The 7 Best Exercises to Tone Your Underarms

Triceps dips are one of the best exercises to get rid of underarm fat.
Image Credit: franckreporter/E+/GettyImages

Our bodies carry fat in their own unique ways. For some people, lower abdominal fat is a thing. For others, it's underarm fat.

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But apart from locale, fat tissue is fat tissue. And when you're trying to figure out how to get rid of underarm fat or flab, it's important to realize "spot reduction" is a misnomer. It's impossible to reduce fat on specific parts of your body.

Instead, by reducing excess fat across your entire body — through a combination of healthy nutrition and smart exercises — you can see changes in your underarms. (However, if you're wondering how to get rid of underarm fat — or total-body fat in general — quickly, know that it can take about one month or longer to start seeing results.)

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Plus, you don't even need an elaborate gym to achieve your goals. Body-weight and dumbbell exercises can be incredibly effective. After all, when it comes to reducing fat, consistency is the most important factor. Because these moves require little to no equipment and you can do them just about anywhere, they're great for boosting your consistency and results.

Read on to learn what the best exercises for underarm fat are and how to do them.

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The Best Exercises to Tone Your Underarms

If you're wondering how to tone your underarms to tighten underarm flab, building muscle in your arms, chest and back can give your underarms a more sculpted look, according to Carolina Araujo, CPT, a New York-based certified personal trainer.

Start building strength and give these seven best underarm exercises a try during your next upper-body workout.

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1. Biceps Curl

JW Player placeholder image
Activity Dumbbell Workout
Goal Build Muscle
  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand at your sides with elbows close to your body and your palms facing in toward you.
  2. Keep your shoulders down away from your ears and your chest open. Bend your elbows, lifting your hands until the dumbbells reach your shoulders.
  3. Lower back down with control to return the starting position.

2. Triceps Kickback

JW Player placeholder image
Activity Dumbbell Workout
Goal Build Muscle
  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart with a dumbbell in each hand, arms at your sides. Bend your knees slightly, engage your core and maintain good upright posture.
  2. Position your arms so that your palms are facing in toward your hips. Hold onto the dumbbells, but don't grip them so tightly that you feel strain in your forearms.
  3. Bend over about 45 degrees while maintaining a straight back. Keep your head in line with your spine.
  4. Tuck your arms while holding the dumbbells close to your torso, and bend at the elbow until your forearm and upper arm form a 90-degree angle.
  5. Pretending your elbows are glued to your body, extend your arms straight back in a controlled movement and squeeze your muscles at the top.
  6. After a brief pause, lower the dumbbells back to 90 degrees to the starting position, again moving only your elbows.

3. Triceps Dip

JW Player placeholder image
Activity Body-Weight Workout
Goal Build Muscle
  1. Sit on the edge of a sturdy chair, couch or workout bench.
  2. Place your hands palms down on the chair, couch or workout bench on either side of your hips and extend your legs out in front of you.
  3. Carefully slide your butt off the edge of the chair, couch or workout bench while keeping your arms straight and your back close to the edge of the chair, couch or workout bench.
  4. Slowly bend your elbows to almost a 90-degree angle while lowering your butt toward the floor,.
  5. Push back up to the starting position.

Tip

Bending your knees will make this move easier and extending your legs straight out will make this move harder.

4. Push-Up

JW Player placeholder image
Activity Body-Weight Workout
Goal Build Muscle
  1. Position yourself on your hands and knees, hands under shoulders and knees under hips.
  2. Step your feet back and straighten your legs so that you're balanced on your palms and toes.
  3. Your body should make a straight line from head to hips to heels, and your hands should be directly under your shoulders or slightly wider apart.
  4. Bend your elbows at a 45-degree angle to your body and lower your body to the floor (as far down as you can go).
  5. Make sure to keep your body in one straight line from the neck through the spine to the hips and down to the heels.
  6. Press into your palms and push the floor away from you to come back up to a high plank, still keeping your body in one straight line.

5. Triangle Push-Up

JW Player placeholder image
Activity Body-Weight Workout
Goal Build Muscle
  1. Position yourself on your hands and knees, hands under shoulders and knees under hips.
  2. Step your feet back and straighten your legs so that you're balanced on your palms and toes.
  3. Your body should make a straight line from head to hips to heels, and your hands should be close together so your index fingers and thumbs make a diamond shape. It might look like a triangle, depending on the flexibility of your thumbs.
  4. Bend your elbows and lower your body to the floor (as far down as you can go). Your elbows will flare out to the sides as you lower down.
  5. Make sure to keep your body in one straight line from the neck through the spine to the hips and down to the heels.
  6. Press into your palms and push the floor away from you to come back up to a high plank, still keeping your body in one straight line.

6. Reverse Snow Angel

JW Player placeholder image
Activity Body-Weight Workout
Goal Build Muscle
  1. Lie face-down on the ground.
  2. Stretch your arms out in front of you, biceps along your ears and keep your legs straight and spread hip-width apart.
  3. On an exhale, squeeze your glutes to raise your legs a few inches off the ground.
  4. At the same time, bring your chest and arms a few inches off the floor.
  5. Sweep your arms down to your sides.
  6. Reverse the motion to bring your arms back to the starting position.
  7. Slowly lower your body back to the ground.

7. Plank Walk-Down

JW Player placeholder image
Activity Body-Weight Workout
Goal Build Muscle
  1. Start in a high plank (the top of a push-up) so that you support yourself on your hands and toes, body forming a straight line from head to heels.
  2. Lower one elbow/forearm to the ground.
  3. Then move the other arm down so that both forearms are flat on the ground.
  4. Pause, then take the arm that went down first and plant that hand on the mat. Push yourself up on that side.
  5. Then take the other arm, plant your hand and push yourself back up to the top position of a push-up.
  6. On the next rep, switch the arm that goes down first.

Work Your Lower Body, Too

While doing an underarm workout helps strengthen your arms, incorporating some lower- and total-body body-weight moves can promote fat loss. Compound movements, like air squats, work several muscles at once, increasing your total calorie burn, according to the American Council on Exercise (ACE).

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"Your workouts should have a nice mix of compound and isolation exercises," Araujo says. "I like to do one compound exercise, followed by two isolation moves in a circuit."

Cross-Train With Cardio

Adding cardio to your training schedule can also speed fat loss — plus it promotes overall heart health. Ideally, aim to get about 150 minutes of moderate cardio (like walking) each week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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If you don't love the idea of steady-state cardio, you can also opt for 75 minutes of vigorous activity, according to the CDC. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a more time-efficient choice, Araujo says. By alternating between intervals of intense exercise and rest, you spike your heart rate and total calories burned, helping you shed more total-body — including underarm — fat.

You can even add some strength-building exercises for underarm flab (like the ones above) into your intervals to build arm muscle at the same time.

A Word on Nutrition for Underarm Fat Loss

Healthy eating is the most powerful way to lose body fat, including under your arms. Burning more calories than you eat (aka a calorie deficit) is the way to start shedding body fat, according to the Mayo Clinic.

To lose fat, eat a good balance of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, lean proteins and healthy fats like avocados, seeds and nuts, recommends the Office on Women's Health.

While you strength train with exercises to get rid of underarm fat, increasing your protein intake can help build lean muscle, improving your overall ratio of body fat to lean mass, according to a March 2016 position statement in the ​‌Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics‌​. Fiber, found mostly in plant foods, helps control your blood sugar levels.

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