Flabby underarms can ruin your summer look. No matter how well-toned the rest of your body is, if you have underarm fat that flaps around, you’ll feel you need to do more!
So why does fat end up right there? Is there some way to target this tough spot?
Why Does Stubborn Fat Accumulate?
1. Lack Of Exercise
It is easy to end up with excess fat on your arms, especially if you don’t use those muscles much. Unless you’re in a job that requires you to lift heavy weights, it’s unlikely that you are active enough to stay naturally toned.
Of course, this is not the case if you workout, dance, do pilates or yoga, or any other physical activity that exercises your arms.
2. Overall Excess Weight Gain
If you’re overweight in general and need to lose excess weight everywhere, your underarms are of course included! But are women really especially vulnerable to fat accumulation in the underarm area?
According to the American Council on Exercise, women’s bodies tend to store fat in the upper section of the arms, including the underarm area. Men tend to have higher overall muscle mass in their body, so fat accumulation is a bigger problem for women.1
Tackling The Underarm And Overall Flab
Arm fat can be dealt with by toning your arms and working your triceps – not in isolation but along with other muscle groups. Women may feel that this is extremely stubborn fat to lose. But experts note, men feel exactly that way about belly fat.
All it takes to remove the fat is a little determination and lot of hard work. It isn’t the fat that’s stubborn, it’s the willpower that can be a little iffy for some of us!
Weight training or resistance training helps you retain the lean muscle mass, so you don’t shed muscle along with fat as you lose weight.
Spot reduction or targeted fat loss may not be realistic. While specific exercises can help work a certain muscle group, if you really want to tone up properly, combine this with high-calorie-burn workouts like cardio. 2
According to the Health Information Center of the The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, for general fitness and weight loss, you are on track if you can get around 150–300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week. Combine this with muscle-strengthening exercises, such as any of the following, on 2 or more days to hit your overall fitness goals.
- Weight-bearing activity, even heavy gardening
- Weights at the gym
- Using your body weight in pull-ups and push-ups
The more muscle you build, the more calories you burn, and consequently, the more weight you will be able to lose.3
This should help tone your arms if you include some arm-muscle-strengthening workouts along with the exercises for other muscle groups in rotation.
And of course, it goes without saying that you should follow a healthy diet with plenty of lean protein, vegetables, fruit, and fiber-rich foods and get recommended levels of nutrients through healthy snacks like nuts. Experts suggest a comprehensive fitness and diet plan with a tricep-focused upper-body workout twice a week to improve the strength, shape, and tone of the upper arm, including the underarm area.4
Exercises Targeting The Underarm
While a holistic approach is critical, you must also ensure that your regimen has some exercises designed to work your arms. The American Council on Exercise conducted a study to zero in on the best exercises for beating underarm flab.
Among the evaluated options were dips, bar push-downs, lying barbell triceps extensions, triceps kickbacks, rope push-downs, overhead triceps extensions, closed-grip bench press, and triangle push-ups. Their tests revealed that dips, triangle push-ups, and triceps kickbacks were the most effective.
About 2–3 sets of between 8 and 12 reps each should be challenging and achievable. Here’s how you can do them too.5
1. Triangle Push-Ups
Experts call this the “gold standard” of triceps exercises, requiring the most muscle activity of all. This is a modification of the original push-up.
- Place your hands so that your forefingers and thumbs make a triangle shape below your shoulders.
- Keep your torso stiff by contracting your abdominal and core muscles, taking care to keep your head aligned with your spine throughout.
- Put your feet together with the toes pointing at your shins.
- Begin by lowering your body to the ground, keeping your back straight with no sagging in the lower back and ensuring that the hips are tucked away in position, not pushing upward.
- Once your chin or chest is in contact with the floor, begin pressing up with your arms.
- Do this till you once again have your arms completely extended from the elbows.
- If you find this too difficult, place your knees on the floor for a modified triangle push-up.
You will need a ledge or a low bench, or even a chair that’s stable and heavy enough to not topple when you lean on it.
- Stand with your back to the bench and your feet together.
- Bend down to a seating position, so that your hands are on each side of your hips and resting on the bench.
- Your fingers should hang over the edge.
- Lift your butt off the bench without shifting your hands.
- As you lower your hips down toward the floor, your arms should slowly be parallel to the floor.
- Once your upper arms are both completely parallel to the ground, start pushing back upward with your hands/arms.
- Make your arms work for this and not your legs!
3. Triceps Kickbacks
You’ll need a dumbbell for this exercise.
- Hold the dumbbell in your left hand and get into a split stance position, with your right leg forward.
- Ensure that your weight falls on the heels of both feet equally so that you’re stable.
- Contract your core and abdominal muscles, so your torso stiffens.
- Your free hand, the right one here, must be placed on your right knee or thigh.
- Now start to lean forward, shifting your upper body weight to the right side.
- Now begin pulling your shoulder in/down and backward, aligning your head with your spine. This is your position for the exercise, so be sure your torso doesn’t rotate as you do the movements.
- Don’t let your back arch as it can hurt your spine.
- Begin by keeping your left arm close to your torso, ensuring they are parallel.
- Bend your elbow so that your forearm is vertical to the ground, with the elbow at 90 degrees.
- Exhale as you slowly straighten your elbow, contracting the triceps.
- Throughout, your upper arm should be immobilized close to the torso without rising.
- Next, inhale as you come back to the starting position, with the upper arm parallel/close to the torso.
Yoga For Underarm Flab
Certain asanas target your arms and help tone your underarms as well. Keep in mind that these asanas need to be learnt correctly under the guidance of a trained practitioner to avoid any injury and to achieve optimum results.
Once you master them, or if you have already trained under a professional, keep up the practice at home.
1. Bakasana/Crow/Crane Pose
Bakasana, also called the crow or crane pose, is a challenging asana that requires you to perch on your bent arms with your knees tucked in under your torso and feet extended backward. You support your entire body weight using your arm muscles and core.6
2. The Plank
Used in the sun salutation or surya namaskar, this is not unlike the plank in conventional workouts.
- Your palms are open and flat on the ground.
- The elbows are straight and arms extended.
- You lift your torso and hips off the ground, neatly tucked in, keeping the spine straight.
- The toes touch the ground.7
3. The Dolphin Plank
The dolphin plank is a modification of the dolphin pose.
- Place your forearms, right up to your elbows, on the ground, with palms open and touching the floor or clasped together.
- Raise your feet with the toes lifting them off the ground, as with a plank.
- Lift your upper arms off the ground, straightened out and perpendicular to the floor.
As you hold this pose, with your body parallel to the ground, you need to summon the strength in your arms and thighs as well as the core.8
4. The Side Plank Or Vasisthasana
- Hold your body raised sideways off the ground, with the outer edge of the left foot at an angle to the ground and the right foot stacked over it.
- Put your right hand on your right hip.
- Your body weight should be supported by your left hand and the left foot.
- The left hand must be slightly in front of the left shoulder, not lined up beneath it.
- Feel your triceps and thighs firm up as you hold your body diagonal to the ground.9
Advance-level asanas include poses like the upward- and downward-facing dog and the peacock pose.
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||Tone Up Your Triceps with These Three Exercises, American Council On Exercise.|
|2.||↑||Targeted Fat Loss: Myth or Reality? Yale Scientific.|
|3.||↑||Weight-loss and Nutrition Myths, The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.|
|4.||↑||Tone Up Your Triceps with These Three Exercises, American Council On Exercise.|
|5.||↑||Terrific Triceps, American Council On Exercise.|
|6.||↑||Crane Pose, Yoga Journal.|
|7.||↑||Plank Pose, Yoga Journal.|
|8.||↑||Dolphin Plank Pose, Yoga Journal.|
|9.||↑||Side Plank, Yoga Journal.|