Running won't selectively lead to slim arms — just like sit-ups won't lead to flat abs. As explained by the American Council on Exercise, spot reduction of fat is a myth. But if you're looking for slimmer arms, running is one way to burn extra calories and reduce overall body fat.
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Understanding Weight Loss
In order to burn 1 pound of fat, you need to burn approximately 3,500 calories, as explained by the Mayo Clinic. If you're looking to lose weight for the long haul, it's important to pace yourself. Weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds a week is generally recommended.
To meet this goal, you'll need to create a caloric deficit by either reducing your daily calorie intake by 500 to 1,000 calories or burning extra calories with exercise such as running. Ideally, use a combination of the two.
If you cut your calories back too much, you might not have adequate energy for running. You could also end up malnourished, missing out on important vitamins and minerals essential for good health. Be sure to consume at least 1,200 calories per day as advised by Harvard Health Publishing, even while you are trying to lose weight.
Losing extra weight through exercise alone can be quite time consuming. The amount of calories burned with running depends on several factors. The more you weigh, the more calories you will burn during activities such as running. The intensity of your workout also plays a role in your overall calorie burn.
Read more: 12 Essential Tips for New Runners
Running for Weight Loss
According to Harvard Health Publishing, a person weighing 155 pounds will burn approximately 298 calories in 30 minutes of running at 5 mph, or a 12-minute-mile pace. Contrast that with a 185-pound person, who will burn 355 calories during the same activity.
At this pace, a person would need to run for about 90 minutes, seven days per week, to lose 2 pounds per week.
Upping the intensity of your running workouts will boost your calorie burn. Running for 30 minutes at a 6.7 mph pace, or a nine-minute mile, will burn 409 calories if you weigh 155 pounds, or 488 calories if you weigh 185 pounds. At this intensity, you're still looking at daily runs of more than 60 minutes to burn 1,000 calories.
Not only are these workouts time consuming, but they also don't leave any time for your muscles to recover. According to an article published by the Montenegrin Journal of Sports Sciences & Medicine in September 2017, runners are prone to injuries caused by overuse such as tendinitis and stress fractures — and training volume is one of the biggest contributing factors.
To reduce risk of injury, allow at least one day between running sessions to help your muscles recover.
Read more: The Best Running Pace for Weight Loss
Try a HIIT Workout
Boost your calorie burn during your running workouts by incorporating high-intensity interval training, or HIIT. This type of workout alternates short bursts of high-intensity work with rest. HIIT has been shown to reduce body fat while maintaining lean muscle, according to the American College of Sports Medicine.
A HIIT running workout could include 30 seconds of sprinting on a treadmill followed by two minutes of walking — repeating this pattern for 30 minutes. You could also sprint a short distance outdoors and then walk back to the starting line and repeat 10 times. Burn even more calories by including some hills in your HIIT workout.
Read more: The Best 10-Minute Sundress Arm Workout
Toning Exercises for Slim Arms
In addition to your running workout, consider adding strengthening exercises for your arms. Contrary to popular belief, lifting weights won't cause your arms to bulk up, as explained by the National Academy of Sports Medicine. As you lose fat, your muscles become more visible. Strength training will add definition to your arms.
You don't need fancy equipment — a small dumbbell or other household object such as a water bottle can be used for these exercises. Your arms can also be toned with body-weight resistance exercises such as push-ups.
Perform 10 to 15 repetitions of each exercise, as recommended by Princeton University Athletic Medicine, working up to three sets in a row. Perform strength-training exercises at least twice per week, but with a day of rest in between sessions.
Move 1: Biceps Curls
- Stand up straight, holding a dumbbell in your hand with your elbow straight.
- With your palm facing up, bend your elbow as far as possible.
- Hold for one to two seconds at the top; then slowly lower back down.
- Perform a full set of 10 repetitions on one arm; then switch sides.
- Repeat this exercise with your thumb pointed toward the ceiling, 10 times on each side.
- Repeat this exercise with your palm rotated down toward the floor, 10 times on each side.
Move 2: Triceps Kickbacks
- Hold a dumbbell in one hand.
- Place the opposite knee on a weight bench.
- Lean forward and place your hand on the bench to support your upper body.
- On the exercising arm, raise your elbow up next to your body until your upper arm is parallel to the floor. This is the starting position.
- Keeping your arm next to your side, straighten your elbow.
- Hold for one to two seconds; then slowly bend your elbow back to the starting position.
- Repeat on the opposite side.
Move 3: Front Shoulder Raise
- Hold a dumbbell in your hand with your palm facing the floor.
- Stand up straight and squeeze your shoulder blades together.
- Lift your arm straight out in front of you up to shoulder-height. Do not lean your trunk backward.
- Hold for one to two seconds; then slowly lower back down.
- Repeat on the opposite side.
Move 4: Lateral Shoulder Raise
- Stand with a dumbbell in one hand with your palm facing your side.
- Lift your arm straight out to the side, up to shoulder-height. Be careful not to lean your trunk to the side.
- Hold for one to two seconds; then lower back to the starting position.
- Repeat on the opposite side.
Move 5: Push-Ups
- Begin on your hands and knees with your hands slightly wider than your shoulders.
- Step your feet back and place the balls of your feet on the floor.
- Tighten your abs, glutes and legs to keep your body straight throughout this exercise.
- Bend your elbows, lowering your chest toward the floor.
- Lightly touch your chest on the floor; then press back up.
Make this exercise easier by placing your knees on the floor. Make it harder by bringing your elbows next to your sides or elevating your feet on a short step.
- Mayo Clinic: "Counting Calories: Get Back to Weight-Loss Basics"
- American Council on Exercise: "Myths and Misconceptions: Spot Reduction and Feeling the Burn"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Calories Burned in 30 Minutes for People of Three Different Weights"
- Montenegrin Journal of Sports Sciences & Medicine: "Common Running Overuse Injuries and Prevention"
- American College of Sports Medicine: "High-Intensity Interval Training"
- National Academy of Sports Medicine: "5 Fitness Myths – Busted!"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Calorie Counting Made Easy"
- Princeton University Athletic Medicine: "Shoulder Rehabilitation"