In order to burn arm fat, you'll need to burn body fat in general. However, a good upper arm fat workout will work your biceps and triceps. Exercises like triangle push-ups, barbell or dumbbell bicep curls and overhead triceps extensions can help sculpt and tone your arms.
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How to Burn Arm Fat
If you feel that you have excess fat in a certain part of your body, like your arms, you may think that working out that specific region can help you burn that fat. However, an arm fat workout may be less helpful than you think.
When fat is gained, it's distributed throughout the body. In order to lose upper arm fat, you'll likely need to lose weight in general. According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), it's not possible to target specific areas of your body for fat loss.
In order to burn arm fat or any body fat, you need to consume fewer calories than you would typically. Essentially, this means following a healthy diet but operating at a calorie deficit. There are limits to this, of course. Harvard Health Publishing says that women should consume at least 1,200 calories per day, while men need at least 1,500 calories each day.
If you're already consuming a low-calorie diet, this means that you'll need to increase your activity levels in order to lose weight. The Mayo Clinic recommends that healthy adults get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity each day. However, working out for longer periods or performing vigorous physical activity will obviously help you lose body fat more rapidly.
If you're keen on losing weight in order to burn arm fat, you have many options. Many types of cardiovascular exercise, like running, swimming and cycling are great for weight loss.
A February 2018 review published in the Journal of Sports Medicine specifically recommended high-intensity interval training (HIIT) as a time-efficient way for people to lose weight. HIIT workouts that focused on running were found to be best for people looking to reduce overall body fat.
Read more: 8 Exercises to Tone Your Triceps
Does An Arm Fat Workout Work?
Keep in mind that there really are no arm fat workouts. You'll need to perform regular cardiovascular exercise in order to lose weight in any part of your body. However, what you can do is incorporate arm-specific exercises into your workout routine. Working out in this way will help strengthen the muscles you're hoping to target. Incorporating certain exercises, like yoga, can help build and strengthen your arm muscles.
An upper arm workout generally needs to target your biceps and triceps. There are many different types of triceps exercises you can choose from. However, according to a study funded by ACE, some of these exercises are better than others. Exercises like overhead triceps extensions, rope and bar push-downs, and bench presses can help work your arms — specifically your triceps. However, ACE found that the best exercises for your triceps are triangle push-ups, kickbacks and dips.
Another ACE-funded study found there are exercises specifically good for your biceps, too. While moves like chin-ups, barbell curls and cable curls are great for your biceps, the best biceps exercise is the concentration curl.
Read more: 6 Rockin' Exercises for Totally Toned Arms
Bicep and Tricep Arm Exercises
These ACE-recommended exercises can not only help you burn arm fat, but total body fat. They can also strengthen your arms.
Move 1: Concentration Curls
Unlike other exercises that require you to stand or move, you need to be seated when performing this biceps exercise. Make sure to use a weight that you can hold comfortably in one hand.
- Sit down on a bench with your legs apart.
- Grab a weight in your left hand. Rest your elbow on the inside of your left thigh or knee.
- Curl the weight upward, bringing your hand toward your shoulder. Don't let the rest of your arm move when performing this motion.
- Slowly bring the weight back down. Don't put it back on the floor, though — repeat the motion 10 times.
- Switch positions so that you repeat this exercise for the other arm.
- Do three sets for each arm.
Move 2: Triangle Push-ups
Triangle push-ups are a variation of regular push-ups. All you need to change is your hand placement.
- Get on the floor, as if you were going to do a standard push-up. Your feet should be together.
- Instead of putting your hands under your shoulders, put your hands together so that your thumbs and index fingers form a triangle.
- Lift yourself up so that your weight is on your hands and toes.
- Gradually lower yourself down while keeping your torso rigid and body straight. Your chin or chest should reach the floor.
- As you rise back up, make sure to maintain the same form. Don't let your lower back sag downwards or your hips rise.
- Do three sets of 15 reps.
If you're not used to doing push-ups, you'll find this exercise very challenging. For an easier version, try putting your weight on your knees, rather than your toes.
Move 3: Tricep Kickbacks
There are several variations of the tricep kickback. However, this exercise can be tricky if you're not certain about form. If you've never done this move before, you may wish to first try it with a personal trainer.
- Hold a dumbbell in your right hand.
- Put your left leg forward as if you were doing a lunge, but make sure that your weight is evenly distributed to both of your feet.
- Place your left hand on your left thigh and slowly lean forward. Your upper body weight should be transferred to that side of your body.
- Pull your right shoulder down and back, keeping your right arm parallel to your torso.
- Bend your elbow so that your forearm is vertical to the floor.
- Slowly straighten your elbow until it's fully extended.
- Return your arm to the starting position without changing the position of the rest of your body.
Move 4: Dips
This triceps exercise can be performed using a bench, stable chair, ledge or any other low, flat surface.
- Sit on the bench or other flat surface.
- Place your hands on either side of you, with your palms resting on the bench. Your fingers should hang over the side so that you're grasping the edge.
- Make sure that your feet are together. Extend your legs in front of you and lower your hips toward the floor. Your upper arms should be parallel to the floor, and your hips should be in the air.
- Hold this position. The weight of your body should rest on your arms and heels.
- Push back up, but be sure to use your hands instead of your legs.
- Do three sets of eight reps.
- ACE: "Why Is the Concept of Spot Reduction Considered a Myth?"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Calorie Counting Made Easy"
- Mayo Clinic: "How Much Should the Average Adult Exercise Every Day?"
- Sports Medicine: "Effect of High-Intensity Interval Training on Total, Abdominal and Visceral Fat Mass: A Meta-Analysis"
- ACE: "Terrific Triceps"
- ACE: "ACE Study Reveals Best Biceps Exercises"