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If you’re CrossFit Games athlete Brittany Weiss, there might not be any piece of equipment that garners a stronger reaction than the assault bike. The bike uses a fan to generate resistance, meaning that the harder you pedal, the harder your body works. Because of the arm-pumping and pedaling used in the exercise, it provides a full-body workout, helps in metabolic conditioning and boosting endurance.
Weiss, who’s competed in two CrossFit Games, is well versed in those benefits, even with having a love-hate relationship with the bike. It’s a constant in her offseason training currently, and something she’s coming around to not disliking as much.
Brittany Weiss spoke with Muscle & Fitness on why the assault bike can be for anyone looking to increase their output and build their aerobic base. She also gave some helpful tips to make sure you get the most out of any workout that include the bike and provided one of her most recent workouts.
I have a love/hate relationship with the Assault bike ([aughs]. I’m not a very powerful athlete, so I can actually benefit from the assault bike. The bike is more about power output, how well you can give it all you got, and can be quick with it. It’s not about I’m going to pace and just stay at this level. It’s actually really good to improve your power output. One of my “favorite” workouts on the Assault bike is anywhere from 20 to 30 sets of 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off. That’s giving it all you got for 30 seconds, take 30 seconds off, and keep repeating that. It’s also going to build your engine, your aerobic base, and build your power.
Every day, a workout has a machine in it. Right now, in the offseason, we’re doing things with machines we’re not very good at, so the assault bike is in my routine a lot right now (laughs). But I will say that I feel the assault bike is something that you can just get on and just do it. It doesn’t take a lot of warming up, stretching, getting ready and prepping for it. It’s something where you can kind of warmup as you go. That’s why I love it for people who are on the fence about getting one. All you have to do is throw on some headphones, hop on the bike, and just start going.
If you want a leg pump, you can do five to 10 rounds, depending on where you’re at. Let’s say eight calories, 20 air squats with rest 60 seconds in between. Repeat that for five to 10 rounds. In the beginning, you’re air squatting and knowing that you have rest in that last eight calories helps you push a little bit harder. You can do the same thing with burpees, or maybe add in an EMOM. An EMOM from anywhere from 12 to 20 minutes. 45 seconds on the bike, rest 15 seconds. That’s the first minute. The second minute, 45 seconds of burpees, 15-second rest, and you just keep cycling through that for 12-20 minutes.
I’ve seen a meme before that explains different techniques of the Assault bike and what it looks like when they get tired. But I think the biggest thing you need to focus on is not moving your body side-to-side and letting everything flail around. For me, I focus on knees in and really driving down into the pedals. You also have your arms to use, so there’s strength in your arms and legs. When you’re pushing down, you’re also pulling. You don’t want to stay relaxed anywhere. You can relax a little on the grip, but you want to think about pulling on the handles, pushing down on the peddles, and keeping your knees in line. Sometimes, when I feel my knees go out, you don’t get as much force into the peddles. On the assault bike, you want force and power output.
I think about where I’m at and where I want to go. For me, it’s more about the message I’m saying to myself about where I want to get to. Where I want to get to isn’t going to be easy but if I can stay in it here and put my focus and all of my energy here, it’s just going to set me up to where I want to get to in my athletic career. The mind is such a big part of it. The way you talk to yourself is how you’re going to perform. If you go into a workout saying it’s going to suck or you’re not good at something, it’s going to suck and you’re not going to be good at it. If you go into something and you tell yourself you can do it and you have that positive self-talk, you’re going to exceed your expectations by so much. I just always try and encourage people by letting them know the way you talk to yourself matters, and that’s how I approach every workout.
Carbs! People are scared of them. Carbs are your friend in fitness and in anything. A carb drink is what I would do personally. After hard workouts like that, I don’t like to eat. I would rather drink my calories. I feel like a lot of people are like that. When you do something that is high intensity, you’re not really hungry. But your body needs food and nutrients to recover. I’m a big fan of a carb drink right after and you’ll be surprised about how you feel after 30 minutes.
It’s really up to you how hard you want to push and how much rest you want to get before that next set. If I were giving a female/male cal ratio, guys are obviously more powerful. They’re built different, they’re bigger, and they can put more force into it. Typically, in a workout, I would do 60 cals in eight minutes, guys would probably do 80 cals. This one is actually really gnarly. You do your first set and you’re happy you did it in four minutes, but you realize you have to do it again, and again.
Follow Brittany Weiss at @brittany_weiss