Posted by: Me | 2009/03/18


Female in my mid 30' s and I hate my arms - they are fat even if I lose weight and the rest of my body looks good. When I stand with my arms at my sides they bulge out! I want to target them and make them shapely - my eating is under control, but I want to know what exercises to do to improve them and make them shapely with a bit of muscle. Going to gym and intructor has suggested press ups, tricep dips and another push pull exercise on the functional trainer. Will this do the trick? I love the machines as well - should I concentrate on the machines that target arms as well??? Thank you.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageFitnessDoc

Hi there

Your problem is one that is common to many people. We can’t control where fat gets stored on our bodies and so our overall appearance (and fitness) often don’t match up with one area, in your case the arms.

The solution is three-fold. One part is cardio training, because the problem is still an accumulation of fat, and that’s best combated by regular cardio, which increases the body’s metabolic rate (during training and for a while after), and helps you to lose fat mass. The general recommendation is for 45 minutes per day of moderate intensity training, four or five days a week. My experience is that for this particular problem, that is not enough, and the key lies in the intensity. It pays to increase the intensity slightly. This does not mean punishing yourself for 45 minutes every day, but rather weaving in periods of harder exercise into your current training. For example, if you would typically spend 30 minutes on the bicycle, then rather break it up into 4 minutes of normal-paced cycling and 2 minutes of harder cycling (10 to 15% harder), and repeat this five times. Same duration, but the quality is much higher. That little “jump-start” is often what it takes to start combating this problem.

The second solution is weight training. This helps not because you burn off fat in the arms by doing arm exercises, but rather because you increase lean mass and create the appearance of being toned. The cardio and weight training in combination are most effective. For the arms, focus on biceps and triceps exercises, and lift lighter weights in higher repetitions. You’re looking at about 3 sets of 15 reps on a weight that is not so heavy that you cannot finish the final set.

Then third, diet is crucial. You can get the first two spot on, but if you are not eating well, then you’ll never see progress. The best bet here is to see a dietician, because making general changes is not usually successful when you’re dealing with a very specific problem, as this is.

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

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