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What Exactly Is an Assault Bike For?

Is pedaling away on what appears to be a giant fan really that much better of a workout?

I don’t blame you if you have no clue what an assault bike does. In fact, the only reason you probably know what it is, is because it’s hard to miss a contraption that looks like someone welded a ceiling fan onto the front end of a bike in place of the wheel. 

Obviously, the design of an assault bike would make it woefully impractical to ride on the street, or in any setting other than as a stationary training option. The same argument could be made about an elliptical machine — even though attempts have been made to modify it for an outdoor environment. But the elliptical was originally devised as a fool-proof method for transferring the motion of cross-country skiing into an indoor atmosphere. There really is no qualified analogue for the assault bike.

None of this, however, means that the assault bike is a useless form of cardio. Quite the contrary, actually. It’s just that the assault bike is far less about training yourself for a specific type of event, and far more about torching the fat from your body.

Why exactly would an assault bike be good for me?

It’s truly the closest you’re going to get to simultaneously training the overall conditioning of all four of your appendages on a bike. Simultaneous to the pedaling of your feet, your arms are also pushing, pulling and pumping the handlebars back and forth. 

Again, you won’t necessarily become a more efficient rower, runner, cyclist or swimmer by using an assault bike in place of your regular workouts in those sports. But if you employ set sprinting intervals, or participate in HIIT-style workouts, you can train your mind and body to sustain themselves in max-effort intervals ranging from 15 seconds to one minute, while forcing each of your limbs to contribute to the effort, which will undeniably improve your conditioning.

I don’t care about sports! I just want to burn some calories!

Then you’ve come to the right place.

Don’t believe the estimates that claim you can burn 80 calories per minute on an assault bike; anyone suggesting that you can burn more than one calorie per second — certainly at a sustained level — is selling you a pipe dream. However, you could reasonably expect to burn in the realm of 10 to 20 calories per minute, and annihilate some serious calories (along with your lungs) if you manage to string together several minutes of solid effort.

So let that be a lesson to you: Just because a cardio machine looks like something Tony Stark welded together out of boredom doesn’t mean it won’t leave you with a feeling like an Iron Man when you view the results of training on it in the mirror.