8 Fail-Proof Upper Body Cardio Exercises
Whether you’re fighting a lower-body injury, trying to build upper body strength or simply searching for a new cardio challenge, you’ll be happy to know that your needs are catered to by quite a few amazing upper body cardio workouts.
In fact, I have personally hand-picked a list of my top 8 upper body workouts that will smash the fat and build muscle strength.
Upper Body Cardio In & Out Of The Gym
There are tons of great cardio machines in your fitness center to use to work your upper body that you may not even be aware of and you can always hit the water for a seriously challenging upper body workout.
Any task that gets your heart rate pumping for a lengthy period of time will do, really. Many of these exercises that I will show you can be done at home, or the gymnasium, such as shadow boxing (with weighted gloves for an added challenge), using a hand peddler, or a speed bag will all work in the comfort of home.
If you are looking to maybe get out of the house, enjoy nature and get a fantastic workout in, you could explore renting kayaks. That’s a great upper body workout and you are able to get out and enjoy the outdoors! But let’s get down to specifics…
Top 8 Upper Body Workouts For a Crazy Cardio Burn!
1. Rowing Machine With Stationery Lower Body
Most respectable health clubs have rowing machines in their cardio equipment line-up.
These machines allow you to sit down on a sliding seat joined to a flat track — you rest your feet on a footrest, and slide backward and forward by pulling a rope that is retractable with handles but these tend to work your lower body alot too.
So the answer for this is to look for the machines that let your lower body stay stationery.
This way you will take your legs out of the movement and let your upper body handle the load, while blazing fat of off your entire frame.
2. Medicine Ball Circuits
Does your gymnasium have medicine balls that bounce?
If so, you can do explosive medicine ball slams to the front in a Tabata type protocol (20 sec. on 10 sec. off) repeat for as long as you can handle… start off with 5-8 sets.
Another variation of medicine ball slams you can do would be to start with the medicine ball at your left hip, explosively lift it over your left shoulder afterward over your head and slam it on the floor over your right hip, as it bounces up reverse the motion and return over your right shoulder, then your head, your left shoulder, then slam down over your left hip.
Do this back and forth and it is a fantastic total body work out. You can keep your legs pretty stationary too.
3. Endless Rope Machine
If you really loved rope-rock climbing in gym class — or even if you didn’t — you’ll find the endless rope machine to be the mature version of this classic P.E. class exercise.
This piece of upper body cardio equipment is sort of like a treadmill but of course for your upper body. The rope hangs from above you and feeds through the machine and back to the top as you pull it down.
By resting your feet on the tilted plate at the base of the machine, you use only your upper body and the rope to keep you upright.
When you stand on the floor, turn your back to the machine and hold the rope behind you — your shoulders will get an added work out.
Have you ever considered swimming with no kicking?
It’s a BEASTLY upper body workout!
Simply use swim fins for the hands (not mandatory) and for the legs a leg float.
Swimming leg floats are held between the thighs and designed to help develop better upper body swimming technique by compelling the legs to remain still yet providing some needed buoyancy.
5. Hand Pedaling/Arm Cycles
Hand pedaling machines are convenient upper body cardio devices that help you to burn off a gang of calories while at you’re seating.
It appears similar to an exercise bike, except that you turn the pedals with your hands and sit in a seat with a back. Tabletop house versions are also available, enabling you to stand if you prefer.
I’ve used a hand pedal machine before and my heart was racing while my arms felt like they were about to fall off! For anyone like me, that pain is sooooo sweet! You can sit, slip your feet under the straps on the pedals and start hand pedaling away.
Many versions of these hand pedal exercise machines also allow you to mount them on a desk and put your hands on the pedals for an upper-body cardio workout that will melt fat and tone your upper body.
6. Heavy Bag Punch Out
Punching the fool out of a heavy bag is a true fat burning upper body cardio test of stamina and endurance. Now admittedly, throwing effective punches is not just something you do with your hands and arms.
Your entire body is involved in the process, but the real burn will be in the upper body.
When you throw a right cross for example, the shoulder must function as the fulcrum, transferring the energy in your legs, rib cage and hips as you strike the punching bag. A left hook is also thrown using your core muscles and the whole left side of your body.
Do this for a few minutes at a time and this is absolutely exhausting, but it will build your cardiovascular system and give you a killer upper body workout.
7. Shadow Boxing
Professional boxers aren’t the only ones that can benefit from shadow boxing for weight loss and cardio.
Usually they use it as a warm up or cool down before a starting a full-on boxing workout.
Shadow boxing punches are great upper body cardio for men and women that can be done in two- or three-minute “rounds” and it works great for getting your heart rate up, scorching calories and blasting the muscles in your arms, back and shoulders.
A 30-minute shadow-boxing routine is the perfect “do-anywhere” and equipment-free workout and can burn up to 300 calories an hour. All you need is a mirror and the desire to kick some imaginary butt.
8. Speed Bag
I’ll be the first to admit it, the speed bag upper body workout is not for the clumsy.
It calls for hard core hand-eye coordination, quickness, hand speed and upper body endurance.
Work on hitting the speed bag in a circular manner with your left jab. Hit the speed bag while you are bringing your left hand down, then circle the speed bag by bringing your hand up and then coming down with your hand again in a repeated rhythm.
When you’ve got your punching rhythm down pat, start using your right hand in the same kind of circular motion. Your goal should be to hit the speed bag for three minutes straight and that will be 1 “round”. Try for 3 – 12 rounds per workout, work your way up from three rounds in the beginning. You’ll get a great upper body cardio session.
Supplement Your Cardio Workouts
You have my word for it, if you nail these workouts your upper body will be begging for mercy and you will be burning calories like crazy! I also recommend that you study which exercise supplements will work for you in accomplishing your fitness goals. Supplement are not the end-all-be-all for getting a great physique, but the right ones definitely give you a great advantage in reaching and smashing your fitness goals. Get the sexy body you want and never look back!