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Inside: If you find yourself avoiding a wave to someone or shying away from wearing a sleeveless dress or shirt because of that extra flab under your arms, you’re not alone. People often refer to these as “bat wings” and I am going to teach your how to tighten this loose skin for good!
One of the most common places women store fat is in their upper arms.
Today we are going to talk about what causes the extra stubborn fat on your upper arm area, and the best exercise for these so called “bat wings”.
With the right combination of strength training, cardio and nutrition, you can let those wings fly away and reclaim your confidence for good.
What makes this article different from others? I’ve included unique exercises and two quick workout guides to make your fitness goals a reality.
Let’s dive in!
First, it’s important to understand what causes bat wings.
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. This website does not replace the medical advice you receive from your provider.
What Are “Bat Wing” Arms and Why Do They Happen?
I’m new to the term “bat wings” but apparently this describes the flabby, saggy skin that hangs from the back of your upper arms when you lift it up.
The most common culprits for this extra skin are:
Depending on your situation, it might not be possible to completely get rid of loose upper arm skin without surgery.
However, you CAN strengthen the muscles underneath to make it appear tighter and more toned.
If you want to reduce bat wings, you must prioritize strengthening the tricep muscle and reducing body fat.
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What is the Tricep Muscle?
One the most common issues people face when trying to “tone up” or get stronger is that they don’t understand the function of the targeted muscle or what it should feel like when you are engaging it.
So let’s do a quick anatomy lesson on the tricep muscle.
The tricep muscle is a three-headed muscle that is located at the back of your upper arm.
When it contracts, it extends your arm to straighten it.
This is called a “push muscle” because it helps you push things away from your body.
The tricep is the antagonist muscle to the bicep which a “pull muscle” which helps with flexing your elbow.
Why Getting Rid of Them is Important
While getting rid of bat wings for aesthetic’s purposes is what brought you here, there are several benefits of reducing body fat and toning this muscle.
What Are The Best Exercises For Bat Wings
Now that you have a better understanding of what causes flabby upper arms, let’s take a look at the most effective exercises to help you loose fat and build muscle.
These exercises primarily target the extra layer of fat on tricep area, helps improve upper body strength and expedite overall weight loss.
The Best Bodyweight Exercises For Triceps:
Bodyweight exercises are great for strengthening your triceps and burning excess fat.
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.
- Walking your feet slightly forward and move your hips forward and off the surface.
- With your arms extended straight and knees bent, inhale and bend your elbows to lower your body toward the floor.
- Lower until your elbows are at a 90-degree angle or until you tension in your shoulders.
- Exhale and press through your palms to push your body up to the starting position and arms fully extended.
2. Tricep Pushups
This pushup variation places the hands closer to the body and to specifically target the back of the arms.
- Begin in a high plank position with your hands shoulder-width apart and directly under your shoulders. Your hands will be closer than a traditional push-up.
- 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 they are far enough behind your in order 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 works your entire upper body and core.
- Start in a high plank position with your hands shoulder width apart. Focus on keeping your shoulders relaxed.
- 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.
- Keep your core engaged to prevent your hips from dropping 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 is an advanced tricep isolation exercise but a great goal for you to reach! It will show you have built strength.
- 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:
resistance bands or light to medium dumbbells.
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.
- Focus on engaging your back to prevent your shoulders from scrunching up toward your ears.
7. Single Arm Tricep Kickbacks
- 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 maintain 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
Thrusters tone your arms, shoulders, chest and legs all at once.
- 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 now 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.
13. Renegade Row w/ Tricep Kickback
This exercise works your upper back, triceps and core while elevating your heart rate for extra calorie burning.
- Begin in a push up position with a dumbbell in each hand.
- Brace your core and slightly squeeze your glutes to prevent movement in your hips.
- Lift the weight off the ground, leading with you elbow.
- Once your upper arm has reached the height of your body, extend the weight behind you with a tricep kickback.
- Hold for a count at the top then slower reverse the motion.
- Repeat on the opposite arm and alternate back and forth for the duration of the exercise.
HIIT and Cardio Exercises
Like most moms, I am always short on time with my workouts.
But I like to reap the benefits of cardiovascular exercise into my workouts.
Incorporating HIIT 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 & Arm Workout
Ready to get your heart pumping and sweat on?
Give these 10-15 minute tricep focused workouts a try!
They combine dumbbell exercises, body weight exercises and a little HIIT to target the back of the upper arm.
If you do not have dumbbells, resistance bands are a great option.
What is a superset? A superset means you complete one set of the exercise then immediately move to the next exercise with little rest in between. If you are doing single leg exercises, complete one set on each leg then move to the next exercise and complete one set on each leg. Alternate between exercises for the number or sets listed. Then move onto the next superset.
|Dumbbell shoulder press||12-15||3|
|Jump squats||30 seconds|
|Complete as many rounds as possible in 15 minutes|
Quick Tip: If these workouts feel too hard or you didn’t get as many rounds as you thought you would, that’s okay! Try the same workout over and over until you feel you mastered it as best as you can.
|Renegade row w/tricep kickback||10 each arm||3|
|Static plank hold||30 seconds||3||In a push-up position|
|Incline tricep push-up||12-15||3|
|Tricep kickbacks||10 each arm||3|
|Run in place as fast as you can with high knees||30 seconds||3|
|Complete as many rounds as possible in 15 minutes|
Other FAQ About Bat Wing Arms
The best way to reduce and tighten flabby upper arms is to combine strength training to tighten the muscle with cardiovascular exercises to burn calories.
If you are really short on time, like most moms, you can combine the two with HIIT training.
Unfortunately, it is not possible to spot reduce a body part. So doing a few arm exercises will not lead to the magical disappearance of the fat from your arms.
This is because getting rid of bat wings boils down to two things; reducing overall body fat and building muscle.
So yes, arm exercises can help get rid of loose skin on your upper arms however it is through the combination of a healthy diet, arm exercises and an overall reduction in body fat.
The timeline for getting rid of flabby arms will vary based on several factors such as fitness level, body fat levels, age, diet and exercise selection.
However, with consistency and dedication, I would say that you can expect to see results between 4-6 weeks.
Keep in mind that in order to reduce batwings, you must have an overall reduction of body fat.
You can expedite the process with the right combination of strength training, cardio and improved eating habits.
Losing weight without strength training will help reduce the size of your upper arms but you will not get the muscle definition that you are looking for.
For the best results, you need resistance training to increase density of the muscle and tighten flabby arms.
Final Thoughts on Getting Rid of Batwing Arms
The battle against bat wings can feel like a tough job, but don’t give up!
You now have all the tools you need to reach your goals and with consistency and hard work, anything is possible.
With the right exercises, proper diet, and consistency, you’ll be ready to wear those sleeveless tops just in time for summer!
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.