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How to Run for Slim Arms

author image Andrea Cespedes
Andrea Cespedes is a professionally trained chef who has focused studies in nutrition. With more than 20 years of experience in the fitness industry, she coaches cycling and running and teaches Pilates and yoga. She is an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer, RYT-200 and has degrees from Princeton and Columbia University.

Running uses your legs to propel you forward, but can have the effect of slimming down your whole physique, including your arms. That's not through extra arm pumping or push-ups inserted partway through each mile, either. Combining a smart running schedule with a portion-controlled, healthy eating plan is the ticket to getting arms that you'll be proud to show off in a tank top.

Slim Arm Strategy

Slim arms project fitness. For many, though, the arms can be a problem area. Just like some people store extra junk in the trunk, some people are more prone to carrying a little extra pudge around the biceps.

Using running as a slim-down strategy has you on the right track. There's no such thing as spot-reduction, so you can't direct fat to melt away from specific trouble zones in your body. As such, you have to approach fat loss as a total-body affair. As you drop weight, your whole frame gets slimmer — including your arms.

Read More: Exercises for Slimmer Arms

Running is a good part of this weight-loss strategy as it helps you burn calories. When you burn more calories than you consume, you create a caloric deficit that allows you to lose weight. A deficit of 3,500 calories means you lose 1 pound.

Calorie-Burning Potential

The average person burns about 100 calories per mile. If you weigh more than average, you'll burn a bit more and, if you weigh less, then you'll burn a few less. So, if you commit to running about 15 miles per week — that's three 5-mile runs or five 3-mile ones — you can burn 1,500 calories.

But, this means you'll have to work on the "consume less" part of the equation to create a notable enough deficit to lose significant weight. You're not relegated to broccoli and egg whites only, however. It's important to still supply your body with a variety of quality nutrients, even when you're watching how much food you put into your body.

Make your meals consist of lean proteins, such as chicken breast and white fish, as well as fresh produce, whole grains and healthy fats such as nuts and olive oil. Cut out the calorie-dense, nutrient-poor options like white bread, cookies, fancy coffee drinks, soda and fried treats.

Arm Your Arms

Slimmer arms are your goal, but create a little definition in them and you'll have arms to envy. Plus, gaining muscle helps boost your metabolism to make weight loss easier. Start by training your arms with moves such as push-ups, dumbbell curls and triceps extensions.

Don't neglect the rest of your body when it comes to resistance training, either. Building muscle in the big muscles of your legs and butt gives you power to run more — equaling more calories burned through activity — plus, you'll build even more muscle to help contribute to that higher metabolic rate.

Read More: How to Build Muscle if Your Arms are Skinny

Vary Your Runs

Running at a steady pace three to five times per week does burn calories to lead to slimmer arms, but has limited returns. Kick up your effort at some runs to really get results. At one or two of your weekly runs, either run 20 to 30 minutes at a fast pace equaling about 75 of your maximum heart rate, or make one or two runs consist of intervals in which you alternate an amped-up pace for a minute or two with equal periods of easy jogging.

Both methods improve overall fat loss, which will translate to slimmer arms, showed research published in a 2015 issue of PLoS One. Don't do every run at these intense paces, though, as you'll burn out and raise your risk of injury.

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