Arms are a “problem area” for many women, especially as they age. Unfortunately, they’re usually one of the last places to slim down as we lose weight, prompting lots of questions about how to lose arm fat.
But why does fat accumulate there in the first place?
People typically store extra fat around their hips, thighs and stomach. However, excess weight can sometimes be distributed-out to the arms or lower legs as well. Women are more likely to carry weight on their hips and thighs, while men typically grow a stomach. Gender differences in fat distribution stem from hormonal differences, namely that women have more estrogen & men have more testosterone.
Testosterone is the one that promotes muscle growth & repair, so more testosterone means more muscle and a higher metabolic rate. It makes sense, then, a marked drop is testosterone is least partially to blame for post-menopausal women’s lower muscle mass, slowed metabolism… and flabby arms.
So, if you can’t control hormone levels or genetics that dictate where you’ll store fat, what can you do to lose arm fat fast (no matter your age)?
Here’s how to lose arm fat in three straight-forward steps:
1. Commit to Whole-Body Weight Loss
First and foremost, commit to a weight loss program. It would save lots of people lots of stress if it were possible to lose weight from a specific “problem area”, but unfortunately that’s not the case. There are millions of articles and studies scattered all over the internet that show – as much as we may wish for it – spot reduction is not possible.
The only way to lose fat in a specific area is to reduce body fat overall.
Aim for a healthy weight loss of 1-2 pounds per week to prevent loss of valuable muscle mass. After all, if you drop weight so quickly that your body eats away at muscle for energy, you’ll have even more loose skin on your arms! That’s the opposite of what you want.
Start with these small changes to jump start your weight loss:
🥛 Stay hydrated by drinking at least 8-10 glasses of water per day
🥦 Focus on fiber to keep you full between meals. Think whole grains, beans, whole fruits/veggies, etc.
🥩 Power-up with protein for lasting energy (and extra muscle-building fuel)
You can measure weight & fat loss objectively with a scale or measuring tape, or gauge your progress more subjectively by keeping note of how clothes fit, changes in energy levels and or how winded you get climbing the stairs.
2. Find Your Favorite Form of Cardio
To lose arm fat fast, accelerate your overall weight loss by adding weekly cardio workouts.
Research shows that people who combine diet and exercise lose more weight than those who only diet or only exercise. So, if you want to lose arm fat and need to lose body fat overall to do so, it’s important to find a cardio workout you like and make it part of your weekly routine.
Aim for at least 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, or 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, each week to maintain cardiovascular fitness. Vigorous activities include workouts like running, step aerobics, swimming laps or hiking uphill. Moderate activities are things like brisk walking, gardening or leisurely cycling.
Here are a few workout routines that would satisfy this physical activity recommendation:
🏃♀️ Run a 5K (3.1 miles) 3x per week
🏊♀️ Swim laps for 25-30 minutes 3x per week
🚶♀️ Take a 30 minute walk at lunch on workdays (Monday-Friday)
🚣♀️ Paddle around in a kayak for an hour 3-5x per week
💃 Go dancing for an hour 3x per week
However, if fat loss is your goal, experts recommend up to 60-90 minutes of physical activity most days of the week. This time includes both cardio and strength training.
3. Build Strength
Last, but definitely not least, developing your shoulder, back and arm muscles will help you lose arm fat.
Flabby arms are the result of two things: untoned muscles and extra fat. So, if you’re already working on reducing fat by watching what you eat and adding-in weekly cardio, the next step is to tone-up the muscles. Building muscle in your arms, back and shoulders will not only define your upper arms, but it will also give you more upper body strength to carry, lift and move things in day-to-day life.
Some women avoid strength training because they worry they they’ll “bulk up” or “look too manly” if they build muscle. Don’t fall for this myth! In reality, due to the hormonal differences described above, it’s much harder for women to develop those big, defined muscles (read: you won’t bulk up). Instead, female athletes tend to develop a more toned physique – even with lots of exercise and heavy weights.
So, here are some easy exercises to lose arm fat!
The routines below are divided into two categories: workouts with weights and workouts without weights. You’ll need gym equipment for the first group, but all of the equipment-free workouts can be done anywhere: at the gym, the park or at home.
How to Lose Arm Fat with Weights
If you have access to a gym, or at least gym equipment, grab two sets of dumbbells (one lighter, one heavier) and try these exercises to lose arm fat:
1. Reverse Flys
Grab the lighter set of dumbbells. Place your feet shoulder-width apart and bend forward slightly. Holding a dumbbell in each hand, slowly raise both arms and out and up (as if you were reaching out to give someone on the floor a hug), keeping your palms facing down. Do 2 sets of 20 reps.
2. Shoulder Press
Using the heavier set of dumbbells, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and a slight bend in your knees. Start with your arms straight above your head, palms facing forward, one dumbbell in each hand. Slowly lower both hands down until the weights reach your shoulders, and then push them back up. That’s one rep. Do 2 sets of 20 reps.
3. Tricep Extensions
Put down one of the heavy dumbbells, and then hold the remaining dumbbell with both hands and extend both of your arms above your head. Using both hands, slowly lower the dumbbell down to behind your head – keeping your elbows in (straight) and core tight – and then lift it back up to the top. Do 2 sets of 20.
4. Bicep Curls
Pick up the other heavy dumbbell again. Hold one weight in each hand and stand-up straight with feet shoulder-width apart. Start with your arms down at your sides and palms facing forward. Keeping your elbows in, bend your arms until your forearms are parallel with the floor, and then slowly lower your hands down again. Do 2 sets of 20 reps.
5. Kickbacks (Push Backs)
Switch to the lighter set of weights, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and bend forward slightly – about 45 degrees. Holding one weight in each hand, put your arms at your sides with your elbow touching, or nearly touching, your torso. Keeping your elbows in-place and your torso angled, bend and straighten forearms so that your arms are switching from bent in front of your body to straightened in-line with your torso (behind you). Do 2 sets of 20 reps.
6. Arm Raises
With the lighter set of weights, start with your arms at your side and one weight in each hand. From there, raise both arms to shoulder height and then lower again. There are three different variations:
Front: raise your arms straight in front of your shoulders/body
Side: raise your arms straight out to the side of your body (to form a T when they’re up)
V: raise your arms out straight in a V in front of your body (halfway between front and side)
Do 15 reps of each variation.
ℹ️ There are also several weight machines specifically designed to work triceps, arms and back. If you’d prefer a machine to free weights, don’t be shy about asking a trainer at your gym to show you how to use the machines!
How to Lose Arm Fat without Weights (at home)
No weights in sight? No time to run to the gym? No problem! Try these easy, at home exercises to lose arm fat:
1. Arm Circles
Start with your arms straight out to the side (in a T). Do 10 small circles forward, then 10 small circles backwards – moving your arms as if you were painting small circles on two canvases. Then make 10 large circles forward, and then 10 large circles backwards.
2. Tricep Dips
Sit in a chair (or on a bench) and place your hands down on the chair at your sides. Slide forward so your bottom is hanging off the chair and your arms and legs are supporting your weight. Lower your body by bending your arms and without moving your legs, and then straighten your arms to return to the starting position. Do 3 sets of 20 reps.
To make it easier, bend your knees and bring your legs closer to your body. To make it harder, straighten your legs completely.
Start in a high plank position. Carefully lower one forearm down to the ground, and then the other. From low plank, straighten the first arm again and push up, then straighten the second arm. You should now be back at the starting position. Make sure to keep your core engaged and back straight throughout. To make it easier, put your knees down on the ground in a modified plank position.
4. Inverted Plank
Squat down and put your hands on the ground, and then walk your legs out in front of you until they’re straight. Keep your belly button up and core engaged to keep your back straight. Hold this position for 30-60 seconds, or as long as you can while maintaining proper form.
Lay face-down on the ground and place your hands just outside your shoulders. Keeping your feet planted and back straight & level, push up to a high plank position. Then lower back down. Repeat 10-30 times.
6. Bird Dogs
Get on all fours (crawling position) with knees and palms on the floor. Slowly lift your right arm and left leg, while maintaining your balance with the other arm and leg. Hold for five seconds and then return your right leg and left leg to the ground in a controlled movement. Next, lift your left arm and right leg, hold for five seconds and then lower. This move is about control and balance, not speed. Do 10 reps on each side.
7. Walk-out Push-Ups
Stand with your feet together, and then bend over so your hands are touching the floor (it’s okay if you need to bend your knees). Walk your hands out until you’re in a high plank position, do a push-up, and then walk your hands back and stand up. Do 15 reps.
ℹ️ For the last five exercises, grab a yoga mat or move to a softer surface (e.g. carpet or grass) to make the moves easier on your hands and knees.
How to Lose Arm Fat in Two Weeks
The strategies above are great if you have a few months to slim-down, but what if your arms still feel flabby and there’s a big event right around the corner?
Focus on Toning
If you have an event within the next couple of weeks and you want show-off your arms, focus on building muscle. It’s very unlikely that you’ll lose enough weight to make a significant difference in your arms in 1-2 weeks, but that’s plenty of time to start building some shapely muscles.
If you need to lose arm fat fast, focus on the exercises listed above – either with or without weights. Work out your arms 3-4 times per week, and add-in cardio if you have the time. In fact, certain aerobic activities like rowing, dancing or gardening act as an extra arm workout too!
Choose Clothes that Flatter
If you need to lose arm fat overnight, the best way to go about it is to adjust your outfit.
Here are some great wardrobe tips to give the impression of slimmer arms:
👕 Steer clear of styles that hit mid-upper arm, especially cap sleeves. Instead, go for long, elbow length or three-quarter length sleeves, or go sleeveless!
🖤 Shop for dark colors and avoid shiny or sparkly fabrics.
👚 Take advantage of sheer tops to cover-up flabby arms without looking boring.
📿 Use bold accessories that draw people’s attention away from your problem areas.
🧥 Throw on a cute jacket, sweater or shawl to cover your arms.
Or, best yet: embrace your body and all of its little imperfections! You’re probably more worried about your arms than anyone else, so don’t let a little self-consciousness keep you away from that killer outfit. Go to your event, enjoy yourself and don’t worry about your arms!
💪 What do you think? Do you have any tricks for how to lose arm fat fast? Share them with us in the comments section below