When it comes to toning your arms and reducing armpit fat, it’s important to focus on overall weight loss through a combination of cardio and strength training exercises. While strengthening the muscles around your armpits can help tone your arms, spot reduction, or reducing fat in just one area of your body, is not an effective technique.
A study of 104 people found that a 12-week resistance training program focused on the arms increased overall fat loss with little effect on the specific area. Therefore, it’s better to incorporate exercises that target the upper arms, back, chest, and shoulders into a comprehensive exercise program that includes cardio activities.
The pushup is a compound exercise that works multiple muscles at once, including those in your upper arms, shoulders, and chest.
- Start on the floor with your hands slightly wider than your shoulders.
- Position your head so that you’re looking straight down.
- Extend your feet out behind you so that you’re on your toes.
- Use your arms to lower your body to the floor and come back up.
- Repeat several times.
The cat-cow is a yoga position that lengthens your body and targets your back and chest.
Props: yoga mat
- Get on all fours on a yoga mat with your hands stacked underneath your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
- Exhale and arch your spine, bringing your head down to align with your spine (cat position).
- Inhale and lift your chest upward, curving your spine and stomach in the direction of the floor (cow position).
- Move between both positions as you take deep breaths in and out.
- Repeat several times.
The downward-facing dog is a yoga position that targets your arms, back, buttocks, hips, and legs.
Props: yoga mat, towel
- Start in the center of the mat, kneeling.
- Place your hands in front of you on the mat, shoulder-width apart, and move onto your hands and knees.
- Straighten your legs to swing your hips up toward the ceiling.
- Align your feet and extend your toes to stay stable. Shift your weight back on your hips and legs, as well as into your hands.
- Your head should be aligned with your straight back, creating a triangle shape.
- Hold this position for a few minutes if possible and slowly move out of it by reversing the movements.
If you experience slipping hands due to sweat, keeping a small towel nearby can help.
The triceps press is an exercise that targets the triceps, a muscle in the upper arm.
Props: weights that fit in your hand
- Sit down in a chair and lift your arms above your head, holding a weight in each hand.
- Bend at your elbows to bring the weights as far down behind your head as your range of motion allows.
- Raise the weights back above your head.
Start with two sets of 10 to 15 repetitions, resting for about 10 seconds between sets.
The triceps extension is similar to the triceps press, but it is performed on the floor or on a bench.
Props: exercise mat or weight bench, free weights
- Lie on your back and grab a free weight, holding it above your shoulder to the side of your head. Bend at the elbow so your arm forms a 90-degree angle with your elbow pointed at the ceiling.
- Extend the weight in your hand up toward the ceiling until your arm is fully extended.
- Slowly bring it back into the bent position. Repeat this exercise several times and then switch to your other arm.
You can work one arm at a time or perform this exercise with both arms simultaneously.
The chest press is an exercise that targets the arms, chest, and shoulders.
Props: workout bench, free weights
- Lie on your back on the bench.
- Holding free weights, bring your elbows to where your body is on the bench (no lower). Your upper arms should be at the same position as the rest of your body, while your lower arms face up toward the ceiling.
- Raise your arms and bring the weights up until your arms are almost straight, avoiding locking your elbows.
- Bring the weights back to the starting position with your bent arms and repeat.
The bicep curl can be performed seated or standing with free weights. There are also bicep curl machines available at many gyms, but they may not allow for the most natural movement.
Props: free weights
- Stand up and hold a free weight in each hand with your arms extended toward the ground.
- Slowly bend your elbows and bring the weights toward your shoulders.
- Release the position and bring the weights back toward the ground.
- Keep your elbows and wrists aligned throughout the exercise. Repeat.
The bench dip can be performed 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 place 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.
- Move your body off the bench with your knees bent and feet together.
- Lower your body toward the floor by bending your arms until your upper arms are parallel with the floor.
- Use your arms to bring yourself back up from this position slowly and repeat.
Props: cable-pulley weight machine or a resistance band
- Stand up straight with your knees slightly bent, facing the cable machine or where you have the resistance band secured.
- Grab the cable or resistance band at its highest position.
- Pull the cable or band down toward the floor with your elbows at your sides, fully extending your arms.
- Return to the starting position and repeat.
Cable pulldown machine
The seated row is an exercise that 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 toward your body with your elbows moving at the sides of your body until your hands reach your chest.
- Pause briefly and then return your arms to the original position.