So you’ve been following the fittest of the fit post picture after picture describing some terrible workout that just occurred on this machine you’ve never heard off called the “Airdyne”. You are thinking to yourself I got to get one of these machines so I can feel terrible too, or better yet, you already bit the bullet and your shiny new Airdyne just showed up.  Now you are wondering what can I do with this thing.

But first, a little bit of information about the Airdyne might be useful. The Airdyne is a bike ergometer Schwinn first brought to market in 1978, the erg includes a few unique characteristics such as; handle bars that are connected to the crankshaft forcing an upper body workout and a fan system which allows for natural resistance as cadence increases. What this means is that the Airdyne gets harder the more you put into it, it actually fights you back.

Airdyne AD2
Airdyne AD2

Original Airdyne.

Airdyne AD4
Airdyne AD4

The Airdyne AD4 didn’t change much from the AD2, other than a more advanced computer with a digital readout. This Airdyne is the most common Airdyne around and the easiest to find used.

schwinn_airdyne_evolution_bike
Airdyne Evolution

Schwinn introduced the short lived Evolution which is a more solid compact version of the AD4 with the same digital computer and same movement, this is the Airdyne I own.

 

airdyne_ad6
Airdyne AD6

The latest Airdyne from Schwinn is the Airdyne AD6. Even though it is the latest I wouldn’t say it is the best, this model tends to break a bit more than the older models and the watt / calorie output is more stingy than prior models. So if you are doing workouts on an AD6, expect a lesser calorie / watt output as compared to prior versions.

 

Stairmaster Airfit
Stairmaster Airfit

Enter the current king of the Airdynes, the AirFit. This is manufactured by Stairmaster which is the parent to Schwinn Fitness Equipment. Same basic movement as the models prior but designed for industrial use, meaning this thing is built like a tank but rides like a Cadillac. This is the most pricey of all and if you can afford it, it is the best to get.

Regardless which Airdyne model you own you are guaranteed to get a great workout on these machines. Here are a few routines I’ve compiled to help you feel the wrath of the Airdyne / AirFit.

Warm Up Routines

The Airdyne is great for general purpose or specific warmup / rehab type routines. For warm up work an easy pace 10-20min ride will do the trick, and easy pace is anywhere from 50watts to 200watts depending on your fitness level. If you are just getting started into a routine 50-90watts will probably be just perfect, whereas if you are more fit you’ll probably want a warmup with something above 150watts.

If you want to mix it up for your warm up you can inject some light intervals into your 10min warm up. 30sec of 200watts followed by 30sec of <100watts for 10min, or any variation of this type of increased or decreased intensity.

Intervals

Intervals are when you have varying degrees of intensity and time over the course of the workout. You can create some easy intervals all the way up to some terrible intervals depending on how you structure the intensity and rest periods. Here are a few intervals you can work into your training session:

Versatile Intervals 

30sec Work at a pace >200watts

90sec Rest at a comfortable 100ish watts

Repeat the work / rest interval for 30minutes

This interval will start working your breathing and pacing for an extended time and a good place to experiment with your fitness level. For example if you are completely out of breath with a 200watt work cycle that you can’t recover during your 90sec rest pace then you probably want to down your work wattage to something less.

15sec Work at a pace >400watts

45sec Rest at a comfortable 100ish watts

Repeat the work / rest interval for 30minutes

You’ll notice that this interval is at a greater intensity but a shorter time that will test your short term high intensity tolerance and your ability to effectively recover for the next short intense interval. Like the prior interval, experiment with the wattage to dial it in to your fitness level.

Interval Weight Training

The Airdyne is great to mix into your bodyweight / weight workout routines to add some cardio breathing to your strength work. These intervals are similar to the interval sessions above but typically with a higher intensity during the work cycle with some additional work during the rest cycle.

Versatile IWTs

30sec Work at a pace >400watts

90sec Rest during which some other weight oriented exercise takes place

Repeat for 5-10 Rounds

During the 90sec you will get off the Airdyne and perform some type of weighted routine. Here are some examples (pick one):

– 10x Push Up

– 5x Pull Up

– 10x Body Squat

– 10x Weighted Squat (with a kettlebell called a Goblet Squat)

This routine gets you to work some breathing in with some strength oriented work. You’ll typically complete anywhere from 50-100 reps of whatever exercise you have chosen. You can keep this interval session easier by doing some upper body work during the “rest” set, this allows you focus on leg work with the Airdyne and your upper body is handled by the weight set.

The next routine is a routine from Gym Jones called “Airdyne to Hell” measured in calories instead of watts. It is an interval workout typically done with a partner but you can perform it alone as well. The workout is as follows:

50cal sprint – rest while your partner completes their 50cal sprint

40cal sprint – rest while your partner completes their 40cal sprint

30cal sprint – rest while your partner completes their 30cal sprint

20cal sprint – rest while your partner completes their 20cal sprint

10cal sprint – rest while your partner completes their 10cal sprint

If you don’t have a partner you can just keep track of your time during your sprint and rest that amount of time before going on to the next sprint. For a beginner or intermediate fitness levels this short workout can be the entire workout, for more advanced levels you can add this on to the end of your regular workout for a nice finishing breather.

There are tons of different interval options you can mix into your session with the Airdyne, experiment and have some fun.

Advanced Routines

These routines are typically reserved for extremely fit individuals, but like any of these routines you can scale back the weight or the intensity to meet your specific fitness level.

Strength Endurance Focus IWT

10x Back Squat 75% of your 1 rep max

30sec Work at a pace >30cals (must complete 30cals in the 30sec) this is typically around 700-800watts

3-5min Rest

Repeat 3-5 rounds

This interval session pre-fatigues the legs prior to getting on the Airdyne, and the intensity of the Airdyne will force your legs to hit a high lactate threshold. You’ll notice we have a longer rest than the other intervals due to the weight and intensity in order to give you enough time to recover and go hard again. Warning: 30 calories is a tough number to hit for multiple rounds and usually only accomplished by those that have a high level of fitness. But like the other routines, you can certainly scale this back down to a number that is more in tune with your fitness level. For example; you can keep your back squat high in the 50-75% of your 1RM but decrease the Airdyne calories to 15-20.

60sec All-Out Effort

You are probably thinking this is a typo, it’s only 60 seconds how hard can that be? The key qualifier for this workout is “All-Out”. You need to give everything you have during the 60sec without giving up or slowing down during the entire 60 seconds. If you truly treat this workout with an All-Out effort you will know how bad 60 seconds can be.

A fit individual can typically hit greater than 50 calories in the 60 seconds, which equates to just under a calorie a second. Whereas, an extremely fit individual with a strong mind can hit greater than 60 or 70 calories in 60 seconds.

This routine is typically used as a test routine to determine one’s fitness or mental toughness. You aren’t going to get a whole lot of physical fitness conditioning with 60 seconds, but what you will get is an understanding of your current fitness level and an acute assessment of how loud that voice is in your head telling you to stop.

300FY

This is the grand daddy of all Airdyne workouts. This also comes from Gym Jones and is appropriately named 300 F*** You, the 300 stands for calories and the FY is because that’s how you’ll feel after completing the effort. This is a simple but terrible workout:

Complete 300 calories in 10 minutes on the Airdyne. This equates to maintaining a >424watt pace the entire 10 minutes. There are many different strategies to getting to the 300, you can just keep a steady pace or you can do some sprint interval work during the 10 minutes. Either way getting to 300 calories will not be easy.

 

These are just a few of the things you can do and suffer with your Airdyne. I’ll update this post from time to time adding more novel ways to break yourself on this under-appreciated machine.

In the meantime, have fun experimenting and enjoy!