How to Do Arm Bikes Properly

The arm bike otherwise called the arm cycle is a cardio workout that increases your cardiovascular activity.  Arm bikes increase heart and breathing rate and also burn fat since they use it for fuel thus toning your upper body muscles.

To perform arm bikes, you require an arm bike otherwise called the upper-body ergometer. These have become very common since they are a great cross-training alternative that adds variety to your fitness routine.

Cardio workouts usually involve your legs and a lot of movement. Arm bikes engage your cardiovascular system in a stationary position and no leg movement.

In as much as arm bikes do not burn as many calories as regular cycling with the legs, it is still an excellent alternative to blast calories and boost your heart rate.

Arm bikes can be used instead of regular cycling in the case of leg injuries where even low-impact exercises cause strain. On top of being efficient for cardio they also help burn calories and build stamina.

HOW TO DO ARM BIKES

To perform this exercise, you need an arm bike. These can be found in gyms, rehab facilities or you can purchase one to use at home.

  • Calibrate your UBE to add or reduce volume and intensity to your exercise.
  • Sit up straight while facing the arm bike and grab both handles with both hands.
  • Use your arms to pedal like you would do with an exercise bike. You pedal forward or backward or alternate for each set.
  • Pedal the bike for a full set or the allocated time.
  • Increase your pedal speed to increase muscle activation.

You can alternatively do the standing variation of the exercise where you pedal while standing.

WHAT MUSCLES DO ARM BIKES WORK?

Arm bikes are primarily a cardiovascular exercise however, they also tone upper body muscles. In this way it serves as both a cardio workout and a strength workout. Some of the target muscles include:

THE OBLIQUE MUSCLES

Arm bikes target your torso and being a strength exercise works it without having to use weights. It engages your mid torso when done in the standing position and provides better activation of the upper torso than traditional alternatives.

THE BICEPS AND TRICEPS

Arm bikes also target your upper arm that is the biceps which are used for pulling and the triceps which are involved in pushing the arm. The cycle movements being a cardiovascular exercise use fat for fuel hence burning the fat around the upper arm.

THE TRAPEZIUS AND POSTERIOR DELTOIDS

Arm bikes also target your upper back, mainly working the trapezius and posterior deltoids. These muscles supply strength to motion of forward pedaling on the arm cycle.

THE PECTORAL MUSCLES AND THE DELTOIDS

This exercise targets the pectoral muscles in the chest and the deltoids muscles in the shoulder. These muscles are used for the cycling movement at the pedals and their contraction and relaxation will tone them or burn fat.

BENEFITS OF ARM BIKES

IMPROVING CARDIOVASCULAR ENDURANCE

Being a cardio exercise, arm bikes increase your heart and breathing rate which improves the functions of the heart and the lungs. They are also excellent for improving cardiovascular endurance.

SUBSTITUTE CARDIO EXERCISE

Arm bikes are an excellent exercise for people with leg disabilities or people trying to rehabilitate leg injuries with non-intensive exercises. This allows them to do cardio which normally involves relying heavily on the legs and movement.

TONING THE UPPER BODY

Arm bikes also tone the upper body and the core as they are also a strength training exercise. This exercise engages the core, shoulders, chest and arms simultaneously and improves upper body strength.

BURNING FAT

This exercise is excellent for burning of fat around the upper arms and generally the upper body. Arm bikes burn around 9-13 calories per minute creating a calory deficit since it uses fat for fuel.

WARM UP

Arm bikes can be used by body builders or generally people doing intensive workouts as a warm up for the upper body. This exercise activates the chest, shoulder muscles, upper arm muscles and the core muscles warming them up for more intense exercises.

CROSS-TRAINING

Cross-training helps prevent injuries from overuse mostly for athletes who heavily depend on their legs for cardio. Arm bikes being an aerobic exercise can be used for cross training since it uses your arms to improve cardio endurance.

VARIETY

Doing the same workout everyday can often become monotonous and results may start to diminish as the body becomes more efficient. Arm bikes provide an alternative for upper body exercises and cardio exercises.

STABILIZING ABDOMINAL AND BACK MUSCLES

Doing arm bikes repeatedly helps stabilize the abdominal and back muscles since they are also worked hard. This is also a result of the straight upright posture while doing the exercise.

REHABILITATION

The UBE provides an effective fitness apparatus for rehabilitation of shoulder injuries. A medically approved UBE develops better support for joint structures and assists with quicker recovery.

ALTERNATIVES TO ARM BIKES

ARM CIRCLES

Arm circles engage the biceps and triceps as well as the shoulder and upper back muscles just like the arm bikes. They reduce fat buildup around the upper arms and burn existing fat.

Arm circles also increase circulation to the arms, fingers and shoulders.

BENT-OVER ARM ROWS

This exercise targets the back, shoulders, upper arm and hips while engaging the core and improving its stability. A heavier dumbbell can be used to make it more challenging and for more muscle activation.

T-RAISES

This is a useful alternative exercise that targets your shoulders, upper arm and chest. It improves mobility, strength and stability and is a great prehab exercise.

ENDLESS ROPE EXERCISE

The endless rope machine involves a climbing rope looped through the machine and adjusted for pulling difficulty. It gives a rope climbing workout for maximum strength and cardio benefit.

TRAVELING PLANKS

This cardio-boosting primarily works your arms and core hence are ideal for increasing cardiovascular endurance and strength training.

ARM BIKES MISTAKES TO AVOID

ADDING TOO MUCH RESISTANCE TO THE UBE

Too much resistance on the ergometer can cause strain on your arms and shoulders and this strain can lead to sprains or other serious injuries especially for beginners.

DOING TOO SHORT SETS

An arm cycling workout needs to be at least 15 minutes long to work on your arms. Doing the exercise for a shorter period will not give the UBE enough time to work your muscles.

LEANING TOO MUCH FORWARD

For maximum efficiency of the exercise, you need to sit upright in front of the UBE. Leaning forward can also cause strain on your shoulders

CONCLUSION

Arm bikes are excellent for strength training and cardiovascular endurance. When done correctly they get rid of fat and tone muscles.

They are great for beginners, people undergoing rehabilitation and people who cannot do leg-based cardio.

The resistance of the UBE can be increased to make the exercise more challenging and increased muscle activation.