In Kenneth Cooper's (1983) second book on Aerobics, he rates the Schwinn Airdyne as the most efficient "cardio" workout you can do. It’s a full body workout that is really easy on your joints.
The Schwinn Airdyne came out in 1977. That’s over thirty years ago and still going strong! The design has virtually remained unchanged. Why? Because it’s built like a tank! These bikes are in many commercial gyms and take a huge beating. You can ride this as hard as you can and it remains stable. With very little electronics, you’ll be able to ride this thing for many trouble free miles.
The Airdyne’s large flywheel provides air-resistance. The faster you pedal, the greater the wind resistance and the harder it is to pedal. And man, does this flywheel kick up the wind! Which isn't a bad thing, it cools you off nicely, but it is a little on the noisy side. This makes it hard to watch TV, or keep a sleeping spouse from complaining.
It’s chain driven and has a chain guard. You can lock the huge flywheel in place when moving the bike; just pick it up by the back end, and roll it away on the smaller wheels next to the flywheel.
The Airdyne's handles are linked to the pedals. You can grab the handles with an overhand or under hand grip; or if you grip a little farther down on the handle, you can grasp it like a ski pole handle.
You can work out your arms at the same time, or just your legs by themselves or just your arms by themselves. Mixing this up combats boredom, or gives a tired upper or lower body a rest.
The seat on the Airdyne is huge! At least your bottom will be comfortable while your arms, legs and lungs are screaming out in pain.
One thing I don’t like is that there isn't a water bottle holder. You will need hydration using this, so why no holder? I decided I would make my own holder out of wood:
I added a slot to hold the TV remote too. My wife says the holder looks like it belongs on a lazy boy chair rather than on exercise bike.
Here’s another pic of my torture machine:
You can buy a new Schwinn Airdyne for $625, with free shipping, a really good deal considering it will last a lifetime.
Cardio on the Airdyne
There are two schools of thought regarding the amount of time per training session you should be spending on cardio. One way is to do 20-30 minutes of HIGH INTENSITY cardio, and the other is to plod away at a lower intensity for 30 to 60 minutes.
The consensus of the opinions I’ve found on the net is that high intensity cardio burns more fat than lower intensity, up to 50 percent more according to some, and your metabolism stays in high gear for some time after your workout.
One of the best high intensity cardio sessions that you can do is the Tabata Protocol.
Never heard of the Tabata Protocol? Here it is a nutshell:
Created by Izumi Tabata, the Tabata Protocol is simply the best supra-aerobic cardio workout every discovered.
The original study was conducted at the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo, Japan used highly-trained endurance athletes in peak physical condition.
The original Tabata Protocol requires the following:
5 minutes of warm-up
8 intervals of 20 seconds all-out intensity exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest
2 minutes cool-down
You will need to build up your endurance gradually.
My beginners Tabata Protocol:
2-3 minutes warm up, followed by 15 seconds all out, 45 seconds active rest, repeat 6-7 times, total around 10 minutes.
When I say I go all out, I mean the rpm’s on the Airdyne are at least 85, with my high being 101. My warm up and active rest rpm’s are in the 50-60 rpm range.
This will kick you’re A$$!
The Schwinn Airdyne is perfect for this routine. I tried this routine on a treadmill, but the treadmill won’t slow down quick enough to give me 45 seconds of rest.
Take a look at this youtube video of a firefighter doing a Tabata routine; he can barely walk or talk afterwards!
This was money well spent! If you can afford only one piece of cardio equipment, this is the one. I use this for a 2-3 minute full body warm up before every lifting session. And on cardio days, I do either a ten minute Tabata workout, or sometimes a twenty minute moderate effort cardio routine, depending how sore I am after lifting the day before.
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