5 Helpful Arm Cardio Machines

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Cardiovascular health is important but often cardio training focuses on your legs. What are some arm cardio machines you can use?

Your cardiovascular system is the circulatory system inside of your body and includes the heart and blood vessels. These transport many types of important nutrients, oxygen, and waste throughout your body.

When doing certain types of training you engage this system more than usual. This can strengthen the system if you don’t overdo it and give your body enough rest afterward.

One potential downside of cardiovascular training exercises is that most of them mainly focus on your legs. While cardio training generally does not lead to big muscle gains, you may want some machine options that allow a cardio workout more focused on arms.

Keep in mind that many of the options below do engage your legs to some extent. However, often you can choose how much you use your arms and upper body instead of your legs.

1. Arm bike

The number of cardio machines that only use your arms is short. However, there still are a few options. One of these is the arm bike, also named hand/arm cycle, or if you use it with your legs pedal exerciser.

An arm bike consists of two pedals with often adjustable resistance that you can use to “cycle” with your arms while sitting somewhere. Preferably in front of a table or desk so the arm bike can rest on a flat surface.

To use this arm cardio machine you simply rotate the pedals with the help of your arms for a certain amount of time. Similar to other cardio workouts, you can go for more steady-state cardio or train in high-intensity intervals.

Some benefits of arm bikes include that they are relatively compact to use, silent, and easy to store when you finish your workout.

A downside of this piece of cardio exercise equipment is that it is not an option in the sense that it can replace an intense leg cardio workout. Arm bikes will just not offer the same benefits as a jump rope, rowing machine, or running session.

Depending on how you use it this cardio machine can help you get your heart beating a little faster when you have some free time, or allow you to go as intense as it can get with an arm-only cardio workout.

An upside is that you can also use this piece of fitness equipment as a pedaler for your legs while working at a desk or sitting in front of the tv. On top of that, good arm bikes can be relatively inexpensive and potentially helpful for warming up your arms before a workout.

Check arm bike prices

2. Dual action exercise bike

Exercise bikes, also known as stationary bikes, are cardio machines where you sit down and pedal with your legs to get in a cardiovascular workout.

The more standard models only engage your leg muscles in any significant amounts. Even so, there are different types of exercise bikes.

One of these, dual action exercise bikes, have a modification that makes them more of an arm cardio machine.

Besides the pedals for your legs of regular types, dual action exercise bikes also have handles for your arms. You can describe these exercise bikes as elliptical machines with a seat.

Compared to the elliptical machine this does mean less core and leg muscle engagement. You could even take your feet off the pedals and only use your arms. This can be a great option to have if you are looking for an arm-only cardio workout.

Another potential benefit of stationary bikes with moving arms is that you need to use less balance compared to many other options.

If this area of physical health is a struggle point for you, this machine could be an extra great choice for a worry-free exercise session.

Additionally, you can easily do other activities like talking to family friends and watching tv while using an exercise bike.

Lastly, dual action exercise bikes often come at a relatively low price and they are usually not that big. This means it can be good cardio equipment for small spaces.

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3. Ski machine

Ski machines are not the most popular cardio machine but they can help you get in a good workout, mainly with the help of your arms and the rest of your upper body. These machines have two handles that you pull down with the help of your arms, upper back, and core.

While pulling these handles down, you can also go slightly through your knees which makes it so ski machines also engage your leg muscles to a certain extent.

Once the handles are as far down as desired, you slowly move your hands back up and stand up straight again. After that, you start back from step one.

In a certain way, the repetitions of ski machines look similar to a rowing machine but the direction of the pull and the position of your body is different.

It is not the most typical use but if you need an arm-only cardio workout, you could use a ski machine seated.

One benefit of the ski machine is that it is a relatively compact arm cardio machine. This can make it more convenient to fit and store in your home gym.

A potential downside is that if you are looking for more full body cardio machines, ski machines are relatively focused on the arms and upper body. Additionally, ski machines have a relatively high price tag.

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4. Elliptical machine

The elliptical machine is a relatively popular cardio gym machine. Using this machine may look a bit complicated at first but this cardio machine is actually very beginner-friendly.

You simply select your desired resistance, put your feet on the pads and hands on the handles. After that, you move in circles with your feet and back and forth with your hands at your desired intensity.

It sounds and is simple but it can definitely help you strengthen your cardiovascular system while engaging muscles all over your body.

A benefit of the elliptical machine is that you can choose how much you engage your upper body vs your lower body. In theory, you can just use your legs for support and only use your arms to move the pedals back and forth.

Besides that, using an elliptical machine improves your cardiovascular health, burns a lot of calories, engages a variety of muscles, improves balance and coordination, is relatively knee-friendly, etc.

Besides the arm and upper body engagement, muscles like your glutes will also be able to go through a relatively big range of motion when using an elliptical machine. You can also turn up the resistance to increase your chances of building some muscle with this machine.

Another benefit is that using an elliptical machine is relatively quiet. This can make it a suitable cardio machine for an apartment where you have to consider neighbors on all sides.

One potential downside is that an elliptical machine does generally have a higher price tag compared to many other cardio machines. Some models also take up a relatively big amount of room to use and store.

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5. Arc trainer

Some people confuse this next arm cardio machine with elliptical machines but arc trainers are a different piece of fitness equipment.

Arc trainers are made so your feet move in a more vertical, back-and-forth, motion instead of in circles like with the elliptical machine.

At the same time, these upper body cardio machines make your arms go in a similar motion as the elliptical machine. Similarly, you can choose to mainly move the pedals with the help of your arms.

This difference in foot movement mostly plays a role in terms of personal preference. Both are machines that can help you do a great cardiovascular workout while engaging muscles all over your body.

In turn, some of the benefits of using an arc trainer include burning calories, improving cardiovascular health, engaging muscles, improving balance and coordination, offering a low-impact workout, etc.

Some downsides of arc trainers include that they are relatively expensive, require a lot of room, and are relatively hard to find online. Additionally, arc trainers are not that common in gyms.

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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.