Will Pushups Make Your Arms Thinner?

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A woman is doing pushups on a field. (Image: Orletsky/iStock/Getty Images)

Pushups are an effective upper-body workout that strengthens your chest, shoulders and arms, while also tightening your core. Performing pushups will increase muscle size but won't specifically reduce fat on the arms. To lose fat anywhere on the body, you need to expend more calories than you consume. The most effective way to reach this goal is by eating a healthful, low-calorie diet and exercising regularly, which can include performing pushups.


A traditional pushup is performed face down on the ground with the toes touching the floor and the rest of your body off the ground with the bulk of your weight supported by your arms. Pushups primarily work the chest, front shoulder and triceps -- the muscles on the back of the arms -- but they also work the abdominal muscles, the front of the legs, the back muscles and the buttocks.


Traditional pushups aren't the lone way to perform the exercise. Whether you're new to the exercise or vastly experienced, certain varieties can suit your strength level. If you find traditional pushups too difficult, perform them off your knees, rather than your toes. Doing so lessens the weight you must lift with each rep. When pushups become easy, have a workout partner hold a weight plate on your back to boost the exercise's resistance.

Thin Arms

To lose weight around the arms and make them thinner requires adopting an overall weight-loss program. It takes an excess expenditure of 3,500 calories more than you consume to lose a pound of fat. A combination of a healthful, low-calorie diet rich in lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products, combined with regular exercise, is the most effective way to accomplish this. Doing pushups will burn calories and build muscle, but you need to include cardio exercise and strength training that works the rest of the body for maximum results. Performing pushups to reduce fat around the arms is known as spot reduction. According to the American Council on Exercise, spot reduction is a myth. In a study done at the University of Massachusetts in the mid-1980s, participants did 5,000 situps over a period of 27 days and were measured for fat content at the end of the study. According to the ACE, the participants lost fat, but it was evenly distributed over the entire back, thighs and abdomen.


Genetics and body type play a large role in how body fat gets distributed. For example, if your family members tend to have more fat around the arms, you may have more difficulty getting rid of it than someone who comes from a family of tall and lean people. If you are already bulky and fairly muscular, consider adding yoga, Pilates or similar activities that promote stretching and a leaner physique. Consult your doctor before you start any weight-loss or exercise program.

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