Air bikes are a really great tool for a super tough cardio workout, weight loss and even some muscle building. But what alternatives are there if an air bike is not an option? Let’s find out.
The best alternatives to an air bike are; air rowers, the SkiErg, Spin bike and kettlebells. Those alternatives provide the same type of ‘infinite’ resistance, suitability to HIIT or muscle building combined with a cardio workout.
Let’s go in to why these machines are the best alternatives and what will be the best option for you.
What does an air bike do?
To know how to replace an air bike, we have to know what an air bike actually provides. There are a few key things that an air bike does very well which the alternatives have to do as well.
Here are the most important things an air bike does and provides;
- ‘Infinite’ resistance
- Low maintenance
- Full body exercise
- Small footprint
- Relatively affordable
- Great for HIIT
Those are the biggest and most important characteristics an air bike alternative should have.
Without a fan bike, you won’t have a breeze in your home gym either. Click here to find the best home gym fans.
Air rowing machine
The best alternative to an air bike is a rowing machine with a fan as resistance. So the method of creating resistance is the same and works the same as on an air bike. It’s a pretty similar machine to an air bike but it looks different and the movement is different.
Obviously you’re making a rowing movement instead of cycling with your hands moving back and forth. However, you’re still using both your upper and lower body.
The maintenance of an air rower is similar to an air bike and while they have a bit bigger footprint while in use, air rowers can usually be folded up smaller than a bike.
Rowers are a little bit more expensive than an air bike but it’s a good alternative nonetheless.
You do have to get a rowing machine that has a fan blade for resistance though. Just like with exercise bikes there are other rowers that create resistance in different ways like a magnetic brake or even water. A water rower is another good option but does feel a bit different than an air rower. A water rower is a bit more maintenance sensitive and can usually not be folded so they take up more space. Resistance wise they’re pretty similar to water rowers though.
The SkiErg is much less well known piece of exercise equipment. Once again it has a fan blade to create resistance. So in that regard it’s similar to an air bike. This piece of equipment emulates the movement you make during overland skiing.
That means you just use your arms to move the fan blade. However, it is a full body exercise since you have to perform the movement from the ground up. The movement does involve a form of squat to perform correctly but there isn’t as much resistance for your lower body as on an air bike.
However, if you want to focus more on upper body anyways, this can be a great alternative. The price is pretty similar to an air bike as well.
One big benefit of this machine is that it takes up pretty little space. You can put it up against the wall and it won’t take up much space at all.
A fan bike or SkiErg is amazing for HIIT because the resistance is so flexible. This is a great way to burn more calories in a short period of time and also improve your cardiovascular health. A good interval timer is going to make HIIT workouts much more enjoyable. Check out the GymNext Flex timer. It’s super easy to set up and control contrary to most other interval timers making the set up for any workout a breeze.
Moving away from the fan blade as a way of creating resistance, you can simply use a normal spin bike. It does miss the ‘infininte resistance’ and you’ll have to turn a knob to adjust the resistance.
However, there are a lot of similarities with an air bike as well. Spin bikes are affordable, compact, easy on maintenance and can still provide a very tough workout. There is a limit to that resistance and it’ll feel a bit different though.
The biggest difference is the lack of pivot arms so it’s a much more lower body focused workout. They are generally cheaper than an air bike though.
This might seem like a weird alternative but stay with me here. Kettlebells are weights but can actually be used for an amazing full body cardio workout. Creating a circuit of different exercises can leave you completely out of breath and you’ll grow muscle at the same time.
Kettlebells aren’t cheap but they’re a lot cheaper than a cardio machine. You’ll want to move up in weight over time. but starting with one or two kettlebells is fine in the beginning. And even a whole set of kettlebells is still cheaper than most cardio machines.
They’re also compact, very easy to store anywhere and don’t require any maintenance.
Not so great alternatives
There are some other alternatives to an air bike that aren’t as great. They might be great machines but they don’t do enough of the same things an air bike does. Let’s quickly go through them and why they’re not great alternatives.
- Treadmill: Bigger, more expensive, better for low/medium intensity workouts, doesn’t stimulate muscle growth as much.
- Elliptical trainer: This is actually not a terrible alternative but the ones mentioned above are better. The resistance is usually high enough for HIIT workouts and you have to use your lower and upper body just like an air bike. They are pretty big and expensive though.
- Stairmaster: A stairmaster is pretty cool but they are very expensive and bulky. They do provide a good muscle growth impulse for your legs but doesn’t do anything for your upper body. They are also much better for low/medium intensity workouts than high intensity. That’s because you usually use this machine at a medium speed and you just have your bodyweight as resistance. You could wear a weighted vest for extra resistance though.
- Jump rope: A very simple and cheap piece of equipment. It’s mostly useful for pure medium intensity cardio workouts though. It’s very hard to turn this into a HIIT workout tool once you’re a bit more advanced and you’ll not see any muscle gains.
Favorite Cardio Machine Accessories
Check out these accessories that improve a home cardio workout:
- Equipment mat: All cardio equipment should be put on an equipment mat. The Rubber-Cal mat (Amazon) is an affordable yet very high quality choice.
- Interval timer: To time your intervals and workouts, there is no better choice than the GymNext Flex. It’s super easy to use and set up with a phone app.
- Tablet holder: Cardio can be boring. With this tablet holder (Amazon) you can follow along with on-demand workouts or just watch a movie on any cardio machine.
- Heart rate monitor: Monitoring your heart rate is very important while doing cardio. The Polar H10 (Amazon) connects to almost anything you can imagine and is very accurate.
To find which cardio machines I recommend for home gyms, click here.