How To Lose Weight In Your Arms

It can be frustrating when you don’t get your desired results on your weight loss journey.

While it can be difficult to "spot-reduce" fat from specific body parts, you can achieve a lean and toned look by including strategies to lose overall body fat while building muscle in your arms. 

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Why is it so hard to lose weight from the arms?

Everyone is different, including their body types, fat composition, and their fat-burning rate. Some people have naturally thin arms even if they're overweight. Others carry fat in their upper body, so extra arm fat is the first thing they notice when they gain weight.

You’re not alone if you want to reduce arm fat. Many people struggle with excess arm fat, especially as they get older. As you age, your metabolism decreases¹, and your body may store excess fat in your upper body and arms if you're not exercising regularly.

Research shows that low testosterone levels can cause excess fat storage in the upper arms, and testosterone levels decrease with age.²

Let’s take a look at five effective tactics to lose arm fat.

1. Incorporate full-body cardio or HIIT

Typically, you need to consume fewer calories than you burn for effective weight loss. Regular exercise is a great way to increase your calorie output. Cardio is an excellent weight-loss tool: it's simple to do, and there are various exercises you can try, including jogging, cycling, or jumping rope.

Another helpful exercise type is HIIT: High-Intensity Interval Training. This uses high-intensity exercises in short bursts or "circuits" with small breaks in between.

A 2017 review stated that HIIT and moderate-intensity cardio sessions could reduce waist circumference and overall body fat. HIIT also took up to 40% less time than the other forms of exercise.³

Most research hasn't found any evidence to back up significant spot reduction. However, a 2021 study investigating spot reduction concluded circuit training can be an effective strategy to reduce localized fat.⁴ 

2. Incorporate strength training exercises that target arms

While cardio is a fantastic fat-burning exercise for lean and toned arms, you should also incorporate strength training exercises. Try adding dumbbells or arm weights to your workouts, and use all your arm muscle groups: your biceps, triceps, and shoulders.

If you're looking for arm definition, strength training is key, and it’s a great way to shake up a stagnant exercise routine. Try adding a variety of arm exercises into your workouts, including dumbbell hammer curls, overhead presses, cable tricep pushdowns, tricep dips, and barbell bicep curls.

Don’t be afraid of working up to heavy weights for this! If you’re a woman, you’ve probably heard that weightlifting will make you “bulky.” However, women simply don’t have enough testosterone to develop huge muscles, and they may struggle to gain muscle in general.⁵

3. Eat more protein and limit processed foods

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) looked at the effects of healthy adults eating ultra-processed foods versus unprocessed foods. Researchers found that when healthy adults were given a daily diet high in ultra-processed foods, they gained approximately one pound per week. When the same healthy adults ate a diet of unprocessed, whole foods, they lost roughly a pound per week instead.⁶

Incorporating more protein-rich foods into your diet can keep you fuller for longer, especially after arm workouts. You can only build and maintain muscle after exercise by eating enough protein, which allows your muscles to heal and prevents muscle loss.⁷

4. Lower stress levels and get more sleep

Constantly elevated stress levels can prevent or slow down weight loss progress. Cortisol is a stress hormone produced by the adrenal glands in response to various stress stimuli. This hormone increases appetite and encourages fat storage in your thighs, stomach, and upper arms.⁸ It can also reduce testosterone production, making it harder to build lean muscle in your arms.⁹

Quality sleep is vital for weight loss. Research shows that a lack of sleep during dieting can encourage overeating and reduce the total amount of weight lost.¹⁰

5. Stay hydrated

Water can help you lose weight in various ways. Drinking enough water boosts your metabolism, hydrates you for challenging workouts, and can even suppress appetite.¹¹

Research indicates that drinking water before eating may help you eat smaller portions and fewer total calories. A 2016 study found that people who drank two glasses of water right before a meal ate 22% less than those who didn't drink any water before eating.¹² 

The lowdown

While it's unlikely you'll be able to target specific weight-loss efforts only in your arms, making lifestyle changes and incorporating strength training exercises can help you lose body fat and tone up your whole body.

Incorporate these five tips into your daily routine, and you'll soon be on your way to achieving lean arms.

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