Do you know what a ‘bingo wing’ is? What about a ‘flabby flapper’? If you have no idea, then you probably don’t have an area of loose musculature at the top of your arms. Plenty of people do however, and it can be a major confidence drain.
This week, I’ll work through how you can regain upper arms to make you proud instead of ‘chicken wings’, ‘whale flippers’ or ‘granny second waves’.
Both men and women can have a tendency to store fat on their upper arms and if that applies to you then, don’t worry, we can tackle the issue with some key exercises. You may also feel that your upper arms are saggy if you’ve lost weight and have excess skin in this area but, again, don’t worry, my advice addresses this too. Together, we will wave goodbye to arm jiggle and show off our toned and defined biceps and triceps.
Although you can’t command your body to lose fat from a specific area, a variety of weighted toning exercises can help you improve your muscle mass. I recommend combining bursts of general fat burning cardio vascular activity with upper arm focused strength exercises, and you will be showing off your newly sculpted guns and saying goodbye to unsightly bingo wings in no time at all.
It’s easy to add in some upper body exercises throughout the day at home or at work. You don’t even need to use heavy weights; a simple full water bottle or cans from the pantry can be a good starting point. In the workplace, you can try using using paperweights or a ream of photocopy paper.
You might also want to consider investing in small sand bags as these can be great tools to help you start toning up. I can also recommend resistance bands as these stretchy ribbons are a light weight solution for adding resistance workouts to your day, they are inexpensive and light weight so you can take one almost anywhere and, although it’s a different feeling than weights, the resistance created is just as effective for toning your body.
Building strong biceps, triceps and shoulders will give you muscle definition and rid you of an arm that continues to move long after you stopped waving.
Try focusing on movements that mimic everyday tasks. Sculpting your arms can be as simple as placing books on a shelf! Try to do exercises that are consistent with your body’s needs. If your job requires you to lift objects throughout the day, then getting strong through stretching and exercise can make your day easier. Excessive direct overhead movements are often not necessary and can cause stress on your shoulder joints so keep your movements in front of you.
There are several benefits of gaining additional muscle mass. The most exciting being that your body will naturally burn extra calories all day long in order to sustain your new muscle. You will also find that the additional strength you will gain from lifting weights can help you with your day-to-day tasks and weight-bearing exercise has been linked to considerable improvement in bone density. Resistance training is recommended by ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) as it is especially beneficial for an aging population.
Dedicating a small amount of time each day to upper body resistance training, and avoiding the trap of spending hours a day in the gym, can help you reap the benefits without the severe muscle soreness that over exercising a specific body part can give you.
Try to dedicate 10 minutes a day to an arm exercise routine and remember to stretch both before and after you exercise to avoid injury and tight muscles. It’s amazing how quickly your body can respond to resistance training.
There are many effective exercises that focus on the upper arm. Try a combination of bicep curls, bent over rows, tricep kickbacks, shoulder presses and plank holds.
The tricep kickback is one of my favorites as it focuses on the back of your arms and the tricep can be overlooked in favor of the much more famous bicep.
– Choose some weights that are suitable for your fitness level and hold one in each hand. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, bend yourknees and hinge your back forward slightly so that you are looking at the floor in front of you and your back is at a 45-degree angle.
– Bend your elbows at a 90-degree angle, so that your hands are in front of you and keep you arms tightly tucked into your sides.
– Extend your arms back behind you and slowly straighten your arms; you will start to feel your triceps working as you lift the weight behind you. Hold the lift for two seconds and return to your starting position and repeat. If you want to intensify the work turn your palms upward.
– Try to do 10 reps per arm but stop if you feel uncomfortable.
You can do this exercise with both arms at the same time or you can do it firstwith one arm and then the other. If you prefer to work one arm at a time, be sure to place your dumbbell free hand on your thigh and use a staggered stance to help keep your back in a neutral position.
There are so many health benefits to be gained from a balanced combination of diet and exercise. I believe that taking a little time each day to focus on yourself is never a bad thing and with a consistent approach, you’ll soon be waving goodbye to sagging arms with an arm wave that stops when you stop.
Written by Samantha Clayton, AFAA, ISSA. Samantha is Director of Fitness Education at Herbalife.