It’s always the season to get your upper body toned and whipped into shape, sculpting your arms, shoulders, and building muscle strength. You’ll want to make the best upper body cardio exercises a regular part of your workout regimen, to get your heart pumping, increase your endurance, and stay fit.
Top Upper Body Cardio Exercises
Regularly engaging in cardio exercise is essential for maintaining a healthy lifestyle, improving your heart health and blood circulation, and keeping fit.
The best upper body cardio exercises are helpful for toning up arms, shoulders, chest, and back muscles. Plus, it is vital to equally give your upper body as much attention as your lower body, when sticking to an exercise routine.
Whether you like to play sports, use repetitive motions at work or to complete tasks at home, upper body cardio exercises can help reduce the chance of injury.
Cardio workouts should make you break out into a sweat to be effective, and last a minimum of 20 to 30 minutes to get the heat and blood pumping. After a workout, you should feel that you’re body has been challenged, but have a lingering surge of energy, or a bit of a rush.
It is essential when working out to use proper form, and take your time if you are new to a workout routine, or getting back into the swing of things. It is better to perform repetitions safely with controlled motion, then to rush the process, and risk a tear, sprain, or over-exert yourself.
How Upper Body Cardio Is Beneficial to Your Health
In addition to staying hydrated before and after working out, and throughout the day, you are going to want to be mindful of your diet. It is essential to build up your body with enough healthy fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Eating more lean proteins helps feed your muscles, and eating more carbohydrates may be necessary to give you energy during a workout.
Of course, if you are looking to do more upper body cardio exercises to lose weight or inches, you will want to lower your calorie intake and burn more calories than you consume.
Your body needs balance to thrive, so it is vital to not just engage in cardio exercise that targets the lower body and overall body, sometimes you need to focus solely on the upper body.
Targeting the upper body muscles helps engage your core muscles in improving your stability, flexibility, balance, and strength.
You don’t necessarily have to add weights when doing cardio, but it can increase the challenge that you give your muscles and joints. It is essential not to be overzealous, and to stick to lighter weights to not stress your body when doing lunges, presses, or planks.
When you want to focus on weight lifting for building strength, that is a separate endeavor and not the point of cardio. Cardio is meant to focus on burning fat and calories, getting your blood moving, and improving stamina.
Before you get started on a cardio routine for your upper body, there are a few helpful items you might wantto keep on hand.
- A resistance band which can be used on both the arms and legs to challenge muscles
- Dumbbells, free weights, or medicine ball to hold onto when doing specific exercises
- Keeping a bottle of water to stay hydrated is important, or another type of appropriate beverage
Also, before starting any exercise regimen, you may want to check in with your physician first to make sure you won’t have any complications, or interference because of previous surgery, injury, or medical conditions.
It is better to be patient and gradually increase your amount of repetitions, or extend your workout sessions over time. Especially if you are a newbie to specific exercises, it is better to start out with beginner level exercises, practice correct form, and be proactive to prevent the risk of injury. Stretching and conditioning your body before doing cardio is helpful.
Get Moving With These Exercises
The following forms of exercise are excellent for a cardio workout that challenges your core muscles, arms, chest, back, and gets your heart going. Make sure that you outfit yourself with the right type of attire before exercising, to encourage yourself to stick things out, feel comfortable, and look good while getting fit.
All of the following exercises listed are great for beginners and advanced exercise enthusiasts alike, looking for a quality cardio experience that challenges their body’s performance and capabilities. The exercises listed below will test the upper portion of your body, toning up your arms, shoulders, chest, and back.
If you are looking for a low-impact cardio workout that is capable of burning tons of calories and builds muscle mass, you’ll want to go swimming.
According to Fitness & Power, swimming 2 to 3 times weekly for 30 to 45-minute intervals can get you in shape.
Swimming is beneficial for individuals who are concerned about incurring injuries working out on a hard surface. Water creates higher resistance than working surrounded by air, supports your body weight, and it doesn’t put a lot of stress on the bones and joints like running.
Kickboxing can be an intense but fun way to sculpt the upper and lower body, get strong, and burn off fat and calories. When you execute specific moves such as jabs, crosses, hooks, and uppercuts, you target muscles in your arms, core muscles, shoulders, and back.
When you get into kickboxing, you’ll be forced to utilize a lot of muscles throughout your entire body. For best results, you’ll want to go through various moves without stopping, and rest only between completed sets.
When you are moving between doing roundhouse kicks while alternating between guarding your face and punching or doing a set of jabs, crosses, uppercuts, and ducking down, your body will get a total workout that shows results quickly.
Lunges & Squats with Weights
Doing lunges and squats may not seem like they are capable of breaking you out into a sweat. But when executed fluidly and quickly without stopping for a sustained amount of time, you can get your heart pumping while also challenging your muscles and flexibility.
Start out doing a mix of squats, squat thrusts, burpees, and lunges for 10 to 15 minutes, and gradually increase the time you spend to 20 to 30 minutes at a time. You can additionally throw in different types of planks to keep things interesting.
The lower you bring down your knee with a lunge, the more challenging it becomes. Adding weights to your workout increases resistance for your arms, engages your balance even more, and adds to resistance training.
Make sure you keep correct form and posture is essential, to reduce the chance of stressing out your back and joints.
If you do bicep curls, arm lifts, or hold a weight at the chest level when executing lunges or squats; it helps tone arms and challenge your whole body. Be mindful when doing lunges or squats that transition into jump moves when on a hard surface, and don’t be stiff to save your joints.
Jumping jacks are not an exercise that should be regulated to elementary school gym class. This form of exercise that is common in many childhoods quickly provides an intense cardio workout when executed for 15 to 20 minutes. And you’ll appreciate that jumping jacks don’t require the use of weights to have an impact that you can feel.
However, if you choose to add weights, it can turn up the amount of challenge this simple but effective move provides your body. You can do jumping jacks while holding a dumbbell in each hand, or even modify the movement and hold onto a medicine ball.
Jumping jacks help enhance your stamina, use your core muscles, and reduces stress. You can also use jumping jacks as a warm-up exercise to relax your muscles before beginning another form of exercise. Aim to do three sets of a minimum of 50 reps to burn calories, get your heart pumping, and sweat.
Use jumping jacks to increase your flexibility, engage your motor coordination between your arms and legs, and give yourself a more balanced workout.
If you want to get your blood moving, lose weight, and improve your eye-hand coordination, you’ll want to grab the jump rope. Jumping rope helps shave off the pounds, and gets your upper body engaged. To get a meaningful workout, you’re going to have to use your upper arms to keep the rope swinging, while your hands keep a firm grasp on the rope’s handles. You can use a weighted rope if you want to challenge yourupper body even more.
Jumping rope for at least 20 minutes helps improve your stamina, and builds up your shoulder strength. Because you have to hold onto the rope handles to complete the exercise, jumping rope causes your arms to stay in isometric contraction, which increases the strength of your biceps and forearms.
Feel free to alternate your style of jumping rope, and challenge yourself to swing the rope backward and forward, or swing the rope around your body at the front or side in a figure eight formation.
No matter how you choose to jump rope, you are going to isolate and work out your upper body and will require the endurance to maintain a healthy pace and rhythm to see results.