Many people skip past the assault bike, naively thinking that newer, fancier cardio machines will burn more fat. The reality is that the assault bike burns calories like no other cardio machine in the gym.
Sure the assault bike is not high-tech, but it does not need to be! This full-body cardio machine will challenge your cardiovascular fitness and give you an incredible workout.
Also, because it is commonly used for HIIT and Tabata-style workouts, you can burn calories at a much higher rate than other forms of cardio.
In this guide, we are going to discuss the muscles targeted by the assault bike as well as go over some of the best assault bike workouts you should be doing.
Table of contents
What Is An Assault Bike?
An assault bike (also called a fan or air bike) can be thought of as a stationary bike that adds resistance and further incorporates the upper body for additional fat burn. Unlike a regular bike, your arms will be pumping forward and backward as you do the workout.
The movement of your arms is comparable to that of an elliptical (although much harder). The other difference is that, unlike regular bikes, the attached fan provides additional resistance against your legs.
Top 5 Assault Bike Workouts
Here are the 5 workouts I recommend the most for people trying to get the most out of their assault bike:
1. Classic Tabata
Tabata was a cardiovascular training methodology developed in the 1990s for olympic level skaters to drastically improved their cardiovascular endurance. The general idea was that 10 levels of max effort were followed by ten seconds of rest. This would then be done for several rounds.
Go as hard as you can for 20 seconds
Rest for 10 seconds
Repeat this for 8 rounds
2. HIIT Pyramid Workout
This is a workout that pyramids its way up to a 50-second sprint before coming back down
Minute 1: 10-second sprint, 50 seconds rest.
Minute 2: 20-second sprint, 40 seconds rest.
Minute 3: 30-second sprint, 30 seconds rest.
Minutes 4: 40-second sprint, 20 seconds rest.
Minute 5: 50-second sprint, 10 seconds rest.
Minute 6: 40-second sprint, 20 seconds rest.
Minute 7: 30-second sprint, 30 seconds rest.
Minute 8: 20-second sprint, 40 seconds rest.
Minute 9: 10-second sprint, 50 seconds rest.
3. Max Calories Burned
This workout is absolutely brutal and not for the faint-hearted. It will last a total of 21 minutes.
Pedal as hard as you can for 1 minute
Rest for 2 minutes
Repeat 7 times
4. Death By Air Bike
This is another brutal assault bike workout. The general format is that by the end of each minute you want to have a certain amount of calories burned. You will then up the calorie goal by two calories until you cannot do it anymore.
Minute 1: 2 calories
Minute 2: 4 calories
Minute 3: 6 calories
Keep going until you cannot reach your calorie goal for that minute.
5. The Impossible Minute
This is a great air bike workout to gauge your overall cardiovascular health. The general rule is that you want to go as hard as you can for one minute as see how many calories you can burn.
You should see your numbers go up session after session.
Minute 1: Go all out
I like going back to this every once in a while to see if the work I am doing is actually improving my overall cardio health.
Can I Get A Good Workout Using Just An Assault Bike?
The assault bike is one of the few pieces of gym equipment that can truly be called a full-body workout. As you push through the movement, your chest, arms, back, core, and legs are all being stimulated in some way.
Furthermore, the assault bike also has the key advantage of not only being an aerobic exercise. While your cardiovascular system will bear the brunt of the load, your muscles are also being strengthened by the added resistance provided by the fan.
In particular, the assault bike truly shines when used for high-intensity interval training or Tabata workouts. Since these methods of cardio are centered around short periods of intense work, the assault bike is perfect.
I also not only speak from personal experience, the assault bike is heavily researched and has shown time and time again that it deserves the attention it gets. Studies repeatedly point to the assault bike burning high levels of calories, increasing muscles mass, and improving overall cardiovascular fitness.
What Muscles Does An Assault Bike Work?
The simple answer is that every muscle in your body is being worked by the assault bike. The level of musculature being worked is due to the high level of arm and leg movement combined with the added fan resistance.
In essence, the assault bike can be thought of as a combination of all the usual cardio machines you may run into at a commercial gym. The difference is that the assault bike takes the best part from each and makes it harder!
If you look at the generic movement patterns found in cardio machines, they can all be found in the assault bike:
Rowing Machine: The rowing machine heavily taxes your back and arms as you pull the cable toward your body. The assault bike achieves a movement pattern as you move your arms backward.
Elliptical: Your arms, chest, and shoulders are being worked by the elliptical as you pull and push the arms of the elliptical. Again, the same movement pattern can be found in the assault bike.
Stationary Bikes: While biking, your legs bear the majority of the load as you push the pedals. Since the assault bike also has pedals, your legs are again being heavily stimulated.
Also, it is worth noting that during any cardio movement, your core has to work hard to keep you stabilized and moving evenly.
These are lots of muscles group and movement patterns so here is a quick summary of all the muscles being worked:
Best Benefits From Assault Bike Workouts
An air bike has many benefits but we have picked some of the best to convince you to get started on one ASAP
Ease Of Use
An air bike does not require much instruction, mobility, or technique to get started. Most gym goers just hop on one and get started.
Compact and Portable
This is heavily relevant to home gym owners, but when you think of full-body machines you generally associate a large machine. An air bike is very small and can easily fit into any home gym setup.
Everything is relative. Of course, an air bike is not going to build as much muscle as pure resistance training. But for a cardio machine, the air bike stands mostly unrivaled for the number of muscles it builds.
The cool thing with an air bike though is that you can also directly target which muscles you want to build the most.
Want lower body focus? Simply lay off the handles and let your legs carry the load. Want lower body focus? Ease on the peddles and really focus on moving the handles with your arms.
When choosing any machine, the number one thing I look for is variable resistance. I want to be able to control the difficulty and intensity of my workout so I can make adjustments based on how I am feeling.
If I just did some squats, I am obviously not going to pedal hard on the air bike. But I can still get a good cardio session in by just pedaling at a moderate pace.
If I want to really challenge my cardiovascular fitness, I can pedal faster and get a super intense workout as the air bike will provide more resistance the harder I pedal.
Sure, other cardio machines allow you to change the speed and resistance but you have to do it manually. On an air bike, if you want more resistance you just have to pedal faster. In my experience, this leads to an overall better workout as your workouts feel more naturally paced.
Can Work Around Injuries
For most people, if they get any kind of lower-body injury, their cardio work has to stop completely. This is because the most common forms of cardio like walking, running, biking, etc all require your lower body to be injury free.
Depending on your lower body to train cardio can be a real weakness in your training. Especially given how quickly how fast cardiovascular fitness can begin to fade.
This is where the assault bike really shines in my opinion. Even though it is a part bike, you can still get a good cardio session by using just your upper body.
All you have to do is let your legs rest on the pedals or off them and move just the handles.
Best Tool For HIIT and Tabata
If you are unfamiliar with high intensity interval training (HIIT workouts) or Tabata which are methods of cardio training centered around high periods of intensity.
There is lots of variation but generally will have short bursts of intense energy expenditure followed by longer cooldown periods.
For example, a HIIT workout routine may look something like a 30-second sprint followed by 2 minutes of walking. This would then be repeated 8 times.
The trouble with attempting these types of workouts on most cardio machines is that you have to manually adjust the speed and resistance setting every time. It takes time for you to change the setting as well as for the machine to get up to speed.
The lack of instantaneous change in difficulty means that the overall flow of your HIIT session can be interrupted. Meanwhile, on an air bike, all you have to do to get up to a higher intensity is simply pedal harder.
You longer have to worry about adjusting settings. Just pedal harder or slower. Does not get much simpler.
If you are anything like me, you can quickly get bored of doing the same workout routine week in and week out. Especially when it comes to cardio.
Thanks to the fact that air bikes have variable resistance, you can really do a different workout every day. In this guide, I went over a few of my personal favorites but there really is an endless catalog of great air bike workouts on youtube and Instagram.
At the end of the day, fitness really is just about finding the routine that works for you. I think that many people would that an air bike makes it easy to stay involved and engaged in their fitness routine.
Do not get me wrong, if you go through a hard air bike workout, you will definitely feel it the next day. But I would say the overall impact on your recovery is less compared to other forms of cardio.
Sprint interval training is another great form of cardio. The trouble is that doing all-out sprints causes many people to feel lasting soreness in their knees and chins. This is really not an issue on the fan bike.
How Many Calories Does An Assault Bike Burn?
The average person will burn anywhere from 250 – 450 calories for 30 minutes of assault bike use. The reason this is such a large range is that there are several factors that go into determining how many calories are burned during a workout. Here are the most important factors:
The calories you burn are directly tied to how much you weigh. It simply takes more energy to move more weight around.
If you are a large individual or a man, you can expect your at the top of the range for calories burned.
Not all weight is made equal. Two people can weigh the same but have drastically different bodies due to differences in the proportion of fat to muscle.
As a general rule, bodies with more muscle mass burn more calories doing cardio.
This is perhaps the most intuitive factor. Obviously, 30 minutes of all-out air bike workouts will burn more calories than just going at a slow to moderate pace.
So if you want to burn more abdominal fat and calories, just increase your intensity.
What Is Correct Assault Bike Form?
Knowing all these cool workouts and benefits to air bikes is worth nothing if you are not using the proper form. Here are some key factors to keep in mind to keep your form tight:
Set Your Seat Height Correctly: Your legs should not be fully extended. Adjust the seat so your legs have slightly bent knees.
Lean Forward: Remember that the assault bike is meant to be a very intense form of cardio. By leaning forward, you can produce more force and thus burn more calories.
Stay Tight: This one may get a bit harder as you get deeper into your workout and become tired, but do your best to stay tight. What I mean by this is that you should be keeping your core engaged and torso stable. Do not let your torso sway from side to side.
Stay Focused: It is very easy to drift off and let your dominant body part take over the more tired you get. Just keep your head in the game and remember to push, pull, and pedal so that your entire body gets worked.
The assault air bike is a tremendous piece of equipment that will quickly add some variation to your fitness routine.
Try any of these workouts out you will become an assault bike fan!
Is the assault bike a good workout?
Yes, the assault bike is a great workout that provides both aerobic and strength benefits.
How often should you use the assault bike?
Around 2-3 times a week is a good place to start. Just make sure you are balancing the fatigue with any other exercise you are doing.