Friday, November 5, 2010

On the 8th Day, God Created the Schwinn Airdyne

I completely agree with Mike Boyle that there is no better piece of equipment for interval training than the Schwinn AirDyne (and it's a bargain when compared to other commercial cardio equipment). I love the AirDyne bike because the faster you pedal, the more wind resistance you get, and conversely, the slower you pedal the less you get. It's perfect for interval work. There are no buttons to push, nothing to adjust and you really cannot cheat. Plus, the dual action nature of the bike gets more muscles involved. 

Here are some of my favorite AirDyne workouts:

Basic Intervals

I'll usually start beginning clients with this format. Here is our progression:

  • Week 1: 5 15 sec. intervals with 45 sec. rest in between. We add an interval each workout until they are performing 8 intervals and then we switch to...
  • Week 2: 5 20 sec. intervals with 40 sec. rest in between. We progress in the same format, working up to 8 before switching to...
  • Week 3: 5 25 sec. intervals with 35 sec. in between. Same progression format, working up to 8 intervals before the last progression...
  • Week 4: 5 30 sec. intervals with 30 sec. in between. 
I give my clients either RPM or watt goals for the interval work periods. For males, I want 75-85 RPM. For females, 65-75 RPM.

Reverse Tabata Protocol

After a client has gotten some time under their belt performing traditional intervals, and have went through the above progression, I'll move them on to reverse tabata's. I don't have many clients perform the true Tabata protocol on the AirDyne, because, frankly, not many of them, regardless of fitness level, could handle it (and they probably wouldn't come back for their next workout which impacts my income :). However, I do like the reverse Tabata: 10 sec. all out work periods alternated with 20 sec. rest periods. We progress it like this:

  • Week 1 6 :10/:20 intervals (3:00)
  • Week 2 8 :10/:20 intervals (4:00)
  • Week 3 10 :10/:20 intervals (5:00)
  • Week 4 12 :10/:20 intervals (6:00)
The RPM or watt goal is a bit higher for this protocol, as the work periods are shorter. After the client has progressed through reverse tabata's, I'll give them a break from the shorter, more intense intervals and we'll move to longer duration intervals. See below.

1/2 Mile Intervals

I stole this from Mike Boyle and modified it a bit for the general fitness client. Here is the progression:

  • Week 1: 3 1/2 mile intervals with 2:00 rest between each. I want the 1/2 mile performed in 1:50 or under. I use a Gym Boss interval timer, set for 1:50, and the client watches the display screen to gauge the distance. 
  • Week 2: 4 1/2 mile intervals with 1:45 rest between each. I will generally keep the 1/2 mile goal at 1:50 or less, maybe drop it down to 1:45 but not always.
  • Week 3: 5 1/2 mile intervals with 1:30 rest between each. At this point, I'll knock the 1/2 mile goal down to 1:45. 
  • Week 4: 6 1/2 mile intervals with 1:30 rest between each. Same 1:45 1/2 mile time goal.
At this point, I'll go back to the nasty short to mid range intervals and use the following protocol. I'm warning you: in my opinion, this 4:00-5:00 protocol is way worse than a regular Tabata protocol.

The Ladder

  • Minute 1: 10 sec. sprint alternated with 50 sec. rest (a coast)
  • Minute 2: 20 sec. sprint alternated with a 40 sec. rest 
  • Minute 3: 30 sec. sprint alternated with a 30 sec. rest
  • Minute 4: 40 sec. sprint alternated with a 20 sec. rest
  • *Minute 5: 50 sec. sprint alternated with a 10 sec. rest
*The 5th minute may or may not happen based on each individuals desire to put up with extreme discomfort and/or their level of fatigue.

As with the other protocols, I give the client RPM goals for the work bouts. Once I have a client to a point where they are performing these types of interval workouts, they are pretty damn fit. At this point, I can throw some other challenges their way. See below.

2 Miles in 5 minutes

This may not sound like much but I dare you to try it. You need to cover .4 miles every minute. The first 2 minutes are bearable but the last 3 will test your will and mental toughness.

5 Miles in 13 Minutes

This is a bonus workout for my blog readers who are "hard core". I've never had a client try this, primarily because I've never had one (including pro athletes) who could do it. This is probably the hardest thing I've ever done physically in my life (my best effort is 12:51 BTW). It was worse than squatting 225 for 50 reps back when I was in college. I really thought I was going to have to call EMS after I finished this. I do this "test" 1-2 times annually just to keep myself honest. If you think running a sub 6:00 mile is hard, try this. You'll have to average about .385 miles every minute. This is a slightly slower pace than the one needed to achieve 2 miles in 5 minutes, BUT IT IS ABOUT 2.5 TIMES LONGER!

Hope you enjoyed this blog. If you don't have access to an Airdyne, it's a relatively budget friendly addition to a home gym, and it's quite space efficient. Go buy one! Click on the picture of the Airdyne below to purchase (yes, I make a commission on this:):

If you train in a commercial gym, use it. If your gym doesn't have one, tell management to buy one. Now, go give some of these workouts a shot!


Anonymous said...

Another Airdyne workout posted on various CrossFit sites is "300FY". As originally prescribed by Mark Twight at Gym Jones, the goal of the workout is to 'burn' 300 calories in 10 minutes on an Airdyne. Not impossible, but some pretty burly work for sure!

Anonymous said...

5 Miles in 13 Minutes

I've tried this about 5 times, failed every time. I got 4.6,4.7 twice and 4.8 twice. What is your pace for this?I wonder what the rpm's would be if you did this at a steady state.

Dan Black said...

Dan Black said...

^^ 5 miles in 12:05.6

Anonymous said...

On my AD3 classic airdyne, I warm up for 4 minutes (~2.5 to 3 load factor) then crank for 20 minutes at around 3.6-4. Stop for 20 seconds for a heart rate check (always over 150). then do 4 minutes palms up arms at around 1.5 to 2 LF. then stand behind the unit with my chest resting on the seat and do the shoulder work for the last 2 minutes. I always do over 8 miles this way.

I have never been able to exercise regularly and with this I'm 29 for 35 days since I got the airdyne and feeling great!

Learn More said...

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Unknown said...

Just completed 5 miles in 11:52 on Schwinn AD7. It wasn't too difficult since I'm training for 400 calories in under 20 minutes. Averaged 59rpm per minute, which is right at pace for 100 calories every 5 minutes.

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