Learn to love the “devil’s tricycle”

It’s the rare person who sees the words “assault bike” on the white board and smiles. For most, the assault bike is the gym villain—the bringer of cardio-hell/quad-burning nightmares. That’s a shame because the assault bike’s benefits make it really something of a fitness hero.

Clearly, the assault bike can help improve aerobic capacity. It’s how it does it that makes it so great. Compared to a bike, which relies mainly on leg power, the assault bike makes your arms work too. That full-body effort means you’re stoking aerobic conditioning while simultaneously pushing for hypertrophy.

The assault bike also is a great rehab and/or injury-recovery tool.   Someone with a lower-body injury who still possesses the ability to do conditioning work should definitely be using the bike. There’s zero impact on your joints so it’s a great replacement for running and rowing. It is also a good option for rehabbing an injury — increased blood flow aids the healing process.

The assault bike’s benefits are important to keep in mind. But if they still don’t make you want to hop on and take a spin then maybe you need some tips on how to master the equipment.

Here they are:

Adjust the seat

Seat placement is key. Have the seat set too low and your quads will burn out even quicker. Have it too high and the power output will be lower. The seat needs to be placed high enough that your legs are completely straight, your heels are on the pedals, and your pelvis is in a neutral position. Once the seat is adjusted correctly press down on the pedals with the ball of your foot. The seat should be moved either forward or back so that you are able to get a slight lean forward towards the hand pedals.  When using the arm pedals, try switching between pushing the arms out and pulling them back — this will change the stimulus and allow for a longer push.

Pace appropriately

It feels awesome when the bike is moving really fast and the fan is racing and it sounds like you’re competing in Nascar, but this approach is not always beneficial.  Typically you want to keep the RPM around 3-35 for a long distance ride (60 minutes), 45-50 for 30 minutes,  55-65 for 5 minutes and 70-plus for short sprints.

Your AB challenge should you accept it:

If you want to work on your conditioning here’s a great short interval workout that is already programmed on the bike (ask a coach for help if you’re struggling to find it).

The workout:

Perform 8 rounds of 20 seconds on (high intensity) and 10 seconds rest.

If maintaining a high output for all 8 rounds is tough then start with the reverse, i.e, 10 seconds on (high intensity) 20 seconds off (that is programmed on the book as well).

Whatever workout you choose to do, enjoy every second. And don’t forget to smile.


Broder McNeill is a co-owner and coach at Alchemy CrossFit.

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