Anaerobic Energy System Training on the Assault® Bike

Anaerobic Energy System Training on the AirBike

Different Tests and Progressions for Improving Different Energy Systems on the AirBike.

Here’s a riddle. What’s in every CrossFit Gym and seldom used? An AirBike of course!

Though the AirBike is a common sight in strength and conditioning gyms around the world, it seems to never be used properly or in a manner which will improve fitness characteristics. In fact, this rampant misuse of the AirBike has transformed its reputation as an excellent strength and conditioning tool into a device of terror, fatigue, and puking.

However, despite its undeserved negative reputation, it still remains as one of the best tools for improving the various energy systems in the body.

Exercise or training on the Assault Bike for the purposes of improving energy systems should be done in a cyclical training manner. Cyclical means that there is only the machine (the AirBike) creating the overall dose response.

Cyclical events are ones in which the same patterns of low load are used over and over. As in erg rowing, only using the erg rower is a cyclical piece, versaclimber is a cyclical piece, the wattbike is a cyclical piece, running is a cyclical piece…you get it.

In the case of the Assault Bike – it is probably the most used piece of cyclical equipment OPEX remote coaching clients use worldwide.


Why do we use it so much?

The machine can fit a lot of people and it is very hard to hurt oneself on it. It has a lot of positive power (concentric only) work – great for capacity, volume and ease on the Central Nervous System(CNS) if used appropriately.

There are times when the anaerobic system needs to be improved. Not for all, but for some. In any case, it is important to know HOW to build this with the right person at the right time. Using the Assault Bike, we will take you through this in a cyclical fashion.

OPEX has created over 30 different specific energy system training protocols for cyclical and mixed modal training to help guide coaches on knowing WHY they are prescribing WHAT they are prescribing. These have been tested and proven amongst the thousands of OPEX coaches we have worldwide. The results have been truly remarkable and fundamental in a shift of understanding energy systems work.

For the simplicity of understating the Assault AirBike and work, we have presented the most effective anaerobic progressive work and time periods, on how to get the correct dose response of training when using the Assault Bike.

As a reminder, it is most appropriate and best practice to move from anaerobic power to anaerobic endurance in the method of training progression. For reasons outside of this information presented here, and like anything there are exceptions, but these are best practices.

The following would be examples and descriptions for a progressive movement from power to endurance on the Assault Bike. How long it takes to progress, how much one does, etc…it is very individualized but this will give the user some insights into the response of each area.

Experiment and enjoy.

Appropriate absolute strength is key in beginning the anaerobic work to follow. A pre-test/post-test of 1 min maximum calories is a requirement, in a controlled setting pre and post.

Alactic – massive burst, short time
Lactic – high energy demand, unsustainable
Capacity – max amount something can contain
Power – move with high force
Endurance – exertion over time

Alactic Power:
5 min Assault Bike easy spin warm up + EMOM; last 10 sec of every minute hard – 4 min

Training Sets:
running start 10 sec @ highest speed and power possible; rest 1:50 walk off bike
4 pieces of 10 sec work/ 1:50 rest
rest then 5 min
repeat another 1-3 sets of 4 pieces with same work and rest ratio
5 min easy spin cool down on the FWB

[This session is for VERY high power output; all efforts should be the SAME per set – and in cases where they are not, finish the workout and get better at pacing for the next time; in most cases this can only be performed with adequate absolute strength; anyone can try them but not all will get the EFFECT of the session; start with one session of 2 pieces of this 10 sec hard, 1:50 rest and then add pieces per session to get to these working sets above; when the working sets above are achieved – one can try to achieve a higher rate at this time frame for the next subsequent sessions OR move on to alactic endurance training]

Alactic Endurance:
5 min FWB easy spin warm up + 3 sets of 10 sec daily hard, rest 50 sec easy spin

Training Sets:
start from a stop – 20 sec @ 95-97% of top speed
rest off bike for 2:40
repeat 4 pieces of the above 20 sec work and 2:40 rest scenario
then rest 8 min walking
repeat the 20 sec work/2:40 rest scenario 1-2 more sets
5 min easy spin cool down on the FWB

[This session is almost achievable for a lot of people with less overall absolute strength and power requirements to elicit the correct dose response; 95-97% will take a while for some to figure out; all efforts should be the SAME per set; scores in peak wattage attained for all sets is a good method to choose for the inconsistencies seen in the FWB and scoring on the monitors; the way we say it at OPEX, is that if you feel 2:40 is too much rest you are 1. not going hard enough in the sets, or 2. you are not strong enough to go hard enough in the sets or 3. you are afraid of going that hard in the working sets]

Lactic Power:
5 min FWB easy warm up
3 x 10 sec hard FWB intervals – 90%; rest 50 sec b/t efforts
2 sets of 30 sec 80 and 90% effort (find pace required for working sets) – rest 2 min b/t sets

Training Sets:
40 sec @ 90-95% effort – high speed, same pace throughout
rest walk 4 min between working efforts
repeat 40 sec on, 4 min off for 2-3 pieces
rest 8-10 min after these 2-3 pieces then attempt one more set of 2-3 pieces if required
5 min easy cool down on the FWB

[This session is quite doable for a lot of folks at this point, which is why it’s the number one prescribed intervals for OPEX CCP coaches around the world in their gyms for fitness goers; in most cases again if individuals do not require the rest time, see the above reasoning in alactic endurance sets; the key point in this session is breath control once the oxygen starts to question its delivery to the working muscles; this is KEY practice for those highly interested in increasing work capacity in large degrees on the FWB, especially is they can get used to this discomfort of lack of breath control and then overcome it (“get comfortable with uncomfortable”); it is most performed due to the recovery requirements, not the pain that it takes to achieve it)

Lactic Endurance A:
5 min FWB easy warm up
2 x 10 sec tough efforts; rest 50 sec b/t each effort
1 x 30 sec effort hard; rest 2 min b/t effort – finding pace and breath control
60 sec FWB @ 80-85% effort; rest 1 min after set
60 sec FWB @ 90% effort; rest 2 min after the set

Training Sets:
60 sec FWB @ 95% effort; rest 5 min after the set
repeat the above 1 min on, 5 min off sequence for 3-4 pieces
rest 10 min walking after these 3-4 pieces of 1 min work/ 5 min rest
repeat these 3-4 pieces one more time as required based on training experience and volume achieved

[These lactic sessions are now bordering on the really uncomfortable so it is IMPERATIVE that the correct pacing was achieved in the previous intervals before this as in alactic power into alactic endurance into lactic power now into these sessions above; it is important to remain active between sets in order to move blood effectively; the 60 sec warm up sets are key to get pace attained for working sets so the brain and muscles, cardiovascular system and lungs can get “acclimatized” as such; the rpm at this stage is quite possibly lower than it was in the alactic sessions and lactic power sessions so be prepared for this as this is normal once you get out and away from the fuel source being primarily only alactic; understand that the sets must be set up for sustainability in ALL sets across to ensure you are doing the sessions correctly; timing and pace and breathing are KEY pieces here]

Lactic Endurance B:
5 min easy warm up on the FWB
2 x 10 sec hard pieces; followed by 50 sec rest after each
2 x 1 min moderately (80-90% sustainable) tough sets; rest 2 min b/t these sets
90 sec FWB @ 85% effort; rest 2 min after this set
90 sec FWB @ 90% effort; rest 3 min after this set

Training Sets:
90 sec FWB @ 90-95% effort; rest 6:30 after each set of 90 sec
repeat this order of 90 sec work and 6:30 rest for 4-6 pieces
5 min cool down on FWB

[As above in lactic endurance A, the breathing, warm up, pace, control must be adhered to; this is to ensure proper pacing for repeatable efforts for all 3-5 pieces or what is required for the training session; walking between sets will be important still; once can process at this stage in training in most cases with more pieces per workout up to a critical drop off (CDO); this is where the pieces can be maintained until the brain simply cannot handle the exposure for the sets and pieces in the training; at this point, one can move onto lactic endurance C training at a lower volume at first OR lower volume in sets in the next training session then follow that up with a peak and maybe re-testing]


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