Do Arm Cycles Reduce Flabby Arms?
Arm bikes, or arm cycles, were created for rehabilitation for the neck, shoulders and arms. Therapists call them upper body ergometers, or UBEs, which is an acronym for a bike pedaled by the arms. They are used as a cardio replacement for people who cannot use lower-body machines such as treadmills and stationary bikes and also in cardiac rehabilitation. Arm cycles were never meant to reduce flabby arms, and are inefficient at doing so.
Men vs. Women
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As a woman ages, and after menopause, her body stores fat differently. The back and upper arms are favorite locations. Men tend to store fat low in their belly. For women, this often means layers of flab that flap when her arms are extended, or that make like waterfalls when her arms at her sides, sometimes completely covering the elbows.
Upper Arm Anatomy
The upper arm consists of the bicep at the front of the arm. This muscle is used for pulling. It is used in carrying groceries and toddlers, holding back a rambunctious dog and water skiing. The majority of mass in the upper arm is in the triceps, the muscles used for punching, pushups, throwing and kneading bread. Most women under-work their triceps, so compounded with their predisposition to storing fat in the upper arms, it becomes primarily a female problem.
Solutions That Work
When the body burns fat, it does not have a scientific pattern to follow. Often, the most recent fat gained is the first to be lost. From there, you keep working the formula to burn more calories than you take in. Reduce caloric intake and increase caloric output. A reduced-calorie diet, plus exercise, is a proven solution to reducing overall body fat, along with the fat in the arms.
Rather than an arm bike, switch your cardio to the largest muscle groups that burn the most calories, which are in the lower body, through running, walking and biking. Use weights to help tone your biceps, but especially work at building your triceps. You don't have to use a punching bag. Pushups, dumbbell kickbacks and triceps raises from a chair all work this important muscle. Tennis anyone? How about swimming or golf? They will all make an upper arm toned and burn fat. Pay attention to the total body, and watch your arms tone up.
Laura Dayton has been writing since 1969, starting as an editor for "Runner's World" and a correspondent for "Muscle & Fitness." She is a certified strength and conditioning coach, gym owner, professional bodybuilding judge and author of four books on weight training. Dayton has a Master of Science in journalism from San Jose State University.