How To Tone Those Flabby Upper Arms

flabby underarm skinThe upper arms have two sets of muscles, the biceps above and the triceps below.

Although it is in the triceps area that upper arm flab is evident much of this is due to gravity and it is important to exercise both sets of muscles to regain the tone and curves of the past.

A further problem can arise after the muscles have been toned up and that is loose skin remaining. This can be tightened by a skilled plastic surgeon leaving almost invisible scars in the armpit area.

There seems to be a grey area surrounding the effectiveness of liposuction and plastic surgery as a means to regain the shape of the upper arms.

Before committing to this type of procedure it is imperative that you seek a number of opinions from qualified medical personnel, visible scarring seems to be a problem, amongst others.

Practise a Regular Exercise Regime

It is better by far to carry out a regular regime of exercises that are designed to tone up the two muscle groups and that can prove beneficial regardless of age and general fitness. Before starting there are two important considerations to bear in mind that are common to all fitness regimes, regularity and not over doing the routines.

To gain any lasting benefit from exercising it is essential to begin by committing yourself to a daily or at least every other day schedule of routines.

Once set in the habit then a few days off every so often is unlikely to be a problem.

At the same time it is important and possibly even dangerous to overdue the exercises in the first flush of enthusiasm.

Do not put a strain on your body or any individual muscle group, as soon as the repetition begins to become uncomfortable – stop.

As time goes by you will be able to build up the strength in your muscles and this is when you will notice the increase in firmness and tone of the upper arm area.

Exercises to Tone those Upper Arms

Focusing on the biceps and triceps, start by performing probably the best known exercise of all, pushups, but they must be done correctly.

  • Lie flat on floor face down, hands, palm down, touching the floor, close to the shoulders and elbows.
  • Press down onto your hands so that your entire body’s weight is taken onto the arms.
  • Lift  the body up, keeping it as straight as possible, until your arms are outstretched fully. Then gently lower yourself into the starting position.
  • Repeat as often as possible aiming initially for 15 –20 repetitions, if that is a problem don’t worry, even a start with four or five will lead to building up to the optimum, but try not to cheat by keeping your knees on the floor!!
  • Now turn over and lie face up on a bench or floor, body stretched out straight.
  • Hold a pair of  dumbells or other weights in both hands, cans of food are a good substitute.
  • Place your hands by the side of your head with your elbows pointing towards your feet.
  • Raise your hands straight above your head then steadily lower to head height keeping the elbows in tight above the body.
  • Do 15-20 reps to start if you are able.
  • When comfortable with this increase the weight of the dumbbells.
  • Sit on the edge of a bench or firm seat and grip the front edge by the side of your hips. Using you arms lift your body from bench. Move your feet slightly away from the bench.
  • Lower your body down the front of the bench until your arms are at right angles then press back up until your arms become straight and locked and at all times keeping your upper body erect and your elbows in.
  • Repeat 10-15 times and as it gets easier progressing to 25-30 times regularly every day or other day.

Any other form of exercise such as walking, jogging or cycling will help to burn off excess weight and, although not specifically targeting the underarm flab problem, the general all over body toning benefits will be reflected in some reduction, however slight, in those unsightly arms.

Finally and not to be forgotten is the importance of diet. The benefit of any exercise program will be dramatically reduced if attention to a balanced and healthy diet is ignored so eat sensibly!

Work at it and you should be able to regain those lovely upper arms without the help of any cosmetic surgical procedures except perhaps in a worst-case scenario a little near invisible skin tightening.

Start now and you will soon be wearing those sleeveless tops this summer without embarrassment.

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Category: Aerobics | Workouts

About the Author ()

Hi ! I'm Jaks and I am the writer for this site. To be completely healthy and fit you must keep your body moving and active. With exercise you can continue to be flexible even in old age. It's never too late. Learn more about this site

Comments (27)

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  1. Jeannine says:

    Can you explain heavy weights less reps vs light weights more reps and how would I know which I need to do. Thank-you

    • Editor says:


      Put briefly using heavy weights and less reps is fine if you want to bulk up your muscles to gain size and strength. Light weights with more reps will improve or maintain your muscle tone and develop more endurance. There is unlikely to be any gains in fat loss between the two.
      Just decide on your priorities and plan accordingly. It would be unwise of us to suggest any numbers for reps or weights without knowing your age, height, weight etc.

  2. Diane says:

    As of Jan 1st 2012, and a 6 year leave from working out, I decided to drop cofee with it’s cream and sugar, tossed all of the bad things from my diet, and began a workout regeime. Because I bike from 22 to 25 k a day, then workout my lower body one day upper body the next, I find I have a slight improvement, I eat above my calorie loss per day, which is essential. I don’t focus on any one are of improvement, as all areas need to be attended to..I have lost 13 lbs without dieting in 13 days by just watching what I feed it. I know the plateau will be apon me soon..But I’m not in a race here. I am 48 years old, and I do have side handles, non toned buttocks and legs and apparent flaps for my under arms..All these areas do tighten after a workout, it doesn’t stay a long time, but a fter several months of keeping up my regeime, I know I will be able to sport a tighter figure…I never tend to use my age as an avenue to find an excuse, moreover I am not defined by my age. I set small goals, and go from there. So for anyone out there who becomes upset or gives in, please give yourself a break. you may plateau from week to week and see nothing, but keep in mind that your body is seeing it, and it may not be visible to you. I know that genetics plays a huge part on all that I wrote, and that my body is in worse shape or perhaps better shape than another…But I refuse to give up on myself, I do these exercises for my own benefit, and for noboby else. I believe that’s the first thing you should look at. Goodluck to so many like myself out there, don’t give up……..Diane

    • Jaks says:

      Thank you so much for this inspiring comment. You are absolutely right that if you want to feel the benefits of exercise you must keep working at it however fed up you can become if you dont see immediate results.

      The fact is that everyone who exercises regularly will feel better and look better. There is no getting away from that.

      Also the only person who can make you do it is YOU.

  3. Shauna says:

    Hey, I’m 18 years old and I’ve been dieting for just over a year now. I Started at 247lbs and I am now at 141lbs, which is a weight loss of 106lbs. Out of the time that I’ve been dieting, I worked out for about 7 months at a gym, and the rest I did what I could at home with some weights. I have a pretty big amount of loose skin under my arms aswell as my stomach , I’ve tried many different excercises to try tone it but I find that the muscle is just getting bigger and not toning (the arms). I’ve seriously considered surgery but my doctor told me that I’m young and should be able to get rid of it, Please help me!

    Thanks a lot, Shauna.

  4. jacqueline says:

    Unfortunately, Rome wasn’t built in a day, so perseverance is the key to success. Sorry to be so brutal.

  5. mariacarmiluzbonus says:

    i've been doing this for a ouple of months but i didnt see any improvement in my flabby arms what should i do?

  6. isabelmarie says:

    get the vidio call callanetics she has a great underarm exercise

  7. Derilynn MacFarlane says:

    Hi, I have decided that its time that I do something for me and that is dieting, excerise and toning of those parts of me that I’ve let go over the years through stormy seas. I am quite mobility disabled but can work well sitting. My question is, are these upper arm excerises that you do in the floor, can they be adapted for a sitting position to have any impact? Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter.



    • Hi Derilynn

      Well done for taking action. Making the decision to start is hard but I know you will feel better for it.

      Take a look at these gentle T’ai Chi Exercises

      You may find that they help you. Good luck, let us know how you get on.

  8. Claudie says:


    I am 27 and i have cellulite on my upper arms and they are big. what can i do im not overweight and carry a balanced diet. I exercise every day im scared to do weight since it might make my arms bigger i have been thinking of doing smart lipo on my upper arm. What do you think?

    • Hi Claudia

      Many women have cellulite on their upper arms. Its a real bugbear and apart from losing weight and doing toning exercises theres not much you can do unless you opt for surgery. When using weights only use light ones and do more reps.

      I myself am not against cosmetic surgery. However, you must look around and find out all the info you can first. Go to a reputable cosmetic surgeon and try and get some recommendations.

      Let us know how you get on

  9. ROSE BLATNIK says:

    Would like to tighten my upper arms just inside the elbow. They are beginning to wrinkle.

  10. gary says:


    i need help how exercise i go to the gym everyday but i am still not seeing no results can u keep me tips

  11. Ms. Willy says:

    Hi – I am almost 48 years young and unfortunately, rarely did strength training throughout my life. I’m a cardio junkie but have incorporated strength training with bands (a circuit training DVD) for a year now; twice a week. I have been dealing with a lifetime of flabby skin-hanging arms, it’s embarrassing and affects my self-esteem.

    In your professional opinion do you feel it may be too late for me to “fix” this? I am ready to purchase weights and get myself on exercises for my arms in order to do something about this but a part of me tells me it’s too late. I can’t see myself going under the knife for this either….

    Thanks for any advice.

    • Jaks says:

      Hi Mrs Willy

      There will never be an age when you are too old to exercise.
      In my opinion, weight training and stretching are the most important things you can do, especially as you get older.

  12. susan says:

    Hi, I have been trying to get the flab off of the top of my arms. I am 60. I hate
    the wave bye-bye skin hanging down underneath. I have been exercising with 5 pd weights
    for about 3 months. I have noticed lately that my arms are getting larger with muscle instead of firming up.I really don’t wont them to look bigger just firmer.
    I am going to try the exercises you suggest and will let you know how it works
    for me. Thanks for your help.

  13. Toni Johnstone says:

    Hi I am a 47yo female, and have been working out with dumbbells, I also have been dieting, I have lost 5 kilos and have toned up nicely, but I still have a small amount of loose skin on the upper arms, my arms are quite toned but are really quite thin. Since I can’t get rid of this skin and can’t afford surgery, would it be best to fill the skin up with a little extra muscle? I have been toning using dvds that have supersetting and pyramidding. What do you suggest?

    • Hi Toni

      Congratulations on losing the weight. Unfortunately when we get older being left with some loose skin is inevitable.

      If I were you I would continue with your dumbbell workouts and try to build some more muscle in this area. You could try and add more weight as this should help. The heavier the weight the less reps you need to do.

  14. Chip says:

    To the young lady that wanted to tone her arms and not have them be as big.:

    I agree with the comments made by Jaks. A good strength building yoga program would likely be helpful. Another option that you may want to consider is pilates.

    If you exercise your arms with lighter weights but more repetition that should also help.

  15. Jaks says:

    Hi Raffi

    If you have consulted your doctor he/she should have advised you as to how far you should reasonably be capable of walking without doing any further damage to your spine.

    Any jarring movements will only acerbate the problem so just try to walk on the flat.

  16. Raffi says:

    i am Raffi too i forgot ask another question yesterday.
    yesterday i asked about my spinalcolumn disc and playing bodybuilding and you suggestion was stretching exercises.
    now my question is: please my work is walking 5 hours in day except friday and saturday is that any bad effects on my disc, is that increase my disc..

    best regards
    Raffi Hindoyan

  17. Jaks says:

    Hi Raffi

    I’m sorry to hear that you are having a few problems with your back.
    As you are now feeling better you should be doing some stretching exercises especially for your back. I have written an article here which will give you some easy ones.
    As your back becomes stronger I am sure that you can take up bodybuilding again, but it would be best to check with your medical adviser first.
    The results of suddenly stopping such a rigorous regime will possibly result in parts of your body becoming less firm.
    One answer may be to buy a weight trainers belt. They are very cheap and really do work. I know this as my husband who has suffered with a bad back for years has recently bought a leather one and finds it very good when playing sport. You can buy one here or go to your local sports store.

    Hope this helps and don’t forget to let me know.

  18. Raffi says:


    my nme is Raffi and i am very happy to read your advices
    i am a hobbyst body builder since 10 years i train my body 40 min and 4 tims every week
    now i have the biging af disc in my spinalcolumn i feel i little tingle in my legs
    i take rest from sport ( body building ) and work and take some treatment and now feeling better.
    now my question is if i stop body building what chaneges can see in my body
    and can i see flabby on my chest or biceps and can i play body building in my case
    what exercises can i do.

    and i am very thankfull to you

  19. Jaks says:


    I am surprised you have built up so much muscle as you are still very young. It may be that you have a disposition towards bulkier muscles, which is not the way you want to look.

    However without seeing you in person its hard for me to comment.

    What I would suggest is that you stop using heavy weights and change to very light weights with lots of repetitions.
    If you stop altogether you may find that the muscle will change to fat.

    Also incorporate an exercise regime such as yoga or stretching which will help to elongate the muscles giving them a leaner look. Elongated muscles can have more strength whilst staying lean.

    I will shortly be writing about elongating the muscles so keep an eye open for this.

    Hope this helps


  20. Anonymous says:


    I am a 21 year old female who enjoys exercising. I believe that I have exercised “incorrectly” and over did some of the workouts. My upper arms are big from exercising too much because I did more weights than repetition. Now my arms look big and I would like to ask if there is anyway I can tone it and make it smaller? Should I avoid all arm exercises? I feel really uncomfortable now that I have developed too much muscles in my arm.

    Thank You


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