Let’s get real for a minute here ladies; the fight against arm flab is unfortunately very real. It feels like the upper arm ‘wing’ is more often the bane of females, doesn’t it? It’s just not fair I tell you. There are some gender differences that make us women more prone to having excess upper arm skin and it’s largely to do with higher estrogen and lower testosterone. Of course, that’s not something you want to mess with when trying to conceive, during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. It also has to do with the natural way our body deposits fat and the manner in which that fat is laid down. It also has to do with age, body fat percentage, diet, and all those things. But we promise you, not all hope is lost!
Arm-targeting exercises (done consistently!) are the very best way to keep your arms toned and tight. That paired with good hydration and a vitamin-rich diet will help your skin retain its natural elasticity. The end result: fabulous, flab-less arms. So we’ve got our 4 favorite exercises suitable for any stage, and will help you do much more than fight the arm wing – they will help you stay strong through the multitude of mom duties.
We’ve outlined the details below and given you some tips on how to add extra challenges in, but here’s the full circuit at a beginner level, which you’ll want to repeat at least 3 times:
Chest flys – 15 reps
Seated triceps dip – 15 reps
Extended side plank – 30 second holds, each side
Modified pushup – 15 reps
1. Chest flys
No surprise here, chest flys primarily target your chest. Here’s why that’s important: strong pectorals will help you maintain good posture (that reminds us, we’ll be writing a post on the amazing benefits of good posture soon!), improve your breathing, help your breasts stay perky (that’s right!), and reduce back pain in general. They’ll also strengthen your shoulder joint and upper back muscles, and they’ll stimulate your core while you’re at it.
How to do it: Stand with your legs hip width apart. With a 2kg (5lb) dumbbell in each hand (or heavier, if you’re up for it!) stretch your arms straight out in front of so that they are parallel to the floor. Separate your hands, moving your arms out to your sides to form a T-shape. Return to starting position with arms straight in front of you. Keep your arms lifted, your chest open and your chin up! Start with 15 repetitions.
Extra challenge: After you finish one fly and return to the starting positions, pull your elbows back into a seated row. Alternate between flys and rows until you do 15 repetitions of each.
2. Triceps dip
Going back to that chat on flabby arms – this is the best exercise to fight that!! Triceps-targeting workouts will keep the muscles of your upper arm toned so arm flab can be a thing of the past. Balancing these out with biceps workouts is definitely key to getting those lean looking arms – so make sure to do a bit of both.
How to do it: Sit on the edge of a very sturdy bench or chair with your hands on either side of your hips. With your knees bent and planted on the floor a few feet in front of you, lift yourself off the bench so that you’re holding yourself in front of it. Keeping your arms parallel to each, lower your butt down until your elbows come to a 90˚ angle, and push back up, straightening your arms. Aim for at least 15 repetitions.
Extra challenge: Extend your legs straight out in front of you so your arms have to work a bit harder.
3. Extended side plank
Ah, the plank. We love the plank in all of its forms. It’s an isometric exercise that will strengthen your arm from your shoulder joint all the way down to your wrist – engaging nearly every muscle as you work to stay in balance. Working on those forearm muscles can help with hand and wrist swelling and reduce carpal tunnel pain as well. Every type of plank will target your core and glutes as well so this exercise really checks a lot of boxes.
How to do it: Come into low plank, twist your feet so they face out to the right, then lift your left hand up, reaching towards the sky as you move into an extended side plank. Make sure you don’t sink into your shoulder or elbow. You want to feel as if you’re extending up at every joint. Hold this position for at least 30 seconds, but try to see how long you can go! Be sure to switch and do the same thing on the other side for the same amount of time. If in your 2nd or 3rd trimester of pregnancy, swap this side plank for 20 biceps curls.
Extra challenge: Lift your top leg up about 45˚ degrees while in extended side plank to add an additional challenge to your core and balance!
4. Modified push-up
Pushups work your biceps and triceps alternately as you lower down and push back up – but they also do so much more than that. They can improve your cardiovascular health, improve all-over muscle tone, strengthen your back and shoulders and reduce pain and injury to these areas, and improve your posture. Of course, the only way to reap these benefits is by maintaining proper form through each and every push-up. You really want to maintain that straight line with your body, and it’s much more beneficial to do a modified push-up correctly, than a full push-up incorrectly. That’s why we recommend starting push-ups on your knees until you build enough strength to do a full set of push-ups from your toes with proper form.
How to do it: Come into a pushup position and lower your knees to the ground. Lift your feet slightly off the ground and make sure your wrists are under your shoulders. Keep your glutes and core engaged, and lower your chest to the ground, keeping your elbows tucked in at your sides. Go as low as you can while keeping your body in one straight line from your knees to the top of your head. Make sure to look out in front of you so that your head doesn’t drop during this exercise. Aim to do 15 repetitions at least. If in your 3rd trimester of pregnancy, swap modified pushups for 20 pectoral squeeze & lifts.
Extra challenge: Raise up into full push-up position and try it from there! Remember, form is everything for this exercise so be sure to build strength with modified push-ups first.