Many people feel like they're unable to exercise when they have a lower body injury such as knee, lower back or hip pain. For many, this lower body pain is so severe it hinders them from being able to jog or walk for a long period of time. Alternatives include cardio boxing, arm cycle and upper body circuit training.

Cardio boxing

Working a heavy bag, speed bag, target mitts with a trainer or shadow boxing are great ways to work up a sweat. Punches such as a jabs, crosses, hooks and uppercuts will keep your upper body constantly moving and elevate your heart rate. Start with a basic jab/cross combination with a pause between combos. This will allow you to zero in on your target and aim your attack accordingly. Working a speed bag is another rapid movement that will tone your arms and shoulders while burning calories.

Arm cycling

An arm cycle is a machine that includes a seat and two handlebars at chest height on a wheel. The user grasps the handles and rotates them in a small circle to tone the arms and shoulders while burning calories. This machine can be useful for individuals with lower body pain. Most commercial gyms have arm cycles among their cardio equipment and home models can be purchased for personal use.

Circuit training

Creating a circuit that targets the upper body will allow you to combine cardio and strength into one workout. A sample upper body circuit could include pushups, dumbbell curls, dumbbell rows and crunches. Repeat the circuit three times with no rest between exercises. Upper body muscles such as the arms, chest, back and shoulders can be targeted using resistance bands, free weights or body weight.


If you have access to a pool, swimming can be an excellent upper body cardio workout. Swim strokes target the chest, shoulders and upper back. Those with lower body injuries won't need to worry about performing high impact exercises (jumping jacks, squat jumps) since their body weight will be heavily reduced.

Rowing machine

The rowing machine is a classic cardio machine that involves a seat on a track with a handlebar typically attached by chain to the flywheel. Start by placing your feet on the stationary pedals and press through heels to slide the seat back while simultaneously pulling the handlebar. Return to the starting position and repeat. The more vigorously you move your body on this machine, the more calories you will burn. Rowing machines will work the biceps, triceps, pectorals and the upper back.

Dustin Bogle is personal trainer in the High Desert. Contact him at (760) 6462371 mor