Bike sprints are one of the most overlooked methods for building muscle on lifters and strength athletes.
For many types of indoor bikes, the only variable that you need to account for on the setup is the height of the seat.
To fit the bike to you, stand next to the bike and position the seat height in line with the big bony prominence on the side of your hip. From there you'll be ready to rock.
Always use an Airdyne-style bike, which incorporates both the pedals for the lower body and the handles that you can grab and pump for the upper body as well. Due to the air resistance and ability to use both your lower and upper body in reciprocal fashion, this type of bike is brutally challenging and will skyrocket your heart rate and pump your quads quickly.
No access to an Airdyne or Assault Air bike? Spin bikes are a nice alternative. These bikes usually have manual knobs that allow you to quickly change the resistance. If you're stuck with one of those electronic exercise bikes on the cardio deck, you'll be able to make do. Remember, it's more about your focused execution and effort than the tool you're using. You can punish your quads on any of these setups.
The one advantage that the bike has over both the treadmill and rower in terms of building muscle is the ability to program extended duration work bouts. Since the bike places you in a more passive position and targets the lower body, cranking hard is both safe and highly recommended.
Here are two challenges that will light up your quads and make your lungs feel like they're going to bleed:
Bike Challenge 1
- Rounds: 1
- Speed:As Fast As Possible
- Distance: 10 Miles
- Rest Period: None
Bike Challenge 2
- Rounds: 15
- Speed: As Fast As Possible
- Work Period: 30 seconds
- Rest Period: 30 seconds
The first challenge works very well for a stand-alone cardio/metcon day, but the amount of total work and stress placed on the quads may be a little too much to tack onto a lower body training session as a finisher. Use this scheme on a recovery day after an extended dynamic warm-up, followed by 5-10 minutes of deep positional breathing to enhance the recovery process while getting in some meaningful work.
The second challenge can be programmed as a lower body finisher. If you're on the Airdyne or spin bike, pedal as hard as you can for 30 seconds, and then take your feet off the pedals for the 30-second rest period.
If you're stuck using a bike machine, increase your resistance to between 8-12 for work periods and then decrease it down to 2-4 on rest periods, pedaling slowly. You'll need to keep the bike going with slow pedaling so it won't shut off on you. It's less than ideal, but it gets the job done.