At the Record-Journal we're committed to delivering FREE CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE during this crisis.
Today, in this financially challenging time, we are asking for a little extra support from all of you to help us keep our newsroom on the job.

We're committed to delivering FREE CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE during this crisis. Help keep our reporters on the front lines.

HEALTHY LIVING: 5 tips for upper body cardio exercise

HEALTHY LIVING: 5 tips for upper body cardio exercise

Cardiovascular exercise involves the generation of aerobic energy by achieving and maintaining your target heart rate.

Target heart rate can be configured by calculating your maximum heart rate. To calculate maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220. 

The American Heart Association defines target heart rate in two categories.

Moderate exercise intensity, which is 50-70% of your maximum heart rate, and vigorous exercise intensity — 70-85% of your maximum heart rate. 

Running, biking, and using an elliptical are all popular forms of lower body cardio. Upper body cardio involves working the arms and back muscles to burn calories and increase endurance.

This type of cardio is ideal for people who have limited lower body mobility or those who simply want to work their upper body.

1. Arm bikes

Arm bikes have an adjustable dial for users to add or subtract resistance. These machines can be operated with the user standing on either side of the bike, because the handle portion of the bike can be spun 360 degrees and then locked into place.

Since the bike has a seat, users are not required to put any pressure on their lower body. 

2. Tricep dips

You can utilize sturdy surfaces, such as gym benches or solid boxes, to do tricep dips. Since tricep dips are a body weight exercise you can increase your rep range or perform the exercise until failure to maintain your target heart rate. 

Tricep dips require you to create a 90-degree angle with your elbows by placing your hands behind you and slowly dipping your body down and then pushing it back upwards. 

3. Assisted push-ups 

Bars and benches can also be used to perform assisted push-ups, which build strength and increase endurance. This exercise can be modified and performed on the knees, with a mat underneath to support the kneecaps. 

To perform push-ups, stack the hands underneath the shoulders and slowly lower yourself down to the ground, and then back upward.

4. Strength building

Using light weights for an overhead press is ideal for fast-paced upper body cardio which also helps to build muscle.

An alternative to overhead presses are controlled arm circles. By stretching the arms outward by the sides of the body and turning them in a circular motion, this movement helps to work the deltoids, triceps, and back muscles. 

Methodically increase the size of the circles until the shoulders burn and then reverse this motion while slowly decreasing the circle size, and repeat.

5. Rowing machine

Rowing machines are ideal for upper body cardio because they allow users to maintain a consistent pace since the seat slides forward with the completion of the concentric movement.

As the biceps and back muscles lengthen to pull the row handles into the sternum, the eccentric motion of this exercise is completed. 

These machines typically offer a variety of settings for users who are looking to keep resistance levels low and maintain their target heart rate for cardiovascular exercise. 

For an easy-to-read target heart rate chart provided by the American Heart Association visit:

Kristen Dearborn is a Wallingford native, NASM certified personal trainer and author of the blog dearfitkris–