The Assault Bike
Hey Vic City,
We've had a few workouts over the last few months that have incorporated the Assault Bike. The "death bike" as some people refer to it as, is an interesting device in terms of discomfort and strategy.
Chris Hinshaw, well known amongst elite CrossFitters, as a top endurance coach, and coach of CrossFit's Aerobic Capacity course, explained why the Assault Bike is so painful. If you think about riding a spin bike or road bike, if you are going fast enough to build lactic acid, the lactic acid works itself to non-working muscles to help clear the 'burn.' In cycling the lower body lactic acid travels to the upper body as those muscles are under a lot less stress. However, with the Assault Bike, all the muscles are working, so the lactic acid from the legs try to go to the arms, and the lactic acid from the arms try to go to the legs. The result is that none of it has anywhere to go, and it makes you feel heavy, slow, and sometimes sick.
After short workouts, it's very helpful to slowly ride the bike afterwards to help clear the system. Often times, legs only in a cool-down is easiest and most comfortable.
All that knowledge is great, but how can you do better at Assault Bike WODs? Strategy is almost as important as fitness when it comes to the Assault, and it will differ depending on if you are going for calories or distance. Since we usually are going for calories, I'll dive into that a bit. Calories are measured by the amount of Watts the bike is registering. There is an exponential return on calories with higher Watt values. If you go 1000 Watts for 10 seconds, it's a better calorie return than going 100 Watts for 100 seconds. I've found that in workouts that measure calories, especially short WODs, try to get the Watts up as high as possible in about 3-5 seconds and try to maintain that for only 5-10 seconds before settling down. You'll notice that even after you settle down, the Watts will still read high numbers for 5-10 more seconds. Keep in mind, since everyone's fitness and strength is different, the highest wattage will vary, and the stronger, bigger you are, the greater the return. You'd be blown away to see how fast calories tick over if you can crank it up to 1600+ Watts even for a few seconds.
On the flip side, if you are going for distance (miles) getting that high wattage is way less beneficial, and a steady approach from the start is likely a better route.
Check out the below graph, even if it doesn't make any sense to you, you can see the slope of Watts/Calorie gets steeper the faster you get, and the RPM/Speed (aka distance) stays linear at increased speeds.
(Blue - Watts; Red - Speed; Orange - RPM; Green - Kilocalories. Watts left axis, RPM bottom, Kilocalories right)
*graph found at
Also, here's a video of a guy getting 76 calories in a minute...
Great work on Eden's Revenge and good luck on any coming Assault Bike WOD.
Training Wednesday - Thursday
Warm-up: 6 min row with teams of 3, switch every 30s, easy to moderate pace!
Skill: HSPU progression - 20-30s work, 1:30-1:40 rest x 5
Level 1: Wall walk hold
Level 2: Wall walk reps
Level 3: Kick up HS
Level 4: HSPU reps
This is a SKILL based session in which you are looking to develop refinement and efficiency that you can use in later workouts. Focus on clean crisp reps as you rotate through the stations. This is not for a score.
Coaches: 24 min time frame
Rx: 6 rounds, rotating EMOM, 30 sec work, 30 sec rest:
2. Double KB strict press
3. Double unders OR high box jump
4. DB Snatch (alternating arms, from the floor)
FG/TG: scale movements as needed!