Arm Ergometer Exercises


An arm ergometer is best described as a bicycle for your arms. Your hands hold pedals and your arms move around in circles as if pedaling a bike. You sit or stand in front of the ergometer for a no-impact cardiovascular workout that uses only your upper body.


The arm ergometer is an adjustable, stationary workout machine. Sit or stand in front of the machine and set the height of the arm crank to your shoulders. The second adjustment is the depth, or reach of the handles. Place your hands on the handles and perform a few revolutions. The crank is adjusted correctly when your extended arm has a slight bend in your elbow and the arm closest to you remains in front of you.


Use the arm ergometer to increase your cardiovascular endurance. Select a low to moderate resistance and maintain a steady pace for 30 to 60 minutes. Some arm cycle machines allow for independent pedaling. For example, use only your right arm to turn the crank for three minutes and then use only your left arm for the same duration. Another way to add variety to your endurance training is to revolve the crank in the opposite direction. Instead of pedaling forward, pedal backward.


Another workout option with the arm ergometer is to challenge your anaerobic energy system. When you increase the resistance on the machine and use more muscle than momentum to turn the crank, you rely less on fat and more on glucose to fuel your workout. An anaerobic workout requires less oxygen than an endurance workout. Your total workout time will be shorter than your endurance training until you improve your anaerobic conversion of glucose into fuel. Add a few minutes at a time of high resistance cycling into your routine to mimic uphill cycling.

Interval Training

Interval training with the arm ergometer combines endurance and anaerobic segments into one workout. This is similar to an indoor cycling class, but uses your arms instead of your legs. Warm up for five minutes with a low resistance. Increase the tension so simulate a hill and climb for two or three minutes. Decrease the resistance and sprint down the hill and onto a flat road for one to three minutes. You can add time segments of one-armed cycling, more hills, sprints and flat road endurance for a complete interval workout.