13 Best Exercises To Lose Arm Fat [& Tone Flabby Bat Wings]

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.

bat-wings-postpartum

Disclaimer

***READ FIRST***

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 involves two things:

  1. Building the muscles in your arms, and
  2. 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 to focus on exercise only and nothing else.

You can’t spot-reduce fat loss from your arms with any exercises.

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.

The Best Bodyweight Exercises For Bat Wing Arms

So first, let’s start with arm exercises you can do at home.

All of these exercises will use your own body weight to target the tricep muscles. These sit on the back of your arm where most of bat wing fat accumulates.

I will show you three separate 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:

kneeling-push-up
  • 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, press back 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 up on a ledge or a chair. This will decrease the amount of weight you have to press.

incline-push-up

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)

To make the exercise more challenging, you can do the full diamond push-up.

In this variation, your hands will be physically touching. The diamond push-up really activates the tricep muscles much more than any of the other push-up variations.

close-grip-pushup-in-pregnancy

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 next exercise is the foot assisted dip. This exercise is different from the standard chair dip, and much better for training the muscles in your shoulders and triceps.

You will need two chairs to do this exercise. Here’s how it looks:

foot-assisted-dips
  • Position two chairs facing each other, on either side of you.
  • Next, squat down a bit and place one hand on each seat while keeping your chest proud.
  • Make sure that your elbows are completely locked out.
  • From here, 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 seat of the chair. While keeping your knees bent, you will then perform dips as seen below.

chair-dips

It is important that you 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 make sure that your chairs are very sturdy and can completely support your bodyweight and do not slide!*

To make the dip exercise harder- all you have to do is use less assistance from your feet.

chair-dips

As you get stronger, you will be able to do this exercise with no 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 great for really isolating the back of the arm to help tighten and develop the triceps.

side-lying-tricep-extension

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 lift your upper body off the ground.
  • At the top, squeeze your tricep muscle and then slowly lower yourself back down.
  • 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.

Here’s how it looks.

kneeling-sphinx-push-up
  • 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 you elbows down toward the floor until your forearms are completely flat on the floor in a vertical 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 hardest tricep extension exercise.

Here’s how it looks:

sphinx-pushup
  • 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

The following exercises can be done with any kind of resistance such as

  • dumbbells,
  • kettlebells,
  • a resistance band, or
  • barbells

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 great because it will develop both your shoulders and triceps at the same time.

shoulder-press-pregnancy-workout

Here’s how to do it:

  • Grab two dumbbells and position them on top of 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.

floor-press

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 third exercise on our list is the lying dumbbell tricep extension. This exercise is one of the best ways to isolate the triceps muscles.

When starting out, just 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:

tricep-extension-lying
  • 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, begin bending your elbows so that your hands wind up slightly above your head.
  • Go all the way 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 it.

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, your shoulders, and your triceps at the same time.

Remember when I said that losing flabby arms requires two things – 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 of those things.

You get a bigger bang for your buck.

That is why I recommend that you spend the majority of your exercise time doing compound exercises!

Here’s how to do a thruster:

dumbbell-thrusters
  • 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 bodyweight. Feel free to mix and match the tricep specific exercises with any of the ones above.

Workout 1

ExerciseSetsReps
Close-Grip Push-Up 38-10
Lateral Plank Walk38-10
Quadruped Straight Arm Pulldowns38-10
Side-Lying Tricep Extension210-12

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


Workout 2

The second workout focuses on using some type of equipment such as dumbbells or resistance bands.

ExerciseSetsReps
Dumbbell Floor Press310-12
Towel Lat Pull Downs38-10
Thrusters38-10
Lying Tricep Extensions210-12

You can find the Towel Lat Pulldown exercise in this article: 9 Armpit Fat Exercises.


What causes bat wing arms?

Bat wing arms are a result of having excess body fat. Your arms just so happen to be the place that your body stores extra fat.

Unfortunately, the specific distribution that your body stores fat is determined by your genetics.

Some women have more fat cells in their upper arms. 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 has proven that you can’t spot-reduce fat from a specific area of your body. This means that doing endless arm exercises won’t burn arm fat.

Similarly, doing crunches every day won’t burn abdominal 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.


What Kind Of Diet Should I Follow For Weight Loss?

In general, achieving successful weight loss requires three things:

  • Adequate intake of the three major macronutrients and major micronutrients,
  • Eating fewer calories than you’re burning (aka a calorie deficit) and
  • Long-term consistency.

Simple tips to help you do this includes:

Consuming more protein (this is the most filling macronutrient)

Consuming more fiber (this is the most filling micronutrient)

Drinking more water (this will help you stay hydrated and cut back on extra calories from juice and soda)

Keeping track of what you eat (find a routine of something you can sustain for a long period of time).

I have an entire outline of a simple postpartum diet plan you can follow with all of 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.

Can Cardiovascular Exercise Help With Arm Flab?

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.

This can be done with

Keep in mind that cardio won’t help you build muscle mass, which is the second component to toning the upper arm.

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 muscle 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!

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brittany-robles

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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16 thoughts on “13 Best Exercises To Lose Arm Fat [& Tone Flabby Bat Wings]”

    1. Brittany Robles, MD, MPH, CPT

      Hi Yamira,

      Thank you so much for your comment! To alleviate soreness, ensure you are stretching pre and post workout. You could also try using a foam roller or even a tennis ball.

      I do want to say that soreness can occur if you do more exercise than your body was ready to handle. This could prevent you from being consistent in your workouts. I am a huge advocate of short workouts that use the most effective total body function exercises. So just be sure you are working out in an effective way and not doing too much too soon!

      Hope this helps!

  1. I had frozen shoulder on both sides one year apart. I stopped doing arm exercises since then and now my upper arms got flabby. Should I worry if I start doing weights or push ups I could get frozen shoulder again?

    1. Brittany Robles, MD, MPH, CPT

      Hi Jae,

      Thank you so much for the comment.

      In general, almost all injuries are treated the same when it comes to exercise.

      If any type of exercise hurts, then you should not do it.

      It is worth it to try and start using light weights and maybe wall or kneeling push ups, but the second you start to feel discomfort – stop!

      Also start off very easy and go slow.

      The good news is, you can strengthen other key muscle groups and movement patterns that will keep you healthy. These include upper body pulling exercises, core work, and lower body movements.

      Hope this helps!

  2. Camille Torregrossa

    I’ve been working my triceps and shoulders 3 days per week for a while and my triceps are just as flabby as when I started and my shoulders have no definition. I am 58 years old and I have put on 20 lbs. My son is getting married in mid July and I am trying to lose weight and tone up my arms. Any suggestions

    1. Brittany Robles, MD, MPH, CPT

      Hi Camille,

      Thank you for the comment. Excess fat in the tricep area can be quite difficult to get rid of.

      Unfortunately there are no proven ways to “spot reduce” fat.

      Diet is super important when trying to lose weight, more so than exercise, so make sure you are not consuming too many calories. Ideally you want to put yourself in a caloric deficit in addition to regular exercise.

      Make sure to check out my other posts on getting rid of arm fat which you could find here:
      https://postpartumtrainer.com/arm-toning-exercises-pregnancy-postpartum/
      https://postpartumtrainer.com/armpit-fat/
      https://postpartumtrainer.com/back-fat-exercises/

      Hope this helps!
      Brittany

    1. Brittany Robles, MD, MPH, CPT

      Hi Stacey,

      Thanks for the comment and I am glad you found the article helpful!

      Best,
      Brittany

  3. i am on a low fat diet and have lost a stone in 6 months i was a size 14 to 16 and am now a 12, lost fat all over but have small batwings and need to firm up my boobs please tell me how to firm up.klnd regards .

    1. Brittany Robles, MD, MPH, CPT

      Hi Susan,

      Thank you so much for your comment.

      Great job on the fat loss thus far!

      Unfortunately you cannot spot reduce fat. Where you lose weight from is largely genetic however consuming the right kinds of food with good nutrition coupled with exercise can help build muscle.

      In addition to the exercises listed in this article, I have an entire post on how to get rid of saggy breasts that you could find here:
      https://postpartumtrainer.com/chest-exercises-saggy-breasts/

  4. Gloria Huizenga

    I’ve just lost 45 pounds and have 25 pounds left to go before I start the transition stage with my nutritionist. I am 70 years old and now have lost the tone of my arms. Will these exercises help with that?

    1. Brittany Robles, MD, MPH, CPT

      Hi Gloria!

      Thank you so much for your comment.

      Excellent job on the weight loss!! That is amazing!

      These exercises will definitely help with toning and building muscle in your arms.

      Good luck!

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