Air Bike Workouts: The 5-Mile Ride for Time

Airbike Workouts

The 5-mile ride for time…

… aka:  “The 5-mil’er”…

… is a middle distance cardio masterpiece.

Because it’s an air bike workout, it’s also low-impact yet high fatigue.

The 5-mile ride for time is ideal for the individual who’s looking for a time efficient, simple yet difficult cardio challenge.  The average time to finish this workout will be anywhere from 11-15 minutes.

5-Mile How-to…

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

No, I am not being a smart ass.

Hop on the bike and cover 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.

I’ve seen plenty of recorded times using the large fan Schwinn Airdyne, but much less using the Assault Bike or the Xebex Airbike, both of which are vastly superior to the older model Airdynes.

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

It’s a little surprising considering how valuable this workout is for measuring aerobic capacity in athletes and average folks alike.

Now, I was able to locate several of 5 -mile air bike rides on YouTube, but to be honest, watching someone ride a bike for 12 minutes is boring.  I just want to know the times and have visual verification of the computer monitor upon completion (for proof).

Strategies to win the 5-Mile Ride…

Briefly, your best 5-mile time will probably be proportionate to the following:

  •  Increase in fitness levels (strength, power, endurance, etc)
  •  Willingness to be uncomfortable for an extended period of time (guts).
  •  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 lose 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 I’ve tested myself on the 5-mil’er, I monitor my heart rate (beats per minute) and RPM’s closely to gauge my effort.  I try to limit any tunnel vision on mileage and time in the beginning, because the mileage never moves fast enough and the time drags on.

Mentally, obsessing where you’re at distance-wise can be awfully defeating, so I avoid checking it until the middle to back-end of the workout.  The beginning and middle of the ride is a time for pacing and breathing.

When the monitor reaches the 3.5 mile mark, it’s go time.  All out until the end.

It hasn’t always been this way.  I used to kick it into gear around the 4.3-4.5 mile mark.  The point at which you drop the hammer and go for it

Use your arms.  The legs have a far greater capacity to do work, but the arms can take 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. Actively pull your knee up to help the pedals turnover.

Sidenote:  I recommend maintaining upright posture, chest facing forward, butt slid back on the seat.  Take in as much oxygen as possible while riding.  Hunching over restricts breathing and doesn’t do anything for anyone.  Your body will try to convince you slump (taking the path of least resistance) as you get tired, but fight it, stay upright.

What’s a good time?…

A good time for a 5-mile ride is right around 12 minutes, maybe +/- 30 seconds.

Finishing in 11 minutes or less can be done, but you’re going to be giving it hard to achieve that.

In my last attempt, I finished at 11:26 min/sec.


Shaving a few seconds off of your best time is a lot harder than it may seem.

Air bikes are magic…

I have friends that rip on my love affair with the air bike, but it really is one of the best pieces of cardio building fitness equipment out there.

The proof is in the pudding with air bikes.  The harder you exert, the harder it gets.  It’s awful at higher intensities.  Air bikes have no learning curve, no impact and an extremely high training effect, making it ideal for fat loss,

Riding 5-miles for time is short enough to keep you interested, but long enough to initiate the “I want to quit this right now” thought pattern.

Goofy as it may seem, building an unshakeable attitude toward pushing through physical stress will spill over into all areas of your life.

Not giving up is an attitude, and it’s free.

Next steps… I need your help…

Here’s my request…

If you decide to test yourself with the 5-mil’er, come back and record your time on, 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 snap shot of the computer monitor immediately after finishing.  We need proof.  No cheaters allowed.

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, Xebex Airbike) have an increased level of resistance.

I cannot yet quantify how much harder the Assault bike is over the Airdyne, but I’ve read some people speculate there is up to 40% more resistance with the Assault and Xebex bikes.  I previously owned a large fan Schwinn Airdyne before transitioning to the Lifecore Assault Airbike, and I can say that the Assault bike is a much more challenging bike to ride.

Just something to think about.

Assuming this article can draw enough visitors who are willing to share times, we can start to compile the data and create percentiles, competition, baselines, etc.

Just in case you’re wondering, there is no bad time for the 5-mile, so please take a chance, get vulnerable, submit your time!

If you’ve got the courage to get on and give it your best, that is absolutely what matters most. I salute that effort.


Cheers to the 5-mile ride for time,




A Great Trick for Stationary Bike Workouts to Boost Conditioning

Quick Tips

Stationary Biking

The stationary bike is not the devil.

Riding the stationary bike might be on the lower end of eventfullness  and brutally repetitive, but it is not the devil.

I’m about to share completely unscientific and unsupported Jedi Mind trick for your next stationary bike workout that will boost your conditioning efforts.

I use it extensively in my home training sessions on my trusty Schwinn Airdyne.  If you’ve read any of my work in the past, you know by now that I believe that the Airdyne (yes the old school Schwinn Airdyne) is one of the best conditioning tools on the market.

Browse on Craigslist and I best you can find one dirt cheap.

Craigslist Schwinn Airdyne

It’s well worth the investment assuming you give it a little TLC to ensure that the nuts and bolts stay tight and the chain is lubed.

But you don’t need the almighty Schwinn Airdyne to reap the benefits of making this simple switch to increase the effectiveness of your biking sessions.

The fact is, although it might not be the BEST option, you can get yourself into excellent cardiovascular shape by riding the stationary bike on a regular basis.  At the very least, you can lay a great foundation of conditioning to build from.  If you’re a runner, you might find that the carryover from the bike to the pavement isn’t the greatest, as it really isn’t.

The demands of running and cycling are different.  Just because you are efficient at one doesn’t mean you’ll be efficient at the other.  Look at Lance Armstrong’s (all doping aside) plunge into the running world.  A lot of people thought based on lab statistics that he could finish quite high in the marathons that he ran, but this just wasn’t the case.  Lance was quoted to say post-marathon, “that was the most challenging thing I’ve ever done”.

Interesting don’t you think.?

But anyways, the stationary bike is a low impact alternative to other higher impact methods of cardio such as running.  Running also isn’t the devil, but high impact all of the time can agitate and overwhelm a person’s body.  The stationary bike becomes a valid alternative in these situations, and with the properly prescribed training session, it delivers.

At some point, despite your personal preferences, you may find yourself forced to ride a stationary bike, and I am here to tell you that it really doesn’t have to be a nightmare.  Embrace it, make the best of the situation.  Put in your headphones and get to it.

As mentioned in past posts, a person doesn’t need special equipment to leverage the benefits of a workout… but you have to be wiling to adapt on the fly and try something new occasionally.

So, here is a subtle trick for you to squeeze even more out of that dreaded pedal session…

Schwinn Airdyne Ride for Distance Training Protocol

What’s different you ask?

Riding for distance, that’s what.  I want you to ride hard for a distance versus riding for time.

In fact, forget about riding for time, ride for distance for the next 4-weeks.  When you ride for time, people tend to give a much lower effort, just “surviving” against the clock.  A lot of us will quit pedaling well before the clock hits our target work time.  I’m guilty of it.

When you pedal for distance, you want to get the pedaling over with a quickly as possible.  This is a natural tactic that promotes effort beyond what you may have given had you been riding against the hands of the clock.

Although I have a sickening love for the infamous 5-mile Airdyne Trek for time, if I am performing short burst work, I typically keep the distances between .2-.5 miles.  On the big fan, .3 miles typically takes me between 39-45seconds to complete.

That is a long time to be pushing it hard.  Remember to remind yourself not to judge the demands of the workout based on the first set, second set or even the third set either.  As I have said before…

… the fatigue is coming, be patient, it is coming.  

If you are curious about the timing of fatigue in a work capacity style workout, read about the golden marshmallow.  Although that I wasn’t referring to stationary bike conditioning… fatigue is fatigue.  The article still applies.

So as you can see, the concept is beautifully simple.  Switch your target effort markers of hard pedaling from time-based to distance-based.  Spin to that .3 mile mark as hard as possible, then verify the time that it took to get there.

It’s just a simple mind trick and it works.

Give it a shot… reading without implementation will yield the same results.  You have to actually do it to see reward!

Cheers to tricking yourself to boost the reward of your workout investment!


Is Aerobic Training Bad? (a completely non-evidenced based discussion)

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Screen Shot 2013-03-23 at 1.30.41 PM

Aerobic Training!

Aerobic training was a hot topic a few months ago, and it will continue to be talked about topic for years to come.

First it’s bad, then its’s good, then it’s bad, then it’s good.  Back and forth, back and forth.

There is a thought process among many fitness professionals- mainly strength coaches and personal trainers- that striving to improve aerobic conditioning is a bad thing.  Actually, some magazines and websites have almost labeled it as sinful.

—>  The Most Useless Exercise Ever for Fat Loss

Activities like biking and running are the probably the most popular methods used to improve aerobic fitness, with running taking the cake for popularity it would seem.

I’ll just come out and say it:  Aerobic training is not bad.

It isn’t!  It’s just not the optimal choice for certain goals.

In my humble opinion, fat loss is one of those goals, along with sports performance.

There are other methods, depending on your goals, that would be a much better fit for moving your closer to those goals, especially if you are in the market for dropping useless tissue like fat and uncovering your abdominals.  If you’re aiming at fat loss, there are better methods to choose from than just steady state cardio.

A simple (but smart) strength training routine will crush aerobic training if you’re shooting for body transformation.

You may have seen this side by side comparison between these two athletes.  One athlete races in an aerobic dominated sport and the other races in a sprint (anaerobic) dominated sport:

sprinter versus a marathon body

Some time ago, aerobic training was labeled as a junk method of conditioning for athletes who play fast-twitch sports.  The premise was that if you train slow, you’ll be slow.  There is some truth to this I must admit.  For athletes that need to be fast, aerobic training should make up far less of the off-season training pie than other more effective training methods like strength and power training, sprinting, anaerobic conditioning.

—>  Admirable goals, wrong vehicle 

Again, the problem is that most people say that they want to lose weight (or fat) and put on some lean muscle, then all they do is participate in aerobic activities in an effort to burn calories.  Over time, they see the weight scale move, but quickly become confused because they still don’t like what they see in the mirror.  Frequently aerobic training will cause an “atrophied” look over time.  If all you did was train aerobically, you’d get skinny, decrease muscle mass and lose strength.  I’ve seen it happen time and time again.

Confused by the image in the mirror, these people then panic and jack up the duration and frequency of their aerobic training, pushing harder and harder in hopes of seeing positive changes in the mirror.  It still doesn’t happen.  Weight is dropping, but they look like they haven’t eaten in days.

When all they see is weight loss and muscle atrophy, they become discouraged and render exercise ineffective.

It’s not aerobic exercise’s problem that you didn’t achieve your goals, it’s your problem.   You chose the wrong vehicle to get you to your destination.  So choose another vehicle.  It’s not the end of the world, but you’ve got to adjust your training habits to get your body back where you want it.  Just don’t point the finger at aerobic training.  The bodily changes that occur from high frequency, long duration steady state exercises are quite predictable.

Here is a great article from Jason Ferrugia about why he avoids aerobic training:  10 Reasons Why I Don’t Do Aerobics

—>  Aerobic training has a place in my workout regimen, absolutely…

Personally, I engage in an aerobic training session- usually riding the Schwinn Airdyne or jumping rope- about 1-2 days per week.  It fluctuates depending on my workout schedule, but aerobic training is still very much a part of my training routine.  I throw on my heart rate monitor to keep my efforts measured- not too high and not too low on the bpm- and I get to work.  The aerobic effort will last anywhere from 30-45min depending on how I feel.  The goal is to flush my body from the previous days of hard training, increase blood circulation and just sweat.

In all honesty, sometimes I train long and slow just to sweat.

Schwinn Airdyne

Awkward lady not included.

I never try to set records, although I have ridden the Airdyne frequently enough to know how far I should be riding (mileage-wise) for a give time period.  If I am training aerobically, I am ALWAYS wearing a heart monitor, keeping my BPM (beats per minute) within my aerobic range.

This is what my typical training week looks like right now:

Aerobic, Anaerobic, Strength Training

This chart changes depending on what my goals are…

Remember, I can change these efforts based on physical needs for races/events/hockey season, the time of year (Summer, Winter, etc) or if I am simply interested in pursuing a different body appearance.  I am my own guinea pig.  Self-experimentation with physical effort has always been an interest of mine.

One of the biggest concerns I have with aerobic training is overuse.  Especially folks who run or bike for hours and hours every week.  The risk for overuse injuries skyrockets for those people who long duration exercisers.  These injuries can develop for a number of reasons, including:  impact of activity (running is high impact), muscular imbalances, poor fitting footwear (causing compensations), poor cycling mechanics (poor set up, posture), pre-existing imbalances that begin to surface as chronic pain, etc.

There’s an old saying:  You can’t run to get fit, you have to get fit to run.

Consider what that means for your situation.  Is your body fit enough to begin training for long durations?  Are your joints primed to withstand the ground impact forces from activities like running?

It’s well known that running is great for increasing bone density, yet conversely running with poor form (aka: slapping the pavement) is nothing more than repeated high impact stress.

Check out this snippet from a comparative running study:

Screen Shot 2013-03-26 at 8.47.52 AM

“During each foot strike the body is exposed to repeated impact forces of estimated to be two to three times the body weight of a runner”.

Again, I am not singling out running or saying that it’s a sin, I just want you to consider your training vehicle.  It might be something that you need to consider seriously, especially those of you who are battling aches and pains like shin splints, hip strains and or knee pain.

Aerobic Training Sucks!

Before you bash aerobic training, consider what results you want from your training efforts.  At the very least, aerobic training initiates rapid circulation in the body, which is a benefit that you cannot put a price on.  Rapid circulation helps promote proper internal functioning of your body.  It’s a really great thing to get the blood pumping as much as possible.

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Rapid circulation is a crucial reason to exercise in the first place.

Is this a bird’s eye view of aerobic training?  Yes, but you have to keep an open mind.  Training should be customized to you and you only.

While a lot of people do have the same training goals, you should take the time to investigate if your workout methods are in fact the right fit for your goals.

If they aren’t, switch them.  Easy as that.

Don’t over-complicate something that should be kept simple.

Cheers to accepting the red headed step child of fitness… aerobic training!


*** Coming up next:  Creating stakes to create incentives for getting into shape…

The Birth of Multi-Method Cardio (the aerobic alternative)

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Cardiovascular training is important for genuine health and athletic endeavors.

Cardiovascular training, mainly aerobic, is a topic that hasn’t gotten it’s due respect in the last few years, especially with the rise of work capacity style workouts.  Most of these work capacity style training sessions are resistance based, using training tools like dumbbells, kettlebells and barbells.

Multi-method cardiovascular training was born out of necessity for me.  Maybe someone else was utilizing a tactic similar to this before me, and if so, give credit to that person.  I am sure I didn’t invent it.  However, I will certainly take credit for perfecting it:)

The background behind it…

For 3 years I trained in a studio apartment with limited equipment.  At first, I thought it was just going to be a temporary situation, but it soon evolved into a challenge of sorts.

Could I maintain my current fitness levels using nothing but a jump rope, 4 kettlebells, a suspension trainer, an Schwinn Airdyne and some resistance bands?

That was the question.

It wasn’t difficult to set up my program at first.  I had plenty of room for improving using my kettlebells and progressional exercises on the suspension trainer.  However, as the weeks and months passed by, I began to adapt to my training regimen.

Adaptation is inevitable.  I love the concept of adaptation.  You know why?  It means you stuck to the program long enough to reach the point where your body became strong enough, powerful enough, stabile or mobile enough to render your program… easy.  You essentially have become really efficient at the performing the physical tasks in your daily program.

***Just don’t continue performing those same training sessions for too long or you’ll be sorely disappointed by the results.

Sorry I sidetracked for second there…

So multi-method cardio was born out of necessity.  In between my higher intensity work capacity days, I needed a day where I could engage in some form of aerobic-style activity.  Easy right?  I could have just hopped on the Airdyne and pedaled mindlessly for 30-40 minutes.

The problem is that I don’t have the attention span for that.  I get bored, just like many of you probably do.  The Airdyne solution would have worked just fine, but it is boring as shit!

So, I decided to choose lower impact training methods sectioned off in designated time increments to accumulate that 30 minutes of aerobic activity.

I primarily used my jump rope, a 53lb (24kg) kettlebell and the Schwinn Airydyne.  I also had my Polar HeartRate Monitor on at all times.

I would use each training tool for 10 minutes, grab a swig of water, then move on to the next immediately.  Ironically, I never experienced that same level of insane boredom that I did when only using one method.

I love that.  Training effect without insufferable boredom.

I am effectively accomplishing the same thing I set out to do had I only rode the bike for 30-40, but now I am developing skills using other tools.

Staying in the 10 minute range duration-wise also helped me avoid over-use injuries.  I am convinced of this.  I love jumping rope and swinging kettlebells, but you cannot do it every single day.  You’ll eventually develop chronic over-use type symptoms or worse yet, injury.  Your body needs a break at some point.  (If you’re a person who is back in the fitness saddle for the 2013 and experiencing hip pain or back pain from all of the working out you’ve done, it is for a reason my friends!)

One important point of MMC (multi-method cardio) is anyone can do this at home, which is the other part that I thought kicked ass.  I listen to MY music in MY own environment.  I could watch my television while I jumped rope and rode bike without giving any thought to what channel or movie was showing.  Completely personalized.  Fantastic.

Here is exactly what one of my multi-method cardio session…

Sample Multi-Method Cardio:

Jump rope-  10 minutes

Kettlebell Swing-  10 minutes

Bike-  10 minutes

Depending on your training level, you can adjust the session a bit:

  • Beginner:  6 minutes each
  • Intermediate:  8 minutes each
  • Advanced 10 minutes or longer each

My heart rate for a MMC workout usually hovered around 145-155bpm, occasionally rising higher than 155bpm but never lower than 145bpm.  This type of training is intended to be an aerobic segue between more intense training sessions.  It worked great.  Soreness from my higher intensity training sessions dissipated quickly with the increase in blood flow

Simple?  Absolutely.  Why complicate fitness?  That only leads to confusion and lack of action in my experience.

Always remember that you have to be able to justify your training habits.  I can easily justify this type of aerobic conditioning, and I think that many of you can also in 2013 and beyond.

At the end of the day, give it a try.  Self-experiment and find your groove…



(Part II coming soon…)