As levels of obesity continue to soar in the western world, fat reduction and weight loss are two of the most common goals people have when they sign up to gyms or personal trainers. However, just because the goal is the same doesn’t mean the process or specific issue will be.
Belly fat is the most common type of fat that people are striving to get rid of but a number of factors in the modern lifestyle have seen arm fat start to become a big problem as well. The question is, how do you go about combatting this issue, and does it compare to losing other types of body fat?
Well, the answer is both yes and no. While arm fat is the same as the sort of fat you will find stored in any other part of your body and you can use the same methods to remove it, that does not necessarily mean that this is the most effective option. That brings us to the topic of today’s article.
In our guide on how to lose arm fat and tone your arms as quickly as possible, we will explain everything you could possibly need to know about combatting flabby arms. So, if you have decided it is time to get rid of those bingo wings and need a helping hand, I highly recommend reading on.
What Is Arm Fat?
Arm fat refers to any excess fat that is stored in the arms, rather than it being a specific type of fat itself. The two most common forms of body fat humans have are subcutaneous and visceral fat.
Visceral fat is found deep in the abdominal organs, can’t be seen, is very dangerous, and can cause a range of health issues. Subcutaneous fat is located directly under the skin, can be pinched and held in the palm of your hand, and typically accumulates around the hips, butt, thighs, stomach, and arms
Subcutaneous fat is not as dangerous as visceral fat, but it can cause health issues of its own. Worse still, if you have a large amount of subcutaneous fat, it is almost guaranteed that you will have an excess of visceral fat that you can’t see as well.
Why You Should Lose Arm Fat?
Beyond just impairing the appearance of your physique, excess arm fat can also contribute to a number of more sinister health conditions as well. It is particularly linked to an ability to increase your risk of developing health issues, like heart disease, strokes, high blood pressure and diabetes.
Losing arm fat can also improves your overall health and fitness levels, self-confidence, and body image. It can even make everyday tasks easier to complete and improve your ability to participate in physical activities, which means shedding that excess arm fat can enhance every aspect of your life.
What Causes Arm Fat?
Besides the obvious being overweight and carrying more body fat everywhere, having an excess of arm fat that is disproportionate to the other parts of your body can be caused by a number of things.
For example, hereditary traits can lead to excess skin and fat in the arms, hormonal imbalances can cause water retention and puffiness in the arms (as well as the stomach), and a basic lack of physical activity can also contribute greatly to arm fat accumulation if you are genetically predisposed to it.
Women are also more likely to carry extra weight in their bellies, hips, and upper arms, due to their genetic makeup, as well as the fact that they naturally have a higher body fat percentage than men.
How Your Diet Affects Arm Fat
As with any workout routine, combining it with an effective diet plan is essential if you want to see results. Not only will your diet help to fuel your body during your workouts, but tracking your calorie intake can also help in losing overall body fat, as you can ensure you remain in a calorie deficit.
A calorie deficit means consuming less calories than your body needs to maintain its current weight and fuel all of your daily activities. Achieving this through a calorie controlled diet can encourage fat loss throughout the body, including in the arms.
Adding healthy foods into your diet is important for improving your health and well-being and is very important when you are restricting calories and putting your body through rigorous workouts. Eating healthy doesn’t have to be boring though, and it can be incorporated into a regular diet.
High-intensity interval training allows for more calorie burning than other types of exercise, so is a great choice to increase your calorie deficit even more, provided you are making sure to eat healthy foods. Eating vegetables, legumes, and proteins like fish and eggs can all aid in achieving toned arms.
What Is Spot Reduction & Is It Possible?
Spot reduction is the idea that if you directly train a body part you will be able to remove the fat from it, much in the same way that you would train to build muscle.
Unfortunately, spot reduction is indeed a myth, as fat loss occurs by your body burning calories, not by the fibres being used to perform the movements.
This means, while some people will be more prone to storing fat in certain areas, you will lose fat from your whole body at a fairly even rate, rather than from a single spot.
That being said, using exercises to target a specific area, such as flabby arms, will help to tone it at the same time as burning fat, which will make visible improvements occur much faster.
Exercises To Lose Arm Fat
When it comes to losing fat, a lot of people simply think any form of exercise will help them achieve their goal. However, while any exercise is better than no exercise, it is important to train in a way that is tailored to your goals if you hope to see results at a decent rate.
We will therefore now take a look at what sort of exercise you should be doing if you want to achieve results as quickly as possible.
Toning flabby arms requires you to burn a great deal of fat and calories, and there is no better way to achieve this than by doing cardio. Cardio exercises can help with fat and weight loss and burning calories, while improving strength and tone at the same time.
The recommended amount of cardio per week is between 150 and 75 minutes, depending on your workout intensity and current level of fitness. Effective cardio exercises that increase heart rate include jogging, swimming, and basketball.
For people particularly worried about arm fat, things like battle ropes, arm bikes, and cross trainers (elliptical machines), which require you to use your arms, are a fabulous choice, as they help you to lose fat and tone up at the same time.
Weight training, strength training, resistance training etc is not seen as the best way to shed arm fat directly, as it doesn’t burn the sort of calories that cardio does. However, it will still burn some calories, and plays a vital role in the appearance of your arms, as it will improve muscle tone.
People with high levels of arm fat will often have sagging skin too, but this can actually often be an indication of muscle weakness, rather than you just having excess body fat.
Lifting weights is the best type of resistance training to help you improve if this is the case for you. Free weight exercises are more time and energy efficient, but using machines may not require as much effort or knowledge as free weights if you are just getting started.
Bench presses are a great choice to help with stability of the whole region and to reduce the risk of injury. Bicep curls and tricep extensions are good exercises to start with to tone the area directly, as they are quite straightforward, don’t require too much weight to be used, and pose very little risk.
Arm Fat Loss Workout
An arm workout is, for many people, one of the most enjoyable types of workouts to complete, and it can be done with minimal equipment and some bodyweight exercises. All you need is a bench, a barbell, some dumbbells, a couple of weight plates, and some parallel dip bars.
However, to make sure it is truly effective, you need to ensure you train not only each of the 3 major muscle groups of the arms (biceps, triceps, and forearms), but also each of their different heads too.
Bicep Barbell Curls – 3 Sets Of 12 Reps
Grip an EZ bar with an underhand grip, hands about shoulder width apart, and stand with your back straight, shoulders back, and arms fully extended and by your sides. Engage the biceps and curl the weight up, keeping your upper arms stationary and your elbows by your sides.
When the bar is by your chest, pause and squeeze the biceps as hard as possible for a second, then slowly lower it back down until your arms are almost completely straight again. Immediately start the process again and continue until you have hit the target number of reps.
Hammer Curls – 3 Sets Of 12 Reps
Hammer curls can be done while either sitting or standing, and with either one or two arms at a time. Take a dumbbell in each hand, with your palms facing in towards your body, arms at full extension, shoulders back, and your back perfectly straight.
Engage your biceps and use them to curl the dumbbells up towards your shoulders, keeping your upper arms stationary and palms facing each other throughout, so only your forearms are moving. At the top, tilt the weights towards your body by bending your wrists and lowering your thumbs.
Flex your biceps as hard as possible and hold the contraction for a few seconds, then lower them back down towards the stating position in a slow and controlled fashion. When you are almost back at full extension, immediately repeat the process until you hit your target number of reps.
Concentration Curls – 3 Sets Of 12 Reps
You can perform concentration curls either while standing and bending over or sitting on the end of a bench. Whichever you choose, put one hand on your knee for support and hold a dumbbell in the other. Let the weight hang so your elbow and tricep rest near the inside of your thigh, but not on it.
Focus on your bicep and engage it, and then use only it to curl the dumbbell up to your chest. When you hit full contraction twist your wrist so that your little finger rises and your thumb lowers, which will increase the contraction, then squeeze it as hard as possible for a few seconds.
Slowly lower the weight back down in a controlled manner until you are almost back at the start point. Immediately start to repeat the motion and continue until you have reached your target number of reps. You then need to switch hands and match this number exactly on the other side.
Tricep Dips – 3 Sets Of 12 Reps
Stand by two dip bars and take them with an overhand grip so your palms face each other. Engage your arms and support your weight on them, then lift your feet off the floor and curl them to your butt. Slowly lower yourself with as much control as you can, keeping your elbows by your sides.
When you feel a deep stretch in your triceps and chest and can go no further, contract all of these muscles to drive you back up. When your arms are a few inches short of fully extended, pause for a few seconds and then repeat till you have completed either the target number of reps or hit failure.
You can make this exercise much more challenging and effective by using a weight belt, to allow you to lift more than your own bodyweight. Placing your hands wider apart will also let you shift the impetus of the exercise from the triceps to the pecs, as will flaring your elbows out to the sides.
EZ Bar Skull Crushers/Close Grip Bench Press – 3 Sets Of 12 Reps
You will now perform two exercises, EZ bar skull crushers and close grip bench press, back to back in a superset which will target two of your three tricep heads.
EZ Bar Skull Crushers
Sit on a flat bench with an ez bar on your knees and grip it so your hands are about your torso width apart. Lay back and drive the bar straight up over your chest. Keep your elbows straight and tilt your arms back towards your head slightly, to around a 45 degree angle. This is your starting point.
Keep your upper arms still and bend your elbows to lower the bar slowly towards your head, going until you can go no further. When there is a deep stretch in both triceps, engage them and use them to extend your elbows and drive the weights back up, until your arms are just short of fully straight.
Pause here and squeeze the triceps as hard as possible for a few seconds, then slowly start repeating the process until you have completed your intended number of reps.
EZ Bar Close Grip Bench Press
Immediately upon completing your final skull crusher, keep your hands where they are and now lower the bar straight down towards your upper abdomen/lower chest by bending your elbows while keeping your arms tucked in to your sides.
Once you reach the point where you can go no further, focus on using only the triceps and as little chest as possible to drive the bar straight back up, until your arms are almost extended again. Repeat this process until you hit failure or the desired number of reps.
Tricep Kickbacks – 3 Sets Of 12 Reps
Place one knee on a bench and the hand on the same side of your body on its end for support. Get your torso as close to parallel with the floor as you can, then take a weight in your free hand and row it up to your body, until your elbow is higher than your back and your forearm is vertical.
Keeping your upper arm still, engage your tricep and use it to straighten your elbow and raise the weight towards the ceiling. Keep going till your elbow is totally straight, then pause for a second and squeeze the tricep as hard as you can, before slowly lowering the weight back to the start point.
Repeat the process until you have completed your target number of reps, then swap sides and match it exactly with the other arm. This exercise can also be done standing and with both arms at the same time, although this gives you less stability and isn’t as effective.
Reverse Grip EZ Bar Curls/Wrist Curls – 3 Sets Of 12 Reps
You will finish the workout with another superset, this time to work your entire forearms.
Reverse Grip EZ Bar Curs
Stand in front of a bench with your shoulders back and back straight and grip an EZ bar with an overhand grip, hands roughly shoulder width apart, and arms fully extended so the bar hangs by your waist.
Engage your forearms and biceps and, keeping your upper arms still and bending only your elbows, curl the bar up and bring it as close to your chest as possible. When you can go no further, flex your wrists so that your knuckles come closer to your chest, as this will work the forearms even more.
Pause here and really flex your forearms for a few seconds, then slowly return to the starting position and repeat until you have completed the desired number of reps.
EZ Bar Wrist Curls (Supinations)
Immediately upon completing your final reverse grip curl, sit down on the bench and change your hand position to a slightly narrower, underhand grip. Rest the backs of your forearms on your thighs and let the backs of your hands hang over your knees, as low as they can go.
Engage your forearms and use them to flex your wrists and curl the bar back up, bringing it as high as you can. When you can go no more, flex the forearms even harder for a sec, then slowly lower the weight back down to the starting position and repeat until you have done the target number of reps.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Before we conclude our analysis of how to lose arm fat, I want to quickly go over a few of the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) people have on the subject. This should ensure everyone knows what the road that lies ahead of them looks like, before they set out on it.
How Long Does It Take To Lose Arm Fat?
The speed that you can lose arm fat will be different for everyone and can vary based on a range of factors, including what your diet looks like, how much fat you have to lose, and even your genetics.
While you will often start to see noticeable changes within four to six weeks of starting your workout routine, especially if you haven’t been doing any kind of exercise before, it can take several months or longer to see significant changes on your weight loss journey.
On the other hand, if you are already at a relatively healthy weight and just want slightly more toned arms, progress can start to be seen in as little as two weeks.
How Often Should You Exercise To Tone Arm Fat?
If toned arms are the only goal of your workout, you should aim to train them 3 times a week. This will allow you to train them often, while still ensuring they have plenty of time to rest and recover.
Your workouts should include a mix of both resistance training and cardio, and you will also need to be following a healthy diet if you are hoping to achieve optimal results.
Final Thoughts On How To Lose Arm Fat & Tone Your Arms Quickly
There is no doubt that arm fat is unsightly and can ruin an otherwise great physique, and it can also lead to a number of very serious health conditions if you have too much accumulated. As luck would have it though, there are plenty of ways to get rid of it relatively fast if you know what you are doing.
From intensive training plans and healthy, calorie controlled diets, to workouts carefully tailored to melting the fat off of your arms, you have plenty of options available to you.
This article will hopefully have given you all of the information you could possibly need to start to combat the problem, regardless of your personal situation or how much you have to lose. That means all you have left to do now is give our suggestions a try and see how they work for yourself.
Chris is an experienced Calisthenics practitioner focused on isometric exercises and street workout. He founded thehybridathlete.com in 2017, which was subsequently acquired by theyhybridathlete.com
He is based in Portland and has been working out using solely his own body weight and bars for the past 6 years.