Arm Crank & Cycle Exercises

Heart rate monitor in smart watch pulse trace

An arm crank bicycle can also be referred to as an upper-body ergometer. Krankcycle is a term for an arm cycle invented by Jonathan Goldberg, the creator of a well-known indoor cycling class program. Regardless of the type of machine you use, you can receive an aerobic workout designed to improve the strength and endurance of your upper body when you pedal with your arms.

Physical Limitations

You can use an arm cycle if you have lower-body limitations or are confined to a wheelchair. Your arms pedal the cycle for your exercise program. The Krankcycle has a removable seat so you can wheel your chair up to the equipment and perform your workout. Other arm cycles sit on a counter or tabletop, so you have easy access to the equipment from a wheelchair.


You will receive an aerobic workout when you use an arm cycle. Your heart and breathing rates increase, which improves your cardiovascular system. The American Council on Exercise, or ACE, studied the Krankcycle's effects on heart rate and reported the results in "ACE Fitness Matters." The subjects who cranked -- ranging in age from 20 to 30 -- cranked at an average heart rate of 154 beats per minute. That level is high enough to improve your cardiovascular system.

Weight Loss

Cranking is an exercise that will help you lose weight. Weight loss is achieved through a reduction in calories. ACE reports that cranking burns approximately 393 calories in a 30-minute arm-cycling session. One pound of weight loss equals 3,500 calories. If you crank for 30 minutes for nine days and do not change your eating or other exercising habits, you will lose 1 pound.


You can vary the types of exercises you perform with an arm cycle. You can use a single arm to pedal forward or backward. You can pedal both arms rotating at the same time forward or backward. You can also choose to split your cycle and mimic foot pedaling by keeping the hands 180 degrees opposite each other. You can stand, sit or use leg movements such as lifts, squats and heel raises as you arm cycle to increase the intensity of the workout.