The Assault Bike, or Air Bike, has gained quite a bit of popularity over the last few years. Anyone that has used the air bike knows that this piece of equipment can be particularly painful when used for developing the anaerobic system, but the air bike can provide additional benefits, other than just smoking your clients.
By using the Air Bike, we can choose from a wide variety of conditioning measures. For most high-level athletes the Air Bike is a staple in their programming and is used on the regular.
For regular folks that simply want to improve their conditioning/recovery and lose body fat, the Air Bike can certainly be a vehicle that drives the results they’re looking for, but to avoid overtraining and boredom, you’ll want to be a little more calculated in how you implement the Air Bike.
Here are some options to consider.
The Aerobic System: Cardiac Output Method
The Cardiac Output Method helps improve oxygen supply by increasing the efficiency of how well the heart can deliver oxygen and by developing the peripheral vascular network.
This method works by stimulating eccentric cardiac hypertrophy through volume overload of cardiac fibers, thus causing them to stretch. This leads to an increase in the left ventricular cavity volume improving the bodies ability to pump oxygenated blood to the extremities.
Any low-intensity exercises, i.e., jogging, biking, swimming, jumping rope will accomplish this, as long as heart-rate is in the correct range, 130-150 BPM (60-70% of MHR for most.) This work requires a minimum of 30 minutes – any shorter and this adaptation won’t take place.
The best part is that nearly anyone can benefit from this method regardless of their training age and ability – this method may be the most effective method I’ve used to develop the aerobic system in which you’ll be able to see the carryover to improved recovery not to mention actually improving oxidative abilities of fast-twitch fibers (yes, even fast-twitch fibers have aerobic abilities.)
Anaerobic Glycolytic: Power Intervals
Glycolytic power output is an essential component of prolonged high energy output. This method works by stimulating an increase in the enzymes involved in anaerobic glycolysis and shifting the metabolism of working muscles to rely more on anaerobic vs. aerobic metabolism.
A wide variety of exercises can be used, from sprints to specific movements done at max intensity for 20-40 seconds.
When done on an air bike for the right person this work tends to be quite painful despite its relatively short duration.
If you’re utilizing this with a client make sure that they possess high levels of absolute strength otherwise they simply won’t be able to pedal hard enough to tap into anaerobic metabolism. Anecdotally we’ve found 650+ watts for the ladies and 1000+ watts for the guys is acceptable in order for this work to be effective.
Anaerobic ATP-PC Power Intervals
ATP-PC Power intervals are explosive bursts of maximal effort work. This method improves the rate of ATP regeneration of the phosphagen system by increasing the number of enzymes involved in its energy production. Any repetitive explosive movement can be used.
Keep in mind that higher-threshold work should NOT be done in back-to-back sessions, but rather you should separate those sessions by 72 hours. These are just three options for each system; there is a variety of measures you could use, but these three will certainly help get you on your way.
The same rules apply as Glycolytic Power intervals – this work favors athletes with high amounts of absolute strength and likely will not be effective with new clients, lighter athletes, and/or weaker folks that simply cannot pedal hard enough.
Here’s what a sample week of programming may look like:
Glycolytic Power Intervals
Every 5:00 x 5 sets:
30s Max Effort Air Bike
15 Hang Power Cleans
Cardiac Output Training
30 Minutes of Low-Effort Work (Zone 1, 130-150 BPM).
*Every 10 minutes get off the bike and complete 10 air squats + 10 push-ups + 10 Deadbugs (to break up the monotony)
ATP-PC Power Intervals
8 x 10s Max Effort.
In short, the Assault Air Bike is a training tool that can efficiently help us improve the conditioning of all three energy systems.
The air bike can also provide a balance from the same ole’ jogging wear and tear and remove athletes from the general breakdown that occurs with frequent bouts of running.
Keep in mind, these are only three methods, and you could certainly extrapolate more ideas from these three, but it’s important to remember the overall intent and ensure that rest intervals are long enough to elicit the correct response.