As much as we all want it to be true, we cannot pick a place on our body to “spot reduce.” Research has shown that exercises and machines claiming to get rid of love handles or slim down your thighs are a hoax. You can’t burn off fat from a specific area of the body with an exercise that targets only one area.
But that doesn’t mean that you can’t slim down your arms, and the rest of your body, with these exercises.
According to the American Council on Exercise, combining cardio, strength training, and a healthy diet is a great way to reduce body fat. These exercises will help you elevate your heart rate, strengthen your arms, and reduce body fat. Toned arms look skinny!
1. Arm slide
Arm slides are great for activating your arms (especially your triceps), and they also work your entire core. According to the Mayo Clinic, core exercises like arm slides can improve your overall balance, stability, and body alignment.
Equipment needed: Sliders, paper plates, or two small towels
- Kneel with your hands on both sliders. Place a mat under your knees to make this more comfortable, especially if you have sensitive knees or you are on a hard floor.
- Engage your core by pulling your belly button towards your spine and tightening your abs.
- Keeping your spine straight and your core engaged, slowly slide your arms in front of you to get your chest close to the ground.
- Pull your arms back in toward your knees and return to your starting position without bending your elbows. Be careful to not arch your back as you pull your arms in. Throughout the movement, make sure you are focused on keeping your core engaged and your back straight.
You can make this easier by sliding each arm individually. You can also get all of the benefits without touching your chest to the ground. Simply go as low as you can, stopping before you can no longer pull your hands back in with a straight spine or your chest touches the ground.
To make it more challenging, slide your arms from a plank and keep your knees off the ground throughout the exercise.
2. Ball slams
This plyometric movement gives you all of the benefits without the pounding. Ball slams are a full-body movement that will fatigue your arms and add a little cardio to your workout.
Equipment needed: Medicine ball or slam ball
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold the ball at your chest.
- Lift the ball up and slightly behind your head.
- Bend your knees and actively throw the ball down on the ground as hard as you can.
- Catch the ball as it bounces back up (or scoop it up if it doesn’t bounce) and bring it back up over your head. All the while keep your spine straight and use your knees to lift you back up.
- Begin your next repetition.
Before you begin, test your ball to make sure it doesn’t bounce too aggressively. The ball should be relatively heavy, but not so much so that you can’t perform the whole movement with your back straight.
This movement should be done fluidly. Once you finish a rep, use the slight bounce of the ball to launch you into the next set. Do your best to keep moving through these repetitions to keep your heart rate up and the movements fluid. Start with as many reps as possible in 20-30 seconds for three to five sets. Be sure to take adequate rest between sets. Stop when you are fatigued and can no longer safely hold the ball over your head or keep your spine straight throughout the movement.
The National Strength and Conditioning Association recommends taking 48 hours to recover after a plyometric workout, so be mindful to give your arms a break from intense or high-impact plyometrics until you are recovered.
3. Dumbbell bench press
You don’t have to lift huge weights to get the benefits of a bench press. Doing a dumbbell bench press challenges your muscles and helps reduce muscle imbalances or weakness between your dominant and non-dominant arm. While it’s best known for working your chest, dumbbell bench press will also strengthen your deltoids, triceps, and lats.
Equipment needed: Two dumbbells, a bench
- Lie with your back flat on the bench and feet firmly on the ground. If your feet don’t firmly touch the ground, place plates or a step bench under them to give you a stable position, or put your feet on the bench.
- Keep your spine in a neutral position (your lower back should be slightly curved) by engaging your core.
- Pull your shoulder blades away from your ears and slightly together. Your shoulders, hips, and head should be firmly in contact with the bench.
- Keep your arms tight against your sides as you raise the dumbbells up. The palm of your hands should face forward throughout the movement or at a 45-degree angle.
- Slowly lower the dumbbells back to your chest with your elbows at your sides. Keep your elbows in tight throughout the entire movement to work your triceps.
If you don’t have a bench available, you can do these on the floor or on a step bench.
4. Bicep curls with band
Equipment needed: Resistance band
- Step on the band so it rests underneath the arch of your foot.
- Grab the ends of the band so your palms face forward and your arms are by your side.
- With your elbows tight against your ribs, slowly bend your arms to bring your hands to your shoulders.
- Slowly lower your hands back down to your sides.
Don’t swing or lean back to bring your hands up. Your body should remain completely upright and still except for your arms.
5. TRX or supine barbell rows
Not only will you work your arms, but you will also strengthen the muscles of your upper back that help to improve posture.
Equipment needed: TRX straps, low gymnastics rings, or an empty barbell and a rack.
- Grab the handles and slowly walk backwards to get tension on the straps.
- With your chest facing the anchor point of the straps, walk your feet toward the straps until you are at a 45-degree angle. Hold the straps so your palms face forward
- Engage your core like you would in a plank position and keep your body in a straight line while you begin to pull your chest up to the handles. Keep your shoulder blades down away from your ears and pulled slightly together.
- Once your hands and chest meet, slowly lower back down to your starting position with your entire body in a straight line.
Play around with your grip. Palms facing your feet will work your triceps, while palms facing your head will target your biceps.
To make the rows easier, stand more upright by walking your feet closer to the anchor point. You should be upright enough that you can keep your hips and back straight throughout the entire movement without arching or bending your spine. If you want more of a challenge, walk your feet further away from your hands.
If you don’t have TRX straps or rings, you can use an empty barbell on a rack. Be careful that your head is positioned under the rack so you are pulling the bar back into it instead of toward the front of the hooks. You can adjust the height of the bar to make it easier (up) or harder (down).
6. Narrow push up
Equipment needed: None.
- Start in a plank position with your hands directly under your shoulders and your fingers pointing forward.
- Lower down with your elbows at your sides and pointing toward your feet. Keep your shoulders, hips, and knees all in a straight line as you lower your chest to floor.
- Push yourself back up to the start without arching into your lower back. Your shoulders and hips should all lift at the same time.
You can do these on your knees or with weight plates or a step bench under your hands to make it easier.
7. Battle ropes
Burn fat, increase your cardiovascular endurance, and tone your arms all at once with these ropes. Not only will they raise your heart rate and get you sweating, but they will also improve your core and shoulder strength.
Equipment needed: Battle ropes
- Stand with your feet hip width apart, knees slightly bent, and back straight.
- Grab the ropes and raise your hands together to create a wave.
- Try speeding up your hand movements to create smaller waves or slow it down and move your hands a greater distance to create big waves.
- Try to keep the ropes moving for 30 seconds three times with rest in between each set.
Play with short waves, long waves, moving your arms at the same time, alternating one up and one down, and moving your arms in and out as well as up and down. You can also slam the ropes into the ground like the ball slam above.
These exercises will help you strengthen and tone your arms. They won’t help you melt the fat off your arms, but they can help you lose weight across your whole body and reveal the muscles you worked so hard to build.