Assault Bike Workouts To Complement Rugby Training

Being unable to train is the worst situation for rugby players to be put in. You’ve got all this pent-up energy and nothing to do with it. There’s also a risk that if you can’t get to rugby training, you’ll let your fitness slip and be out of shape when the season does finally start. What’s the solution? We’ve got a couple.

For those who want a pre-designed workout program, try our men’s and women’s quarantine programs. They don’t require any equipment and can give you a cardio burn while increasing your muscular endurance. Want to go simpler? Try jumping rope in the mornings before you start the rest of your day.

But while these workouts are great for everyone, some of us really like to push the boundaries of what is possible. For you? It’s time to try an assault bike workout. Assault bikes might not replace the physicality of rugby training, but if you really push hard during your attack bike WOD, you’ll find yourself breathing as hard as if you’d hit six rucks in a row.

What are Assault Bikes?

You’ve definitely seen one in your local gym. But the name might not have been obvious from looking at the equipment. They go by quite a few different names; assault bike, air bike, fan bike, attack bike or crossfit bike. Just to name a few. We’ll be using the most familiar, assault bike here to describe the workouts and programs. But if we refer to assault bike conditioning or an assault bike tabata, this could just as easily apply to attack bikes or fan bikes as well.

Assault bikes look just like stationary bikes, but they feature an almost comically-oversized fan where the front wheel of a standard bike would be. But there’s another feature that might not seem obvious when the bike is idle, the handlebars move forwards and backwards in continuity with the pedals. So to drive an air bike during a workout, you need to move your legs and both arms at the same time. Much like rowing, air bike workouts provide a full-body burn that can leave you as exhausted as rugby training. What is an assault bike? Your greatest love and worst enemy all at once.



Benefits of Assault Bike Conditioning

As with any athlete-driven training regime, assault bike workout programs can be as hard or as easy as you make them. Yes, an assault bike is a pretty simple piece of equipment. But sometimes the simplest devices can be the most effective. This goes double for cardio equipment. Working hard on an assault bike can help you burn as many as 80 calories a minute. Several studies of well-trained Vs sedentary men have shown that crossfit assault bike workouts are the fastest way to improve your cardiovascular fitness.

Not enough? Let’s look in-depth at the benefits of using an assault bike to form the core of your non-rugby fitness program:

Maximises aerobic conditioning

Rugby places extreme stress on your cardiovascular system. The higher the level of rugby you play, the higher your VO2 Max will need to be if you want to keep up. It’s been understood since as far back as the early 1980s, that the assault air bike is the most effective way to build cardiovascular endurance. Israel and Hardison showed that an assault bike workout program provides …higher values for maximum oxygen consumption, maximum pulmonary ventilation, maximum oxygen pulse, and maximum heart rate during bicycle ergometry… than maximal arm work. The continuous motion of using an assault bike can greatly improve your cardio.

Superior full-body workout

Using an assault bike requires coordination of your entire body. While one arm is pushing, the other is pulling. And all the while, your legs are driving down as your foot extends towards the ground. This is completely unlike any other cardio machine at the gym. You can’t get the same full-body workout on an exercise bike, treadmill or stair-master. The assault bike provides a low-impact, full-body workout that is hard to beat.

Burns the most calories of any exercise

We mentioned earlier that you can burn as many as 80 calories per minute using an assault bike. While it’s not possible to maintain that level of energy consumption for very long, this should indicate what a massive load using an air bike will put on your oxidative energy system. There are few training techniques that can even come close to attack bike exercises for burning calories.

Tests your mental strength

Mental toughness is often a key factor that separates the good rugby players from the great ones. Most training sessions, whether on the field or in the gym incorporate an element of mental strength training. Because fan bike workouts are low-impact, they’re also low-risk in terms of injury. Knowing that you’re unlikely to get hurt means you can go harder physically, getting into a workout zone that will test your mental strength.

Ideal for rugby rehabilitation

If you’ve suffered an upper-body injury while playing rugby, an assault bike workout program can help you stay fit while you recover. The low-impact nature of the activity makes assault bikes ideal for players with shoulder or neck injuries.

Used by the world’s best

Assault bikes are the cardio training tool of choice for some of the world’s best rugby programs. In Australia, the Queensland Reds have an assault bike challenge where two athletes compete to see who can burn 40 calories the fastest. Here’s a couple of their guys throwing down:

Keeps your gym breezy

Probably not the #1 reason you should get an air bike for your gym, but it’s true. Assault bikes are often called air bikes because they circulate air through the gym. If you’re working out around a bunch of big sweaty rugby players, this is an obvious benefit.

20-1-20 PROGRAM


7 Assault Bike Workout Programs

If you’re a trained athlete, intervals are the best way to build up your cardiovascular fitness. These seven air assault bike workouts will get your panting.

Workout #1 – Assault Bike Tabata

We have Tabata workouts programmed into both our 20-1-20 and pre-season training programs. They’re a great way to get started with a new piece of equipment if you’re trying to find assault bike workouts for beginners.

20 seconds Work
10 seconds Rest
x 8

Workout #2 – Calorie Pyramid

Because assault bikes are such good calorie burners, some of the best workouts are calorie-based. Try this one. Every minute on the minute go as hard as you can until you’ve burned up the prescribed # of calories. Here’s the pyramid:

Minute 1: 2 calories
Minute 2: 4 calories
Minute 3: 6 calories

Keep going up by 2 calories a minute until you can’t hit your target any longer.

Workout #3 – Max Calorie Tabata

This is a tough cardio workout that really gets the heart rate up. Every 3 mins, sprint for 1 min and rest for 2 mins. In other words: 1min On, 2 mins Off. Complete 8 sets for 24 mins total.

1min On
2min Off
x 8

Workout #4 – Interval Pyramid

An easy and effective way to get started with crossfit-style assault bike workouts. Pyramid up, reducing rest and increasing work in each set. Then pyramid down, giving yourself more rest as you reduce efforts.

Minute 1: 10 sec sprint, 50 sec rest
Minute 2: 20 sec sprint, 40 sec rest
Minute 3: 30 sec sprint, 30 sec rest
Minute 4: 40 sec sprint, 20 sec rest
Minute 5: 50 sec sprint, 10 sec rest
Minute 6: 40 sec sprint, 20 sec rest
Minute 7: 30 sec sprint, 30 sec rest
Minute 8: 20 sec sprint, 40 sec rest
Minute 9: 10 sec sprint, 50 sec rest

Workout #5 – Bike and Burpee

Combining assault bikes and burpees is almost cruel. But if you want to really test yourself, try this bruiser.

10 Calorie Bike Sprint
5 Burpees
X 10

Workout #6 – Calorie Chaser

This is one of those workouts that gets harder the more effort you put in. Go all-out until you hit the recommended amount of calories, then rest for the same amount of time that you worked.

For Time:
30-25-20-15-10-5 Calories
1:1 Work to Rest

Workout #7 – Bike and PushUp

Similar to workout #5, but this time you’re doing push-ups instead of burpees. It’s just a hard, don’t worry.

10 Calorie Bike Sprint
10 Wide grip push-ups
X 10


Yes, you should be doing assault bike training to complement your on-field rugby conditioning. Can’t find a workout you like here? There’s a great resource over on showing more than 180 different assault bike WODs. If you can;t find something you like there, you’re probably not trying hard enough.


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Training Team

We are building the most comprehensive library of training materials for amateur and pro rugby players. With protocols for hitting training goals including power, agility and strength. Our team consists of elite-level trainers from rugby, S&C, powerlifting and performance nutrition backgrounds.