What’s the secret to thin, slim, and toned arms? Right after “how to get a slim waist“, “how to get slimmer arms” must be one of the most common questions that girls have in fitness.
Read on for our arm myth buster, discover the 17 best arm slimming exercises and check out our 7 minute arms workout.
The 7-Minute Arm Slimming Workout
Slender, toned arms don’t need long workouts. Add this 7-minute slim arms workout to your day and do it three times per week. You’ll see how simple arm-slimming training can be. Rest 1-2 minutes between circuits and repeat it twice.
This short program is a great arm strengthening workout. As a beginner- arm- workout, two circuits should be fine but if you find this routine too easy, simply add another circuit. At most it will take you around 10 minutes of workout time, 3 days a week. A small price to pay for those sexy slim, toned arms that you want.
But before read on for the background behind the secret to slimmer arms and check the most effective arms slimming exercises.
Anatomy of the Upper Arm
The muscles of the upper arm are dominated by the two-headed biceps and the three-headed triceps that lie at the back of the arms.
The biceps receive the most attention in the exercise community because of male fascination with ‘bigger guns’, but the muscles that can make the most difference to the shape of the upper arms are the triceps. Located at the back of the arms, the triceps actually form the bulk of the upper arms.
What Causes Flabby Arms?
A weak triceps contribute to saggy arms. This is often made worse by excess arm flab – unfortunately, especially after significant weight loss. The good news is that you can train your arms to be thinner yet stronger and look more shapely.
The Myth of Spot Reduction
Work your abs and you lose fat around your belly, right? This kind of bad logic is promoted by the marketing companies and unfortunately, too many people believe you can lose fat in specific areas of the body by targeting those areas with exercises.
Training a specific muscle will not lead to less fat in that area of the body. Spot reduction is a myth because the body loses fat systemically (all over). This is good news, because general weight loss training is probably something you already know about.
So, the successful formula of shapely and sexy arms is
General Fat Loss + Healthy Diet + Targeted Arm Training = Sexy, Toned Arms
How To Slim Your Arms
An effective fat loss strategy is to inject High Intensity Interval Training into your weekly routine.
Practitioners in sports therapy from Future Focus agreed stating “A lot of people who come in for sports massages believe HIIT is the most effective form of exercise which has endless possibilities”. Simply employ one or more exercises and perform intervals for short bursts with brief rests in between.
Research from the Canadian University of Guelph shows conclusively that performing High Intensity Interval Training 3 days per week will increase whole-body and skeletal muscle capacities – helping burn fat for hours after the exercise.
Two Effective Interval Regimes For Thinner Arms
1. Choose one full body exercise such as sprinting on the treadmill or doing burpees.
- Perform it for 20 seconds of all-out effort (go as fast as you can!), followed by 20 seconds rest.
- Do 6-8 rounds.
2. Take 3 exercises – bodyweight squats, mountain climbers and squat jumps.
- Do each exercise for 20 seconds with no rest between them. Rest 30-60 seconds at the completion of each cycle of 3.
- Perform 6-8 cycles.
The 17 Most Effective Arm Slimming Exercises
The secret of firm muscles is strength training. Stronger muscles are denser, tighter without necessarily being larger. Here you’ll find 17 arm slimming exercises that will bring some fun into to your training while giving you enough variety to keep you interested over the long term.
Aim to do 6-8 reps.
1. Dumbbell Curls
Dumbbell exercises are some of the best available for arms because they help keep the arms moving in a natural way. The king of all dumbbell biceps exercises has to be the straight curl.
- Begin with the palms facing forwards, hands resting on your thighs.
- Curl the weight up until you achieve a tight contraction of the biceps at the top of the movement.
- Lower slowly and repeat.
2. Hammer Curls
A great variation on the curl, the hammer curl uses the forearms more and places a different emphasis on the biceps.
- Start with your thumbs forward with the dumbbells at your side.
- Curl the weight up as normal but keep the thumb at the front of the movement.
3. Tricep Kickbacks
This exercise was found to be one of the best triceps builders in a recent study by the American Council on Exercise.
- Bend over 90 degrees and place your left hand on a bench beside your left leg.
- Hold a dumbbell in your right hand, arm bent at 90 degrees and hugging the side of your torso.
- Straighten the arm to raise the dumbbell (kickback movement).
- Allow the weight to lower back to the starting point by bending the arm back to 90 degrees.
4. Cable Pushdowns
Pushdowns can create an enormous amount of tension in the triceps.
- Stand in front of a cable pulldown machine with bar dangling at shoulder height.
- Grab the bar with hands about 8-12 inches apart. Push the bar down using only an arms straightening motion. Try to minimise the involvement of the shoulders and chest.
5. Overhead Triceps Extensions
- Hold a dumbbell directly overhead with a stiff arm, hands facing forward.
- Lower the weight by bending the arm so that it rests behind your head.
- Straighten arm back to the start to complete the rep.
6. Dumbbell Overhead Press
A great shoulder strengthening exercises as well as a tricep toner.
- Hold the dumbbells beside your shoulders and push them towards the sky to full arm extension. Lower and repeat.
Bodyweight Exercises for Slimmer Arms
The triceps can be worked incredibly hard by calisthenics (bodyweight) training. Push ups, for instance, employ the triceps to a large extent to push the body up from the floor. There are some classic exercises you can do that involve little or no equipment that will strengthen your biceps and triceps. Just look at girls who do calisthenics: They usually have beautifully toned, slim and shaped arms.
7. Triangle (Diamond) Push ups
You can increase the effectiveness of the push up as a triceps strengthening exercise by bringing your hands close together so the thumbs and forefingers of both hands form a triangle or diamond shape. Place the hands directly beneath your chest and keep your body stiff throughout. Another exercise the American Council on Exercise found as one of the most effective triceps strengtheners, along with the Bench dips and Triangle push ups.
8. Bench Dips
Using a sturdy chair, bench or couch, start from a sitting position and slide off the front of the couch so only your arms support your weight (your hands will be slightly behind you). Lower your butt to the floor thereby bending your arms. Use your arms to push yourself back to full extension.
9. Reverse Grip Pull ups
Perform a pull up but with your hands facing back towards you. Increase the emphasis on biceps by sliding the hands closer together (12 inches is a good width to use).
10. Reverse Grip Inverted Rows
The pull up is a mighty hard exercise so you can make it easier by using a lower bar height.
- With a hip high bar (use the squat rack in a gym or a bar between a doorway) put your body under the bar at an angle using a similar grip to the pull up above. Your body should be stiff and at a sharp angle to the floor.
- Pull yourself as you would with a pullup.
11. Pike Push Ups
- Place your feet on a chair, bed or bench and place your hands on the floor.
- With the body bent at the hips and head facing the floor at an angle, lower your face to the floor and push yourself back to the top. Maintain a stable hip angle throughout.
Pilates and Yoga Exercises
Both pilates and yoga offer some excellent, challenging movements and poses that will give your arms a fantastic workout. Some of these might be familiar to you, so we have combined these exercises in such a way that you’ll be able to transition between them in a logical progression.
12. Upward Dog
An exercise seen in both yoga and pilates programmes, the upward dog is provides a good start to an arm workout.
- Lie face down on the floor then push your upper body up whilst keeping your lower body anchored to the floor. This will produce a nice arch in your back and put tension into your shoulders and triceps.
13. Downward Dog
The downward dog is another staple exercise in any serious yoga practitioners routine.
- From a push up position, thrust your hips up and backwards producing a hinge pose.
- Hold the downward dog for a period long enough to be challenging.
14. Chaturang Pose
This is a great pose to lower yourself into from a downward dog.
- From the push up position, lower yourself towards the floor tucking your elbows into your sides. The result is a type of lever position that is incredibly challenging to the arm musculature.
- Hold the position for time.
15. Side Plank
An oldy but a goody.
- With your body straight out on the floor and on your side.
- Push your body up with your bottom arm and hold the top position for time. The side posture provides a slightly different emphasis on the triceps.
16. Pilates Biceps Curl
With all this emphasis of tricep contraction, the pilates biceps curl is a nice change of pace.
- Standing straight, extend your arms in front of you at shoulder height, palms up.
- Keeping the upper arm still, curl the hand towards you and try to touch your shoulders.
- Contract the biceps hard at the top, lower and repeat for reps.
17. Crow Stands
Now we up the ante on the triceps and shoulders.
- Crouch down and tuck your knees tightly into side of your elbows.
- Lean forward so your hands take the weight of your body.
- Balance on your hands and hold the position.
Save this one for when you’re stronger if it is too challenging to start with.
18. Resistance Band Curl Holds
Resistance bands, often used in pilates routines, provide a great way to create muscular tension without weights. With a challenging resistance band, under your feet, curl the band so your hands are at the top of the movement. Hold the position then lower to the halfway point and hold the position again. Keep the tension in your arms for a time then release.