Hello Joe Ingram Jr.,
It may feel like it; because, moving the arms ups the cardio quicker, especially for those with asthma. What is the client’s definition of “work out”? To strengthen the arms, proper resistance work needs to be done. As for full body workout, the elliptical with mobile handles does incorporate full body “motion”.
Natalie aka NAPS 2 B Fit.
My response would be that they’re “working out their heart muscle” and just happen to be using their upper body (along with their lower body) to do so. It reminds me when runners used to tell me that they do plenty of work to strengthen their legs by running – nothing changes!
You can get a very small effect on the back and biceps by having the exerciser actively pull on the handles, while at the same time reducing the effort in the legs. I’ll tell a client, “Pretend your legs are falling asleep and you can only use your arms to keep the machine going.”
Note: I’m doing this with clients for the coordination challenge and variety, NOT for hypertrophy.
I’ve been asked this question about the elliptical a few times. Some think they are getting a strength workout for the upper body. Sometimes I have them compare a real upper body strength workout with the elliptical. I tell them to think about how many reps in the upper body that would be if they were on it for 30 minutes or so. Not a great upper body workout!
Hope that helps a little.