Can You Do Upper-Body Workouts While On a Recumbent Bike?

Man on exercise machine

Recumbent bikes are stationary bikes that have a full seat and back rest. They are comfortable and offer the opportunity to do an upper-body workout while you pedal. Combining light to moderate cardio while engaging in moderate weight training is ideal for people who are trying to either lose weight or tone their muscles. Utilize free weights, resistance bands or medicine balls on the recumbent bike to achieve a total-body workout while doing cardio to burn those calories. According to the American Council on Exercise, to tone and strengthen, do two to three sets of each exercise for 12 to 15 repetitions for optimal results.


Dumbbells are one of the easiest and most versatile pieces of equipment to work with while seated on a recumbent bike because so many exercises are possible. To exercise your shoulders, hold a dumbbell in each hand, press them overhead and then back down. Do lateral raises by starting with your arms hanging by your sides. Raise your arms straight out until they are horizontal and then slowly lower them. For biceps exercises, have your arms at your sides with palms facing forward. Bend at your elbows to lift the weights and then lower them back down.

Resistance Bands

To work your back muscles, loop the resistance band around the center console. Start with your arms straight, holding the ends of the tubing. Depending on the length of your band, you may need to wrap it a few times around the center console support pole. Keep your elbows tucked in at your sides, bend your arms and pull the band back as far as you can. Hold for a few seconds and release. Another back variation with the band is the reverse fly. Hold both ends of the band and open your arms out to the sides while keeping your arms mostly straight.

Medicine Balls

Medicine balls allow for dynamic workouts that are similar to upper-body, high-intensity cardio workouts. Grab a medicine ball and quickly press it up overhead and back down for 30-second increments. Do the same exercise again, but this time press the ball horizontally from your chest. Do trunk rotations by grabbing the medicine ball, holding it out in front of you and twisting your torso from right to left for 30 seconds -- all while keeping a steady cadence on the bike.

Other Exercises

Other exercises may be done with no equipment while you are on the recumbent bike. Do abdominal squeezes while pedaling. Brace your abs for 30 seconds, as if someone is going to punch you; then relax for 30 seconds. Arm circles are good for shoulder toning. Hold your arms out to the sides and do small, clockwise circles for one minute, followed by counterclockwise rotations. Do the same motion with both arms straight overhead and then straight in front of you. For added resistance, wear wrist weights or hold 2-pound dumbbells.