Looking for Leaner Arms? Ditch the Biceps Curls

July 07, 2015

Looking for Leaner Arms? Ditch the Biceps Curls

Don't you hate it when you slip into that LBD and look in the mirror, only to find your arms looking a bit heftier than they should? All that time spent at the gym trying to tone those arms, gone to waste. FML, right?

Hold on a moment! Don't go ape-s*** just yet. After all, the solution may be as simple as changing up the way you work for getting leaner arms.

The Big Mistake

What's your approach to leaner arms? Is it to spend all of your time hitting the treadmill? Do you hit those biceps and triceps like a rockstar two or three times a week? Are you blasting your shoulders with a kettlebell workout regularly?

While there is merit to each of those approaches, doing them alone is a big mistake.

Here's a harsh truth for you: there's no such thing as "spot toning" or “spot reducing.” You can't burn fat only on the back of your arms by working those areas more than others. All that time spent training your arms is going to help you seriously increase your strength, but it's not going to reduce the amount of fat that covers those muscles, which is probably what you’re going for.

So what's the secret? It’s a three-pronged attack, really.

How to Achieve Leaner Arms

Cut Sugar

To shrink fat on the upper body—or anywhere on the body, truthfully—try reducing the amount of sugar in your diet. Cutting sugar is one of the most direct ways to create a caloric deficit because, typically, sugar from items like sodas, desserts or candy are “empty” calories, offering very little nutritional value for their caloric cost. While you’ll need to reduce overall calories to achieve a caloric deficit and achieve leaner arms, reducing sugar calories is a great place to start.

Train Biceps, Triceps, and Shoulders the Right Way

It's amazing how many women are afraid to lift heavy weights for fear of bulking up their arms. Yes, you need to do squats and lunges so your larger muscle groups are helping to increase the effort of your workout but don't skimp on upper body exercises. The more you work your biceps, triceps and shoulders—whether it’s with body-weight exercises like push-ups and pull-ups, or with a more complex barbell lift—the more defined those muscles will appear while you work on shedding fat through dietary means.

Try HIIT Cardio

Jogging is not your best friend when it comes to burning fat. Jogging actually reduces fat burning, though it does help you burn calories. To burn more fat specifically, you have to turn up the intensity of the workout. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) induces excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC, or the “afterburn” effect) which allows the body to burn fat up to 38 hours after exercise.

This means you can be more efficient in the gym, focusing on short bursts of high-intensity work with equally short rest periods and burn more fat later than if you ran for an hour at a slower, steady pace.

In the end, the secret to leaner arms is burning fat. You can't spot reduce, so you have to decrease your overall fat mass in order to have those gorgeous guns you're working hard to achieve.


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