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Fact checked by Kirsten Yovino, CPT Brookbush InstituteFACT CHECKED
August 16, 2021
Flabby arms, bat wings or bingo arms are some descriptors of loose and baggy skin on the back of the upper arms. This can be a real problem area for some people and when the hot weather where t-shirts and bathing suits come out of the closet, it gets people thinking, "how can I fix these flabby arms?". If this is you, then you've come to the right place. In this post we give you 19 of the best exercises for flabby arms, many of which you can do with just your bodyweight. We also give you two sample workouts to fix flabby arms. With the right diet and exercise routine you can go from flabby arms to fit and toned.
Bat wings or flabby arms is usually the result of three causes; being overweight, old age or weight loss. Being overweight can lead to excess fat deposits in various areas of the body, sometimes in the upper arms. As we grow older our skin becomes less elastic and we suffer from muscle loss which can lead to developing bat wings. If you have bat wings because you lost a lot of weight then resistance training can also help to fill out this loose skin with muscle.
To get rid of bat wings you have to do two things; exercise and consume less calories. Try to focus on triceps exercises to strengthen and tone the largest muscle of the upper arms. Your triceps make up about 60-70 percent of the muscle mass on the upper arms so it’s important that you perform some isolation exercises that specifically target the triceps. Alternatively, incorporating a shoulders and arms workout into your routine will help create a wide, muscular upper body.
As for the diet aspect you should be eating at a caloric deficit. Start by determining your TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure); there are plenty of online calculators to help with this or you can roughly estimate that it will be 13-15 times your bodyweight. Once you know your TDEE start be reducing your daily calories by 200. After a week reassess your progress and if you haven’t lost any weight, then lower your calorie intake another 100-200 a day. If you want to set a goal of 1 pound loss per week then your daily caloric deficit should be around 500 calories.
Note: A more extreme avenue to fix flabby arms is surgery where a surgeon performs a skin reduction surgery.
The best exercises for flabby arms will target the triceps and to some extent the biceps. Most people who experience having flabby arms notice this on the backside of the upper arm where the triceps is located. Therefore, triceps focused exercises will have the best results in toning and shaping this area of the arm.
Yes, you can tone flabby arms through proper exercise and improved nutritional choices. No matter what you might read on the internet about losing fat in specific areas of the body, it’s not possible to spot reduce fat. You may have a predisposition to store fat in certain areas like belly, upper arms, back or love handles but the only way to shed this fat is to exercise and eat better.
The fastest way to get rid of flabby arms is to lose fat and exercise. If you combine a cutting diet and some of these exercises for flabby arms below then you could see results in as little as 4-6 weeks. However, the time it takes to fix flabby arms is largely dependent on your starting point and genetics.
One aspect of getting rid of those pesky flabby arms is to exercise. So, we put together 19 of the best exercises for flabby arms. Keep in mind that if you're just starting a fitness routine check with your doctor for the green light. Also make sure to warmup with some dynamic stretches before you start any exercises.
All of the pushup variations below can be made easier by performing them on your knees if you don't quite have the upper body strength just yet to perform them as described. We also provided a few exercises that will help to fix bat wings with the use of resistance bands (loop or with handles), dumbbells and the cable machine.
If you’re just getting back into fitness or are starting your fitness journey pushups are one of the best upper body bodyweight exercises you can do. They work the shoulders, triceps and core. To make a regular pushup easier and take some stress off of your muscles, you can do the pushups from your knees then once you can do at least 10 knee pushups in a row you can attempt a traditional pushup with your legs extended behind you.
Note: Make sure to keep your core engaged and back straight throughout the movement. Try to move up to regular pushups when feasible.
The close grip pushup is a variation of the pushup that puts more emphasis on the triceps compared with regular pushups. The important point to remember is that your elbows should be to your side throughout the movement to take the stress off the pecs and place it on the triceps.
Note: The easier variation of this is to perform the close grip pushups while on your knees. Don’t lock out elbows at the top of the movement.
The shoulder tap pushup adds an extra layer to regular pushups as your balance and core muscles will be tested. Make sure you’ve warmed up properly before doing this exercise to avoid potential shoulder problems when shifting your weight to one arm. Once you’re able to do at least 10 regular pushups you can attempt the shoulder tap pushup.
Note: Focus on performing this exercise properly, there's no need to try to set speed records here.
The side pushup is a unilateral exercise that allows you to focus on working one side of the body at a time which means you can really hone in on the contraction of each triceps. You can also get an ab workout from this pushup variation as your obliques will crunch up with each repetition.
Note: You can also perform this exercise with your legs extended.
This pushup variation may look exactly like a traditional pushup except for one thing; hand placement. By reversing the way your hands are positioned you will not only hit the triceps but at the biceps as well which can aid in toning up the upper arm on both sides.
Note: If your wrists hurt you can try to rotate them inwards at a 45-degree angle. You can also make this exercise easier by performing while on your knees.
Similar to the kneeling triceps extension, the forearm pushup isolates the triceps more than traditional pushups. Perform this exercise in a slow controlled manner on the way down to accentuate the the time under tension needed for your muscles to grow.
Note: To make this exercise easier perform from your knees.
This pushup variation is another way to hit the lateral head of the triceps which can help to tighten up flabby arms. Start by doing this cross-arm push on your knees until you have the technique down to do it the regular way with your legs extended out behind you.
Note: Make this exercise easier by performing on your knees.
The diamond pushup or triangle pushup is a more advanced version of the traditional push up where your triceps and pec minor will be engaged more. This exercise requires more balance as your hands will be close together and puts more stress on the front delts.
Note: Make this exercise easier by performing from your knees.
This is a great bodyweight isolation exercise for the triceps. You can do this exercise while leaning against the wall if you don’t want to get onto the ground. You can also increase the tension on your triceps by leaning more of your weight forward and/or bringing your knees further backwards.
Note: Keep your elbows tucked close to your body throughout the movement.
The plank up down is one of our favorite bodyweight exercises as it works muscles in your arms, shoulders, lower back, core, glutes and quads. Plank Up Downs can help to get toned arms in two ways; working the triceps plus burning tons of calories to help reduce total body fat.
Note: Focus on form and keep your core engaged throughout the movement.
A perfect introduction to triceps dips this is bodyweight exercise can begin your bat wing transformation journey until you’re able to perform regular dips. Dips are one of the best exercises to work the back of your upper arms.
Note: Keep core engaged throughout the movement.
This exercise can be done on a bench, chair or any other sturdy surface that’s around two feet off the floor. Performing this bodyweight exercise for flabby arms with your knees bent is one of the easier dip exercises that we cover in this post. You will be working your triceps, trap and rear delts with this one. Once you’re able to do 10 reps of the knees bent bench dips then you should be ready to move on to the regular bench dip with your legs extended.
Note: Make sure you know your limits of your shoulder mobility before attempting dips.
This classic bodyweight triceps exercise can be super effective in toning the triceps if done correctly. All you need is yourself and a raised platform to execute this exercise.
Note: Keep your core engaged throughout the movement and don’t drop too low where your shoulders could get impinged.
If you find yourself in the gym and you don’t have the upper body strength to do an unassisted dip then you should try to get a few sets in using the dip machine. The dip machine can help take away some resistance as you can add weight to counterbalance your bodyweight. So, if you weigh 150 pounds and can’t do a bodyweight dip try to put 30-50 pounds on the machine so that you will only have to support 100-120 pounds. This also rings true if you use a loop resistance band to help you with the dips.
Note: Once you're able to do 10 assisted dips with the least amount of assistance from the machine or resistance band then try to do traditional dips.
Note: All resistance band exercises can be performed with a loop resistance bands, dumbbells or a cable machine.
Triceps kickbacks are a fantastic exercise to perform using resistance bands as they provide constant tension on the muscles. You can do this exercise using an anchor or non-anchored.
Note: Turn wrists inward/outward at top of movement to target various heads of the triceps.
In this effective triceps exercise make sure to keep your arms next to your ears while doing overhead triceps extensions and keep your core engaged so that you don’t arch your back.
Note: You can perform this exercise without an anchor by standing on the band.
This triceps isolation exercise is tough so make sure to use light resistance to begin with. Often times people will put their arm up in the same way depicted in the image below to see how bad the flabby arm situation is so it's only fitting that we use this same movement to fix the flab and turn it into muscle.
Note: Keep your elbow stationary throughout the movement.
When doing triceps pushdowns make sure to keep your shoulders back so that you're only pushing the band down with force from your triceps. Keep your elbows tucked and limit any movement in your upper arms.
Note: Turn wrists outward at the bottom of the movement to get full triceps contraction.
Using the battle ropes for toning flabby arms is killing two birds with one stone. This is great high intensity exercise that with torch some calories while also building muscle throughout your arms and your front delts.
Note: Make sure to keep your core engaged throughout this movement.
Follow either of these workouts or both 3 times a week. Take up to 60-90 seconds rest between each set.
|Pushups (on knees if needed)||3 sets x 10 reps|
|Side Pushups||2 sets x 12 reps (each side)|
|Close Grip Pushups (on knees if needed)||3 sets x 8-12 reps|
|Triceps Floor Dips||3 sets x 12|
|Triceps Kickbacks||3 sets x 8 reps (each side)|
|Triceps Side Extension||3 sets x 10 reps (each side)|
|Triceps Overhead Extension||2 sets x 12 reps|
|Triceps Pushdowns||2 sets x AMRAP|
Many people who have flabby arms are probably new to working out or took a long break from resistance training. With that said, we thought it was important to include a few triceps stretches to help you recover from all those exercises we just covered. Keeping your muscles supple and stretched is important to help prevent injuries and speed up recovery times.
Note: You can also do this stretch and turn your palms face down. Make sure your forearms stay in contact with the table surface.
Related: How To Stretch With Resistance Bands
Women have 6-11 percent more body fat than men so flabby arms will be more apparent in women. More stored fat sitting over the muscles of the upper arms can make the arms seem loose and less defined. They key point to remember here is that there are ways to fix flabby upper arms.
To fix your flabby arm problem you will have to put in the time and effort to tone your arms. There's no magic pill to fix this issue, by performing some of the exercises for flabby arms above at least 3 times a week combined with a daily caloric deficit of at least a few hundred calories you should be on your way to getting those nice tight upper arms in no time.
More Resources On Arm Exercises:
Content For Women:
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