Anyone who has an interest in CrossFit®, no matter how deep, knows the amount of pain and suffering Assault Fitness’s Assault Airbike, aka Assault Bike, produces. The suffering felt on the bike has lead to athletes calling the equipment the Devil’s Tricycle. It’s no wonder everyone who jumps on the bike wants to have a plan before they start a workout. And, in this article, we will explore those strategies, and how you can program the Assault Bike into training.
Before we get into all of that fun, let’s take a quick look at the benefits of the Assault Bike. And, remember, this is coming from my perspective, a practitioner, not an expert.
Advantages of an Assault Bike
Ever since I was a little kid, I liked riding bikes. I never was a serious rider, but it is how we got around town, so it’s only natural that I enjoy riding stationary bikes for exercise. Before finding the Assault Bike, I rode a stationary recumbent bike. It took a very long time to get a decent workout. It was tedious and boring. The Assault Bike, on the other hand, shortens a workout by using a fan to increase the resistance. The harder you pedal, the amount of power you output is exponentially more; you are producing more work in a significantly less amount of time.
Another advantage of an Assault Bike over a traditional stationary bike is the use of your arms to help power the fan. You get a full-body workout in significantly less time than you do on a traditional stationary bike that uses legs only.
Ok, enough gloating on the Assault Bike, let’s get into the reasons why we are here–workouts and strategies.
Assault Bike Workouts
There are several different ways you can incorporate the Assault Bike into your workouts. You can use it to train for long cardio events, short power outputs, active recovery, or anything in-between.
Let’s dive a little deeper into these.
Long cardio, or aerobic threshold training, is commonly performed with a steady and continuous pace for a long duration of time (10 – 120 minutes) with a heart rate between 75 and 80% of your max. The Assault Bike achieves this with relative ease. The challenge is to learn your pace by using the RPM (revolutions per minute) or the watt readouts and relate it to your heart rate.
Long cardio sessions do not need much strategy to accomplish. Get on the bike and ride it at a decent pace.
Short Power Outputs
The Assault Bike, with its ability to exponentially increase resistance, is an exceptional tool to train power output and improve lactic thresholds. The best way to do this is by programming a set of short intervals with max output efforts. I like to program 10-minute EMOMs with a 10-second max effort followed by slow recovery for the remainder of the minute. This strategy gives you a 4 to 1 recovery to work ratio to rebuild your energy stores.
Using the Assault Bike for Active Recovery
An active recovery workout is a form of long cardio where you maintain your heart rate around 50% of max. Studies show active recovery helps clear cortisol and adrenaline levels faster than laying around. A light exercise routine reduces the amount of time it takes to recover from a strenuous, high-intensity, workout. You can utilize the Assault Bike, a full-body workout, for active recovery by reducing your RPMs. I often use the Assault Bike for active recovery by reducing my RPMs to around 40 or 45 and riding for 10 to 20 minutes.
First, sorry for the computer programming mixin reference, but I think it applies well in this situation. Just like in computer programming, we can plugin Assault Bike workouts into longer routines with multiple exercises. Typically, we incorporate in the bike by establishing a specific calorie count, but sometimes we use distance. Every once in a while, we will set a time amount to hold above a minimum RPM (e.g., 1 minute above 70 rpm)
An example of a mixin would be
- Calorie Assault Bike
If you need ideas to incorporate an assault bike into a workout, check out all our workouts designed with an assault bike in mind.
Assault Bike Workout Strategies
The best way to tackle the Assault Bike in a workout is with a strategy before you begin. Knowing the effects on your body for different time domains and power output will help with the planning. If you are capable of recovering fast after quick bursts of power, then you can push harder on the bike. If you are slower to recover, then it might be better to take a little more time and ration your energy.
With that out of the way, let’s take a look at some strategies for various workouts.
50 Cal For Time
Before we gained experience on the Assault Bike, we began to mess around with racing to 50 calories and found out quickly this is not a fun workout. Our time domains ranged from 1:24 to 2:01, and everyone suffered equally. At first, we attempted to decrease our time by running quick intervals such as 10 seconds at max effort followed by 20 seconds of recovery at 75-rpm. We found this to be just as physically challenging as covering the 50 calories at full speed, which resulted in faster times. After such a short workout, it would take us a minimum of 45 minutes to recover, and the majority of us did not return to the gym until the next day. For this reason, I advise against attempting 50 cal max efforts. There are better ways to spend your time in the gym than waiting to be able to move.
But, sometimes you don’t have a choice and you must complete a workout that contains a large set of calories on the Assault Bike.
The best way to complete a workout like this is to find a pace that you can sustain without increasing your lactic levels past your threshold so that you can move onto the next exercise. For me, I can hold a comfortable 63-65-rpm pace, which generates around 13-15 calories per minute. If I feel comfortable completing the rest of the workout with some discomfort, I can ride at a 70-rpm pace, which is around 18 calories per minute.
Update on 50 Cal Challenge – New Record!
How did an oversized 48-year-old make it happen?
For several weeks, I diligently committed myself to the Chris Hinshaw Aerobic Capacity training method, with a laser-focused aim of enhancing my performance on the Assault Bike. Every single day, without fail, I dedicated a solid 10 minutes solely to the bike. The strategy was clear: each session would involve a particular type of interval sprint or an all-out max calorie effort. The challenge during these sprints wasn’t just about pushing my limits but also about mastering the art of recovery. Instead of coming to a complete stop after a hard sprint, I’d keep pedaling at a slower pace, ensuring that my legs were continually moving, thus emphasizing active recovery.
As the days rolled on, I began to notice a distinct change. Not only was I recovering faster, but the intensity at which I could recover began to climb. It wasn’t just about catching my breath anymore; it was about doing so while still maintaining a decent pace on the bike. The results of this dedicated regimen were undeniable: my maximum power output showed remarkable improvement. Emboldened by these gains, I set my sights on the daunting 50 calorie challenge. While I had initially expected to finish around the one-minute mark, nothing could have prepared me for the outcome. To my astonishment and immense satisfaction, I demolished the challenge in a mere 34 seconds, setting a new record. The feeling was surreal, and the achievement stood as a testament to the effectiveness of the Chris Hinshaw Aerobic Capacity training method.
It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you dedicate yourself to a process!
10-Minute Max Calories
A 10-minute max calorie ride is a workout in itself. Plan to take a significant amount of time to recover if you plan on doing anything else. In our experience, there are two ways to approach this workout. You can perform it as an interval, or you can find a pace and hold on for the ten minutes. As an interval, you will ride hard for 10 or 15 seconds and then take the rest of the minute pedaling slowly or not at all to recover. My preferred method is to ride at a semi-uncomfortable pace, 68-rpm, and hold it for the duration. Each result in a similar amount of calories. Of course, the harder you can push the more calories you will produce.
When I say low-calorie mixin, I mean under 18 calories. We found pedaling at a maximum effort for ten to fifteen seconds and then riding the rest of the calories out is the best strategy for these types of workouts. Sometimes, especially after the second round, the body will revolt and will not allow you to push for those short-bursts. In these cases, ride as hard as you can. I often find myself drudging along at 55-rpm, which is taxing on the psyche since the calorie output is so low. It is best to maintain above a 60-rpm pace. Remember, calories increase exponentially with effort. Keep pushin’!
Assault Bike RPM to Calorie Chart
Assault Bike RPM to Calories Per Minute Chart
|100||56||na||15 Sec Test 14 cal|
|90||36||890||30 Sec Test 18 Cal|
I have based these strategies on my experiences with the Assault Bike. I have read where every bike can be slightly different in regards to rpm to calories per minute conversions. Also, I have heard altitude can play a role. So, utilize this information as a general guide. It is best if you track your own information, but in short, the harder and longer you pedal, the more work you will generate. Keep in mind that you have to complete workouts, so ration your energy as needed.
With its flexibility in programming, the Assault Bike is one of my favorite exercises to incorporate into my training. It offers many challenges and different possibilities for training several energy systems. You can improve your lactic threshold with interval training or assist with recovery by taking it easy. There are many different strategies you can use to complete a workout, so the challenge never becomes dull. In the end, no matter the strategy, you will feel some burning in your legs and lungs, and come to know why we call it The Devil’s Tricycle.
If you found this article interesting you may enjoy our articles on Every-Minute-on-the-Minute or As Many Rounds as Possible workout methods.
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I'm a has-been high school athlete who now enjoys CrossFit, baseball, and other athletic activities. As a profession, I design software, and I create the majority of I.M.s content. I do it for the fun of it, but I hope it helps others pursue fitness.