Super exercising your arms in an effort to slim them down doesn't work. To reduce arm flab, you must focus on reducing total body fat. You can accomplish this by creating a daily caloric deficit through diet and exercise. Exercise should include resistance training to stimulate muscle tissue and aerobic exercise to burn calories. When done correctly, this combination can reduce body fat and leave you with well-defined, slim arms that don't appear buff.
Eat fewer calories to contribute to your caloric deficit so you lose weight. Eat smaller portions and make healthy, low-calorie food choices. For example, eat frozen yogurt instead of ice cream, drink water instead of soda and consume broth-based soups instead of creamy soups. Aim for gradual weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds a week. Since there are 3,500 calories in 1 pound of fat, you must create a daily deficit of 500 to 1,000 calories to lose weight at the recommended rate. This gradual weight loss is easier to keep off and gives you enough time to get used to the lifestyle changes you're making to reduce your weight.
Emphasize a healthy diet that includes all the basic food groups. Include protein from sources, such as lean meats, fish, nuts, and beans; eat veggies, fruits and whole grains, such as oatmeal and whole-wheat bread; consume dairy that's fat-free or low-fat; and limit unsaturated fats, sugar, cholesterol and salt.
Perform moderate cardiovascular exercise to burn calories that contribute to weight loss. Cardio is a great calorie burner, more so than strength training. Engage in cardio that engages your upper and lower body so you optimize your caloric burn. For example, take a cardio-kickboxing class, walk briskly or jog while pumping your arms back and forth, jump rope, use an elliptical machine with moving handles or play tennis. In 30 minutes, a 155-pound person can burn about 260 calories by rowing or playing tennis; 335 calories by pedaling on an elliptical machine; and 372 calories by jumping rope.
Incorporate strength training on two to three nonconsecutive days of the week. Strength training tones and stimulates muscle tissue, which boosts your metabolism, making you burn more calories. Your increased metabolism won't be enough to get the calorie deficit that's needed to lose weight, but it can help. Work your major muscle groups with compound and combination exercises, such as bench presses, crunches, squats with shoulder presses, step-ups with front raises, lat pull-downs and bent-over rows. Include targeted exercises in your strength-training routine to work your arm muscles under the fat. When your excess arm fat reduces, these exercises will ensure you'll have some muscle definition. Perform triangle pushups, bench dips, and triceps kickbacks, which according to research by the American Council on Exercise, are the best exercises for your triceps at the back of your upper arms. Include biceps curls and hammer curls to work the front of your upper arms, so you create an even muscular balance.
Use either light or heavy resistance during strength-training exercises that require weights. This will provide muscle tone, but won't make you appear buff. According to Jessica Matthews, an exercise scientist and ACE-Certified Personal Trainer, using heavy weight and low reps that fatigue your muscles in 30 seconds can have a strengthening and toning -- not bulking -- effect, as can using light weights and heavy reps that fatigue your muscles in 90 seconds. Start with one set, and as your muscles get stronger, slowly add a second and third set.
- Effective Strength Training; Douglas Brooks
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Aim for a Healthy Weight
- American College of Sports Medicine: ACSM Issues New Recommendations on Quantity and Quality of Exercise
- Ask the Trainer: Exercises for Losing Weight
- Harvard Health Publications: Calories Burned in 30 Minutes for People of Three Different Weights
- American Council on Exercise: Terrific Triceps
- American Council on Exercise: High Reps and Light Weights vs. Low Reps and Heavy Weights?