An important part of your fitness is conditioning. There are two types of conditioning: anaerobic and aerobic.
Anaerobic conditioning refers to your body’s ability to use glycogen or creatine phosphate to make ATP. The more anaerobic conditioning you have, the more efficient your body will be at creating ATP from glycogen or creatine phosphate.
You condition or train your anaerobic system by engaging in short periods of intense activity.
Aerobic conditioning refers to your body’s ability to use oxidation to make ATP. The better your aerobic condition, the more efficiently your body will generate ATP from fat.
You condition your aerobic system by doing slow activities over long periods of time.
There is exercise equipment that is effective for doing both types of conditioning: the assault bike.
What is an Assault Bike?
The assault bike, also known as a fan or air bike, is a full-body cardio machine that combines the motion of cycling leg exercises with upper body exercises; when you pedal the bike, you are simultaneously pulling and pushing the arms.
Unlike a traditional stationary bike where you manually adjust the bike’s resistance up or down, assault bikes use fans to provide resistance. Resistance automatically adjusts to your output; the more output you generate, the more bottlenecks you encounter. This is what makes assault bikes so brutal: the harder you go, the harder it gets.
Several companies make assault or air bikes.
While all air bikes are often called “assault bikes,” “Assault” is technically the brand name for a specific air bike manufacturer.
We have the AssaultBike Classic. It is chain driven, sturdy, and comfortable.
We’ve had Schwinn Airdyne in the past. That’s fine, but the ride isn’t as smooth and comfortable as the AssaultBike. Rogue is another popular air bike manufacturer.
One thing to consider when buying an air bike is whether it is chain or belt driven. Compared to chain driven bicycles, belt driven models are more expensive, slightly quieter, and require less maintenance. Though all air bikes are pretty low maintenance. Not to mention, they don’t need electricity and access to an outlet!
Assault Bike vs Elliptical Machine
Assault bikes and ellipticals offer the same full-body pedal+pull/push type of action, and if you’re deciding whether to buy one or the other, I’d go for the elliptical. There’s something that feels better, at least to me, about standing during exercise, as opposed to the slouching and squatting feeling you get when you’re cycling. But if you have access to both at a commercial gym, or the ability to get both for your home gym, it’s nice to be able to mix up your workout by switching between the two. An assault bike is better for high-intensity workouts (it’s hard to get your heart rate as high as the elliptical), while the elliptical is more comfortable for longer, less intense workouts.
Benefits of Assault Bike Training
Working on assault bikes is challenging; it’s with good reason that they’re sometimes referred to as “misery machines.” Users often have a love-hate relationship with assault bikes, with the love part coming down to the fitness-enhancing benefits they offer:
Full body workout: The assault bike workout engages several muscle groups simultaneously, including your arms, legs, core and back. It gives you a lot of fitness benefits for your money.
Low impact: Since an assault bike is exercise cycling, it has low impact compared to jogging or sprinting. Despite being low impact, the drag you get on an air bike will burn your metabolic system out.
Can be used for both anaerobic and aerobic exercise: Versatile assault bike. You can do it slow and steady for good Zone 2 aerobic training or do it fast and short to get to your anaerobic system.
Assault Bike Training
HIIT Assault Bike Workout
Assault bikes are perfect for high-intensity interval training (HIIT). HIIT involves short bursts of intense exercise followed by rest or periods of low intensity activity. This type of exercise can help you burn calories, increase your metabolism and improve your cardiovascular fitness. This is the ultimate anaerobic exercise.
I like to do HIIT on an assault bike twice a week. I do it after a lower body workout day.
Here’s how I do it:
- 20 second intervals, pedaling as hard as you can. I usually imagine I’m paddling away from a grizzly bear.
- Rest for 1 minute 40 seconds.
- Repeat for 2-4 more intervals.
There he is! A HIIT session on an assault bike should only take about five minutes and give you the proper dose and volume of anaerobic conditioning.
As your anaerobic conditioning improves, you’ll need to increase the pressure of your HIIT workouts to continue to get an adaptive response. You can add pressure to your assault bike HIIT workout in two ways:
Add spin. If you did three rounds the first day, try doing four the next. Then, add one round per week. Shoot for 8-12 rounds before changing another variable (reducing rest). Once you do, go back 4-6 rounds and repeat the process.
Reduce your rest time. Start with a work-to-rest ratio of 1:5. Twenty seconds of hard work followed by 1 minute and 40 seconds of rest will give you a ratio of 1:5. The following week, try using a 1:4 work-to-rest ratio. That will be 20 seconds of work, followed by 1 minute and 20 seconds of rest. You know you’re resting right when you feel a dip in your effort — a sudden drop in power output — in the middle of the second-to-last interval. If you don’t feel that dip, you may not be working hard enough during your work intervals or taking too long of your rest intervals.
Pyramid Attack Bike Exercise
Pyramid drills are a challenging and effective way to push your limits on an assault bike. This exercise gradually increases the duration of each interval and then reduces it in a pyramid-like structure. Pyramid exercises help increase your endurance and stamina:
- Start with 30 seconds of sprints, followed by 30 seconds of rest.
- Increase sprint duration by 10 seconds and decrease rest by 10 seconds with each subsequent lap until you reach a maximum sprint duration of 60 seconds.
- Then, reverse the process, reducing the sprint duration by 10 seconds and increasing the rest duration by 10 seconds in each lap until you are back to 30 second sprints.
Zone 2 Bike Assault Training
Zone 2 cardio is the optimal way to train your aerobic system.
My preferred Zone 2 training method is walking on an incline treadmill or doing the elliptical machine, but occasionally I’ll use an assault bike for my Zone 2. Thanks to the full body nature of the assault bike and the added resistance you get when you pedal faster, I can get to my Zone 2 heart rate fairly quickly and stay there consistently for a long time.
I’ll even hop on an assault bike and pedal for 10 minutes all day when I’m taking a break from work and not moving around much. I can get my heart rate up to Zone 2 levels fairly quickly. It makes a great motion snack.
The only downside to doing your Zone 2 cardio on an assault bike is the loud fan. You must wear earbuds to watch Cobra Kai on your smartphone while you pedal.
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