Do you want to feel confident in sleeveless attire? Tired of the same old upper-body workouts?
If you’ve been struggling to lose flabby arms and tone up the back of your arms, you’ve come to the right place!
Staple arm exercises like the tricep extension, bench press, chin-ups, and the kettlebell swing are effective, but that alone don’t hit the arm fat just the way you need to.
To tackle the arm fat hanging from your triceps, you simply need the best arm moves to blast fat and build lean muscles.
The good news is, building and toning up your arms has many other benefits besides aesthetics.
Let’s cover the benefits of having strong arms, the anatomy of your arms and shoulders, and 7 exercises for flabby arms!
Benefits of Toning Your Arms
The good news is that the benefits of strengthening and toning your arms are endless.
First off, having strong arms and bigger biceps makes it easier to perform your everyday tasks. (1)
Think picking up your kids or grandkids or carrying groceries into the house.
We’ve all tried carrying everything inside in 1 trip. Every step of the way is tough. Stronger arms will make that feat even easier!
Plus, they’re one of the most versatile training targets.
You can do arm exercises anywhere and with little to no equipment, without an expensive gym membership.
If that’s not enough, let’s bring science into it! (2)
- Using weights can boost your heart health
- Improve your posture.
- Reduce the risk of injury
- Protect your bones
Lastly, muscle is metabolically active and burns more calories than fat tissue. (3)
This means the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn while at rest aiding in faster weight loss. Even more so when you add cardio to your strength training!
To really aid in fat loss, consume a healthy diet with a mindful caloric intake. Extra calories if you’re working harder, of course.
Anatomy of your Arms
Before we get into the arm exercises, it’s important for you to understand the anatomy of your arm so you can focus on proper form for fat loss.
There are four muscles located in your upper arm between your shoulder and elbow joint (4).
3 are located in your anterior compartment:
- Biceps brachii – in charge of supination of the forearm, flexes your arm at the elbow and shoulder
- Brachialis – flexion of your elbow
- Coracobrachialis – flexion of your arm at the shoulder
The 4th muscle is located in your posterior compartment, your triceps brachii.
Your tricep muscles are responsible for the extension of your arm at the elbow.
Moving up your arm, next is the shoulder complex (5).
The largest muscle in your shoulder is your deltoid. This muscle stretches across the top of your shoulder from your clavicle to your scapula and your shoulder blade.
Its most important function is preventing joint dislocation.
Especially helpful when you’re carrying heavy objects.
Your rotator cuff is made up of 4 muscles:
- Teres minor
Your rotator cuff stabilizes your shoulder and holds your humerus in place.
Your shoulder is made up of 4 more additional muscles that I want to bring to your attention.
- Pectoralis major – stretches from your armpit to your collarbone and across your lower chest region
- Pectoralis minor – fans from the upper ribs to your shoulder area.
- Teres major – rotates your upper arm
- Latissimus dorsi – a muscle on your back that helps rotate the arms and move them closer to and away from your body.
As you can see, your shoulders and arms are a bit complicated. But knowing where your muscles are and what they do is the best way to help you learn how to tone arms and effectively, your entire body.
7 Best Exercises for Flabby Arms
The following exercises require equipment such as a pair of dumbbells, kettlebells, or a resistance band. You will also need a chair or a weight bench.
Choose an appropriate weight for your fitness level, even for simple exercises.
Naturally, as a beginner, lighter weights are a good place to start. As you gain experience and muscle, add more pounds.
As a personal trainer (NASM), I love circuit training! These 7 exercises are ordered so you can complete them back to back.
Take adequate rest before the next move. Aim 5 – 7 reps if you’re a beginner, 7 – 10 reps for the more advanced. Shoot for 3 circuits.
Disclaimer: consult a medical professional before starting any weight exercises or attempting to lose body fat or general weight loss.
Take a deep breath and don’t forget to exhale on exertion.
1. Biceps Curl
The biceps curl targets the upper front of your arm, that bump you think of when you flex your arm.
- To perform, grab a set of dumbbells or kettlebells and hold one in each hand, palms in.
- Stand tall, feet hip-width distance apart. Have a slight bend in your knees and engage your abdominals.
- Exhale while bending both your left and right elbow, curl the weights toward your shoulders. Remember to keep your elbows tucked in, shoulder blade neutral.
- Squeeze your biceps at the top of the repetitions.
- Inhale and with control, lower the weights back to the original position.
You can also perform one arm at a time. Start with your feet hip-width, weight in your right hand. Get an even number of repetitions on both sides before moving onto the next exercise.
Modification: you can also use a barbell or EZ bar for your curls. Or flip your grip on the barbell for a reverse curl and bring the height of the bar to your chest level.
You can also stand on resistance bands, the end of the band in each hand, and curl.
Muscle Groups: Biceps brachii, brachialis, and brachioradialis
Reps: 5 – 7
2. Triceps Kickbacks
The tricep kickback is an isolation exercise that will hit the back of the arm, where those pesky “bat wings” are.
- Again, start standing in a neutral position with your feet shoulder-width distance apart.
- Feet hip-width is also acceptable. Have a slight bend in your knees, a pair of dumbbells or kettlebells in your hands.
- This time, your palms will be facing in, towards your body. Bend elbows, shoulder blade neutral.
- Hinge forward at your hips until your torso is parallel with the ground or your lower back. Engage your abs.
- Bring the dumbbells towards your chest, elbows at a 90-degree bend. With your elbows glued to your rib cage, extend your arms behind you.
- At the top of the rep, squeeze triceps. Return to the start position.
- Complete the same number of repetitions on both sides before moving onto the next exercise.
Note that this movement may feel complicated. If so, use a single dumbbell, one arm at a time in a lunge until you master the movement, or try the triceps extension.
This arm exercise can also be performed with a resistance band. Hold the end of the band in each hand with the middle under your left foot in a lunge.
Pull your left hand back, then return to the original position.
Muscle Groups: triceps brachii muscle which is made up of 3 heads: your lateral head, your medial head, and your long head
Reps: 5 – 7
3. Lateral Raise
The lateral raise will work to give your shoulders, lats, and back muscle tone!
- Standing in a neutral position, feet hip-width apart, hold a dumbbell in each hand by your sides, have a slight bend in your knees. (If using kettlebells, it’s a kettlebell lateral raise.)
- Keeping a straight spine, engage your core, and with control, slowly lift the weights out to the side.
- You want to aim for shoulder height, chest height, or parallel to the floor. Do not raise your shoulder blades during this movement.
- Again, this is all about control, slowly lower the dumbbells down by your hips to the start position.
Trainer modification: if working both arms with a pair of dumbbells at the same time is a bit too intense, try a single-arm variation.
- Stand with your feet hip-width. Hold a dumbbell in your right hand by the right side of your body, palm down.
- Raise to the height of your right shoulder. Repeat on the opposite side with your opposite arm in an even number of reps before moving onto the next exercise.
Also, consider using a resistance band. Stand in the center and hold the end of the band in each hand. Raise both arms to the side. Return to the original position.
Conversely, you can kick it up a notch with the kettlebell lateral raise!
Muscle Groups: your deltoids (anterior, medial, and posterior), your upper and middle trapezius muscles
Reps: 5 – 7
4. Diamond Push-ups
This bodyweight pushup variation is an amazing exercise that works not just your arms but essentially your whole body, including your quads, glutes, and core.
- Begin in the standard push-up position, however instead of your hands shoulder-width apart, they will be centered with your forefingers and thumbs connected creating a diamond shape with your hands.
- Rotate your shoulders out to engage your lats.
- In a controlled manner, bend at the elbows, separating your scapulae, bringing the front of your chest toward your hands, your forehead toward the mat.
- Press back up to the start position. That is 1 rep.
Tips: For an easier version of the diamond push-up, separate your hands or lower to a 45-degree angle instead of the full range of motion.
Lower down before returning back to the original position.
For an advanced version, add a stability ball!
Muscle Groups: pectorals, deltoids (anterior)
Reps: 5 – 7
5. Chair Dips
Chair dips are a compound exercise often called triceps dip and boy will they light the back of your arms on fire!
- Start seated in a chair on a stable surface. Grip the outer edges of the chair firmly with each hand. Walk your feet out in front of you as you slip your glutes off the seat and they are hovering in front of the chair.
- Bend knees. Your thighs should both be at 90-degree angles, hip-distance apart, feet flat on the ground. Make sure your left foot is in line with your right.
- Engage your core muscles. On an exhale, lower your hips, bend elbows at the arms to a 90-degree angle.
- Press through your hands, using your arm muscles to bring your glutes back to the initial position. That is one rep.
Muscle Groups: Triceps, Pectoralis major, Serratus anterior, and your trapezius muscles
Reps: 5 – 7
6. Lateral Plank Walk
The plank sidewalk is a full-body exercise that amps up your high plank and activates your lower body by adding movement.
This increases the number of calories your body burns!
The Plank Walk is another exercise that is not just an arm workout. This exercise will work your arm muscles, back muscles, obliques, and abdomen.
- Begin in the high plank position with your wrists approximately shoulder-width. There should be a straight line from the tip of your head to your heels the entire time.
- Walk your right hand out to the left. The right leg follows. Repeat with your left hand and left foot returning back to the plank position.
- Take 5 “steps” with your right arm, then back to the left returning to the starting position. Take the same amount of steps with your left hand and left foot in your repetitions.
Tips: For beginners or those with wrist injuries, perform on your forearms instead of the high plank position. Start with your right forearm, followed by your left arm.
For a harder version, cross your arms as you “walk” or use a stability ball.
Muscle Groups: Deltoids, Biceps, Triceps
Reps: 5 – 7 “steps” per side, 3 times per set
Grab your resistance band for one of my favorite resistance training exercises that will tackle the major muscles in your upper back!
- Stand on the center of a recovery band, with your feet shoulder-width distance apart. Hold the handles at the end of the band in the palm of your hand, arms by your sides. Bend knees slightly.
- Hinge forward until your torso is parallel with the mat.
- Squeeze shoulder blades together as you pull each end of the band to your sides, elbow up in a 90-degree bend.
- Engage the backs of your upper arms. Return to the start position. That is rep.
Modification: You can also focus on one side by substituting the resistance band with a dumbbell, kettlebell, or handle cable attachment on a resistance machine or sturdy object.
Muscle Groups: your traps, lats, and rhomboids
Reps: 5 – 7
Bigger arms are more than just for looks or getting rid of arm flab.
Strong arms and bigger biceps are functional and imperative to your everyday life.
They are an effective way to improve your posture and reduce your risk for injury.
By knowing the anatomy of the muscles in your arms, like your tricep, you can workout with purpose.
A laser focus on the proper form will get you the results you want to see faster and safer.
Muscle growth will increase your calorie burn and rid of your body’s excess weight quicker.
While you can always stick with the traditional arm exercises such as the kettlebell swing, bench press, or standard pushup, mixing up your workouts will keep you interested such as the reverse curl or diamond push-up.
Explore these 7 best arm exercises to get rid of your flabby arms.
You can try them one at a time or string them together for an effective circuit. Give yourself a short rest before moving on to the next exercise.
The real challenge is how soon you can start to see that positive change. You’ll have bigger biceps in no time!
You may also like:
- Biceps and Triceps: The Best Exercises to Toned Your Arms
- 10 Best Compound Exercises for a Total Body Workout
- Holmes, Lindsay. “6 Reasons a Strong Upper Body Is Essential to a Healthy Life.” HuffPost, HuffPost, 11 May 2016, www.huffpost.com/entry/reasons-to-exercise-upper-body_n_57309a6de4b0bc9cb04753dc.
- Firstbeat. “5 Things to Know about Burning More Calories.” Firstbeat, 18 Aug. 2020, www.firstbeat.com/en/blog/5-things-to-know-about-burning-more-calories/.“
- Muscles of the Upper Arm.” TeachMeAnatomy, teachmeanatomy.info/upper-limb/muscles/upper-arm/.
- Team, the Healthline Editorial. “Shoulder Muscles Anatomy, Diagram & Function | Body Maps.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 24 Jan. 2018, www.healthline.com/human-body-maps/shoulder-muscles#1.