Top 16 Cardio Workouts That Don’t Use Legs

If you’re experiencing difficulty with your lower limbs due to a knee hurt, twist or even a strenuous leg exercise the prior day, you will need to learn how to do the cardiovascular activity without your legs!

Doing cardio is essential in any exercise program because it brings multiple positive effects to your physical well-being.

Nevertheless, the most popular cardiovascular exercises normally necessitate the use of your lower body, making it difficult to figure out how to incorporate a quality cardio workout.

Here is an extraordinary set of cardio exercises you can do to get you sweating that doesn’t require the use of your legs!

How is it Possible To Do Cardio Without Legs

Before looking into the approaches for conducting aerobic exercises without the use of the legs, let us go over what this type of exercise is and how one can carry it out without their lower limbs.

The purpose of doing cardio is to quicken your heartbeat and breathe rapidly for an extended period, to fortify your lungs and heart and help them work more effectively.

Exercises that involve the use of your legs can get your heart rate and respiration up without tiring your muscles too much.

If you are unable to make use of your legs yet still yearning to carry out an aerobics workout, it can be difficult to find the perfect exercise that doesn’t tire out the frail upper body muscles. Continue on to discover our eight selections of these kinds of workouts!

1. Go Swimming!

By far, swimming is the top choice for cardiovascular training that involves no leg movement. Allow your legs to simply drift behind you so that there is no pressure on them.

There are several swimming strokes and styles that can be utilized to stop your upper body from becoming exhausted. The great thing about swimming is that even if you’re not in perfect physical condition, you can still make use of the leg that isn’t hurt and get a full workout.

To concentrate on your arms and do the cardiovascular activity without utilizing your legs, you can keep your legs stationary in the water while you energetically do arm-only swimming strokes.

If you don’t want to use your legs for cardio exercise, you can try using a pull buoy, which is a type of equipment used for swimming. This is fundamentally different from using a kickboard, where you support your arms on the board and focus on using your legs.

Instead of using a pull buoy, you put a little bit of foam in between your legs to provide buoyancy while you swim. You have to keep your legs still to keep the foam in place.

You can then concentrate on utilizing only your torso and midsection to swim, leaving your legs out of the picture altogether while you do the upper-body aerobic exercise.

No need to stress if you don’t have access to a swimming pool! We compiled this list with exercises that you can do from any location to get your heart rate up and have a great cardio session without having to move your legs.

2. Use an Air Bike or Arm Bicycle

Any bike at the gym can be ridden by using your arms to pump the pedals instead of your legs.

Riding the bike while moving your arms up and down is an incredible exercise for your body as it raises your heart rate. All the large muscles of the chest and back become involved in the motion.

This is an excellent cardio exercise that requires no strain or force on the body, with the option to either forgo leg movement or if there is an injury, just pedal with a minimal amount of force.

3. Rope Pulldown Machine

You can adjust the difficulty of rope pulldown or never-ending rope machines to make it a good cardio workout as opposed to just a strong one.

It is important to begin at the lowest difficulty setting and then progress slowly, as this apparatus only targets the upper back and arms and can lead to exhaustion rapidly if one is not cautious.

To maximize the cardio benefits of exercising on the rope pulldown machine without activating the legs, a bench should be brought to sit on as opposed to sitting on the floor.

4. Rowing

Rowing is an often-performed aerobic activity, but on most rowing machines, one has to stabilize their leg when rowing backwards.

To row without utilizing your legs, try adjusting your posture so that your hips are farther back than your seat. This will cause you to sit more upright and alleviate pressure on your lower limbs!

Rowing can provide a comprehensive workout of your entire body, although it is generally seen as an intense upper-body cardiovascular activity.

That being the case, you can change a rowing machine so that it can be used for a leg-free cardiovascular workout.

If you are unable to employ either of your legs, rest your feet on the ground to each side of the railing instead of buckling them into the footrests. Then, pull the handlebar with your arms.

It won’t be as swift or far as you’ll be going with every pull of your oar, but it’s a great way to get your heart racing, not needing to use your lower body.

If you have been wounded on one of your feet or legs, but still have usage of the other, you can do the following: position your good foot in the rower as normal, and then you can put your wounded foot on a skateboard and move it back and forth along the ground as you row.

This will offer a full-body cardiovascular exercise.

5. Try out Boxing

Punching and other strikes associated with boxing make for a great cardiovascular exercise without involving your legs. It’s much simpler to engage in if you are in an upright position, but you can also punch and move your arms around while seated.

Attempt to punch the denser bag so that it won’t be as unsteady, it will make it simpler to do when in a seated or standing posture!

6. Calisthenics

Exercising using only your own body weight is called callisthenics, and there are many great exercises for your upper body! Callisthenics is ideal for individuals in the process of recuperating from injuries since they don’t need any kind of gear and can be done in any environment.

The pushup is the most widely used upper-body cardio exercise that does not involve the legs. This exercise has a great many alternatives, making it an excellent way to prolong exercise.

Doing pull-ups or lat pull-downs is an excellent way to combine with push-ups to get a more comprehensive cardiovascular workout. Those who have a strong upper body can do complete pull-ups, but to get the best of a cardio workout without exhausting the arms, table pulls are preferable.

7. HIIT Upper Body Workout

High-Intensity Interval Training (or HIIT) involves shifting between periods of vigorous activity and lighter exercise.

No matter which exercises you choose from the ones mentioned in this article, it’s suitable for both low and high-intensity intervals.

Target a physical activity you can quickly increase the intensity of in a safe manner when doing high-intensity intervals. The rowing machine or arm bike is an excellent exercise for doing intense intervals.

Short breaks for low-intensity exercise are taken between higher-intensity activities to complete a comprehensive exercise routine. A workout that is not as difficult as the pushup should be done and your repetitions should be done at a slower pace to recuperate for the following high-intensity series!

8. Try Single-leg Exercises

Take full advantage of the fact that you are still able to use one of your legs! The legs are the biggest muscle group in the body, and it is far simpler to get a lot of circulation going when using them.

Two terrific single-leg movements to do are lunges and step-ups.

It is essential to keep in mind that when performing single-limb movements, it is best to keep the activity manageable and balanced so that the two legs don’t end up with different levels of strength!

9. Arm Ergometer

Exercising on an upper-body ergometer, or arm bike, is a great way to get your heart rate up without the need for leg involvement.

This is basically a stationary arm-pedalling bike or physical exercise bike for the arms.

Exercise bicycles of this kind are frequently seen in rehabilitation outlets, and YMCAs, plus several other private and communal gyms, sometimes have one or two accessible.

Sit in the chair with a proper posture and grasp the handlebars. When ready, begin to pedal with your arms. You can turn up the difficulty on a standard exercise bike, and you can pedal faster to make the workout more strenuous.

You can do interval training to get a cardio workout without using your legs. If you’re aiming to construct an arm bike but don’t have a lot of money, one option is to get an inexpensive under-desk cycle and then set it up atop a desk or table.

These units are usually lower priced and do not typically offer as many levels of resistance, and the design may not be best for vigorous arm exercises like a proper ergometer bike would provide, yet it can be a sound choice for anyone on a budget who might have a leg injury and wishes to do a cardio workout from the comfort of their own home.

10. Chair Cardio Workout

If you have mobility impairments, require the usage of a wheelchair, or have sustained a musculoskeletal injury that prevents you from using your legs, you can do a seated cardio workout instead.

You can find numerous chair-based aerobic exercises on YouTube for free, or craft your own. Choose some energetic music and then do different lengths of arm workouts that have a cardio element.

As an illustration, grab two lightweight free weights and do swift jabbing motions forward for one minute, switching to alternating sides for a further minute, and then end with one minute of punches held over your head. Perform arm exercises with the dumbbells, moving them up and down alongside your body with great energy.

Do 20 minutes of aerobic exercise by repeating the same sequence of activities five times, but don’t use your legs.

11. Kayaking

Kayaking or canoeing only involves the upper body. You can get good aerobic exercise by vigorously paddling with your arms, without engaging the lower body.

12. Stand-Up Paddleboarding

Stand-up paddleboarding is a great workout for your cardiovascular system and for muscle strengthening, even if you are not able to use your legs. If you can’t stand while paddleboarding, you also have the option to kneel or sit on the board and use the paddle.

Stand-up paddleboarding is an effective core exercise as you must maintain balance and steadiness while in the moving water, and working against the water’s resistance with one side of your body alone.

13. Arm Aqua Jogging

Exercising in water with a buoyancy belt can be a good cardiovascular exercise for the upper body without involving the lower body.

Move your arms quickly to stay afloat and increase your heartbeat. If you cannot move your legs, maintain them in a stationary position. The flotation belt will help keep you buoyant.

14. Handcycling

Participating in hand cycling involves biking outside while riding on a specialized bicycle that rotates with the use of an arm crank rather than the traditional leg pedals. This allows you to receive intense cardiovascular exercise without the use of your legs.

You also have the chance to work out in the open air, making exercise much more enjoyable and the time goes faster compared to stationary bikes inside.

15. Rope Climbing

Climbing a rope using just your body is an immensely demanding workout from a physical and muscular standpoint.

A type of machine similar to a stair climber that is not frequently available in most gyms is the rope climbing device; it’s a device with an unending rope. It’s awfully hard to come by.

16. Upper-Body Circuit Training

Doing a circuit of upper-body exercises is an effective way to get a cardio workout without using your legs.

Instead of using heavier weights and fewer reps, you can opt to use lighter weights but do more repetitions, with no breaks in between exercises. This will ensure that your heart beats faster for the entirety of the exercise session. Lift vigorously and rapidly, focusing on using good form.

As an example, bicep curls could be completed for one minute, followed by one minute of pressing for the chest, bee fly for the chest for one minute, dips for 60 seconds, punches with added weight for a minute, forward lifts for 60 seconds, side lifts for the same period, the same amount of time doing overhead presses, one minute of punches with the arms in an overhead position and finally, finishing off with reverse fly at the same time measure.

Finish three cycles and you will have a solid 30-minute cardio exercise that likewise builds your strength.

All in all, it is difficult to get a vigorous cardio exercise without using your legs since the majority of your muscle mass is located in your lower body and the majority of typical cardio workouts involve your lower limbs to some degree. Although it may take a bit of ingenuity, it is possible to do aerobic exercise without the use of the legs.

It is a good idea to talk to a physical therapist if you have sustained an injury, as they can give you individualized advice. They should be able to recommend exercises that are safe to do during the recovery process.

Side notes

Don’t anticipate activities such as boxing or swimming to be precisely equal – boxing will likely have a bit less impact, and swimming may be a tad slower.


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