With special exercises, the muscles around the upper arms and armpits will be tightened. But losing underarm fat isn’t just about lifting weights.
There is a misconception that you can only reduce fat in one part of your body. This concept is often referred to as “point reduction”.
Most studies show that this technique is ineffective. For example, a 104-person study found that a 12-week resistance training program focused on the arms increased overall fat loss with less effect on specific areas.
A more effective way is to focus on total weight loss. You can do this by incorporating cardiovascular and strength training exercises into your routine.
Here are 10 exercises that target your arms, back, chest, and upper shoulders. You can combine them with other exercises, including cardio, for a complete workout program. Some of these exercises require no equipment, while others use minimal equipment.
This exercise works multiple muscles in your upper arms, shoulders, and chest at the same time.
Start from the floor. Place your hands slightly wider than your shoulders.
Place your head down.
Extend your legs behind you so that you are on your toes.
Lower your body to the floor using your hands and come up.
Repeat several times.
You can do modified push-ups with your knees on the ground instead of your toes, or standing against a wall.
- Cow and cat
This is a yoga pose that lengthens your body and focuses on your back and chest.
Props: yoga mat
Get on all fours on a yoga mat. Hands should be placed under the shoulders and knees should be under the hips.
Exhale and arch your back (cat pose). Lower your head to align with your spine.
Then, as you inhale and “lift” your chest up, curl your back and stomach toward the floor (cow pose) and lower your midsection.
Move between the two positions as you take a deep breath, then exhale.
Repeat several times.
- Downward facing dog
Downward Facing Dog is a yoga pose that targets the arms, back, glutes, hips and legs.
Props: yoga mat, towel
Begin by kneeling in the center of the mat.
Then place your hands on the mat in front of you, shoulder width apart, and move to your hands and knees (also the original cat-cow position).
Clasp your arms, straighten your legs, and slowly raise your hips toward the ceiling.
Straighten your legs and stretch your toes for stability. Allow your weight to shift back into your hips, legs, and arms.
Your head should be in line with your back. You will have a triangle shape.
If you can, hold this position for a few minutes and slowly come out of the position by reversing the movement that created downward facing dog.
You may feel your hands slowly slide as you step onto the yoga mat. If your palms contribute to sweat, having a small towel nearby can help.
- Press the triceps
The triceps is a muscle located in the upper part of the arm. You can tighten this muscle in several ways. One is through the triceps press.
To perform this exercise, you need something as simple as a dumbbell or a can.
Cane: a weight that fits your hand
Holding a weight in each hand, sit on a chair and raise your arms above your head.
Bend your elbows and lower the weight behind your head as far as possible.
Lift the weight above your head.
Start by doing two sets of 10-15 reps. Rest about 10 seconds between sets.
- Stretch the triceps
This exercise is similar to the triceps press, but you do it on the floor or on a bench.
Props: exercise mat or weight bench, free weights
Lie on your back and pick up a free weight. Hold above your shoulders and to the side of your head. Bend your arms at a 90 degree angle with your elbows pointing towards the ceiling.
Extend the weight in your hands to the ceiling until your arms are straight.
Then slowly return to the bent position. Do this exercise several times and repeat on the other hand.
You can work one arm at a time or you can do this movement with both arms at the same time.
- Chest compressions
This exercise works on the arms, chest and shoulders. To perform this exercise, you need an exercise bench and weights that fit in your hands.
Props: exercise bench, free weights
Lie on your back on a chair.
Hold the free weights and bring your elbows to where they are on the bench (not below). Your upper arms will be in the same position as the rest of your body, and your lower arms will be pointing towards the ceiling.
Slowly raise your arms up and raise the weight until your arms are almost straight. Do not lock your elbows.
Return the weight to the starting position with bent arms and repeat.
- Bicep curl
This exercise can be done sitting or seated
tanding with free weights. There are also bicep curl machines at many gyms, but the position may not allow you the most natural movement.
Props: free weights
Stand up and hold a free weight in each hand with your arms extended towards the ground.
Slowly bend your elbows and bring the weights towards your shoulders.
Release the position and bring the weights towards the ground again.
Keep your elbows and wrists aligned throughout the exercise. Repeat.
- Bench dip
This exercise can be done almost anywhere, from the edge of your sofa to a workout bench at the gym.
Props: workout bench, chair, or raised surface
Sit on the bench and put your hands on the bench next to your hips.
Grip the edge of the bench with your palms on the bench and your fingers on the edge of it.
Move your body off the bench with your knees bent and feet together.
Lower your body towards the floor by bending your arms until the upper arms are parallel with the floor.
Use your arms to bring yourself back up from this position slowly and repeat.
- Triceps pressdown
Props: cable-pulley weight machine or a resistance band
Facing the cable machine or where you have the resistance band secured, stand up straight with your knees slightly bent.
Grab the cable or resistance band at its highest position.
Pull the cable or band down towards the floor with your elbows at your sides. You should pull the cable until your arms are completely extended.
Return to the starting position. Then repeat.
- Seated row
Cable pulldown machine
This exercise involves a cable pulley machine and works your back and arms.
Sit at a cable machine and grab the pulley with extended arms.
Pull the cable back towards your body with your elbows moving at the sides of your body until your hands reach your chest.
Pause briefly and then move the arms back into their original position.
To combine cardio and the rowing movement, try using a stationary row machine. These are common in gyms and can be good at home since they take up relatively little space for a workout machine.
You can shop for compact row machines online.
Tips for strength training exercises
Strength training involves your entire body. You should focus on large muscles first because these will help you burn more fat over time.
While exercising smaller muscles is also beneficial in toning your body and building strength, do these later in your workout in case you run out of energy and can’t get to them.
Strength training exercises can include those that only require your body, such as pushups, situps, squats, and planks. You may also want to use equipment like weights and resistance bands for strength training.
Another option is to try yoga. It focuses on building strength throughout your body, and all you need is a mat.
You should not engage in strength training more than a few days a week. This will give your muscles time to recover.
Tips for cardio exercises
The most effective way to target underarm fat is to reduce the overall amount of fat on your body. You can do this by improving your fitness level.
If you have a high level of fitness, your body will burn more fat throughout the day. Conversely, if you don’t work out very much, your body will burn less fat over time.
Cardiovascular exercises get your body moving for a prolonged length of time. These exercises focus on your endurance and increase your heart rate. They can range from moderate to more intense forms of exercise.
Examples of cardiovascular exercises include:
walking (increase the intensity by walking uphill)
playing sports like basketball, tennis, and soccer
Frequent exercise with both cardiovascular and strength training exercises can reduce body fat.
You should engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise a week, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
You’ll need to increase this time per week to increase fat loss. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also recommends engaging in muscle-strengthening exercise two or more days a week.
A healthy diet and regular exercise that includes both cardiovascular and strength training activities will help you reduce underarm fat by reducing overall body fat. Exercises that tone and strengthen the upper arms, back, chest, and shoulders will help sculpt the area.
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