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Information and Patient Support

Endurance Training – Upper Limb

Mode | Intensity | Duration | Frequency | Type

The following points should be taken into account when prescribing unsupported arm exercises with the aim of increasing endurance exercise capacity:

  • A weight should be chosen that the patient can only lift 15 times.
  • Each exercise should be repeated 15 times followed by rest.
  • Try to limit the rest period between each set of 15 repetitions to one minute.
  • It may help to instruct the patient to move their arms up as they breathe in and down as they breathe out. However, if they find this difficult then just emphasise that the most important point is not to hold their breath.
  • It is generally recommended to perform the exercises in the in the sitting position with back supported.  However, in everyday life upper limb activities are often carried out in standing. Some of the exercises can be performed in standing providing the patient can perform a correct technique.

Examples of unsupported arm exercises are shown below. Arm exercises should not cause significant discomfort to the shoulders.  Cease arm exercises if shoulder discomfort or pain occurs.

Upper Limb Endurance Exercises

(low weight and high repetition)

Exercise #1
Arm Raise
  • Hold a bar with hands at knee height.

  • Lift bar above head, then lower.

  • Breathe in while lifting bar up and out while lowering bar down.

Exercise #2
Arms Together
  • Start with arms by your sides.

  • Lift your arms until they are at shoulder height (breathe in while you do this).

  • Move arms forwards to meet in the middle, keeping elbows straight (breathe out while you do this).

  • Reverse the movement until the arms are horizontal at shoulder height (breathe in while you do this).

  • Return arms to your side again (breathe out while you do this).