Why Are Assault Fan Bikes So Hard To Work Out On?

If you’ve ever tried a fan or air bike, you’ll know it’s a pretty tough workout. But why is that the case? Here’s what you want to know.

Air bikes are difficult to work out on because the fan blade provides almost infinite resistance. The air resistance increases exponentially with speed which is why going faster takes exponentially more effort and energy. Most fan bikes also involve the upper body and thus more muscle mass at a time

For a more in-depth explanation about all those factors and what the best way to utilize these characteristics is; keep reading.

Why Are Fan Bike Workouts So Tough?

Two main parts play into working out on an air bike workout being tough;

  • Full body
  • Resistance type

Let’s take a closer look at those two things and why they make the fan bike such a hard workout.

Image of a man using an assault bike

Full body

The first reason why a fan bike is hard is that you use your whole body. Most other cardio equipment just uses your legs.

The goal of a cardio workout is to improve your cardiovascular health. You can’t do this directly. You have to use your muscles to get your blood flowing and your heart rate up. The harder you use your muscles and the more muscles you use, the harder your cardiovascular system has to work and the bigger the training impulse.

That means, adding in your upper body adds extra muscle mass to your workout which means your cardiovascular system has to work harder which makes the workout tougher. Of course, there is an upper limit to how hard you can train but where that limit is depends on your fitness level and personal situation.


The second part of the explanation of why air bikes feel tough is found in the way they create resistance.

Many exercise bikes will have a solid metal flywheel you rotate with the pedals. That flywheel in itself doesn’t create much resistance after you get it moving. Therefore, there will be a brake of some sort (usually a pad or magnetic) to slow down the flywheel and increase the resistance.

Air or fan bikes are different. Instead of a flywheel, they have a big fan. Just like a ceiling fan, rotating it moves air. Air doesn’t want to move by itself so doing that costs energy. That translates into resistance at the pedals. But now you’re probably thinking, air isn’t that difficult to move, so why does it feel so tough?

You might notice on a fan bike that going slow is very easy but the faster you go, the harder you have to push and at some point, you run into a wall where you just can’t produce more force to go faster. That’s because air resistance isn’t linear. If you want to move the fan blade twice as fast, you need to exert four times as much force. This means to go faster, you need a whole lot more power.

Think about cars. For the top speed of a car, wind resistance is very important. (It’s not the only thing but the biggest factor besides power) An average sedan like a Honda Civic with about 180 horsepower will reach a top speed of about 130 MPH. That doesn’t mean you’ll reach 260 MPH if you’ve got a car with 360 horsepower. To reach upwards of 260 MPH you need well over 1000 horsepower and a car that’s very aerodynamic.

Since the aerodynamics of a fan blade in your exercise bike doesn’t change, you have to exert a lot of extra force just to go a little bit faster and that’s a big reason why it’s so hard. It means pretty much everybody can push themselves to the limits on a fan bike because you’ll always run into a point where you just can’t push the fan blade any faster.

Can you lose belly fat by only using an air bike?

Is an air bike tougher than other forms of cardio?

Does that make working out on a fan bike more difficult than other types of cardio? It really depends on what you compare it to and how you use it.

Just by using your upper and lower body, means you have the potential to work your cardiovascular system harder and also burn more calories per minute.

If you’re just going slowly, it probably won’t make much of a difference. An elliptical trainer might feel tougher at slow speeds because you also use both your upper and lower body and you have magnetic resistance that can also be set high at slow speeds. At high intensity, an air bike will be tougher.

Rowing machines are the other cardio machine that often utilize air resistance. You also use your upper body during rowing. So you might think it comes really close. However, The air bikes still have the ‘advantage’ in how hard it is. That’s because, with rowing, you have to use most of your power during the pull. To return to the starting position, you’ll use a little bit of energy but it’s not much compared to the pull.

On a fan bike, you have to apply force during pushing and pulling and it’s continuous. Because of the foot straps you can move the fan with the force of moving your leg up whereas on a rowing machine this won’t move the fan. Your arms and therefore whole upper body also have to continuously push and pull on the levers. This means your muscles don’t get the quick break like you do with rowing and you have the potential to expend more energy.

What Are The Benefits of An Assault Bike?

Why would you put yourself through a grueling workout if there are more comfortable options?

  • Lots of muscle mass used: Because you’re using the pedals for the lower body and levers for the upper body at the same time, you get a full-body workout.
  • Burns a ton of calories: Because you can have all the resistance you want and it’s a full-body workout, you have the potential to burn a lot of calories.
  • Virtually infinite resistance: The air resistance means you can have more resistance than anybody can overcome.
  • Seamless resistance transition: There are no buttons to be pushed or knobs to be turned to change the resistance. The only thing you have to do is pedal harder and the resistance will go up. Also, you’ll never be in a situation where you wish there was a resistance setting in between the two settings you’ve got because the resistance always matches the energy you put in.
  • Perfect for interval training: The high resistance in combination with the fact that changing resistance is super easy, makes a fan bike very well-suited for interval training. Any type of interval training is possible but high-intensity interval training is amazing on an air bike. While new research suggests that HIIT isn’t actually much more effective for burning calories, it’s still a great type of workout for its cardiovascular benefits. If you want to do HIIT, make sure to get a good timer as well.
  • Low maintenance: Unlike a treadmill or elliptical trainer a fan bike doesn’t need a lot of maintenance. Cleaning the fan blade and tightening/lubricating the chain is enough.
  • Affordable: It’s a bit more expensive than a fan bike but not too much more and you get a full-body workout with higher resistance in return. Fan bikes from good brands are simple and sturdy and will last a long time.
  • Compact: A fan bike is only slightly larger than a spin bike which is one of the most compact cardio machines. The other type of cardio machine that uses both pedals and arm levers is the elliptical trainer which is much bigger and more expensive than a fan bike.
Image of a woman on an assault bike

How to make the most of a fan bike

How can you make the most of working out on a fan bike? It’s tough and gets harder the faster you try to go. How can we use that to our advantage?

The best way to do this is interval training or HIIT. This is a type of training where you switch your training up between very high intensity and low intensity. Usually, the blocks of high and low intensity are timed although you can also go by heart rate.

Because the fan always matches the resistance to the power you put in, it’s pretty safe to go as hard as you can. Unlike on a treadmill for example where you could fall and hurt yourself if you turn it up too high.

In its basis, interval training is just a certain amount of time of working as hard as you can and then a certain amount of time working at low intensity. Although there are a lot of different protocols you can follow.

High-intensity interval Training (HIIT) 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 setup for any workout a breeze.

High Intensity Interval Training has been shown to have many benefits over low-intensity cardio training like;

  • Increased cardiovascular capacity
  • Increased muscle growth
  • Increased fat burning

Because fan bikes involve the whole body and the resistance is always matched to how hard you want to push yourself, fan bikes are a perfect piece of equipment for this type of workout. You can get your heart rate up very high very quickly and to reduce the resistance for the low-intensity block, you just slow down and the resistance will lower without touching any buttons or knobs.

Air Bike Workout Schedule

Here’s an example of a workout you can do on a fan bike like an assault or echo bike. This is an example workout for beginners. This isn’t a full-on HIIT workout because for most beginners that’s just too much. This is more like a MIIT (Medium Intensity Interval Training) if such a thing exists.

In the beginning, it’s best to go by perceived effort but a heart rate monitor can help you keep an eye on how you’re actually doing. There are two types of intervals: High intensity and Low intensity. Beginners should shoot for about an 8/10 perceived effort during the high interval and 2/10 for the low intensity.

A true HIIT workout would be 10/10 effort during the high intervals. As said, for beginners that’s usually just too much. The low interval is to recover and bring your heart rate back down so you’re ready for the next high interval. During the low interval, you should keep moving but not exert any real effort.

  • Workout 1:
    • Warmup: 5 minutes. Start slow and build up some speed over time. You should get some use out of your muscles but not be out of breath or sore.
    • High interval: 30 seconds
    • Low interval: 30 seconds
    • Repeat 5 times
    • Cooldown: 5 minutes
  • Workout 2:
    • Warmup: 5 minutes.
    • High interval: 30 seconds
    • Low interval: 30 seconds
    • Repeat 6 times
    • Cooldown: 5 minutes
  • Workout 3:
    • Warmup: 5 minutes.
    • High interval: 30 seconds
    • Low interval: 30 seconds
    • Repeat 8 times
    • Cooldown: 5 minutes
  • Workout 4:
    • Warmup: 5 minutes.
    • High interval: 30 seconds
    • Low interval: 20 seconds
    • Repeat 8 times
    • Cooldown: 5 minutes
  • Workout 5:
    • Warmup: 5 minutes.
    • High interval: 30 seconds
    • Low interval: 15 seconds
    • Repeat 8 times
    • Cooldown: 5 minutes

This would be an example of your first week of workouts on an air bike. Work out for five days and take two days off if you feel you need it. This is a good way to get started for complete beginners and use the strong points of an air bike to the fullest. You’ll notice big improvements in your conditioning quickly. After the first week, you can start building up the workouts to be more challenging.

Things you can change in your workout:

  • Amount of interval cycles: See if you can work your way up to 15 minutes of continuous high/low intervals.
  • Interval time: Make the high intervals longer. You can make the low interval longer as well when you do this because you’ll need more recovery time. When you’re used to a longer high interval, start reducing the low interval time.

Favorite Cardio 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.
  • 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.


Hey, I'm Matt. Welcome to HomeGymResource.com. After working out in many different gyms for almost 20 years and helping people build their own home gyms, i've learned a few things i'd like to share with you.

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