When it comes to cardio machines, there’s nothing quite like the air bike. It’s part upper body workout, part lower body workout–100% completely brutal. So brutal, in fact, that 5 times CrossFit games champion, Mat Fraser referenced ‘selling his soul’ to it every morning in his retirement message.
If it’s good enough for the CrossFit GOAT, it’s good enough for us!
Air bikes are a total body machine that torches calories. If you want to improve your conditioning or drop weight fast, they’re almost in a league of their own.
Unlike rowers or ski-erg where technique can break down under fatigue, your movement quality doesn’t change during an air bike workout, making it an excellent choice for those workouts where you just have to go to a dark place inside yourself to get them done.
It’s also a perfect high intensity workout for people for those people who are carrying excess weight–unlike a treadmill (which carries a high risk of injury to the joints for obese people), or the rower (which has a compromised range of movement for heavier users).
The Air Bike can be used for all. In fact, it’s my go-to cardio option for my larger clients (as modelled by my amazing client, Rick – with his permission of course)
In this article we’re going to show you a few different Air Bike workouts that will transform your fitness and conditioning in less than 29 minutes each. That’s right–less than half an hour to transform your conditioning and get so much more out of your Air Bike, regardless of your starting point.
**If you’re looking for my top recommendations for air bikes, make sure to check out my in-depth buying guide here.
In order to get the most from the Air Bike, you’ve got to work to its strengths. It’s not a bike in the strictest sense of the word, so if you want to spend a long time on the bike to eat up some miles, my advice is to get a real bike and get outside.
This is ‘bike-like’, in the sense there are pedals and a saddle. That’s basically where the similarities begin and end.
The Air Bike is an out and out power machine, so treat it as such. Your aims should be based around power levels, speed levels and calorie burn.
With the on-board computer you have all of your data in front of you, so you know exactly what you have to hit. You shouldn’t be planning to spend a couple of hours on the thing.
Keep your Air Bike workouts short (all workouts in this article are no longer than 29 minutes), but maintain the intensity.
Each of the workouts below are real workouts I’ve used with my clients on my own Air Bikes at my own gym. I’ve done them myself too, so they’re tried and tested.
There’s 5 here, all with a different set of targets and outcomes. There’s a mixture of intensities, power outputs, work intervals and calorie targets. They’re designed to give you new ideas, to challenge you to work in different ways and to get more from your Air Bike. It’s so much more than a warm up machine or something to go full-gas on for 10 minutes at the end of a workout.
Feel free to tweak all of the workouts here–where I’ve suggested a time, calorie or Watt target, adapt it up or down to suit your fitness levels. These might be too tough, too easy or just right, so it’s up to you to make adjustments as necessary.
All of these bikes are suitable for the Rogue Echo, Schwinn AirDyne, Assault Bike etc, so don’t worry about which bike you have, you’ll be able to perform these workouts on it. The only time you’ll struggle is if you have the Concept 2 Bike Erg and do the workout called ‘Upper/Lower Repeats’, because it doesn’t have the moving arms.
If you are unsure which one to purchase, I highly recommend reading our review here where I go into the best 5 air bike options.
Without further ado, here’s 5 Air Bike workouts in under 29 minutes that will crush you!
1- 30-20-10 Watt Marker
This is a fantastic workout based around a mixture of time and power output, which is measured using the Wattage counter on the screen.
You start with a 2 minute warm up; this is gentle, the idea is to get your legs and arms moving and your blood flowing.
On the 2 minute mark, the workout starts.
Repeat x 25 rounds
Once you’ve done 25 rounds, your clock will be on 27 minutes. You then slow right down for a 2 minute cool down, making the whole workout 29 minutes long.
2- 50/40/30/20/10 Valleys
This is a calorie target workout, where you cycle as fast as you can to each calorie target, then take a 30 second rest where you cycle as slowly as you need to.
In practice, it looks like this…
The ‘valley’ element is you start with a high calorie target on one side, lowering until you reach the bottom at the middle of the workout, then the intensity ramps as you head towards the other side!
Your target is to manage the whole thing in 29 minutes or less.
3- Upper/Lower Repeats
This is a simple workout, but a tough one. It takes advantage of the upper body element of the Air Bike, allowing your legs to recover whilst your upper body takes over.
It’s designed to be an even split between the upper and lower body.
After a 2 minute warm up, you sprint as fast as you can for 30 seconds using only your lower body. Your arms will hold on to the handles, but don’t let them work–their time will come!
Once you reach the 30 second mark, put your feet on the pegs and let your arms take over – for 30 seconds you’re working with your upper body only. If you don’t know what I mean by pegs, they’re these things…
Repeat x 20 rounds
At the end of this workout you’ll have trained your whole body and you’ll be excited about getting off the Air Bike!
4- Tabata Sprints
It’s almost against the law to write an article on HIIT-based Air Bike workouts and not include a Tabata protocol.
For those who have never heard of a Tabata workout, it’s a full-gas workout, designed to have you cooked in 4 minutes. You do this by working flat out for 20 seconds, resting for 10 and repeating 8 times.
The Air Bike is PERFECTLY designed for this kind of workout.
Personally I like my clients to hit 4 Tabata cycles in the workout, but I always allow for enough rest. Here’s how it’s done…
Total time: 29 minutes
5- Speed… like the Movie
This workout tackles that sweet spot of endurance–sprint endurance, where you have to work at a fast pace for a long time. It’s a tough workout, but it’s also very effective. It’s designed to test your ability to maintain a constant speed and it never lets you drop below 60 RPM.
The idea is to maintain your RPM at four levels throughout a 20 minute session. You spend 2 minutes at the start to get used to the idea of working at a constant pace, then you ramp that up.
Minute 1: 60 RPM
Minute 2: 70 RPM
Minute 3: 80 RPM
Minute 4: 90 RPM
Minute 5: 60 RPM
Minute 6: 70 RPM
Minute 7: 80 RPM
Minute 8: 90 RPM
Minute 9: 60 RPM
Minute 10: 70 RPM
Minute 11: 80 RPM
Minute 12: 90 RPM
Minute 13: 60 RPM
Minute 14: 70 RPM
Minute 15: 80 RPM
Minute 16: 90 RPM
Minute 17: 60 RPM
Minute 18: 70 RPM
Minute 19: 80 RPM
Minute 20: 90 RPM
Repeat the same pattern of 4 different speeds until you hit 20 minutes. It’s 5 rounds in total.
The idea here is that you never push yourself to an absolute limit, but then you don’t get a full rest either. It’s a tricky middle spot that will see you working hard for a long time. It’s as close to a steady state cardio workout I’d ever coach on an Air Bike.
Cardio has a reputation for being boring because there’s little change of scenery–movement patterns don’t change much and there’s little variety.
To counteract that I use all of the different measures of intensity that the machine has to give my athletes different targets. Rather than focus purely on time for example, sometimes we’ll use speed, Watts or calories. Occasionally we’ll use a mixture of a couple.
On a machine with limited variability, you have to be creative to squeeze out all of the variability you can to keep the attention and interest up.
The Air Bike is a wonderful tool to add to your own home gym–it was one of the first things on my list when I built mine. It’s the perfect blend of whole body exercise, functionality, price, size and durability.
When you start to look at the different ways you can use it, it takes on a whole new personality. It’s not just something to warm up or perform a finisher on, it’s a useful tool that provides workout variety and excellent data.
Try these workouts and see for yourself–a month of these 3 times per week and you’ll change your fitness and physique dramatically.