Whist there’s no denying that exercise bikes predominately work your legs, there are many fitness enthusiasts that agree it can be a whole body gym. You just need to know what exercises to implement. Sure, your upper body workout will never be as good as the leg workout you’re going to get – but if you prefer to use the bike for your exercise routine, there are ways to maximise both.

To get a full upper body muscular development going, you’ll need to lift weights regularly and stick to a healthy diet. It doesn’t mean to say you can’t reap some of the rewards on an exercise bike though! With proper form and a few extra additions, an exercise bike workout can get upper body and lower body muscles moving; here’s what you should be trying for the ultimate exercise bike training.

1. Start with shoulder exercises

Instead of resting your hands on the handle bars of the bike whilst working out, begin your upper body workout with shoulder exercises. Peddle on the bike as normal and adjust your hands to a push-up position whilst sitting on the exercise bike. Keep your arms slightly bent and elbows pointed outward. This will warm up your arms and shoulder muscles whilst helping to tone and build stamina.

Make sure you keep your core muscles engaged whilst doing these exercises. You can maximise the workout by squeezing your abdominal muscles in at the same time as you pedal and ‘push-up’ with the shoulder exercises. Arm circles whilst pedalling will also help to tone your shoulders. Do this by holding your arms to the side and implementing small, clockwise circles for a minute – break for a minute – then go counter clockwise for another minute.

2. Utilise moveable arm handles

Depending on the bike model you have, you may be able to utilise moveable arm handles whilst pedalling. Some exercise bikes will incorporate arm handles that move with your body to give a better full body workout. If the bike you’re using has these, use a rowing motion while pedalling to get your whole body moving.

Also referred to as an air bike (a stationary exercise bike that has two moveable handles), these exercise bikes are fantastic for those who want to focus on both upper body and lower body training.

3. Work those triceps

Exercise bikes present a great opportunity to use dumbbells as you pedal. Because these weights are one of the easiest and most versatile to work with, it’s easy to combine upper body exercises whilst sitting on a recumbent bike. For a maximum workout, sit out of the bike’s seat and lean slightly over the bike, contracting your abs at the time. This will help to stabilise you and offer additional support, and give your abs a workout too.

Keep one hand on the bike’s handle bar as you use the other with the dumbbell weight. Straighten your arm behind your body to active the triceps, bringing it back into the body to repeat. Do as many times as necessary until your arm begins to tire then switch to the other. You can use dumbbells for bicep curls on the bike as well.

4. Resistance bands for upper body conditioning

Resistance bands are another great workout tool to utilise on the bike. Great for upper body conditioning, use resistance bands the same way as you would with dumbbells (or small medicine balls) to help power arm and shoulder movements. Loop around the centre console of the bike and use bending and pulling motions. Alternatively, you can also do the reverse fly.

Use resistance bands for bicep curls or triceps extensions while cycling at a steady pace. Your upper body muscles are already naturally engaged when you’re riding the bike, but with the added use of resistance bands you’ll be getting the ultimate body workout. If you want to further condition your body, stand (only on an upright exercise bike), pedal and use the resistance bands. Resistance bands will also help to work your back muscles

5. Utilise a medicine ball

If you’re after a high-intensity cardio workout, use a medicine ball while you’re doing your exercise bike workout. Start by keeping a steady and brisk pace on the bike by pedalling and when you’ve picked up a comfortable routine, bring in the medicine ball for a great upper body and lower body workout.

Keep the exercises simple (after all, you are on a bike!) and use the medicine ball to add as weight as you stress your arms up over your head. Bring the ball back down and repeat in 30 second intervals with a break in between. You can utilise the same exercise again but at the front of your body while twisting your torso from left to right. This will help your abdominal muscles strengthen too.

Who knew there were that many ways to get an upper body workout from an exercise bike? No longer will you need to switch machines at the gym to make sure you’ve worked all of your muscles.

How do you do your upper-body workout? SHARE with us below.

Image source Shutterstock

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  • I have seriously been thinking of getting into lifting a few weights at home. My arms need help


  • Great tips, I love them. I do use an exercise bike and without knowing it I was doing the shoulder exercises!


  • I do push ups and sit ups (though not as often as I should), walking and yoga.


  • Oops, sorry but I don’t do one. I know I probably should, but walking is my thing. Oh, and yoga!


  • Some great tips here.


  • Good article – but everything in moderation is my motto.


  • Good article on an upper-body work out,thanks!


  • Exactly what I need


  • That’s very interesting. I would never have thought to do that on an exercise bike


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