3 Arm Bike Workouts For Every Fitness Level

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Some people underestimate them but arm bikes get your heart beating faster. By implementing the workouts below you can see a variety of positive effects.

In theory, you can use your arm cycle on your lap. In reality, you preferable have a sturdy and non-slippery surface at the right height to put the arm bike on. You potentially need an anchor strap to keep the machine in place.

Additionally, you don’t have to limit yourself to the workouts below. The guidelines for cardiovascular exercises are not as strict as weight lifting exercises.

1. Steady-state cardio arm bike workout

This first arm bike workout is for beginners, individuals who want some light exercise for an extended period of time, and people who want to do focus on other things like listening to music during their workouts.

The steps are relatively straightforward and monotonous but doing them consistently will still offer a variety of benefits over just sitting still.

Lastly, for the first and all of the other workouts, you need a good arm bike, preferably one with adjustable resistance. Once you have that, you can do the steady-state cardio workout.

  • 3 minutes of slow cycling at a light resistance to start off
  • Adjust the resistance to something you can keep up for hours without being distracting.
  • Take breaks of 15-60 minutes when using the arm bike becomes too uncomfortable
  • If you have a stretching routine, this is good to do when your muscles are warmed up from moving

Due to the low intensity, basically anyone can do this sequence multiple times a day. At the same time, a comfortable speed can feel different for you than someone else at a different fitness level.

2. HIIT arm bike workout

While the previous workout can be a valuable addition to your routine, some people are also interested in more intense and interesting arm cycle sessions.

These individuals may find a HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workout more to their liking. In these, you switch up short periods of intense movements with recovery periods.

As long as you don’t overdo it, more intense arm bike cardiovascular workouts like this also offer more health benefits. For example, the calories burned with arm bikes are higher per minute.

If you are not sure whether your body would be able to deal with HIIT workouts, you can start with something lighter and build up from there as you get fitter.

  • 2 minutes of cycling at a light resistance to warm up
  • 30 seconds of fast cycling at a heavy resistance
  • 90 seconds of slow cycling at a light resistance
  • Keep alternating between these 30-second and 90-second intervals about 8-14 times.
  • 2 minutes of cycling at a light resistance to cool down

You will have to stop cycling for a few seconds to adjust the resistance. People who find that this makes the workout too easy can consider reducing the duration of the slow cycling periods.

What “fast pedaling” and a “heavy resistance” are sounds and is relative to your personal fitness level.

You don’t want to overdo it with the resistance setting since this arm bike exercise session is still aimed toward improving cardiovascular health.

As you get fitter, you can consider gradually increasing the resistance, increasing the time of the high-intensity sessions up to 60 seconds, and reducing the duration of the rest periods to 60 seconds.

Additionally, you can do more of these intervals in one session as long as your body can deal with it. Fit individuals can sometimes go up to 30 minutes and even 50 minutes of total time spent using the arm cycle.

Not pushing yourself too hard is important for avoiding injuries. Pushing yourself hard enough is important to get the health benefits to the largest extent possible.

3. Direction change

Most arm bikes allow you to cycle in both directions. You can make use of this in your workouts to make things more interesting on engage your body in a different way.

The muscles worked with arm bikes are the same in both directions but the focus is different.

More specifically, the reverse cycling will be more challenging on your deltoids (main shoulder muscles) and easier on your latissimus dorsi (mid to upper back muscle).

To avoid muscle fatigue during your cardio workout you likely need to keep the resistance low during these reverse rotations.

  • 2 minutes of normal-direction cycling at a light resistance to warm up
  • 30 seconds of normal-direction fast cycling at a heavy resistance
  • 90 seconds of normal-direction slow cycling at a light resistance
  • 30 seconds of reverse-direction fast cycling at a light resistance
  • 90 seconds of reverse-direction slow cycling at a light resistance
  • Alternate between the normal and reverse direction sequences about 4 to 7 times
  • 2 minutes of normal-direction cycling at a light resistance to cool down

If you do notice that the reverse-direction arm bike rotations that are supposed to be intense are not so at a light resistance, you can consider turning up the resistance a bit anyway.

Even then, the reverse-direction rotations likely need less resistance because the deltoids are weaker than the latissimus dorsi.

Is the arm bike a good workout?

For individuals who are able to use their legs, the arm bike can be a decent workout but there are better options.

That being said, when leg workouts are not an option, the arm bike can offer a relatively good workout. It may not look the most elegant but if you really pick up the pace things can get in intense.

In turn, arm bikes burn calories, get your heart beating, engage your arm muscles, and offer the health benefits that come with these things. All without having to use your legs.

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Matt Claes founded Weight Loss Made Practical to help people get in shape and stay there after losing 37 pounds and learning the best of the best about weight loss, health, and longevity for over 4 years. Over these years he has become an expert in nutrition, exercise, and other physical health aspects.