Do you have flabby arms (aka bat wings) and want to tone them?
You are in the right place!
After reading this post, you’ll learn:
- what causes excess fat in the arms,
- how to get rid of arm fat quickly, and
- 13 great exercises to help you tone your arm muscles.
Let’s dive right in.
Although I am a doctor, I am not your doctor. This information is for informational purposes only and should not substitute the advice from your healthcare professional. All kinds of exercise and dietary changes are potentially dangerous, and those who do not seek counsel from the appropriate health care authority assume the liability of any injury which may occur. Please read my full Disclaimer for more information. Also, this post may contain affiliate links: meaning I may receive a commission if you use them.
Ok, moving on.
How To Lose Arm Fat (The Truth)
Getting rid of upper arm fat requires two things:
- Building the muscles in your arms, and
- Decreasing your overall body fat (aka weight loss)
Both are necessary, but decreasing your body fat percentage is more important.
The biggest mistake many women make when trying to tone their arms is focusing on exercise and nothing else.
Unfortunately, you cannot spot-reduce fat from your arms with exercise. Muscle tone is the result of BOTH muscle development and fat loss.
So if you don’t address your nutrition, you won’t lose arm fat.
Here’s how to do it.
#1 Improve your diet to achieve overall weight loss
Improving your nutrition is the most critical element in losing fat anywhere in the body.
An ideal diet consists of:
- Adequate intake of the three macronutrients and the major micronutrients,
- Eating fewer calories than you’re burning (aka a calorie deficit) and
- Long-term consistency.
The key is finding a sustainable dietary routine for you and your lifestyle.
#2 Consume more protein
Protein is the most filling and satiating macronutrient.
In other words, it can help reduce your appetite and your hunger which may decrease your total caloric intake.
In addition, protein helps promote the development and maintenance of lean muscle tissue, which can help you burn fat and improve your body composition.
Aim to consume at least 0.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight.
#3 Consume more fiber
While protein is the most filling macronutrient, fiber is the most filling micronutrient.
Fiber also slows down your rate of digestion and improves your gut microbiome.
Together with protein, increased fiber intake may decrease your total caloric intake.
Aim to consume at least 30 grams of fiber per day.
#4 Drink more water
Third, increasing your water intake will help you stay hydrated and allow you to cut back on extra calories from juice and soda.
Water can also help you feel full and decrease the total number of calories you eat daily.
Drink enough water so that your urine is a pale yellow color.
#5 Keep track of what you eat
Pay attention to the types of food you consume regularly. Is there a way to reduce sugar intake or refined carbohydrates like white bread?
Having your meals written down can help you find low-hanging fruit for improvements!
I have an entire outline of a simple postpartum diet plan you can follow with these tips.
Or, if you want a step-by-step nutrition guide that helps you with every step of the way, you can check out My Postpartum Fat Loss Guide.
#6 Consider adding cardiovascular exercise
Cardio can be an effective way to decrease your overall body fat percentage, which is one of the necessary components of losing the bat wing arms.
Different types of cardio you can try include:
Remember that cardio won’t help you build muscle mass, which is the second component of toning the upper arm.
#7 Do exercises to tone the build the muscles of the upper arms
Now let’s go over the best exercises to help you get started.
The Best Exercises To Tone Bat Wing Arms (Without Weights)
So first, let’s start with arm exercises you can do at home.
All these exercises will use your body weight to target the tricep muscles, which sit on the back of your arm where most bat wing fat accumulates.
I will show you three distinct variations for each exercise:
- The standard version,
- An easier version, and
- A harder version
Ok, let’s get started.
Kneeling Close-Grip Push-Ups
The first exercise is the kneeling close-grip push-up. This effective exercise isolates the arm muscles much more than the standard push-up.
As a result, it is a more challenging variation.
Here’s what it looks like:
- Start the exercise by getting into a kneeling push-up position.
- Next, bring your hands close together (at least closer than shoulder-width apart).
- Then, begin the push-up by tucking your elbows and keeping them close to your body.
- As you descend, retract your shoulder blades together.
- Once you reach the bottom, extend your elbows and squeeze your tricep muscles at the top.
The Incline Close Grip Push-up (The Easier Version)
If the close-grip push-up is too difficult for you, you can do them on an incline.
In other words, place your hands on a ledge or a chair to decrease the weight you have to press.
The taller the incline, the easier the exercise becomes.
As you get stronger, work your way up to using a shorter and shorter incline.
The Full Close-Grip Diamond Push-up (The Harder Version)
You can do the full diamond push-up to make the exercise more challenging.
In this variation, your hands will be physically touching. The diamond push-up activates the tricep muscles much more than any other push-up variations.
If you mentally focus on contracting your triceps during every single rep – it can really help in developing muscle in that area.
The Foot Assisted Triceps Dip
The following exercise is the foot-assisted dip. This exercise is different from the standard chair dip and much better for training your shoulders and triceps muscles.
You will need two chairs to do this exercise. Here’s how it looks:
- Position two chairs facing each other on either side of you.
- Next, squat down and place one hand on each seat while keeping your chest proud.
- Make sure that your elbows are completely locked out.
- While keeping your feet on the floor, begin bending your elbows – tucking them to about a 45-degree angle to your body.
- Keep lowering your body until your triceps are parallel to the floor.
- Press back up (using the assistance of your feet) until your elbows are locked out again.
- Do your best to keep your shoulder blades retracted during the set.
The Chair Tricep Dip (The Easier Version)
The easier variation to the dip is the chair dip. In this variation, you only need one chair.
To do this exercise, you will sit in front of a chair and place your hands behind you on the chair seat. While keeping your knees bent, perform dips as seen below.
It is important to turn your hands out to the side to keep your shoulders in a healthy position.
Full Tricep Dips (The Harder Version)
*Do not try this exercise unless you are very comfortable with the dip movement. Serious injury can occur. Also, ensure that your chairs are sturdy, can completely support your body weight, and do not slide!*
To make the dip exercise harder, you have to use less assistance from your feet.
As you get stronger, you will be able to do this exercise without support.
As always, make sure to contract your triceps during every repetition.
Side-Lying Tricep Extensions
The next exercise is the side-lying tricep extension. Some people also call this exercise the tricep side push-up.
This exercise is excellent for really isolating the back of the arm to help tighten and develop the triceps.
Here’s how it looks:
- Lie on your side with your feet stacked one on top of the other.
- Next, take your bottom hand and bring it across to your opposite armpit as if you were giving yourself a hug.
- Then, place your top hand flat on the floor right by your chest, (fingers pointing up toward your head).
- From here, begin pressing your hand down to extend the elbow and lift your upper body off the ground.
- At the top, squeeze your tricep muscle and slowly lower yourself.
- Repeat on both sides.
Kneeling Sphinx Push-Up (The Easier Version)
An easier variation of the tricep extension is the kneeling sphinx push-up.
In this movement, you will work both arms simultaneously, and here’s how it looks.
- Get into a quadruped position (on your hands and knees) with your back straight.
- Set your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width and place them out in front of your body flat on the floor.
- Next, begin bending your elbows toward the floor until your forearms are completely flat on the floor in a horizontal orientation.
- Press back up by extending your elbows.
Full Sphinx Push-up (The Harder Version)
Lastly, you can perform the full sphinx push-up for the most challenging tricep extension exercise.
Here’s how it looks:
- This exercise is the same as the kneeling sphinx push-up, except you will do it with your knees extended.
- Take your time with this exercise – it is fairly advanced.
See The Video Of These Exercises Below!
So those are the top 9 bodyweight arm exercises you can do for flabby arms.
Next up, let’s go over some weighted exercises you can do.
The Best Bat wing exercises with weights
You can do the following exercises with any resistance, such as:
- a resistance band, or
I will demonstrate the exercises using dumbbells, but any of the above will work fine.
Ok, let’s get started.
Dumbbell Shoulder Press
The first exercise is the dumbbell shoulder press. This exercise is excellent because it will develop both your shoulders and triceps at the same time.
Here’s how to do it:
- Grab two dumbbells and position them on your shoulder muscles with your palms forward.
- Next, brace your core and squeeze your glutes.
- Then, press the dumbbells straight up overhead, focusing on squeezing the tricep muscles at the top.
- Slowly lower the dumbbells and repeat.
Dumbbell Floor Press
The next weighted arm exercise is the floor press. This exercise is great for strengthening and developing the shoulders as well as the back of the arms.
Here’s how to do it:
- Lie on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
- Next, grab two dumbbells and hold them up in your outstretched arms, directly over your chest.
- From here, do your best to retract your shoulder blades together and maintain this position throughout the entire set.
- Begin to slowly lower the dumbbells by keeping your elbows tucked close to your body.
- At the bottom position, your triceps should be flat on the ground.
- Press the weight back up, and remember to contract your triceps on every rep.
Lying Dumbbell Tricep Extensions
The following exercise on my list is the lying dumbbell tricep extension. This exercise is one of the best ways to isolate the triceps muscles.
When starting, make sure to use lighter weights. This exercise is harder than it looks.
You can do this exercise on a bench or on the floor. Below, I’ll show you how to do it on the floor.
Here’s how to do it:
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
- Next, grab two dumbbells and hold them straight up to the ceiling.
- Keeping your low back flat on the floor, bend your elbows so that your hands wind up slightly above your head.
- Go down until the dumbbells touch the floor above your head, and then extend your elbows back up to the starting position.
- You can do this exercise with your palms facing away from you (prone grip) or your palms facing each other (neutral grip).
- As always, focus on contracting your triceps at the top of the movement.
Bonus: Dumbbell Thrusters
The last exercise is the dumbbell thruster. This exercise is different from the ones before.
That’s because the thruster is a full-body exercise. You won’t just be training your arms; you’ll be training your lower body, shoulders, and triceps simultaneously.
Remember when I said that losing flabby arms requires losing fat and building muscle?
Well, whole-body exercises like the thruster are way better than isolation exercises (such as the tricep kickback) at doing both.
You get a bigger bang for your buck.
That is why I recommend you spend most of your exercise time doing compound exercises!
Here’s how to do a thruster:
- Grab two dumbbells and hold them up at your shoulders with your palms facing forward.
- Set your stance at slightly wider than shoulder-width with your feet pointing out ~30 degrees.
- Begin squatting down by bending at the hips and knees simultaneously.
- Keep your back as straight as possible, and your heels flat on the floor at all times.
- Squat down as low as you comfortably can.
- Next, reverse the movement by squatting back up to the starting position.
- Using the momentum of the squat, begin pressing the dumbbells up overhead until your elbows are locked out.
- Remember to squeeze your triceps at the top.
- Slowly bring the dumbbells back down to your shoulders and repeat.
See The Video Of These Exercises Below!
So there you have 13 different exercises for flabby arms that you can do from home.
Now, let me show you a quick workout you can do to put it all together.
A Simple Bat wing Exercise Routine You Can Do At home
Here is a simple exercise program you can do to train your upper body and target your batwings.
The first workout uses only your body weight. Feel free to mix and match the tricep-specific exercises with any of the ones above.
|Lateral Plank Walk||3||8-10|
|Quadruped Straight Arm Pulldowns||3||8-10|
|Side-Lying Tricep Extension||2||10-12|
You can find the Lateral Plank Walk exercise in this article: 9 Armpit Fat Exercises
You can find the Quadruped Straight Arm Pulldowns in this article: 15 Exercises For Back Fat
The second workout focuses on using some type of equipment such as dumbbells or resistance bands.
|Dumbbell Floor Press||3||10-12|
|Towel Lat Pull Downs||3||8-10|
|Lying Tricep Extensions||2||10-12|
You can find the Towel Lat Pulldown exercise in this article: 9 Armpit Fat Exercises.
What causes Bat Wings and Arm Fat?
Bat wing arms result from excess body fat due to improper dieting, a slow metabolism, and aging.
As women age, estrogen levels decline, leading to decreased muscle tone and increased fat accumulation.
Your arms just so happen to be where your body stores extra fat.
Some women have more fat cells in their upper arms, and others have more in their hips or abdomen.
Can flabby arms really be toned?
Flabby arms can be toned, but not with exercise alone.
Research shows that you can’t spot-reduce fat from a specific area of your body. In other words, doing endless arm exercises won’t burn arm fat.
Your body will lose fat from wherever it decides to lose fat from first.
In order to see the definition of a toned arm, you will need a combination of
- weight loss from following a healthy diet,
- decreased caloric intake, and
- resistance training to build arm muscle.
How long does it take to tone flabby arms?
If you train your arms at least two times per week AND improve your nutrition, you can see significant improvement in your upper arm development in as little as 6 weeks.
The less excess body fat you have, the quicker you will be able to tone your arms. But if you have stubborn arm fat (thank genetics again), this can increase the time it takes to see results.
Are 3 pound weights enough to tone My arms?
Unfortunately, really light weights are unlikely to tone your arms. It is important that the exercises you perform are challenging enough to induce muscle fatigue.
If you only have access to 3 lb weights, you can use bodyweight arm exercises like push-ups and assisted dips for more resistance.
Is it OK to work out arms every day?
It is not ideal to train your arms every day. You need to let your arms rest at least 48 hours between workouts to build muscle optimally.
What About Exercises For My Biceps?
The bat wing appearance is caused by the tricep muscles, which sit on the back of the upper arm. The biceps sit in the front, opposite the triceps.
To see all the different exercises you can do to develop your biceps (with various bicep curl variations) check out my post on Complete Arm Toning.
Final Words On Losing Arm Fat
Getting toned arms isn’t straightforward, but it is doable!
To lose fat anywhere in your body, you must improve your diet while building muscle. This guide has taught you how to build arm muscles to tighten your triceps area.
Now it’s up to you to also lose body fat.
Check out my post on How To Lose Baby Fat to learn everything you need to know about the role of food/ calorie intake for weight loss.
Now I want to hear from you.
Have you been able to get rid of bat wings without surgery, aka arm lift?
What helped you the most?
Comment below and let me know!
Don’t forget that you can get this post in PDF Format above!
Related Posts On Arm Exercises
- 9 Exercises To Target Underarm Fat In Your Armpits
- 15 Exercises To Target Your Back
- 9 Exercises To Target Your Chest
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Brittany N Robles, MD, MPH, CPT
Brittany Robles is a full-time OBGYN, a NASM certified personal trainer, and health & fitness, expert. She holds a Masters of Public Health degree in maternal health with a special interest in exercise and nutrition. She is also the co-author of The White Coat Trainer. Learn more about her here.
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