The assault bike, also known as the air bike or fan bike, might look like an outdated fitness contraption from the Victorian age. After all, it’s powered by the user’s movements (no electricity involved) and provides resistance as the user pedals through a large fan instead of a flywheel, hence the name “fan bikes.”
Yet, it’s still one of the most sought-after cardio equipment, mainly by CrossFit enthusiasts, as it boosts your cardiovascular fitness and fires up the calorie burn in a distinctive way.
Unlike treadmills and ellipticals, assault bikes don’t require you to spend long, drawn-out durations on them to reap their benefits. In fact, they’re most famous for their efficient weight loss and strength training programs. So they’re a saving grace when you’re tight on time and want to sweat it out in less than 20 minutes.
That was just a hint about the assault bike benefits. Continue reading to know whether assault bikes are worth coming to your home gym and what workouts can you do on them.
What Is the Assault Air Bike Good For?
1. Increases Calorie Burn
The best thing about assault air bikes is that they can help you work up a sweat and lose weight in an efficient way, whipping you into shape in no time. They’re comparable in their efficiency to treadmills, which stand on top of all fitness equipment when it comes to calorie burn.
That’s because the air bike works your entire body, so your body burns more calories to fuel all these working muscles. On top of that, the resistance in air bikes is leg-borne. The faster you pedal, the higher the resistance, which results in more energy being expended to power the exercise.
Speaking in numbers, the average person can burn up to 10 calories per minute by cycling on an air bike at moderate intensity and up to 20 calories per minute at high intensity.
That translates into 50-100 calories per 5 minutes and 300-600 calories in half an hour, which is comparable to the calories burned by running on a treadmill at high speed for the same duration.
Since one pound is equal to 3,500 calories, you can lose around 2 pounds per week if you train on the assault bike for 30-45 minutes daily.
Of course, the exact weight loss you’re expected to achieve depends on your current weight, age, muscle-to-fat ratio, and the duration of your cycling sessions. But the difference won’t be that much.
2. Provides Full-Body Workout
Unlike the standard stationary bike, the assault bike provides a full-body workout, thanks to the attached moving handlebars. Some athletes go as far as calling it the “devil’s tricycle” or “misery machine” for how it works the whole body at a punishing pace.
The biggest perk of the air bike is that, in addition to its high calorie-burn capabilities, it engages different muscle groups and consequently increases the muscle mass throughout your entire body.
Assault bikes use no electricity, so they’re powered by just your legs. This pedaling motion is taken on by your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves.
When the pedals move, the handlebars move as well, working your upper body muscles. By pushing on the handles, you engage your front deltoids and triceps, while the pull movement is carried out by your rear deltoids and biceps.
Working your arms and lower body simultaneously engages your core muscles, too, including your trunk, hips, abs, and back.
With all these muscles working, your lungs and heart become forced to double their efforts to keep up with the exercise, increasing your calorie expenditure.
3. Easy on the Joints
One of the greatest assault bike benefits is that it provides low-impact non-weight-bearing workouts. That means it applies minimum pressure on your back and joints, even when you exercise at a vigorous intensity.
For that, it’s perfect for people with joint injuries, back pain, or limited lower body mobility since they’ll be able to work all their muscles while seated.
Plus, the assault bike poses a little-to-no risk of injury as you don’t stand, bend or do any dangerous movements while exercising. So if something like the treadmill intimidates you with all the actions that could go wrong, the assault bike would be a great alternative.
4. Perfect for Rehab and Recovery
In line with our previous point, the assault bike provides an excellent cardio workout for people in rehabilitation or recovering from a physical injury.
The biggest advantage to it is that it doesn’t require you to use your lower and upper body at the same time. If your arms or shoulders are injured, you can just forget about the upper portion of the exercise bike and just work your legs.
It’s also safe for people with a rolled ankle or hip flexor strain as it doesn’t put much impact on the injured areas yet improves the blood flow to them, which helps in their recovery.
5. Enhances Flexibility and Core Strength
Because your core is engaged in the exercise, the assault bike enhances your body’s posture, balance, and flexibility.
Your core muscles are responsible for your body form and inner stability. The stronger they are, the more you’ll be able to move your body fluidly and do most of your daily physical activities without a hitch.
So if flexibility and balance are among your fitness goals, you should definitely train on the assault bike.
6. Stamina Booster
Air bikes train your arms, legs, and core muscles all at once, leaving you sucking for air after each workout. Because of that, they can be used to prepare your body for metabolic conditioning workouts as they boost your stamina and muscle endurance.
As you train on the assault bike, you develop your aerobic capacity and power. To keep up with strenuous exercise, your heart is trained to pump faster, and your lungs ramp up their efforts to supply your working cells with more oxygen. Not to mention, your muscles become able to utilize oxygen and produce energy faster over time. All that contributes to your stamina.
7. Workout Varieties
As we said before, the assault bike doesn’t just provide a lower body workout like stationary bikes. It engages your upper body as well and is generally one of the most versatile fitness equipment out there.
In addition to steady-state training, you can do several high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts by alternating between short bursts of high-intensity cycling with more resistance and low-intensity periods.
You can also pedal backward or forward, working different muscles in each direction. And no matter what your fitness level is, the assault bike will keep you satisfied, thanks to its ability to scale up.
You won’t have to switch to another machine as you advance in your workouts as the assault bike will advance with you. Because the assault bike’s resistance depends on your speed, the machine will still be challenging as you increase your pace since you’ll have to face more wind resistance.
8. Accessible for Everyone
As rudimentary as they are, assault bikes are very easy to figure out and use. They have no learning curve. Whether you’re a beginner with no prior experience with assault bikes or a professional athlete, you won’t need a certified personal trainer to guide you through them.
They’re also very compact and can fit in any room in your house without eating up the space, so even if you don’t have a designated home gym, you can still own an assault bike. In addition, they’re more affordable than treadmills and elliptical trainers, so many home users are treating themselves now to these bikes.
9. Great Warm-Up Exercise
Did you know that American football players use air bikes to warm up right before their training and matches?
It’s not that strange, really, since assault bikes work all the body muscles, lubricate the joints, and spike the heart rate to a suitable level for exercising without injuries. Not to mention, they’re easy to hop and off, so they don’t take much of their training time.
So it won’t be a bad idea to adopt the same technique as famous footballers and do some assault bike warm-up before starting your regular workout routine.
10. Engages Your Brain
Finally, among the benefits of air bikes is that they engage your mind – just like yoga!
With your whole body moving all at once, you’ll find it hard to zone out or overthink your future while exercising. Instead, you’ll be able to feel your body movements and streamline your workout session to make it more efficient.
Although being aware of your muscle burn might seem a bit stressful, it’s actually a good thing since you train your mind to work under stress and focus on perfecting your body movements, which will reflect on your daily activities later.
Air Bike Workouts
Now that you’re well-acquainted with the air bike benefits, let’s explore some of the assault bike workouts that’ll help you push your limits, lose weight, and boost your strength.
Fan Bike Tabata
The Tabata is one of the shortest yet most intensive assault bike exercises. It only lasts for 4 minutes, but these 4 minutes will work your body as a 30-minute workout on any other cardio machine.
To do this exercise, start pedaling at the highest speed you can manage for 20 seconds straight, then bring down the pace to gentle cycling for 10 seconds. Repeat this sequence 8 times, then cool down.
This workout can help you build your endurance on the assault bike, especially if you’re a beginner. It goes for 9 minutes with alternating intensities:
- 1st Minute: Pedal at a high speed for 10 seconds, then rest for 50 seconds.
- 2nd Minute: Pedal at a high speed for 20 seconds, then rest for 40 seconds.
- 3rd Minute: Pedal at a high speed for 30 seconds, then rest for 30 seconds.
- 4th Minute: Pedal at a high speed for 40 seconds, then rest for 20 seconds.
- 5th Minute: Pedal at a high speed for 50 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds.
- 6th Minute: Pedal at a high speed for 40 seconds, then rest for 20 seconds.
- 7th Minute: Pedal at a high speed for 30 seconds, then rest for 30 seconds.
- 8th Minute: Pedal at a high speed for 20 seconds, then rest for 40 seconds.
- 9th Minute: Pedal at a high speed for 10 seconds, then rest for 50 seconds.
Belly Fat Burn
If your target is to shred belly fat, this 3-round exercise can help you achieve your narrower-waist goals.
For the first round:
- Cycle on the assault bike at vigorous intensity until you burn 10 calories.
- Hop to the floor and do mountain climbers for 30 seconds.
- Repeat both sets 3 times, then rest for a minute.
For the second round:
- Cycle on the assault bike at vigorous intensity until you burn 15 calories.
- Do burpees for 30 seconds.
- Repeat both sets 2 times, then rest for a minute.
For the third round:
- Work your arms only on the assault bike until you burn 10 calories.
- Then, cycle for 30 seconds.
- Do 30 seconds of push-ups, then 30 seconds of plank.
- Repeat the sets 2 times, then rest for a minute.
After you finish the 3 rounds, do them all over again 2-3 times.
The 26-Minute Calorie Burning Workout
To perform this exercise, alternate between 40 seconds of cycling on the assault bike and 40 seconds of any strength training exercise you like (squats, lunges, situps, etc.). Then, repeat the set 12 times with 20-second recovery periods in between.
Emma James, 29 years old professional fitness trainer with Bachelor’s degree in Physical Fitness Technician from Boston University.