Will You Take the 100 Calorie Challenge? How to Master the Bike and Increase Mental Fitness

Everyone that has experienced the Airdyne® or Assault AirBike will agree that they’re worthy of the nickname “The Devil’s Tricycle.” The beauty of these bikes is that no matter your fitness level, the aftermath can be devastating. The Assault bike especially has become a staple at major functional fitness competitions and gyms worldwide. From day one, it was a love hate relationship for me and this piece of equipment.

The first time I was exposed to a bike was by my friend Jason Leydon. The workout? A 10 minute test for max calories. I didn’t know what exactly I was in for — only that a score of 300 calories was badass. Ten minutes later I fell off the bike and assumed fetal position until I regained my bodily functions. Ever since, it’s been one of my favorite pieces of equipment for multiple reasons.

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Image: Chris Bruno

Athletes are constantly looking for a mental edge. I am not a skilled or a talented athlete like many of my counterparts, but one of my strengths is to go deep into the “Pain Cave.” This is something I believe you can train. And the Assault AirBike is one of my favorite tools to train the mind. Amidst the pain and suffering that will ensue during a workout, I want you to try implementing these concepts.

1. Self Talk – What do you tell yourself during the workout? When it begins to hurt, do you feel bad for your self ? Or push HARDER? It is really easy to get negative quickly and even ponder why you’re doing this.

2. Do you set intentions prior to your workout and have cues for when discomfort sets in? Set intentions of the standards you want to hold yourself to, a pace a score or anything that is measurable. The cue is something to remind you of your intentions, i.e. repeating “Don’t back off.”

3. Fight or flight – Don’t be afraid of the pain cave. The bike will expose you to this, and when it’s painful, see if you can go harder.

4. Smile – Sounds stupid and not tough, but this helps me trick my brain and body into thinking I am okay. It also has an adverse effect on competition, think of every fight scene when someone smiles after getting hit in the face nothing can be more terrifying to his/her opponent.

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Image: Lisa Haefner

As for the physical aspect of the bike, I implement it almost three times a week in the course of my normal training. I love to use these bikes to hit multiple metabolic pathways.You can go long or short in duration, vary time/ task oriented workouts, and integrate other movements as well.

I like to do sprints, for example, sets of 15-20 calories all out with 2:1 or 3:1 rest. I might do 20 minutes for calories/distance. Some of my favorite workouts integrate the bike to pre-fatigue myself for other things and force the body into moving efficiently under stress. The beauty of the bike is that it doesn’t destroy your joints; it’s very low impact.

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Below are some of my go-to workouts for the bike, along with my goal times and scores. Give them a go and let me know your progress from one workout to the next!

1. 10x 20 calories max effort rest 90 secs (generally I try to keep the 20 cals under 25-30 secs)

2. 20 minute test for max calories (my best is 350)

3. 100 cals for time (did this as a bet with one arm in 4:45)

4. 3 sets, 20 cal bikes, 10 squat clean thrusters, rest 90 secs (fastest round was 1:06 at 135 weight)

About the author

Ian Berger