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A young female stopped me at the gym a few weeks ago and asked how she can get rid of batwings.
Apparently the extra upper arm flab or jiggle is referred to as “bat wings” and it is a trouble spot for many women.
While I absolutely despise that term, it is a common one used to refer to the loose skin and excess fat that hangs down from the upper arms.
Fortunately, there are some things you can do to tighten this trouble area.
Unfortunately, spot training is not possible and we don’t get to pick where our bodies lose fat.
However, with the right resistance training exercises, dietary changes, and workouts, you CAN tone underlying muscles for a more sculpted and defined look.
In this blog post, we will discuss
- what causes bat wings
- the most effective exercises and tips to get rid of them
- tips to reduce excess body fat to see those well-defined muscles.
By following these tips, you will be on your way to getting well-defined upper arms in no time.
Let’s get started!
Disclosure: Although I am a certified prenatal/postnatal exercise specialist and personal trainer, I am not YOUR trainer. The content on this blog is for informational purposes only and should not be a substitute of the information and advice you receive from a healthcare professional.
What Causes Bat Wings on Arms?
First, let’s start with understanding what causes “Bat Wings”.
This will prevent you from wasting a lot of time doing things that won’t work.
There are three main reasons for bat wings:
If you are carrying excess weight, it will naturally accumulate in certain areas.
For women, we often store fat in the upper arm area, thighs, and stomach.
Lack of muscle definition and tone
If you have undefined muscles, they will appear flabby and saggy.
This is often the case with the triceps (the muscle on the back of your upper arm).
You will improve muscle tone and definition by prioritizing resistance training.
Loose skin can be a result of weight loss, aging, or genetics.
While there is no way to completely get rid of loose skin, you can tone the muscles underneath to make it appear tighter.
The Tricep Muscle
Now that we know what causes bat wings, let’s talk about the tricep muscle.
If you want to tone the back of your arms, this is the muscle you want to focus on.
When this muscle is well-defined, it gives your arms a toned and sculpted look.
The tricep muscles are composed of three heads: the long head, the lateral head, and the medial head.
It is located on the back of the arms, right behind the bicep muscles and it is responsible for straightening (extending) your elbow.
What Are The Best Arm Exercises To Get Rid of Bat Wings?
There are a few key exercises that you need to do in order to tone your upper arms.
Let’s take a look at my favorite strength training and cardiovascular exercises to help you lose fat and build muscle to feel confident in those tank tops.
Specific exercises for building muscle combined with cardio exercises to burn more calories is the best way to help you get toned arms and tighten flabby skin.
Combine these strength training exercises with HIIT and cardio to see the best results.
The Best Bodyweight Exercises For Triceps:
No dumbbells? No problem!
Bodyweight exercises will challenge your body and torch calories.
1. Tricep Chair Dips
Tricep dips are a safe exercise for most people.
However, if you have had a previous shoulder injury or lack shoulder mobility, this may not be the best option.
- Sit upright on a chair or bench with your arms by your side and palms flat on the bench. Your fingers should be facing forward.
- Place your feet hip-distance apart with your feet flat on the floor.
- Begin by walking your feet slightly forward and moving your torso forward and off the chair or bench.
- With your arms extended straight and knees bent, inhale and slowly lower your body toward the floor by bending at the elbow.
- Lower until your elbows are about 90-degrees or until you feel a strain in your shoulders.
- Exhale and press through your palms to push your body up to the starting position and arms fully extended.
Notes on Form:
Not sure if it’s right for you? Try this test to see if you have enough shoulder flexibility.
If your hands are more than one hand’s distance apart, you likely don’t have the range of motion for this exercise.
2. Tricep Push-ups
Tricep-focused pushups are compound bodyweight exercises which means they use multiple muscle groups and burn more calories.
- Begin in a high plank position with your hands shoulder-width apart and feet together. Your hands should be closer together than a standard push-up position.
- Inhale and slowly lower your torso toward the ground, keeping your body in a straight line and elbows tucked close to the side of your body.
- Lower until your chest reaches the ground then push through your palms to return to the starting position.
- You can modify this exercise by placing your knees on the ground but make sure to keep your spine long and shoulders relaxed.
3. Incline Tricep Push-ups
If you struggle with push-ups, elevating the surface can help you get stronger.
As you get stronger, lower the surface until you are able to do them on the floor.
4. Up-Down Planks
This is one of my favorite exercises because it works your entire upper body and core.
- Start in a high plank position with your feet hip-width and hands directly below your shoulders.
- Inhale and lower your right forearm to the ground followed by your left forearm so you are in a low plank position.
- Press your right palm through the ground followed by your left palm to return to the starting position.
- Repeat on the other side by lowering your left forearm first.
- Continue alternating sides for the desired amount of reps.
Notes on Form:
- Keep your core engaged to prevent your hips from moving side to side as your move.
- Keep your shoulders relaxed and down away from your ears.
- Don’t let your hips rise up, keep your spine in a straight line with your feet.
5. Diamond Push-ups
This pushup variation of a standard push-up targets your triceps.
- Start in a high plank position with your feet together and hands placed close together underneath your chest so your index fingers and thumbs touch to form a diamond shape. You can also do this exercise on your knees.
- Inhale and lower your torso toward the ground, keeping your body in a straight line and elbows slightly flared.
- Lower until your chest reaches the ground then push through your palms to return to the starting position.
The Best Tricep Exercises With Weights
6. Dumbbell Shoulder Press
This exercise works both your shoulders and triceps.
- Sit or stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder level, palms facing forward.
- On an exhale, engage your core and press the weights straight up above your head until your arms are straight.
- Inhale then slowly lower back to the starting position.
7. Tricep Kickbacks
This is one of the best exercises to really isolate the triceps muscles.
- Start by holding a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing in toward each other.
- Keeping a slight bend in your knees, hinge forward until your upper body is almost parallel to the floor
- Slightly tuck your chin and engage your shoulder blades to keep your head in a straight line with your spine.
- Keep your core muscles engaged to keep a flat back.
- Keeping your upper arms close to your body and only using your forearms, push the dumbbells behind you by engaging your triceps muscles and straightening your elbows.
- Pause at the top and inhale to return to the starting position.
Notes on form:
- Resist shrugging your shoulders by relaxing your neck.
- If you feel a strain in your lower back, stand up a little straighter until you build more core strength.
- If you do not have dumbbells, you can use a resistance band wrapped around a sturdy pole such as a table leg.
8. Close Stance Dumbbell Push-up
This is a variation of a standard tricep pushup except you will hold dumbbells in each hand with your palms facing each other.
This is a great exercise to do with a burpee, bicep curl to shoulder press!
9. Skull Crushers
This exercise uses a bench and dumbbells.
- Start by lying flat on your back on either a bench or the floor with your feet firmly planted on the ground.
- Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing each other. Raise your arms straight, keeping them in line with your shoulders.
- Engage your core and on an inhale, hinge at the elbow to slowly lower the dumbbells toward the sides of your ears.
- Exhale and using your triceps, press the weight back up to the starting position.
Notes on Form:
- Keep your elbows in a fixed position straight over your shoulders.
- Your elbows may slightly flare out to the side but be sure not to let them flair too much to keep the movement in your triceps.
- Keep your core engaged! If you are feeling movement in your lower back, you need to focus more on engaging your core.
10. Overhead Triceps Extension
This is a similar movement to the skull crusher except you are sitting.
- Start by sitting on a bench with your feet flat on the ground.
- Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing each other and raise your arms in a straight line with your shoulders.
- Engage your core to support your back and slowly lower the dumbbells behind your head toward your ears, keeping your elbows close to your ears.
- Exhale press the weight back up to the starting position.
Notes on Form:
- Resist the urge to over-arch your back by engaging your core.
- You can add variety to this exercise by doing one arm at a time and lowering the dumbbell toward the opposite ear.
This exercise is a compound exercise which works multiple muscles groups and increases your heart rate for maximum calorie burn.
- Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart and holding a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder level with your palms facing each other.
- Engage your core and on an inhale, bend your knees to lower into a squat.
- Exhale as you press back up to standing while using momentum from the squat to thrust the dumbbells overhead, keeping your palms facing each other.
- Bring the dumbbells back down to shoulder level and repeat the movement.
12. “Epic Push-ups”
This is an arm toning exercise you won’t find on Google but you will definitely want it in your workout routine.
The best part about this exercise is it works every muscle in your upper body and core.
- Start in a high plank position with a dumbbell placed on the ground in front of your left foot, touching your toes.
- Next, engage your core while lifting your hips toward the ceiling and grab the dumbbell with your right hand to bring it up to the top of your plank without letting go of the dumbbell.
- Now do a renegade row and twist your body into a side plank position, pressing the weight up toward the ceiling.
- Slowly bring the weight back down to a high plank, with the dumbbell still in your hand.
- Engage your core to lift your hips toward the ceiling and bring the weight to the top of your toes of your right foot.
- Return to the high plank and do a tricep pushup then repeat the movement on the opposite side, grabbing the weight with your left hand this time.
HIIT and Cardio Exercises
Incorporating interval training with strength training will help your body burn more calories and reduce body fat to see more defined arms.
These are my favorite exercises to incorporate into circuit training or as a quick, high Intensity interval training workout (HIIT).
- Battling Ropes
- Jumping Jacks
- Jump Squats
- Jump Lunges
- Skater Hops
- Intervals on a Treadmill
- Intervals on Cardio Equipment
Now that you know what exercises to do, let’s take a look at how to incorporate them.
Triceps Workout Circuit
These workouts combine dumbbell exercises and body weight exercises to target the back of the upper arm.
If you do not have dumbbells, resistance bands are a great option.
9 Quick Tips to Lose Body Fat For More Toned Arms
And finally, here are a few additional tips to help you reduce your body fat percentage for more defined arm muscles.
Don’t take these tips lightly, because if you really want to tone flabby arms, then you need to start with losing body fat.
Try Calorie Cycling
Calorie cycling is when you eat more calories on some days and fewer on others.
This can help boost your metabolism and promote weight loss.
I know, I know… you’re probably thinking “duh!” but it bears repeating.
Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week.
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a great type of exercise to help you burn more calories and fat in less time.
The best part is that it is very quick and extremely effective!
Lift Weights/Strength Train
In addition to cardio, you also need to be strength training if you want to lose weight and get rid of bat wings.
Strength training helps build muscle, which in turn helps you burn more calories at rest.
Aim for two to three days per week of strength training, alternating between different muscle groups.
Prioritize Strength Training
Too many people rely solely on cardio for weight loss but strength training is especially important because it helps build muscle, which in turn helps burn more calories at rest.
Muscle is always what gives the appearance of more firm and toned arms.
Stress can lead to emotional eating and weight gain.
It can also increase your cortisol levels which can cause your body to store more fat, particularly in the abdominal area.
Managing stress through exercise or mediation can help reduce overall body fat.
Sleep deprivation decreases motivation to exercise or make healthy food choices.
Up Your Protein Intake
Protein is the building block to building muscle.
A high protein diet can also assist in weight loss by helping your feel full longer and reducing cravings.
Drink Plenty of Water
Water not only helps to keep you hydrated but it can also help in weight loss by helping to fill you up.
We often think we are hungry when really our bodies are just dehydrated.
Shoot for at least eight glasses of water a day.
More Frequently Asked Questions about Getting Rid of Bat Wings
Here are some final tips on toning your arms.
Can Arm Exercises Get Rid of Bat Wings?
When combined with a healthy diet, arm exercises are a very effective way to tone your arms and lose body fat.
However, it is important to remember that spot reduction is not possible.
This means that you cannot just do a few upper body exercises and expect the fat on your arms to magically disappear.
You CAN, however, tone the muscles underneath body fat with the right exercises.
In order to seem more defined, you need to combine strength training with cardiovascular exercise and a healthy diet for overall fat loss.
The good news is, once you start to see results from your efforts, it will be much easier to stay motivated to keep going!
Can Cardiovascular Exercise Help With Arm Flab?
Cardio exercises such as running or HIIT training are great for losing overall body fat which will reduce the size of your upper arms.
However, you will need to incorporate strength exercises to help increase lean muscle mass for more defined arms.
How Long Does it Take to Tone Upper Arm Fat?
The time it takes to see results from your arm workouts will depend on a few factors.
Your Workout Routine
The type of workouts you do will impact how quickly you see results.
Incorporating strength training and cardio into your workout routine will help you to see results more quickly.
Your diet accounts for roughly 80% of your results.
The more consistent you are with clean eating, the faster you will see results.
Most people give up before they see results.
The more consistent you are with your workouts, the sooner you will see results.
Your Starting Point
If you have a lot of excess body fat, or have not been exercising consistently, it might take longer to see results.
The harder you work, the faster you will see results.
Don’t be afraid to push yourself. Your body needs to be challenged to change.
Will losing weight get rid of bat wings?
Losing weight without strength training will help reduce the size of your upper arm but you will not get the muscle definition that you are looking for.
You need resistance training to tighten flabby arms.
Final Thoughts on How To Get Rid of Bat Wings
So, there you have it!
With the right exercise program, consistency and patience, you will be on your way to tank top arms in no time.
Remember, the key is to focus on both losing body fat and building muscle mass.
I hope this blog post was helpful.
I am only one email away if you have any questions about this post.
FACT CHECKStruggles of a Fit Mom uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within it’s articles. Read my editorial process to learn more about how I fact-check and keep my content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
Brooke is a certified Prenatal and Postnatal Exercise Specialist with a Bachelors of Science degree in Kinesiology-Exercise Science. She is also a mom of 3 girls with more than 15 years of experience in health and fitness. Brooke’s goal at Struggles of a Fit Mom is to help motivate, educate and inspire other busy mamas who struggle with finding time, energy and motivation to take care of themselves in the chaos of motherhood.