How to Lose Arm Fat Postpartum (13 Doctor Recommended Exercises)

Are you looking to lose arm fat postpartum?

Flabby, batwing arms result from excess body fat, not a lack of arm exercises. You cannot “spot reduce” arm fat through exercise alone. However, combining a healthy nutrition plan with targeted arm exercises can help build muscle and reveal tone.

This article will give you practical tips to reduce body fat postpartum. It also includes the best arm exercises to strengthen and reveal your arm muscles as you lose fat.

Let’s get started!

How To Lose Arm Fat After Baby (Without Exercise)

Getting rid of upper arm fat requires one thing. Decreasing your body fat percentage (aka weight loss).

The biggest mistake many women make when trying to lose arm fat is focusing on exercise and nothing else.

Unfortunately, you cannot spot-reduce fat from your arms with exercise.

So if you don’t address your nutrition, you won’t lose arm fat.

As an OBGYN and certified trainer, I’ve coached hundreds of new moms on dietary changes that promote postpartum weight loss.

It is also essential to be realistic.

Your genetics impacts where you store fat and how long it takes to reduce arm fat.

It may take 6+ weeks to see significant results.

Consistency is key.

bat wing arms cover image

#1 Focus on improving your nutrition first

Improving your nutrition is the most critical element in losing fat anywhere in the body.

The easiest way to improve your nutrition is to eat as many nutrient-dense foods as possible.

Nutrient-dense foods are low in calories yet high in the vitamins and minerals your body needs to thrive!

These foods makes you feel full and satisfied despite consuming fewer calories!

Some of the best nutrient-dense foods include:

  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Fresh fruit
  • Plain greek yogurt
  • Egg whites

#2 Consume more protein

Protein is the most filling and satiating macronutrient.

In other words, it can help reduce your appetite and hunger, decreasing your total caloric intake.

Also, protein helps promote the development and maintenance of lean muscle tissue. (Muscle can help you burn fat and improve your body composition.)

Aim to consume at least 0.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight.

The best sources include:

  • Chicken breast
  • Grass-fed beef
  • Pastured eggs
  • Organic Tofu
  • Grass-fed dairy

#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. It will also allow you to cut back on extra calories from juice and soda.

Water can also help you feel full and decrease your total daily calories.

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 improvement!

I have an outline of a simple postpartum diet plan you can follow with these tips.

Besides those tips, you can also include exercise to help you achieve your goals.

Here’s how:

Bonus: Consider adding cardiovascular exercise

Cardio can be an effective way to burn calories, which is one of the necessary components of losing fat anywhere in your body.

Different types of cardio you can try include:

Remember that cardio won’t help you build muscle mass. Which brings us to the second component of toning the upper arm.

Bonus #2: Tone and build the muscles of the upper arms

Now, let’s review the best exercises to help you get started.

Improve your diet for overall weight loss. Consume more protein. Consume more fiber. Drink more water. Keep track of what you eat. Consider cardio. Do exercises to build your arms

The Best Exercises To Tone Bat Wing Arms (Without Weights)

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

From my background as both a medical doctor and personal trainer, I’ve seen the immense benefits of bodyweight training for new moms getting back into fitness.

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

A Few Tips To Keep In Mind

  • Extend your elbows fully during each repetition while flexing the triceps muscle.
  • Lower each repetition with control. Many women fail to stimulate the muscle by using too much momentum. Speed takes tension off target muscles.

Kneeling Close-Grip Push-Ups

The first exercise is the kneeling close-grip push-up. Close-grip pushups zero in on the arms more directly than the standard push-up.

By keeping your elbows tucked tight to your sides, it isolates the the tricep muscles rather than the chest.

Here’s what it looks like:

brittany doing a 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.
  • Retracting your shoulder blades protects the shoulder joint by keeping it stable. An unstable joint increases injury risk from excess range of motion.
  • 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, you can do it on an incline.

In other words, place your hands on a ledge or a chair to decrease the weight you must press.

brittany doing an incline push-up with her hands elevated on a bench

The taller the angle, 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 other push-up variations.

brittany doing a close-grip-pushup on the floor

Mentally focus on contracting your triceps during each rep!

The Foot Assisted Triceps Dip

The following exercise is the foot-assisted dip. This exercise differs from the standard chair dip and is a safe way to train the shoulders and triceps.

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

brittany dipping between two chairs with both her feet still on the ground
  • 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.
  • 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 help of your feet) until your elbows lock 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.

brittany doing chair-dips with her hands behind her on a bench with her knees bent and feet flat on the floor

Turning your hands out to the side is essential to keep your shoulders in a healthy position.

Full Tricep Dips (The Harder Version)

*Only try this exercise if you are comfortable with the dip movement. Serious injury can occur. Also, ensure 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.

brittany performing dips in between two chairs without the assistance of her feet

As you get stronger, you can do this exercise without support.

As always, make sure to contract your triceps during every repetition.

Side-Lying Tricep Extensions

The following exercise is the side-lying tricep extension. Some people also call this exercise the tricep-side push-up.

This exercise is excellent for isolating the triceps.

brittany doing a side-lying-tricep-extension

Here’s how it looks:

  • Lie on your side with your feet stacked, one on the other.
  •  Next, bring your bottom hand across to your opposite armpit as if you were giving yourself a hug.
  •  Then, place your top hand flat on the floor 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 lower yourself under control.
  • 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.

brittany performing a 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 in front of your body flat on the floor.
  •  Next, bend your elbows toward the floor until your forearms are flat on the ground.
  • Press back up by extending your elbows.

Full Sphinx Push-up (The Harder Version)

Lastly, you can perform the full sphinx push-up. This is the most challenging tricep extension exercise.

Here’s how it looks:

brittany performing a full sphinx-pushup
  • This exercise is the same as the kneeling sphinx push-up, except you will do it with extended knees.
  •  Take your time with this exercise – it is pretty 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

In my experience training new moms, I’ve found a combination of bodyweight and weighted moves is optimal for arm toning results.

You can do the following exercises with any 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.

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.

brittany pressing two dumbbells overhead

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 excellent for strengthening and developing the shoulders and the back of the arms.

brittany doing a floor-press, pressing dumbbells up to the sky while on her back

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 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.

Lighter weights with higher rep counts, like three sets of 12-15 reps, maximize time under tension. This strategy fatigues the arms, promoting muscle growth.

You can do this exercise on a bench or the floor. Below, I’ll show you how to do it on the floor.

Here’s how to do it:

brittany doing a tricep-extension overhead while lying on the ground
  • 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, then extend your elbows 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.

Optional: Full-Body Bonus Exercise: 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 but your lower body, shoulders, and triceps too.

Remember when I said that losing flabby arms requires losing fat and building muscle?

Whole-body exercises like the thruster are better than isolation exercises at doing both.

You get a bigger bang for your buck.

I recommend you spend most of your exercise time doing compound exercises!

Here’s how to do a thruster:

brittany squatting with two dumbbells at her shoulders and then pressing the dumbbells overhead
  • Grab two dumbbells and hold them at your shoulders with your palms facing forward.
  • Set your stance 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.
  • 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 Arm Routine You Can Do At home

I’ve designed hundreds of postpartum programs over my career, letting me cherry-pick the most effective arm exercises for these workouts.

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.

Workout 1

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

The Lateral Plank Walk exercise is in this article: 9 Armpit Fat Exercises.

The Quadruped Straight Arm Pulldowns in this article: 15 Exercises For Back Fat.

Workout 2

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

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

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

Maintaining Motivation If You Don’t See Results Right Away

Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see muscle definition immediately- losing excess fat takes time. I recommend taking monthly progress photos to track subtle changes that are easy to overlook.

Remember, these changes take time. That is why consistency is key.

If you have difficulty staying consistent, try scheduling your workouts on your calendar. Even if it’s just 10 to 15 minutes.

You could combine exercises with other habits like watching TV or listening to a podcast to make it more sustainable.

For example, you could do some of the exercises during commercial breaks or when waiting for something to cook.

Also, motivation tends to dip when trying to overhaul too many habits at once. Focus on making one or two nutrition changes before incorporating a longer workout routine.

A Few Other Holistic Strategies For Weight Loss And Recovery

While diet and exercise are key to losing arm fat and toning up, adopting a holistic self-care approach amplifies your results.

Consider these ways to reduce stress and nourish your overall wellbeing:

  • Taking a bubble bath with epsom salt helps soothe sore muscles while lowering stress hormone levels.
  • Getting quality sleep is essential – aim for 7 or more hours per night to balance hormones, control appetite, and recover.
  • Build in mini-breaks during your days for quick meditation, breath-work or listening to uplifting music.
  • Give yourself permission to take 1-2 rest days per week where you can replenish with self-care.
  • On these days, indulge in restorative activities. These include yoga, stretching and massage to enhance flexibility and ease workout soreness.

Comprehensive self-care amplifies results while caring for your whole self in the process.

Adjusting your mindset is key!

Other Related Questions

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

Some women have more fat cells in their upper arms, and others have more in their hips or abdomen.

How long does it take to See Results?

If you train your arms at least two times per week AND improve your nutrition, you can see improvement in your upper arm development in 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 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 check out my post on Complete Arm Toning.

Final Words On Losing Arm Fat

Getting toned arms isn’t straightforward, but it is doable!

After helping many women through pregnancy and postpartum recovery, I cannot stress the importance of consistency with diet and training.

Also, don’t forget that your mindset is just as important. Finding ways to take care of yourself holistically and maintain motivation are key!

Good luck mama- you got this!

Related Posts On Arm Exercises

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Brittany Robles, MD, MPH, CPT

Brittany Robles is a full-time OBGYN physician, a NASM certified trainer, and a prenatal and postnatal fitness specialist. She holds a Master 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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17 thoughts on “How to Lose Arm Fat Postpartum (13 Doctor Recommended Exercises)”

  1. I can’t wait to start! What can I do about alleviating the soreness the next day? It’s been awhile..


    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!

  2. 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!

      1. I am very keen on the program but I will wait until I get back home as I’m away on holiday at the moment. Will make contact once I am home 🤗

  3. 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:

      Hope this helps!

    1. Brittany Robles, MD, MPH, CPT

      Hi Stacey,

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


  4. 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:

  5. 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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