PHOTOGRAPH: Dr Magdalene Liau
Trying to lose those flabby ‘bat wings’? Unfortunately, targeted fat loss, also known as ‘spot reduction’, is generally ineffective, says aesthetics practitioner at The Chelsea Clinic Dr Magdalene Liau, who holds a Fitness Nutrition Specialty Certification by the American Council on Exercise.
The good news is that you can reduce the appearance of unflattering underarm flab by training particular muscle groups, such as your triceps. Exercises that tone of the underarms should be combined with a healthy diet and other types of exercise to achieve a caloric deficit- that is, consuming less calories than you burn- to lose weight and reduce overall fat.
Arms workout for beginners
Dr Liau recommends these four moves to strengthen and tone your triceps. Pay attention to your form to avoid injury.
If you’re a beginner, start with 2.5kg to 5kg weights. Choose a load at which you can complete at least eight reps but not more than 12. Perform eight to 12 reps of each move in a circuit and rest for one or two minutes before repeating. Aim to complete three to five sets.
Slowly increase the load as your muscles grow stronger over time.
1) Standing overhead triceps extension with plate
- Start with a 2.5 or 5 kg plate directly overhead with your elbows extended.
- Keep your elbows close to your ears. The backs of your elbows should be facing forward.
- Engage your core and glutes to prevent your upper body from swaying.
- Bend your elbows in a controlled manner to bring the plate behind your head.
- Return to starting position in a slow and controlled manner.
2) Triceps kickback
- Place your left palm and knee on a bench
- With a weight in your right hand, lift your right upper arm such that it is parallel to your torso.
- Bend your right elbow at a 90 deg angle.
- Slowly straighten your arm, pause, then return to your starting position.
3) Triceps dips
- Seated on a bench, position your hands by your sides, shoulder-width apart.
- Slide your butt off the bench with your legs extended out in front of you. If you are a beginner, you can bend your legs to support your weight.
- Before you start the movement, roll your shoulder backwards to ensure good posture.
- Slowly bend your elbows to lower your body towards the floor until your elbows are at about a 90 deg angle, keeping your back close to the bench.
- Once you reach the bottom of the movement, press down into the bench to straighten your elbows to return to the starting position.
4) Lying overhead triceps extension with dumbell or bar
- Lie on a bench while holding a dumbbell directly in front of you at a 90 deg angle from your torso.
- Your palms should be facing inwards, elbows tucked in.
- Slowly lower the weight until the dumbbell is near your ear.
- Using your triceps, extend your elbow and bring the weight back up to starting position.
- Upper arm should be stationary, with the elbows tucked in throughout the movement. If your arm is shaking, stabilise it at the elbow with your other hand.
- This exercise can also be performed with both hands using a bar for greater stability.