Target and Tone Your Triceps

Featured Article, Fitness, News and Advice
on November 21, 2012
Ideas for how to feel best about your arms.

Spry editor Lisa Delaney is one of the rare souls who know what it’s like to be an “after.” This journalist and author of Secrets of a Former Fat Girl shed 70 pounds—and six dress sizes–and has kept it off for 20 years. She answers your questions here each week.

DEAR FORMER FAT GIRL: What are the best exercises to get rid of “bat-wings?”—Susie

DEAR SUSIE: Ah. The dreaded “bat wings,” those flabby flaps of flesh that hang down from the upper arms, where our triceps muscles are SUPPOSED to be. They’re caused by a combination of things: lack of muscle tone (to state the obvious) and aging, which thins the skin and makes it less gravity-resistant, to name a few. They’re also a problem among women who lose a good amount of weight—extra weight stretches the skin, and leaves it looking deflated when those additional pounds are gone, an unfortunate, even cruel, result of all those calories counted and desserts skipped.

Banishing bat wings isn’t easy, either. There’s not much you can do—short of surgery—to remove excess skin, if that’s your problem. But you can minimize the jiggle. Here’s how.

Work out with weights. Do exercises targeting the triceps, like triceps kickbacks and extensions 3-4 days a week as part of your exercise program.

Do cardio work that involves your upper body. This includes swimming, the elliptical trainer, rowing machine (or on-the-water rowing), kayaking  and stand-up paddling. Each of these activities require you to pull against resistance, calling  on those triceps muscles to get you from point A to point B, either literally or figuratively.

Dress strategically. Opt for styles that flatter your arms. Choose ¾ sleeve tops instead of sleeveless or even short sleeves, which can cut your arms at just the wrong place. In hotter climates, try a flowy tunic in light cotton or other breezy material. Even though they’re long-sleeved, because they drape away from the body, they can be just as cool as tanks or tee-shirts (and much more elegant).

Don’t give up. All that exercise may simply reduce the jiggle—not erase it. Don’t use that as an excuse to stop exercising. Exercise isn’t just about how you look on the outside: It’s the best (besides smoking) way to improve your overall health. So keep at it!

Lisa Delaney is editor of Spry magazine and Ask her your question here.