AirBike Workouts| 5-Mile Ride for Time

Airbike Workouts

Assault Bike: “The Devil’s Tri-Cycle”

The 5-mile ride for time is oxygen depleting, soul-crushing middle distance cardio masterpiece.  

If you’re shooting for PR’s with each attempt, this workout will cut you down every single time. 


The airbike is a low-impact/high fatigue piece of cardio machinery perfectly designed for high-intensity workouts.  The 5-mile ride is an ideal challenge to measure aerobic threshold capacity. 

If you’re looking for a baseline cardio challenge or just a time-efficient workout, this is it.

I love airbikes…

Airbike training is a bland topic to write about because biking is uneventful.  There’s virtually no skill required to peddle a stationary bike.  

I have friends that rip on my love affair with the airbike.  I’ll argue they one of the best, if not the best piece of cardio equipment available.  

The training effect is potent, the risk of injury is non-existent.

The dual-action arms make riding a total body experience.  

The amount of air resistance is proportionate to intensity.  In other words, the resistance increases with the increase exertion.  Trying to sustain higher intensities on the airbike is a first class way to trash yourself (in a good way).  

The 1-minute ride for most calories is a perfect example.

5-Mile Ride Instructions…

The instructions for the 5-mile ride are simple:  ride 5 miles as quickly as possible.

That’s it.

I wish I had more to add, but simple is best.

Hop on the bike and ride 5-miles as fast as you can.  Record your time so you can monitor progress and identify the time to beat for the next ride.  If you can self-motivate, tracking your numbers will give you massive fuel for future attempts.

Make sure you remember to record your time.  Each time you set a personal best, it will serve as the benchmark for the next attempt.  It’s a great way to measure improvements in fitness. 

Knowing your best time also serves as motivation during the next attempt.

Finding the data…

Over the years, I’ve been unable to find a log of best 5-mile airbike times on the internet.  I’ve seen private gyms and colleges post times, but not the general public.

I’ve come across plenty of recorded times using the large fan Schwinn Airdyne, but fewer using modern airbikes like the Assault Bike.  

The Airdyne has been on the market for 20+ years so naturally there will be more data for the bike. 

I was able to locate several clips of 5 -mile rides on YouTube, but watching someone ride a bike for 12 minutes is boring, not to mention no quality control to verify methods.  

Basically what I’m looking for is visual proof of finishing time.  

Could be a video or a picture of the computer monitor upon completion.

Strategies to crush the 5-Mile Ride…

Briefly, your best 5-mile time will depend on the following:

  •  Increase in fitness levels (strength, power, endurance, etc)
  •  Willingness to be uncomfortable for an extended period of time (grit).
  •  Strategizing pace for 80-85% of the ride, sprinting the remaining distance.

Unlike a lot of popular air bike workouts, the 5-mile ride requires a bit of strategy.

Don’t sprint too early.  If you come out of the gates too hard, you’ll hit the wall and have nothing left to give as you near the end.  I’ve done this plenty of times.  The mental chatter gets louder and louder if you push too hard, so much so that it often convinces you to back off so much that it affects your finishing time drastically.

Don’t save it all for the end.  If you save most of your effort for the end, you’re likely losing valuable seconds in the beginning and middle, which you might not be able to make up at the end.

Pace yourself with RPM’s and heart rate.  When testing myself, I monitor my heart rate (beats per minute) and RPM’s closely to gauge my effort.  I try to limit tunnel vision on mileage and time in the early parts.  The miles never pass by fast enough and the time drags on, both of which can cut your heart out when you just want it all to be over.

Intra-workout, obsessing over distance can be awfully defeating. So, I avoid checking up on distance until the back-end of the workout.  The beginning and middle sections of the ride is a good time to find your groove with pace, focus on breath and find some sort of comfort with the exertional stress.

When the monitor reaches the 3.5-mile mark, it’s time to floor it.  All out effort until the end.

This hasn’t always been the strategy for me.  I used to kick it into gear at the 4.3-4.5 mile mark.  

Use your arms.  The legs can generate more power and exert for a longer duration, but the arms play an important part in shaving seconds off your personal best.  You must get your arms involved in taking on some of the workload.  The dual action arms are attached to the bike for reason, use them to your advantage.  Push and pull, push and pull.

Lift your legs.  Resting your legs on the pedals creates more resistance for the working leg and the arms. Actively pull your knee up to help the pedals turnover with less resistance.

Posture.  Keep the chest tall and the butt situated firmly on the seat.  Standing during the ride is cheating and hunching over restrict your breathing.  Fatigue is notorious for eating away at body posture.  Stay tall to open the lungs and bring in more oxygen when you need it.

What’s a good time?…

Anything below 12 minutes is a great time.

Here are the closing seconds of my most recent attempt:

Finishing closer to 11 minutes is considered elite status.  A sub-11 minute ride can be done, no doubt about it.  However, as you become more fit, it becomes more difficult to shave seconds off the finishing time.

In my last attempt, I finished at 11:26.  My best time is 11:07, verified with picture proof Instagram.


I need your help compiling the data…

If you decide to test yourself, come back and leave your time in the comments section (, either in the comments section or on the Meauxtion Facebook Page, Meauxtionfit on Instagram, whatever.

*** If you choose to submit your time, please take a snapshot of the computer monitor immediately after finishing.  We need proof.  No cheaters.

The original mission of writing this post was (and still is) to establish an online logbook of best times for the 5-mile ride using the Lifecore Assault Bike, Schwinn Airdyne or Xebex Airbike.

I have not been able to locate a list of best times, similar to what Concept 2 does with popular Skierg and Rowing Erg distances.

Note:  If you’re riding the 5-mile using the Schwinn Airdyne, please make sure it is the large fan version, not the small fan. Large fan bikes provide more air resistance.  One more consideration for Schwinn Airdyne users… it’s been reviewed by many that the newer generation bikes (Assault Airbike) have an increased level of resistance.

I cannot quantify how much harder the Assault bike compared over the Airdyne, but I’ve read some people speculate there is up to 40% more resistance using current generation bikes like the Assault.  

My finishing times do not reflect a 40% increase in resistance.  Not sure where people are getting this from.

I can speak to SOME increase in fan resistance with the Assault Bike, but not like Mike Boyle did on this blog post.  

Screen Shot 2017-07-06 at 5.52.55 AM.png

Mike’s computer monitor must be calculating distance and time differently because an 8-minute difference between old style Schwinn Airdyne and current generation Assault Bike is huge!  

What I can speak on, are the improvements in design, material choice and therefore the overall durability of the Assault Bike.  As soon as I hopped on my Assault Bike I could feel the difference.  Of course, any airbike is going to require consistent tightening of loose bolts and basic maintenance to the chain, but man the new generation bikes are nice.  

Assuming this article can draw enough visitors who are willing to share times, I will start compiling the data.


Cheers to the 5-mile ride for time,



3 Conditioning Workouts to Check Your… Conditioning.

Quick Tips


One of my favorite things to do when I am training in a commercial gym is to use machines for everything but what they are intended to be used for.

Take the infamous Smith Machine for example.  I have never performed a Smith Machine specific exercise on this piece of equipment, and I never will.

The Smith Machine

The $2,000 “coat rack”

Why?  Because…

1)  I am an able bodied individual and should therefore be working with free weights.

2)  I value moving the through a natural range of motion with and without external resistance. (Smith machine is guided on tracks)

Squats, lunges, curling (I don’t even know how this would work) rowing are not for the Smith Machine, assuming you are an able bodied individual.  A Smith Machine to me is a glorified Nautilus machine.  They make great coat racks and leaning stations for recovering trainees in most gyms.

However, I have used the Smith Machine to execute movements such as:

  • Inverted rows (2 arm and 1 arm)
  • Plyo-like Bench Throws
  • Lateral torso holds
  • 1-Arm Push-Up progressions
  • Mountain climber progressions
  • Hip mobility warm ups

I may have to whip up a post about how to leverage a Smith Machine for executing different movements, we’ll see.

But whatever, this post wasn’t intended to bash Smith Machines.

The goal here was to provide you with some non-traditional ways to use some common pieces of equipment.


 Screen Shot 2013-03-26 at 1.36.00 PM

Better use of treadmills… Incline + MPH

—> Treadmill Hill Sprints:

  • Set the speed of the treadmill to 8-10mph.
  • Set the incline to 8-10 degree of inclination.
  • Sprint for 15 seconds, step off and rest for 15 seconds (this equals 1 round)
  • Perform 10-12 rounds.

Screen Shot 2013-03-26 at 1.36.23 PM

The greatest low impact conditioning tool of all time.

—>  Stationary Bike 20:10 Protocol (I will not refer to it as the Tabata Protocol!)

  • Set the bike to medium resistance (you should be able to pedal around 90-100 rpm)
  • Spin as hard as possible for 20 seconds, follow that will 10 seconds of rest (this is one round)
  • Complete 8 total rounds and check fatigue levels.
  • If you have more in the tank, complete another 8 rounds or modify as needed.
  • *** I have commonly modified this type of workout to 6 rounds x 2-3 sets with 2 minutes rest in between.
  • Stay seated the entire time.


—>  5 Mile Ride for Time

I have talked about this conditioning test before on this site, somewhere, but it deserves to be talked about again.  Here are the specs on this challenge:

  • Ideally you’ll use a Schwinn Airdyne, but you can use any other stationary bike in a pinch.  Make sure that the bike has a mileage gauge on it, otherwise you won’t know when you’ve completed the 5 miles.
  • Set to light-medium resistance… and GO.
  • Again.. pedal pedal pedal and keep pedaling.  There isn’t much else to say here.
  • Chart the time that it takes to ride the full 5 miles, record it, attempt to beat it the next time around.
  • *** On the big fan Airdyne, my best is 11min30sec.  It was a bear.  I think my friend and fellow strength coach Joe Gorshe (Bemidji State Hockey) finished around 12:15-12:30min if I am not mistaken.


—>  Kettlebell Swing Breath Ladder

  • Grab a kettlebell that you know you can swing for at least 20 reps.  
  • Match the number of swings with the number of breaths for each round.
  • Set the kettlebell down after each round of swings and take an equal number of breaths.
  • Begin the next round of swings once you finish your breathing reps.
  • ***  This is high volume swinging, but shifting focus to calming your breathing really slows things down nicely
  • Focus on your swing technique.  Move from hips, stay tall and rigid at the top of the swing.

Kettlebell Swing Breath Ladder



—>  Closing thoughts…

A couple of these methods incorporate interval style training.  Go hard during the work sets of an interval training session.  Rest is coming don’t you worry, but go hard when it is time to work.

Always wear a heart rate monitor if you can.  It’s a great way to gauge your efforts and your ability to recover from those intense efforts.  It also keeps you honest during your training sessions.  Monitor your progress, how long it takes to recover, how high your heart rate reaches during each work set, etc.  You can learn a lot about your conditioning levels/progress by checking keeping an eye on this information.

On the treadmill conditioning workout, remember that the incline of the treadmill is going to require that you drive your knees all the way through with each stride.  If you get lazy, even just for one stride, you could catch your toe on the belt of the treadmill and get spit off and look ridiculous.  Avoid this.  Drive your knees, drive your arms, extends you hips with each powerful stride.

Use your head during these training sessions.  Don’t be afraid to scale the intensity down to suit your needs.  There is no shame in that.  It’s a process, you’ll get there.  If you have questions on how to go about doing this, just ask… I will field any and all questions…


Cheers to building up your conditioning!



*** Coming up next:  The next Saga in the Coach Hacker series…***

15 minute Workout: Why I Don’t Give a Sh*t About the Tabata Protocol

15 minute Workouts

The Tabata Protocol is a simple and sinister conditioning protocol, possibly  more classified as a raw test of will-power.

The original structure of the Tabata Protocol looked like this:

Round 1: 20sec work/10sec rest

Round 2:  20sec work/10sec rest

Round 3:  20sec work/10sec rest

Round 4:  20sec work/10sec rest

Round 5:  20sec work/10sec rest

Round 6:  20sec work/10sec rest

Round 7:  20sec work/10sec rest

Round 8:  20sec work/10 sec rest

4 minutes in hell.

What is the Tabata Protocol?

The Tabata Protocol was conducted in 1996 to observe the effects of moderate-intensity endurance and high-intensity intermittent training on anaerobic capacity and VO2max.  That’s a mouthful.  Using a braked cycle ergometer, participants worked through 7-8 sets of 20:10 (work:rest) at 170% VO2max.  This training protocol was performed 5 days per week for 6 total weeks.


Who is the Tabata?

Yes, Tabata, is actually a person.

Profesor Izumi Tabata is a former researcher at the National Institute for Health and Nutrition and is currently a professor and researcher  at Ritsumeikan Unversity.

I thought you should at least know what the guy looks like…

Why is it NOT relevant to YOU?

110% effort.

I know you work hard in the gym, but trust me, there is another gear that everyone can tap into.  110% exertion is beyond the governor that most of us are calibrated with.

A lot of us will never know what 110% effort is like.

The original Tabata Protocol involved training at an effort that would left nothing at the end of the 8th round.

You can work “hard” during your Tabata, but you won’t touch the intensity the subjects in the study put forth.  Sorry.  That doesn’t mean that you won’t get some kind of training effect from it!


How to make the Tabata Protocol Work for you…

You can start by calling this type of training what it really is… negative work to rest ratio or maybe a “20:10 workout”.  Meaning, the amount of time you are going to spend in your work sets is longer in duration that you rest periods during each rep/round.

Don’t take this the wrong way, but you’ll never touch the 170% VO2 max.

170% of your VO2 max looks something like this…

170% VO2 max = Eyeballs popping out of your head + lungs being vomitted


Tabata protocols is an advanced conditioning workout.

You are going to find that your fatigue levels are going to increase beyond what you are accustomed to, draining your energy reserves rather quickly, which means that your output in the later rounds is going to be shit.

The Tabata Protocol never looked at fat loss, and the actual subjects who were engaged in this type of training actually used a 5th day of aerobic exercise during the study.

This is what happens sometimes when research hits the mainstream.  Magazines need something to write about and trainers need a way to set themselves apart, so new modalities are formed, and the general population bites on the hype.

What we do know is that high exertion/intensity exercise is effective as hell for jarring our system and creating an environment that is more likely to burn fat.  There is no question about that.

But picking up heavy things and building muscle will also get you lean, so don’t get tunnel vision on interval training.

I would use the Tabata as a finisher if you are short on time at the end of a workout.

Get your strength training in, rest a few minutes while you set up on the bike, then rip out 8 rounds of hell.

I know that you will get a positive training effect assuming you put forth an effort that is way out of your comfort zone.



I have used the 20:10 protocol a lot.  I can tell you that I have never touched the 170% VO2 max effort that the subjects put forth in the study.  Mentally, I am not even there.  Most times I am pressed for time after my resistance based work, and the 20:10 method is quick and effective solution. 8 minutes is all you need.

I always use 20:10 type work on my Schwinn Airdyne.  There is nothing like an Airdyne.  I found mine on Craigslist from an old lady, best investment ever for low impact cardiovascular work.

Do I find the Tabata structured protocol difficult?  Hell yes.  Like anything, try it for yourself.  Make your own decisions.  Negative work to rest ratios leave a person gasping for oxygen.  I don’t care how well-trained you are, oxygen depletion in that short of a time is going to leave you “well-done”.


Let your heart guide you…

As always, I encourage you to wear a heart rate monitor and see where you end up.  You’ll notice the lag time between the end of your last 20:10 round and your heart rate, as your heart rate will continue to creep up.  This is normal with anaerobic work.  See where you get and chart it.  How long does it take you to recover to 130bpm after your last rep?  Chart that.  If you used a bike (which I encourage) how far did you go during your work sets… chart that too.  Aim to increase your distance each time.


Give it a shot and let me know how it goes in the comments section…