If pesky wings beneath your arms have you wearing sweaters all year long, a multitiered approach can help you lose the flab. Running or other cardio exercises are a major part of this equation, but you still need to reduce calories for total weight loss -- there's no way to spot reduce, but your underarms will shrink proportionately as you shed body fat. See your doctor before starting a new weight-loss plan.
About Underarm Flab
Although you can trim your underarms to some degree, Wonder Woman triceps aren't in the cards for everyone. As you grow older, skin under the arms -- and elsewhere -- loses elasticity and doesn't bounce back the way it used to. Some of what you think is fat may actually be sagging skin, which will not respond to diet and exercise changes. That said, burning fat and toning muscle are likely to improve the appearance of your arms if you're overweight.
Running and Calories
Running melts calories efficiently, leading to easier weight loss. The faster you go, the heavier the burn: At a leisurely 5 mph, a 155-pound woman burns about 300 calories in 30 minutes. At a moderate 6 mph, she uses about 375 calories in the same time. At a speedy 7.5 mph, she burns about 465 calories in the same half-hour. That's an impressive burn, but a pound of fat is approximately 3,500 calories -- so running alone won't make the pounds fly off quickly. For maximum aerobic and fat-burning benefit, aim for 75 to 150 minutes of running per week.
Strength-training beautifies your bod in two ways: by toning muscle tissue and by revving up your metabolism for faster fat loss. Focus on the triceps on the backs of your arms by performing pushups; if they're too tough, keep your knees on the ground or try performing them against a wall instead of on the floor. If you have gym access, try triceps dips or triceps extensions. For proper balance, also perform strength-training moves for biceps and forearms, as well as back, chest, stomach, legs and hips. Weighted exercises and body-weight moves such as squats and crunches work well. Perform 12 repetitions of each exercise, working up to three sets.
Your diet matters more for weight loss than exercise, so cut out the fast food and high-calorie sodas in exchange for whole, lean fare and plain or sparkling water. Choose whole grains over white rice and flours; these have more fiber for lasting fullness. Load up on fresh fruits and vegetables, and get protein from smart sources such as tofu, beans and nonfat cottage cheese. Follow portion size recommendations for all foods, and don't go back for seconds.
- IDEA Health & Fitness Association: Top 10 Most Frequently Asked Questions In A Fitness Center (And Their Answers)
- Harvard Health Publications: Calories Burned in 30 Minutes for People of Three Different Weights
- HelpGuide.org: How to Lose Weight and Keep It Off
- American College of Sports Medicine: Metabolism is Modifiable with the Right Lifestyle Changes
- Go Ask Alice: Firming up Flabby Arms
- ExRx.net: Upper Arm
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physical Activity do Adults Need?
Nina K. is a Los Angeles-based journalist who has been published by USAToday.com, Fitday.com, Healthy Living Magazine, Organic Authority and numerous other print and web publications. She has a philosophy degree from the University of Colorado and a journalism certificate from UCLA.