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Does A Cross Trainer Build Arm Muscles?

    Does A Cross Trainer Build Arm Muscles?

    Do you want to enjoy a low-impact exercise that targets multiple aspects of your fitness? A cross trainer can be a great choice. But does it help you to build arm mass?

    Cross trainers work your arms but not the same way as arm workouts do. They engage both your arms and legs by pedaling and pushing the levers. If you’re looking for lower intensity and effective exercises that engage your entire body, a cross trainer can help you reach your fitness goal.  

    Read on as we explore the muscles that cross trainers work and ways to engage your arm muscles more with a cross trainer. We’ll also give you some arm workouts that help you build arm muscles.

    What Muscles Does a Cross Trainer Work?

    A cross trainer is an excellent option to incorporate a full-body exercise into your routine. The machine targets every muscle group in your body by creating a motion like cross-country skiing. 

    It provides you with a great cardio workout while strengthening your muscle without putting too much stress on your joints.

    Upper Arm

    By moving the cross trainer’s levers, you engage your biceps and triceps—located between your shoulder and elbow. Biceps are the large muscles on the front of the upper arm that enable arm flexion. On the other hand, triceps are located on the back of the upper arm and are responsible for arm extension. 

    When you flex and extend your elbows, these muscles get engaged. So, it’s easy to see how a cross trainer can strengthen your arms. If you reverse your motion, you can engage these muscles harder, thus giving you a more intense workout.  


    Glute muscles extend on your lower back, thighs, and buttocks. These muscles stabilize your hips. By extending your hips when working out with a cross trainer, you engage your glutes. Increase the incline and keep your heels in contact with foot pedals to maximize the glutes workout.


    Cross trainers don’t specifically target your core. However, they improve your posture, which helps you strengthen your abdominal muscles over time.

    Peddling without holding the levers is the best way to engage your core muscle. When you drop the levers, you put more pressure on your abs and squeeze them tightly to keep your balance. This posture activates your core muscles.  


    Your calves are on the back of your legs. Whether you’re pedaling backward or forward, your calves are engaged. Cross trainer workouts tone up your calves and give them a leaner look. If your goal is gaining muscle bulk on your calves, you may have to turn to calf raise machines


    During a cross trainer workout, as you flex and extend your legs, you engage your hamstrings—muscles located at the back of your leg. If you want more hamstring engagement, you can increase the machine’s incline setting. And if your cross trainer doesn’t have the option, pedal in reverse. 


    Cross trainer workouts are a form of cardio. They work your heart and lungs and increase your blood circulation by raising your heart and breathing rate.  

    How To Engage Arm Muscle With Cross Trainer?

    So, now that we know which muscles are activated on a cross trainer, let’s focus on the arms. 

    If you want to increase arm muscle engagement during cross trainer workouts, here are a few ways to do it:

    Increase The Resistance

    Increasing the cross trainer resistance level will strengthen your upper and lower body while also burning more calories. Higher resistance requires more effort as your body exerts energy to pedal, push, and pull the levers. 

    Push And Pull With your Arms

    Stop pedaling with your legs and power the machine by pushing and pulling the levers with your arms. This way, you work your arms, chest, and shoulders. Make sure to keep your back straight to avoid injuries. 

    When you push the lever, you involve the triceps and chest more, while pulling the lever engages the biceps and shoulders. 

    You can add two or three intervals to the movement. Interval training is to repeat a short cycle of high-intensity speed bursts with slow recovery phases. It recovers your body to exercise more efficiently and boosts your fitness level.

    Work One Arm At A Time

    If you can control your balance, rest one arm on the handlebars while pushing and pulling with the other hand. The motion will help you double the work on each arm. Switch the arms after two or more minutes. However, be careful not to overwork yourself. 

    Use Dumbbells 

    For more arm engagement, you can hold a dumbbell on each hand while stepping on the cross trainer. One way is to shrug your shoulders and pull dumbbells up as you are pedaling. The movement works on your neck, shoulders, and arm muscles. 

    You can also curl your dumbbells up toward your shoulders and hold on there. This contraction activates your biceps to build mass in your arms

    Watch this video to learn more:

    Exercises To Build Arm Muscles

    As we mentioned earlier, a cross trainer engages your arm muscles but not in a way that arm-specific workouts do. If your goal is to build arms mass, the exercises below can help you on your way. Do each one for two or three sets with 12 to 15 reps.

    Triangle Pushup

    This move engages the triceps, and all you need is your weight to do it—no expensive equipment necessary.

    Get to the traditional pushup position with your hand below your face on the ground. Bring your forefingers and thumbs together to form a triangle between your hands. While keeping your core tight, slowly lower your body until your nose comes close to the ground. Then come up.

    Triangle Pushup

    Overhead Extension

    This strength move works the back of your upper arm and triceps. Since you work out against gravity, overhead extension is more challenging than triceps exercises. 

    Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. You can also do its seated version with LINODI adjustable weight bench, available on Amazon. Grab the dumbbell with both hands and bring it over your head. Lift your arms while keeping them tight, then slowly lower them down. 

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    This video helps you avoid the common mistakes:

    Barbell Curl

    The barbell curl is a popular exercise for building muscle in the forearm and biceps.

    Stand with your feet hip-width apart and knees nice and loose. Grab a barbell curl or straight one. Make sure your arms are loose too. Slowly lift the curl toward your chest while squeezing your arms.  

    Watch this video to understand the proper form:


    Chin-ups work your upper arm and biceps while enhancing your shoulder stability. 

    Sit under a chin-up bar and grab it with both hands. As you exhale, lift your body by bending your elbows. Pause for a few seconds and slowly lower down. 

    Here’s a video teaching you the right way to do chin-ups:


    Dips exclusively target your triceps and need no equipment.

    Sit on the ground with your knees bent. Put your hands behind you with your fingers toward your butt. Lift your pelvis and straighten your arms. Then lower your back to the starting position.


    Tricep Kickback

    Tricep kickbacks provide a complete workout to strengthen your triceps.

    Hold a dumbbell on each hand with your palm facing inward. Hinge forward and slightly bend your knees. Keep your back straight and your core tight. Bend your arms behind you, then straighten them. Hold for a moment and lower your arms. 

    Tricep Kickback

    Bottom Line

    Cross trainers work many muscle groups in your body, including your arms, hamstrings, calves, and abs. However, these machines aren’t the best option for building arm muscles. There are ways to increase arm engagement during cross trainer workouts, but if you’re really serious about building your arm muscles, try the other moves introduced in this article. 

    Last update on 2022-10-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


    James Wright

    James (36) has been working out since he was 15 years old. He has a home gym where he pumps iron, does bodyweight workouts and boxing. He likes sharing his experiences with others who want to build a better physique.

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