How can I tone my arms without gaining muscle? Many women would love to lose weight without looking shredded, and this feeling extends to their arms too. Flabby arms, aka bat wings, are something that many women do not care for. Those bags of flesh really ruin a woman’s chances of wearing any short-sleeved dress or blouse. The situation gets even more pronounced when we’re talking about any item of clothing that has a spaghetti strap.
In looking for ways to get rid of flabby arms, one might be concerned that most of the suggested workouts could very well cause incredibly muscled arms instead of something leaner, which many consider to be feminine. However, is it possible to tone arms without gaining muscle?
How Can I Tone My Arms Without Gaining Muscle?
Sadly, it is not possible to tone your arms without gaining muscle, as even bodyweight exercise can build muscle (3). However, this does not mean that you will automatically end up looking like your local gym’s bodybuilder.
The first thing to note is that bat wings or flabby arms are caused by either excess fat or muscle tone loss in this area (11). For you to get this or that, you have got to do exercise. This is simply the best way to slim down your flabby arms. Secondly, let’s consider how do muscles grow in the body.
Increased muscle mass occurs in a process beginning with when the fibers of the muscles sustain damage or injury. This is the kind of damage or injury usually occuring during exercise. After you are done with your workout, your body gets busy with the repairs to these damaged fibers by fusing them, which in turn increases the mass and size of the muscles (6).
Anyone wishing to grow bigger and stronger muscles is advised to, among other things, consume more calories, lift heavier weights, and increase their intake of protein (1). Of all the advice given, weight lifting and strength training is the biggest culprit of building great muscle mass. Free weights add more resistance to your workout, causing more damage to the muscles, and so make them bigger.
To avoid this, you can do bodyweight exercises, which, while they still build muscle, result in the muscles being smaller and leaner because it is quite easy for your body to handle its own weight.
How Can I Tone My Arms Without Gaining Muscle? Is Exercising Enough For Getting Toned Arms?
While working out is essential to getting toned arms, it is not enough to give you your desired results. Here are more things you should do while still doing arm workouts at home (9):
1. Eat More Protein
Adding more protein to your diet while still exercising contributes to greater strength and muscle mass gains. It also allows for more significant muscle mass preservation when consumed during periods of negative energy balance and limits age-related muscle loss (4). Protein takes longer to digest, thus keeping you satiated for longer periods, which usually means less snacking.
2. Eat Your Carbs
Not all carbs are made the same. Complex carbs can be found in peas, beans, whole grains, and vegetables. These are better for you when compared to the simple carbs found in foods like white bread and pasta, pizza, and candies.
3. Sleep More
Lack of enough restful sleep can lead to your body holding on to fat irrespective of the amount of working out and eating right. Try getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.
4. Incorporate Weights
A point to note is that weights are essential to help to tone your arms. If you are worried about ‘how can I tone my arms without gaining muscle,’ all exercises build muscle. However, the key point is that it’s that heavier weights build bigger muscles. Opt for smaller weights, which will boost your workout without making you shredded.
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The Best Arm Workouts Without Weights
Before looking at the best arm workouts for women with flabby arms, it is important to remember that spot reduction is a myth (8). You can not continuously work out one body part and expect to see results. Doing this will most likely backfire on you. Instead, use these arms workouts without weights to supplement your daily exercises. Focus on full-body workouts and do more cardio, which will help you lose weight and tone your body.
Arm Workouts At Home To Reduce Flabby Arms
The push-up variations are fantastic arm workouts for women, and the best part is that you do not need to purchase any equipment for them. You can do them using the edge of your bed, couch, staircase, chair, or an entryway bench.
As long as the height in question is comfortable for you, it does not matter how high you are off the ground.
- Start on your hands and knees, place your hands on the ground, shoulder-width apart, or a little wider.
- Carefully move your feet into position by extending your body and propping your feet up on the bench/couch/chair, or step, one at a time. Position yourself to make sure that your shoulders, hips, and toes are all in a straight line. Do not sag or arch your hips.
- Slowly lower your chest by bending your elbows. Try looking at a spot on the wall to keep your head elevated and to avoid banging your nose or forehead on the ground. Remember not to arch your back.
- Push your body up until your elbows are straight, but not locked, returning to the start position.
- Do this 10 to 12 times for one set.
If you are looking for ways on how to get rid of flabby arms, then this workout is for you. Like decline push-ups, triceps dips are amazing arm workouts at home exercises as they can be done with your furniture.
- Sit on the edge of the chair or couch and grip the edge next to your hips. Extend your legs and part your legs to be about hip-width apart with the heels touching the ground.
- Look straight ahead with your chin up. Press into your palms to lift your body and slide forward just far enough that your butt clears the chair’s edge. This is your start position
- Slowly and carefully lower yourself until your elbows are bent between a 45 and 90 degrees angle.
- From this position, slowly push yourself back up to the start position and repeat.
- Try doing this up to 12 times for each set.
Plank Shoulder Taps
- Start in a high plank position. Your palms should be flat on the ground, hands shoulder-width apart, legs extended behind you, and your core engaged.
- Lift your right hand and move it across your body to tap the left shoulder. Remember to keep your core engaged and to breathe through each movement.
- Lower the right hand and alternate this movement to the left hand. This is one rep.
- Do this up to 15 reps or set a 15 to 30 seconds timer.
Inchworms are great examples of arm workouts without weights. All you need is a proper form and your body weight to do them (7).
- Stand tall, your feet roughly hip-distance apart, and engage your core.
- Hinge forward at your hips and place your palms on the mat. Bend your knees if needed to get your palms flat on the floor.
- Walk your hands forward so that you’re in high plank. Your shoulders should be stacked directly above your wrists.
- If you can, do one push up while in this position.
- Walk your hands back toward your feet and stand up. That’s 1 rep.
- Try doing this 10 to 12 times.
If you are a beginner, you can altogether omit the push-up. The original inchworm workout does not involve it.
It is better to do this exercise for bat wings using a timer
- Start in a plank position with your core engaged, arms extended, hands under your shoulders, and feet close together. Your body should be in a straight line from your head to your heels.
- Jump both feet out wide to each side as if you were doing a jumping jack and quickly jump your feet back together.
- Keep your back flat and don’t let your hips sag to the ground.
Beginners should start with a 15 to 30 seconds timer. You can slowly work towards doing this exercise for a full minute.
Top At Home Underarm Exercises Without Weights
The following exercises are incredibly effective in helping tone the hanging flesh in your underarms.
This is a great overall exercise for flabby arms. With each push-up you do, you will be targeting your pecs, deltoids, triceps, and the core.
- Get on all fours on an exercise or gym mat and position your hands slightly wider than your shoulders.
- Extend your legs back so that you are balanced on your hands and toes. Keep your body in a straight line from head to toe. Avoid sagging in the middle or arching your back.
- Brace your core by contracting your abs and tighten your core by pulling your belly button toward your spine.
- Inhale as you slowly bend your elbows and lower yourself until your elbows are at a 90-degree angle.
- Exhale as you begin contracting your chest muscles and pushing back up through your hands to the start position. Don’t lock the elbows; keep them slightly bent.
- Repeat this 10 to 12 times for one set
If this is too hard for you, opt to do the push up on your knees instead of straightening your feet all the way. You could also do an inclined push-up where instead of going all the way to the floor, you can do the same movement against a couch or table.
While kickboxing requires a punching bag, you can still do this arm workout without the bag. Here is how
- Stand with your right foot forward, with your elbows bent, hands in fists on either side of your chin.
- Punch your right arm forward, rotating your fist down, without locking your elbow. Then punch your left arm forward, rotate your left hip into the punch, lift your left heel off the floor, and then bring your arms back to the guard position.
- Quickly push your hips back and lower into a squat, jump up, and rotate 180 degrees in the air, landing with your left foot forward.
- Immediately repeat the entire sequence on the left side.
- Continue alternating sides for 1 minute.
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Up And Down Planks
- Start in a high plank with your palms flat, hands shoulder-width apart, shoulders stacked directly above your wrists, legs extended behind you, and your core and glutes engaged. Place your feet hip-width apart.
- Lower your left arm so that your forearm is on the floor. Then, do the same with your right so that you’re in a forearm plank.
- Reverse to return to a high plank. That’s 1 rep.
- As you move, keep your hips as still as possible. To make this easier, try widening your legs a little more.
Reverse Plank With Leg Lift
- Sit tall with both your legs extended in front of you. Place your hands flat to the mat behind you, fingers facing in
- Press into your hands and feet to raise your torso, forming a straight line from your head to your toes
- In a slow and controlled manner, lift your right leg to the ceiling and hold it here for 2 – 3 seconds before lowering it.
- Repeat this same movement of the left leg.
- Do this 10 times on each leg.
Downward Dog To Push-Up
- Begin in an all-fours position with wrists under your shoulders and knees under your hips. Engage your core, lift your knees, and straighten both legs as your head drops naturally between your biceps and you come into an inverted V-shape.
- Keep your arms and back straight, and your hips pike up to the ceiling. Your heels do not need to touch the floor, but you should feel a nice stretch in the back of your legs.
- From this position, lift your right hand and reach back to tap your left toes. Allow your torso to rotate open so you can tap your toes naturally. If you can’t reach your toes, tap your shin or knee.
- Return to the downward dog and roll forward into a high plank or modified plank (by gently lowering your knees to the floor).
- From your high plank or modified plank, do a push-up by bending both arms at the elbows and lowering your chest toward the floor in a smooth movement.
- Push backup to return to your plank, then pike your hips to return to your downward dog. Now lift your left hand and tap your right toes.
- After you’ve completed the toe tap, roll forward into a plank and do another push-up.
- Continue your downward dog, to toe tap, to push-up progression.
Does Lifting Weights Turn Fat Into Muscle?
Trying to turn muscle into fat has been described as trying to turn coal into gold. It simply cannot happen because these two are completely different in nature, and anyone who says otherwise is lying to you. Muscle is active tissue that burns calories around the clock even as you sleep, while fat is just extra calories that were not used by the body and thus ended up stored in the body (10).
Muscle already exists in your body, but it lies under the extra fat in the body. The more you workout, the more fat you lose, and the more pronounced the muscle becomes. Lost fat does not become muscle; instead, it is converted into energy that is eventually used by the body through diet and exercise, and that is how you lose it (12).
Does Cardio Help Tone Your Arms?
Yes, it does, especially if you are looking to lose fat in this area. When doing cardio, especially HIIT cardio, your heart rate goes up, pumping your blood faster, making you sweat and breathe harder (5). All these actions help you burn calories, lose fat, and tone your arms and other body parts. Like the above exercises, cardio also builds muscle (2), so be sure to include different sorts of exercises such as hiking, running, walking, swimming, and more into your exercise routine.
The Bottom Line
To anyone wondering, ‘how can I tone my arms without gaining muscle,’ you should realize that this is not possible. All exercises, cardio, bodyweight workouts, or lifting weights build muscle. You can try the bodyweight arm workouts without weights for leaner muscles and include cardio exercises to your routine. Please note that before trying any of the above-listed workouts, be sure to consult with your doctor, especially if you have a chronic illness.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any medical conditions. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- 25 Ways to Get Bigger (n.d, mensjournal.com)
- Believe It or Not, Cardio Builds Muscle (n.d, menjournal.com)
- Build Serious Muscle with These At-home Bodyweight Exercises and Workouts (2020, menshealth.com)
- Dietary Protein and Muscle Mass: Translating Science to Application and Health Benefit (2019, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- How Cardio Exercise Can Help You Lose Weight (2019, verywellfit.com)
- How to build muscle with exercise (2020, medicalnewstoday.com)
- How to Do the Inchworm Exercise (2020, verywellfit.com)
- Myths and Misconceptions: Spot Reduction and Feeling the Burn (2013, acefitness.org)
- The 9 Best Ways to Lose Arm Fat (2019, healthline.com)
- The Myth Of Turning Fat Into Muscle (2018, bodybuilding.com)
- What are the best exercises for bat wings? (2018, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Where Does Fat Go When You Lose Weight? (2020, healthline.com)