Ladies and gents, do you have fat arms? If so, don’t worry – you’re not alone! Many people struggle with excess arm fat, ladies more than men, but there are ways to get rid of it.
I own a gym, and one of my personal training clients asked me to write her specific exercises to get rid of her arm fat. Her exact quote was, “My arms are getting kind of flabby in the back, and I want some exercises I can do at home to get rid of the fat.” My best friend’s mom asked my best friend what she could do to get rid of her fat arms, and my friend told her mom, “wear a long sleeve shirt”. Not the answer she was looking for!
In most situations, exercises alone will not do the trick, and losing arm fat will require a bit of dedication and consistency.
In this blog post, we will discuss the reasons why your arms might be fat and then give you five tips to help reduce arm fat and saggy arms!
What Are Fat Arms?
Stating someone has fat arms is a direct way of saying that a person carries excess body fat in their upper arm area. Sometimes this is referred to as “bat wings” because it can become so excessive the skin stretches under the arm area and causes a wing flapping type scenario.
Although you can control your body from taking on excess body fat you, unfortunately, cannot control where it stores that body fat when you gain it. Some people’s bodies store fat in their legs, belly, butt, or thighs, and some people in their arms.
How can I get rid of fat on my arms?
There is no quick fix to getting rid of arm fat or flabby arms; however we do have several tips and tricks to help you.
Often times people are so embarrassed and feel self-conscious about their arms making it, so they will never wear short sleeve shirts or tank tops because of it. That is the last thing we want people to feel so finding ways to reduce that fat on the arm rather than be embarrassed about it for the rest of your life is a much better solution.
1. Focus On Overall Body Fat Loss
Although your main goal is to reduce stubborn arm fat, the cold hard truth is that your arms are fat to begin with because your overall body fat is too high. In order to get rid of your arm fat you will have to reduce your excess fat in general and potentially lose weight.
In addition to complaining about upper arm fat, many of our clients will say, “well I want to lose weight on my legs, or I want to be losing weight more in my upper arms”. Truth be told – on most areas of the body – spot reducing or targeted fat loss is not possible.
In this study done on targeted fat loss, it was found that there was some small ability to spot reduce belly fat however, when aiming to spot reduce fat in the tricep or upper arm region – nothing was effective.
That being said, our next tips will be about working on your food intake to help with burning fat, and using some of that gym equipment to start lifting weights.
2. Get jacked – lift weights!
There is no single better way to change the shape of your body than strength training by lifting weights and gaining muscle mass. Bodyweight exercises are ok to stick with for those who are starting from a totally sedentary lifestyle, however, they are not as an effective way to build muscle mass as weight training.
A study done on 119 overweight individuals indicated that both weight training and aerobic training were beneficial in reducing body fat, BUT resistance training was the primary way to increase lean muscle mass in the body.
As your body fat decreases and your muscle mass increases, you will begin to see that muscle tone definition in your arms and even other parts of your body if you continue to lift weights.
Building lean body mass causes your muscles to get bigger, meaning you will burn more calories in general. Because building bigger muscles requires a calorie surplus, you may not lose weight on the scale, but you will lose fat as your body creates muscle and you begin seeing muscle definition.
3. Eat A Proper Diet
Nutrition is the single most effective way to maintain a healthy body fat ratio. Strength training and cardio exercises are excellent to build muscle and keep your heart strong however, eating a healthy diet is more important.
Several studies have been done and summarized in this article relating to exercise vs. diet for fat loss proving that exercise alone is not to be used as a “fat loss” strategy and is, in fact ineffective if not paired with eating healthy.
I’m a nutrition coach who works directly with several registered dietitians, so when it comes to eating healthy, I have a lot to say! A balance of proteins, carbs, and fat is a requirement!
Although individual needs vary, eating more protein with an emphasis on avoiding refined carbs, processed foods, and saturated fats is a great place for most people to start. A lot of our clients follow the plate method which dictates that 1/4 of of the plate be made up of protein, 1/4 starch, 1/2 veggies and finally 1 thumb of fat.
Our nutrition clients are given a laminated copy of a plate segmented into these ratios, which helps them visualize the plate method each time they eat a meal or snack. Many of them have had success losing fat with this method! And remember – just because you are trying to lose fat doesn’t mean you don’t eat fat! Eating unsaturated fat balanced with carbs and protein using the plate method is the way to go!
A significant struggle people have when it comes to eating a healthy diet is being unprepared with things to cook, triggering trips to the drive in for fast food or consistent nights ordering pizza. We highly suggest weekly meal prep to help our clients be prepared and not make choices they will regret the next day.
4. Get Adequate Sleep
Sleep is almost as important as nutrition when it comes to recovering from workouts, reducing stress and giving your immune system a boost!
Not only does getting adequate sleep help with the things stated above, it also has a lot to do with your hunger hormones leptin and ghrelin.
Leptin is a hormone made by fat cells that decreases your appetite. Ghrelin is a fast-acting hormone that increases appetite and also plays a role in initiating the response to eat a meal.
Lack of sleep has been shown to decrease your levels of leptin and increase your levels of ghrelin, causing a reaction that starts a feeding frenzy. Many people feel more hungry when they are tired, and these hormones are why.
Setting up a sleep routine is one of the primary approaches the nutrition and wellness coaches at my gym use to help their clients who struggle to get to sleep.
You can begin to create this routine as follows:
- Set up your sleeping environment by reducing light, reducing noise and controlling the temperature.
- Create a wind down routine where you turn off all electronic devices at the same time every night and you exchange the scrolling for reading a book or magazine instead.
- Stick to a sleep schedule by getting to bed and waking at the same time each day of the week.
Because lack of sleep affects so many people, there are plenty of resources available if a person is trying to improve their sleep quality. Sleep Foundation is a great one and can be found here.
5. Get A Support System
Finding an accountabilabuddy can help keep you on track and consistent. Starting any weight loss or strength training routine can seem daunting and be intimidating. Having a person that is like minded and shares the same goals as you do is a big help.
Just a couple ways you and your accountabilabuddy can help each other are as follows:
- You can meal prep swap to help keep you on track to consuming a healthy diet. Each of you makes 3 different recipes for the week and swap out half with the other person.
- Hold each other accountable getting to the gym each day. Walking into a place that isn’t in your wheelhouse is scary! But if you both walk in together – the fear and intimidation is much less.
What Are The Best Exercises To Build Muscle In The Arms
Alot of our clients – especially the women are looking for “toned arms”. What this really means is they want muscle definition in their arm muscles without body fat covering the muscles.
In order to get this look, exercises such as push ups, tricep dips, and bicep curls will put you well on your way to having the shapely arms you desire.
Check out these videos below demonstrating variations to each one of these upper arm exercises.
- Hammer Curls: https://youtu.be/P5sXHLmXmBM
- Tricep Dips: https://youtu.be/y4gHJ8OjxTg
- Push Up: https://youtu.be/rruHM_sB2Hc
Assuming that most people reading this are new to weightlifting, when it comes to rep schemes and choosing weights for completing these movements you want to use the ratings of perceived exertion method.
On a scale from 1-10 how hard is it to get the reps done?
Exercise Set 1 – Superset Bicep Curls and Tricep Dips to a box
5 Supersets of:
-12 Bicep Hammer Curls (should be an 8 on the RPE scale by the 10th rep)
-12 Tricep Dips
-90 seconds rest between each superset
When you are done with the 5 sets, rest for 5 minutes and complete…
Exercise Set 2
5 Sets of:
-12 pushups 1:1 rest ratio (should be a ratings of perceived exertion of about 7-8 by 12th rep)
-Move to elevated pushups on a box if you are unable to complete a full pushup
Completing these exercises to help lose arm fat in addition to adding in some cardio 2-3x per week is a great place to start if you are not currently working out and want to burn calories.
Adding weight to the bicep curls and tricep dips and making the pushups harder by decreasing the elevation will keep your body challenged.
If you have a place to put some equipment, purchasing some small home gym equipment would not be a bad idea. You and your accountability partner could hit the home gym in situations where time is tight and neither of you can make it to the real gym.
As you can see a combination of both a healthy diet and proper weight training and cardio exercises will help you lose unwanted arm fat. Most importantly a consistency with these two regiments is key.
Setting aside some time to put your workouts in your calendar like appointments you wouldn’t miss at work is a first step. Planning a grocery list and understanding what you will be eating from one day to the next is also an important first step.
As always, if you have any questions regarding any of our content or are struggling to get a routine started – shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org – we can help!