With spring upon us and summer not far behind, do you know what the best exercises for flabby arms are? It’s time to get prepared to bare your arms and wear some tank tops again.
Which Muscles Make Up the Arms?
When you hear folks mention wanting to tone up their arms, more often than not, they are referring to either increasing the size of their biceps or toning up their triceps. Regardless, if you want to defeat flabby arms and desire to look toned and trim in a tank top when the weather permits, there are a few things you should know.
“Arms” are made up of biceps (two muscles) and triceps (three muscles) with the forearms and shoulders completing the look. Now, generally speaking, most folks won’t spend a lot of time working forearms (and they will get worked indirectly anyway with the following exercises, so don’t worry if you don’t directly address them.) And, nice shoulders will help you showcase your arms, but for now, let’s focus on the two main muscle groups that comprise arms, namely the biceps and triceps.
Your biceps muscles are made up of two “heads” (originating points) and are technically called the biceps brachii. This muscle group has a long and a short muscle and makes up the muscle which runs down the front of your arm from your shoulder to your forearm. It allows you to bend your arm at the elbow as well as twist your forearm. Normally, when people want to show off their muscles, they will form a “biceps” by bending at the elbow and squeezing said muscles—think Popeye opening a can of spinach, and you’ll get the picture.
The triceps brachii muscle is comprised of, you guessed it, three muscles, and runs along the back of your arm from your shoulder to your elbow. Your triceps allow you to straighten your arm and help you perform many movements, for example, pushups. This area can be a problem area, especially for women, as it’s a typical place to store excess body fat. When you hear people talking about “getting rid of their bat wings,” this is the area they are referring to.
Try These Exercises to Beat Flabby Arms
Remember, muscles grow by tearing down the muscle fibers through strength training. It’s important to do two to three sets of each exercise, two to three times a week, to allow your muscles to both grow and recover. It’s okay to start with two sets of each exercise, twice a week, and then to progressively work your way up to three sets of each, three times a week.
Concentration Curl—this is one of the staples when it comes to working your biceps muscles. It will help you develop a nice looking peak when you “make a muscle” and help to define your arms.
To perform the exercise, sit on a chair or at the end of a weight bench. Grasp a dumbbell in your right hand with your palm facing upward. Lean forward at the waist, keeping the back straight, and place your elbow on your inner thigh just above your right knee. Slowly lower the weight by straightening your arm. When you reach the bottom of the movement, use your biceps to pull the weight back up to the starting position. Do 10 – 15 repetitions on your right side, then repeat on the left.
Hammer Curls—this is another great exercise for the biceps and differs just slightly from the above. You’ll perform this exercise in a standing position. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your arms straight down by your sides. Your palms should be facing your hips. Slowly bend your right arm to bring the weight up until your biceps muscle is fully contracted. Gently lower the weight back to starting position with your arm straight. Alternate bending your left and right arms back and forth until you have completed 10 repetitions on each side.
Pushups—not only is this exercise going to work your triceps muscles, but it will definitely help strengthen and tone your entire upper body. It is one of the fastest ways to chisel out the definition you’re looking for in your arms.
You may need to start with some pushups on your knees. Don’t worry, these are still effective and you can always progress to regular pushups later.
Knee pushups: Begin on all your hands and knees. Place your hands shoulder-width apart with your palms flat on the floor, directly beneath your shoulders. Slowly bend your elbows and lower your upper body to within several inches from the ground. Keep your back straight as you do this movement. Pause and push yourself back up to the straight arm position. This is one pushup. Do a set of ten in a row to complete one set.
If you find this hard on your knees, you can always do these on a soft mat or even place a folded towel under your knees. Likewise, if this is hard on your wrists, a set of pushup bars can help ease discomfort.
Regular pushups: Unbend your legs so they are straight and you are on your toes. With your hands directly under your shoulders and palms flat on the ground, lower your body toward the ground while keeping your torso, glutes, and legs in a straight line. Pause at the bottom of the movement and return to the start position. Complete 10 repetitions before resting.
Wall or incline pushups: If you are not yet ready to do your pushups on the ground, you can also perform this movement by standing with your arms straight out in front of you, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, with your hands flat against a wall. Simply bend your elbows as if doing a floor pushup, until your nose almost touches the wall. Straighten your elbows to push your body back to standing up straight. Repeat for 10 repetitions.
These inclined pushups can also be performed using a sturdy, unmovable kitchen counter, table, or desk or, if you’re at the gym, a bar set to around hip height or higher. The higher you place your hands, the easier the exercise becomes. You’ll want to have your legs diagonally behind you, so your body forms a perfectly straight line.
When performing any of these variations, avoid letting your butt stick out, arching your back, letting your hips drop forward/down. Keep your body in a straight line from the head to the feet (or knees if you’re kneeling).
Triceps Kickback—these are easily done on a weight bench or even a chair. Place your left knee on a bench while bending over at the waist. Keeping your back straight and your neck in a neutral position, support your weight on your left arm while keeping it straight and hold a dumbbell in your right hand.
If using a chair, your left arm will be closest to the back of the chair so your right arm can move freely. Bend your right arm so your upper arm is parallel to the ground and tight against your torso and your forearm is perpendicular. Next, straighten your arm with a backwards motion until your entire arm is parallel to the ground and squeeze your triceps. Hold this position for a moment and then lower your forearm and the weight back to perpendicular in a slow and controlled motion.
Repeat with your right arm for 10 – 15 repetitions and then switch to the opposite side and repeat for 10 – 15 repetitions to complete one set.
Triceps Pushdown—using a cable pulley machine (as are found in virtually all gyms), attach a rope or a bar (often these will be short and angled). Your palms should be face down with your elbows tucked by your sides and your arms bent and on the bar in front of you. Next, using your triceps muscles, straighten your arms and push the bar toward the ground. Once your arms are straight, slowly bring the bar or rope back up to the start position and repeat for 10 – 15 repetitions.
Exercises to Beat Flabby Arms: Additional Tips
It’s also important that you perform strength training for your whole body and not solely focus on your arms. Only working arms will cause imbalances which can lead to unnecessary injuries.
Lastly, diet will also play a major role in the appearance of your arms. You can’t technically “spot” reduce and have amazing arms without reducing your overall percentage of body fat. This will require adherence to a healthy diet plan and one which will enable you to burn off an appropriate amount of body fat in order to reveal the sleek muscles in your newly toned arms.