Airbikes are becoming increasingly popular in the fitness world for many reasons. They are extremely effective at full-body warming and exercising.
An airbike is similar to any other stationary bike, except it uses air to create resistance. You may think, “Air? How does that work?” Well, airbikes are built with a large fan in the front that is only powered by your own strength. The amount of power and effort you put into it, the harder it is to pedal from the resistance you’re creating. This means there is no resistance cap so it will always match your needs.
Resistance can also be created by using your arms. Airbikes are equipped with handles that control the resistance fan as well. Most Airbike users choose to incorporate both their arms and legs into their workout. You also have the option to use either your upper or your lower body depending on your needs.
Are Airbikes Effective?
Airbikes are not only very effective as a full-body workout, but they also excel at warming your body up. Airbikes are commonly used in places like athletic competitions and CrossFit training gyms.
Using an airbike for a warm-up is effective as it increases joint fluid in all joint groups of the body. When you use both your upper and lower body, they are uniformly moving and warming up. When you’re running, your legs are the only main muscles engaged.
Warming up your body before training is imperative to decrease exercise-related injuries. Using an airbike for 10 minutes is more than enough to get you ready for your workout.
A study that set out to test the effectiveness of High-Intensity Functional Training (HIFT) included airbikes in their circuit training. HIFT uses a similar method as HIIT but is different in its aims to exercise in multiple planes (i.e. sagittal, frontal, and transverse) to increase daily functionality. It is considered a “multimodal” resistance training, that “elicits both cardiovascular and musculoskeletal adaptions.”
The airbike was chosen for 1-minute intervals as it has been shown to increase heart rate more effectively than running or traditional stationary bikes.
Airbikes are great for those going through physical therapy for an injury. Cycling is a low-impact sport, as it allows you to strengthen your body without putting pressure on your injury.
What Muscles Does an Airbike Work?
First, it’s important to mention that airbikes, and any other stationary bike, are only as good as the form you have when using them. Proper form when using an airbike increases its effectiveness and decreases the likelihood of injuries. This includes maintaining a straight back and avoiding hunching over.
Your feet and ankles should be in alignment as well, minimizing any tendencies to knock your knees inward or face outward. In doing this, your muscles will be strengthened in the right way.
If you want to focus on your lower body, an airbike is great for focusing on:
- Hip Flexors
When pedaling, exertion is required to rotate the pedal, which activates your glutes and hamstrings. The follow-through of pedaling strengthens your calves (both gastrocnemius and soleus) as well as your shins (tibialis anterior).
After pushing down, you also need to pull your leg up on the other side. This engages your core muscles and hip flexors, including the psoas, adductors, and tensorfascialatae (TFL). This movement also involves your quadriceps, which lift your legs and bend your knee.
To increase the resistance on an airbike, you can include pushing and pulling movements with your arms and upper body. When you work your upper body on an airbike, you are effectively working your:
- Shoulder girdle
- Rhomboids (located between your shoulder blades and spine)
- Pectoralis Major and Minor
- Forearm flexors
Biceps, rhomboids, and trapezius work together when you make pulling movements. When pushing, your triceps, deltoids and pecs are activated. Even your forearm flexors, the muscles involved in holding on to the handles, are involved.
Combining the upper and lower body movements into one exercise causes your body to perform slight twisting movements. Those movements strengthen your core, including your abdomen, transverse abdomen, and obliques.
It’s easy to see how the airbike incorporates full-body movement! The short answer to our main question, “What muscles does an airbike work,” is simple. An airbike works all of them, from your feet all the way up to your shoulders.
Whether your focus is on the upper or lower body you can be sure that an airbike will help you to achieve your fitness goals. Consider using an air bike as a warm-up for your next training session, or try using it on its own for a full-body workout.