,000 XP||Level 36 = 250,000 XP||Level 46 = 420,000 XP|
|Level 7 = 7,000 XP||Level 17 = 50,000 XP||Level 27 = 130,000 XP||Level 37 = 260,000 XP||Level 47 = 440,000 XP|
|Level 8 = 10,000 XP||Level 18 = 56,000 XP||Level 28 = 140,000 XP||Level 38 = 280,000 XP||Level 48 = 460,000 XP|
|Level 9 = 13,000 XP||Level 19 = 62,000 XP||Level 29 = 150,000 XP||Level 39 = 290,000 XP||Level 49 = 480,000 XP|
|Level 10 = 16,000 XP||Level 20 = 70,000 XP||Level 30 = 170,000 XP||Level 40 = 310,000 XP||Level 50 = 500,000 XP|
Zwift Running Levels
Running with Zwift is a little different to cycling, and I’m afraid I'm a little unqualified to discuss it so this article will largely focus on the cycling aspect, but just as an aside this is how you level up with Zwift running: you gain 10 XP for every .25km or 15 XP for every .25 miles, so for every 1km you run you will gain 4x10 XP. There are currently 21 Zwift levels for runners, and you can find out what you unlock at each level and the number of accumulated XP points needed to level up at Zwift Insider, the go-to source of all Zwift knowledge.
Why should you chase Zwift level-ups?
If you've been Googling information on Zwift - as you probably are now - you no doubt have heard of Zwift Insider, a blog about everything to do with Zwift, from how to go faster to route break analysis and more. A name you have probably come across in your search for info is Eric Schlange - Eric runs Zwift Insider, and is perhaps the most knowledgeable man writing about Zwift currently.
Now, in order for you to access and make best use of all the features that Eric and Zwift Insider discuss (for example the fastest bikes, the best wheels, the different routes) you will need to level up. Levelling up gives you access to more and more of the game features, and the most notable feature that it improves is your access to equipment in the garage.
Let's not forget, though, you do need drops to purchase some bikes in the drop shop. You gain drops through riding more and climbing more, and can boost your drops in a few ways. Essentially, you accrue drops to buy bikes and wheels BUT you can only buy the equipment that fits the level you have unlocked. So if you haven’t got that all important XP for that Pinarello F8 in the drop shop, you’re going to have to ride smart to earn those points fast! Additionally, for each level you unlock on Zwift you gain a small bonus item to pimp your avatar. Below is a list of the features you unlock when reaching each level:
ZWIFT LEVEL BONUS ITEMS
|1. Zwift Kit||11. Digital Camo Jersey pack||21. Neon Kits||31. Retro 80s Sunglasses (Oakley Eyeshades)||41. Zwift Rockstar Glasses|
|2. Basic Kit 1||12. Basic Kit 2||22. Pattern Socks||32. Newsy (Paperboy) Cap||42. La Z Claire Kit|
|3. Black Helmet||13. Dot Socks||23. Glove Pack Solid||33. Fluoro Gloves||43. Retro 80s Helmet|
|4. Zwift Glasses #1||14. Glove Pack Pattern||24. Skater/Bowl Helmet||34. Monochrome Kit||44. Alpine Slopes (Ski) Kits|
|5. Black Shoes||15. Level 15 jersey||25. Level 25 Kit||35. Mavic Shoes||45. Giro Synthe Helmet|
|6. Gloves||16. Glasses Zwift #1||26. Zwift Oversize Glasses||36. Calories To Burn (Food) Socks||46. Prism Kits|
|7. Solid Socks||17. Striped Socks||27. S-Works Shoes||37. Bell Javelin Helmet||47. Zwift Vintage Riding Goggles|
|8. Vintage Kit pack||18. Classy Kits||28. Dots Socks||38. Vintage Gloves||48. Bont Shoes|
|9. Camo Jersey pack||19. Glasses Zwift #2||29. S-Works Helmet||39. Vintage Leather Shoes||49. Giro Vanquish Helmet|
|10. Zwift Glasses #2 (Oakleys)||20. Level 20 Jersey||30. Level 30 Kit||40. Level 40 Kit||50. Level 50 Kit|
How to level up fast on Zwift
We now know what can be gained by progressing to the next level, so how do we go about doing that? Zwift is pretty simple, it’s in the catchphrase: RIDE ON. It’s easy to gain a Zwift level - ride further and gain experience points. For every mile or kilometre you ride in Zwift you earn XP; if you use km you gain 20 XP per km ridden; if you prefer miles it's 30 XP per mile. Sorry to those imperials out there, but you are handicapped slightly - since 1km is not ⅔ of a mile, users of metric measurements will gain XP faster! For example, 100km gets you 2,000 XP, while the equivalent mileage, 62.13 miles, earns you only 1864 XP. So if you want to focus on gaining XP, use kilometres to measure your rides! There are some other tricks to increasing your rate of XP per distance ridden that are more complicated than simply changing your units of measure, but more on that later...
Other features of Zwift apart from levels
1. Zwift Challenges
There are challenges in the game which will result in you unlocking bonus content separate from the XP that goes towards your Zwift level. For example, should you wish to unlock the Tron Concept 1 Bike (tron bike), you will need to achieve a minimum amount of ascending in Zwift, for which you will need to complete a specific challenge - the Everesting one. You have to climb the height of Mount Everest (not in one go, if you don’t want to, but you can give that a try!). You can track your progress as you climb through to the top of the mountain, and when you reach the required amount of ascent your tron bike will become available. Other challenges include Ride California, Ride Italy, and more, with each challenge having its own prize to unlock upon completion (FYI, the Ride California prize is a Specialized S-Works Tarmac!) So if you want to widen your game experience and are greedy to unlock absolutely everything there is, you must not overlook the challenges feature.
2. Alpe du Zwift Bonus
The Alpe has its own bonuses associated with it, and lots of them. Before you begin, you need to already be Level 6 + in order to access the Alpe Road to Sky (see this blog for how to conquer the beast!) and access the challenge. When you ride the Alpe du Zwift and reach the top, you will trigger a spinner. This spinner will land on an item, and that is your prize - all sorts of goodies are available, from the Meilenstein wheels, polka dot gloves to additional XP and bonuses. And each time you reach the top of Alpe du Zwift, the prize wheel spins again!
3. Drop Shop and the garage
On top of everything already mentioned, there is also the Zwift Drop Shop. Drops are used to purchase wheels and bicycles, and the items that are available to you depend on your current level. Just note, Drops are separate from your XP and level, but the higher Zwift level you are the more you can purchase in the Drop Shop. By the time you are Level 50 you can expect to have unlocked all of the bikes (although you may not have enough Drops to purchase them all at once!). The garage is a good part of the game to explore, as it will help with your in-game bike and managing various other add-ons to customise your game experience. Ride on the bike and wheels you've always wanted! All your kit is customizable from your garage, including your avatar’s jersey, helmet and more. Being on your dream bike will make your training feel better in every way, even if it is only virtual!
4. Zwift Updates
Of course Zwift are always improving their game and adding additional content. It's not impossible that, in the future, Zwift may increase the number of levels above 50 - just 8 months ago there were only 25 levels in total. This has now been increased to level 50, so don’t be surprised if, through popular demand, that number goes up again!
Discover all the things you never knew about Zwift training in Watopia here at GCN: 11 Things I Wish I'd Known About Zwift | GCN (globalcyclingnetwork.com)
Our top 10 tips to gain more Zwift XP per mile and level up faster!
1. Zwift TT BIKE
The TT bike is a really simple way to gain XP at double time pace. Once you enter the game you have access to the Zwift TT bike, right from day one. The trick to know is that TT bikes don’t enable you to draft, so this means you don’t benefit from power ups. Instead, every time you pass under a KOM arch or sprint arch, you gain, not a power up, but more XP - either 20 or 30 XP, equivalent to riding another 1 mile or 1 km depending on your metrics. So, select the TT bike, find a course (ideally flat) that has lots of arches on, and start cranking in the XP! When you don’t ride the TT bike you won’t get these bonus points under the arches all the time, due to the other power ups that you will get (aero, draft, featherweight etc.)
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2. Group ride and Zwift meet-ups
Ride in group events. This will help you tick off kilometres faster and reach that next Zwift level faster as a result - this is because the draft in Zwift makes a huge difference to your speed, so bigger groups travel faster. Travelling faster means you hit more kms in fewer minutes, thus you gain XP faster! And so you gain Zwift levels faster! So get yourself in some group rides, now. Locate the events on the companion app using the filters, or jump onto Zwift | Events on Zwift to discover a whole host of events available to you.
Not only are group rides great for boosting your XP per hour, you can also improve your Zwift experience through engaging in the chat and social aspect of the game and generating connections to other Zwifters globally. Group ride in Zwift if you really want to get the most out of your subscription. If you don’t want to ride in the huge Zwift events and would prefer to do group rides with friends only, use Zwift’s meet-up function to organise your own meet-ups and group rides. This feature was brought in about 8 months ago, and it’s a super-cool feature that lets you choose wherever you want to ride and who you ride with. You need the companion app to utilize it most effectively, but it is nice and simple to use! Get out and do a group ride!
3. Allez sprint
Go for as many KOM arches as you can, go racing, go fast. Races are where you will travel fastest in Zwift. The faster you go, the sooner you will gain the next Zwift level! Riding under lots of arches on a TT bike will land you loads of XP towards your Zwift levels too. Allez sprint for XP!
4. Workout mode
For every workout you complete you can gain XP at a pretty fast rate. However, Zwift calculates XP differently for workout mode; you don’t gain power ups through arches and you don’t gain XP for distance. Its all worked out for the type of zone you ride in and for the duration. A good way to maximise your workout XP gain is to ride a workout to the top of Alpe du Zwift and then freewheel down once you have finished, racking up the XP per mile! To find out more head to Zwift Insider here: How Zwift Calculates XP for Cycling Workouts - Zwift Insider
5. Route Badges
Every time you ride a new route in Zwift you gain a badge, and with each badge you gain XP too. So, always try to ride new routes to gain that extra XP and reach those new Zwift levels fast. It also helps keep your game experience fresh and interesting! Find out more here: Complete Master List of All Zwift Course Routes - Zwift Insider
6. Miles to Kilometres
As already mentioned, you rack up more XP when you ride measuring in Km! So do it!
7. Ride the flat
You gain XP much faster on the flat, as you travel faster thus covering more distance. Since you gain XP per km, ride the flat to clock up the kilometres.
8. Achievement badges
Now I’m unsure whether this is actually a way to gain extra XP but it will give you something to chase nonetheless! Here is the full list of hidden achievements you can earn on Zwift Insider: All About Zwift's Hidden "Extra Credit" Achievement Badges - Zwift Insider
9. Compete in events
Events give you a great reason to push harder for those big miles, and more miles/kilometres means higher Zwift levels sooner! Race at super speed or join Zwift Fondos for the community feeling and social aspect. It all helps you to ride further and faster. Check out all the events in Zwift companion or via Zwift.com
10. Zwift more
Easiest tip of them all - ride more! Get on the game and rake in the XP by riding further and faster as you continually improve! You’ll get faster bikes with the drops you earn, like the tron bike, and then other purchasable bikes which will make you even faster and add more XP.
So now you have all the necessary info to go and get that next Zwift level even faster. Get out there and chase those Zwift levels - good luck, and ride on!
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Blog by Tim Torrie
Tim Torrie is a semi-professional cyclist racing for TBW 23 Stuart Hall Cycling Academy p/b Trainsharp. Tim has raced at an international level since he was a junior and has raced in the top flight of the Zwift world for the past 3 years. Tim knows his way around Zwift and loves to see new riders getting on the platform. He hopes these blogs will help users get the most out of the fantastic software that is Zwift. Keep your eyes peeled for Tim in national races and time trials in the UK this year!