Can Pedaling an Exercise Bike With the Arms Grow the Biceps?


Arm cycles, also known as upper-body ergometers or UBE's, are exercise bikes for your arms. These pieces of stationary exercise equipment provide a cardiovascular exercise that builds core stability, aerobic endurance and, of course, upper-body strength. Arm cycling is convenient when lower-body exercises such as walking, cycling or skiing are not possible or not recommended due to an injury. An arm cycle has the potential to grow your biceps, depending on the type of machine, the workout and the resistance you're using. If you have health problems or special needs, check with your doctor or physical therapist before taking up a new exercise program.

Cycle Types

  • Arm cycles vary by quality, mechanical operation and resistance. In most cases, you can adjust the pedals to a variety of heights and lengths and resistances. Some cycles are designed to work your legs when you use them on the floor, or you can set them on a counter or table when you want an arm cycle. Collapsible models are simple but made for easy storage. Others come with an electronic monitor that tracks your time, revolutions per minute and calories burned. All types let you pedal at a comfortable pace and control the resistance with a mechanical knob or electric braking system.

The Workout

  • Arm cycling can be an individual exercise or a group fitness class. When you work out at home, try cycling forward and backward, fast and slow. The key is to be consistent with your strokes and use a rhythmic pace. The higher your resistance, the more you use your biceps to push the pedals and the more you improve your muscular strength and endurance. "Kranking" is an arm cycle workout, often done in a group setting, that uses a specially designed machine called a "Krankcycle." During a group Kranking workout, you'll be standing and seated as you pedal to the beat of music. According to the American Council on Exercise, the Krankcycle offers a wider range of movements and variations when compared with a traditional UBE.


  • The biceps, the muscles on the fronts of your arms, contract when you flex, or bend your elbows. Your arms flex when you pull up on the pedal when your hand is closest to you. If you perform this flex against a high resistance, your muscle fibers incur trauma in the form of microscopic tears. During the repair process, the fibers increase in thickness and number, resulting in muscular growth. Other than increasing the resistance on your arm cycle, you can focus your workout on your biceps by adjusting the arm crank length. A shorter crank arm uses more muscular strength than endurance. Your arm remains in a contracted position for longer, which improves biceps strength.


  • The American Council on Exercise's study of Kranking affirms that an arm cycling workout can lead to upper-body strength and muscle growth. Kranking participants who began with a lack of upper-body strength saw noticeable gains from the arm cycling routine. Arm cycling also helps you achieve the elevated heart rate needed to burn fat, clearing the way for your biceps to look lean and toned. For optimal results and to avoid injury, only do strength training on nonconsecutive days, as your muscles need time to rest and repair.

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