Well-defined biceps and triceps are a goal for many gymgoers looking to strengthen their arm muscles while still maintaining an aesthetically pleasing appearance. But if you're starting off with a bigger upper body and want to get rid of excess muscle in your arms, you'll need to know what types of exercises help with upper-body slimming. The good news is that, with a clean diet, cardiovascular exercise and muscle-toning exercises, you can lose upper-body fat (in addition to overall body fat) and get lean, smaller arms.
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Rather than isolating single body parts, try full-body workouts to get rid of arm muscle.
How to Decrease Arm Size
Losing size in one part of your body requires making adjustments to your training program. If you follow a body-part split where you're working one to two body parts each day, you might want to change to a full-body workout three times a week. Isolating individual muscle groups, such as your biceps and triceps, can lead to an increase in muscle size. This includes doing exercises such as biceps curls, triceps press, hammer curls and triceps kickbacks.
Since your bicep and tricep muscles assist with many of the upper-body exercises you perform such as rows, shoulder press, bench press, lat pulldowns and pullups, you end up working these smaller muscle groups on both days. With that in mind, it makes sense to eliminate your "arm day" and rely on compound movements for your upper body to train your arm muscles.
Upper Body Slimming Exercises
If you want to decrease muscle mass in your arms or lose upper-body weight, consider changing the weight and reps of the exercises you're performing. For example, rather than lower reps and moderate to higher weight, focus on higher reps (12 to 15) and lower weight.
This takes some of the emphasis off strength and hypertrophy and puts it on muscular endurance. However, it's important to note that you can still build size with higher reps and lower weight (typically at the 6- to 12-rep range), so make sure you're paying close attention to your rep scheme.
Read more: How to Tone Without Bulking Up Your Arms
Get Rid of Arm Muscle
To get rid of arm muscle the right way, you'll want to take a slow approach that focuses on overall weight loss, especially if you need to lose body fat. While the idea of targeting only upper-body weight loss seems like a good one, the reality is that you can't spot reduce. So your first step is to reduce your daily calorie intake by a small amount. For example, start with a reduction of 250 to 500 calories, which can easily be done by cutting out soda, alcohol or other processed foods.
Additionally, you'll want to do an overhaul of your diet. Keep a food diary for three days and check for places where you can cut back on processed or sugary foods. Identify the time of day when you tend to consume these items and replace them with fruits and vegetables.
Including cardiovascular exercise is another way you can lose upper-body fat and target general weight loss. If cardio workouts are not part of your overall fitness routine, consider adding two to three days of 20 to 30 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity exercise such as jogging, cycling or rowing. This will help you burn calories and lose body fat.
- National Academy of Sports Medicine: Back to the Basics: Hypertrophy
- Mayo Clinic: Counting Calories: Get Back to Weight-Loss Basics
- American Council on Exercise: How to Select the Right Intensity and Repetitions for Your Clients
- Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases: The Role of Exercise and Physical Activity in Weight Loss and Maintenance