If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times—women want sexy, sleek, toned arms and are willing to do just about anything to get them. But what if I told you doing that 10th set of tricep extensions was NOT, in fact, going to reduce the amount of flab under your arms… but instead would just develop the muscle and potentially grow the area? It’s actually true!

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One of the biggest mistakes I see most women making with their arm workouts is trying to reduce their underarm flab by doing excessive tricep extensions. Ahhh…when I see this, I want nothing more than to scream from the mountaintops: No amount of weight lifted or number of reps completed will get rid of flabby arms! In fact, the heavier the weight, the more muscle you will build…making the tricep region appear even larger than it did before! Seriously, by doing this, you are just expanding the muscle—you are NOT burning the fat in that region—so that same pesky layer will be there no matter what tricep-focused lifts you do.

Unfortunately, you can’t spot reduce fat. Trust me, I wish I was lying about this one. But don’t lose hope—there are plenty of ways to get those sexy sculpted arms of your dreams… AND it’s surprisingly simple. The key to decreasing that underarm flab….(you ready for this?)…. is all about what you eat and about building the muscles around the underarm flab to create the illusion of slimmer triceps.

We often get so fixated with the old-school body building mentality that we need to do bicep curls and tricep extensions to sculpt those limbs, all the while, we are neglecting the most important muscle groups that actually help create the appearance of a slim and sculpted arm: The shoulders and the back. By focusing more on compound movements that fire your back and shoulder muscles first, you will automatically (and secondarily) work the appropriate bicep and tricep muscles without risking overdeveloping your arms.

Think about it like this: The nicer the shoulder boulder, the slimmer the arm appears. I’ll bet you’ve never seen a woman with nice shoulders who didn’t have amazing arms as well—they go hand-in-hand! Same goes for your back. The more sculpted your back, the nicer your arms AND the slimmer your waistline will appear. Who knew it was all about the optical illusion?? (wink, wink)

Time to graduate from old-school to new-school, and start sculpting that upper body look you’re dreaming of…toned underarms and all.

Here are a few of my fave compound shoulder and back exercises:

Upright Row
Lateral Pulldown (or Pull Ups)
Push Ups (or Bench Press)
T-Bar Row
Dips
Shoulder Press

Aim for 3 sets of 12 of each exercise on your upper body days, and don’t work out these muscle groups two days in a row. That day or two of rest in between will help those muscles become even stronger AND more shapely.

Xoxo,

Heidi

Related reading:

Carb Cycling 101
5-Minute Workout for Sculpting Sexy Arms
Sexy Summer Shoulders
Commercial Break Workout: Total Body Blaster
Powell Pack Workout of the Day