To work the arms on a stationary bike, you can use dumbbells, resistance bands or a medicine ball to move your upper body while pedalling.
Non-equipment moves like bike push-ups and arm circles are good options, too. You may also opt for an exercise bike with movable handles to target your arms more.
However, you need to know how to execute them properly for safety and optimum benefits. Here are 5 upper-body exercises you can try during your next cycling session.
1. Ride Bikes with Movable Handles
Exercise bikes are excellent for burning calories and toning muscles. Most models have fixed handlebars that you can adjust to suit your body size. If you want to use a stationary bike to work your arms, look for a unit with moving handles.
Some would also call these dual-action exercise bikes. With this added feature, your movement pattern will be similar to an elliptical trainer but with you sitting down. Typically, recumbent bikes and those with fan-based flywheels will have these movable handles. Air bikes that use air resistance generally come with movable handles.
2. Do Arm Circles
Body balance can be an issue when you try to add arm movements to your stationary bike workouts. So, start with something as simple as arm circles.
While pedalling, hold out your arms to the side, then move them clockwise for 1 minute. Take a break for a minute by holding the handlebars and pedalling as usual. Afterwards, repeat the same arm circle movement but in a counter-clockwise direction this time.
3. Perform Bike Push-Ups
To work your arms on a stationary bike, try not to rest your hands on the handlebars throughout the routine. Instead, incorporate moves that can activate your arms and shoulder muscles, like bike push-ups. These should help build stamina and muscle tone, too.
Here’s how to do it:
- Sit on your exercise bike and pedal as usual.
- Then, adjust your hands to a push-up position. Slightly bend your arms and point your elbows outward.
- Now, continue pedalling while performing mini push-ups. Make sure to keep your abdominal muscles engaged.
- Once you get used to it, lift your bottom off the saddle while performing this exercise to boost its intensity.
4. Use Resistance Bands
I particularly like resistance bands for their versatility. You can use them as is or with a fitness machine like a stationary bike. These stretchable bands work like a pair of dumbbells, only they are lighter, compact and more portable. They come in various tension levels, too. Here are 4 exercises you can try while cycling at a steady pace.
Loop the resistance band around the bike handles or post. Hold both ends with your hands, then pull them towards your chest. Keep your elbows tucked tight to your sides. Return to the starting position and repeat. Make sure to pinch or squeeze your shoulder blades as you pull.
- Reverse fly
Loop the band in a criss-cross fashion around the bike post. Hold both ends with your hands. Then, pull and spread your arms out to the sides, creating a T-shaped formation and pinching your mid-back.
- Bicep curl
Loop the resistance band around the post of your bike. Hold the ends with your hand, then bend your elbows as you pull them towards your shoulders. Repeat and do as many bicep curls as you like.
Note: You can make your arm exercise harder by holding the band with your hands close to the bike post. Alternatively, move your hands back further to make the workout easier.
- Pedal with a Medicine Ball
The medicine ball is another free weight you can use to work your arms while on a stationary bike. Compared with resistance bands, medicine balls are bulky. So, choose your exercises wisely to work out your upper body and pedal safely.
Start with simple moves. For example, pedal at a comfortable pace for 2 minutes, then hold the medicine ball over your head for 30 seconds. Bring the medicine ball back down and repeat this set a few more times. Later, you can level up this move with this ab twist exercise:
- Hold the medicine ball close to your body with both hands. Sit up or lean back a little (depending on your bike type) to remain stable while pedalling.
- Next, turn your upper body to the right, and bring the ball to one side. Go back to the centre, then turn to your left.
- Repeat this side-to-side movement pattern a few more times.
- To make it more challenging, do the ab twists while holding the medicine ball away from your body.
5. Lift Weights While Cycling
Does your exercise bike come with a pair of dumbbells? Some stationary bike models, like the NordicTrack Commercial S22i, include these for your arm workout.
When doing dumbbell exercises while cycling, try to lean over a bit and keep your core engaged. This form should keep you stable while doing two exercises simultaneously. It’s also best to work out one arm first while the other stays on the handlebar. You can always switch at any time to work on the other side.
Start with these 4 easy dumbbell exercises to work your arms on a stationary bike.
- Triceps kickback
Come out of the saddle and lean over your bike. Keep one hand on the handlebar while the other holds a small weight. Bend your elbows into an L shape. Then, straighten your arm, moving the dumbbell backwards. Repeat a few times, then switch to the other side.
- Triceps extension
The triceps extension is an arm exercise you can do on a stationary bike with one or two dumbbells, depending on your fitness level.
Start by holding the dumbbell above your head with arms fully extended. Make sure to relax your shoulders and keep your head and chest aligned. Then, bend your elbows to lower the weight slowly, bringing it behind your head. Your arms should now form a 90-degree angle or slightly lower. Lift the weight back to the starting position and repeat.
Note that the weight should not touch your head each time you lower it.
- Overhead press
Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your arms up and elbows bent at shoulder level. Then, push the dumbbells up. Your upper arms should now be next to your ears. Lower the weights to return to the starting position. Repeat as many times as you like. If you’re struggling to keep your lower back straight, try again with lighter weights.
- Biceps curl
Hold a dumbbell in each hand, keeping your arms at the sides. Then, bend your elbows to curl and raise the weights to shoulder level. Lower your arms back to the starting position. Keep your elbows tucked to your sides every time. Repeat and do a few more as you like. You can also try alternating bicep curls.
Another variation is to combine the bicep curl with the overhead press: bend and curl your arms before raising them.
With resourcefulness and enough body balance, it’s easy to work your arms during stationary bike workouts. Admittedly, it can be difficult for others to execute them. Some may also have balance issues or pre-existing medical conditions that affect their range of motion. In this case, consult your doctor first. You can also do your arm movements in a separate session.
It’s more important to exercise safely and maintain a proper biking form. Once you’ve improved your stamina, gradually complement your cycling routine with any of these arm exercises. Keep yourself challenged and have fun doing upper-body workouts with your exercise bike! Haven’t owned an exercise bike yet? Check out our exercise bike reviews and guide for more info.
Indoor cycling workouts allow you to burn calories and lose weight, which leads to fat loss, including those in your arms. Generally, cardio exercises are the most effective for addressing arm fat. Studies and experts recommend doing 150 to 300 minutes of cardio weekly for best results. Also, aside from biking, you can incorporate jogging, rowing, swimming, jumping rope and dancing into your cardio routine.
Non-equipment exercises like arm circles, push-ups and punching workouts can firm up your arms. But you can also use a chin-up bar, barbell or dumbbells to perform weight training. Choose the exercise based on the arm muscle you want to target. Also, make sure to use weights that match your fitness capacity.
Rowing machines, elliptical cross trainers and treadmills are good options for full-body workouts. Rowing machines particularly offer muscle-strengthening benefits on top of cardiovascular benefits.
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