What exercise will banish my under-​arm flab?

Jane mugshot for JQAI have just turned 60. Although I am fairly fit and slim, I hate my upper arms. They have bat wings and the fronts look droopy and wobbly. I have tried exer­cises to tone them, but I give up after a few days as I don’t really know if it is the right exer­cise, and how many to do at one go, or how often to do them. Can you advise?

As we age, we lose some of the fat the body stores just under the skin, caus­ing that flabby, saggy look. Targeted weight train­ing, which builds muscle tone, can give your arms shape and off­set the flab­bi­ness. Here are some exer­cises. You need to fol­low the rules, though, and give it three to six months for res­ults.

Do these three times a week, but always leave 48 hours between ses­sions for muscle recov­ery.

Get the weights right. Too heavy and you risk injury, too light and you won’t get res­ults. Use every­day objects (bottles of water, bags of sugar or cans) to test your cur­rent strength and help you decide which dumb-​bell (hand-​held) weights to use. The cor­rect weight will allow you to do the exer­cise with a slow, steady move­ment but without rest until you’ve repeated it at least 10 but no more than 15 times.

By the last repeat your muscle should feel tired and a bit achy and as though it will only let you do one more before it gives up. If you reach 15 repeats without that feel­ing, the weight is too light. The right weight will vary for each exer­cise, so don’t just rely on one pair of dumb-​bells.

Do all the exer­cises once, then repeat the lot. As your muscles strengthen, add a couple more repeats, until you reach 20. After six weeks, if you can do 20 with ease, increase the weight by 0.5 or 1kg.

1. Shoulder press: sit on edge of a kit­chen chair with lower abs pulled in. Hold dumbells, palms for­wards, by your shoulders. Push the weights up (not lean­ing back), until your arms are straight in the air. Bring them down again slowly and smoothly to shoulder level and repeat. Click here for the full exer­cise

2. Box press-​ups: kneel on all fours, knees under hips and wrists under shoulders. Suck up your navel and lower your body down to the floor by bend­ing your elbows out­wards, until your nose nearly touches the ground. Press your hands into the ground and push, slowly straight­en­ing your arms again, to bring your body back to the start. Click here for the full exer­cise

3. Bicep curl: stand­ing with feet under shoulders and lower abs pulled in, hold dumb-​bells down by your sides, palms for­wards. Keeping your elbows firmly by your sides, slowly close up your arms, bring­ing the dumb-​bells up until they nearly touch your shoulders. Slowly open your arm down again and repeat. Click here for the full exer­cise

4. Dips: perch on the edge of a low bench with legs hip-​width apart, knees bent and feet for­wards, heels under knees. Place your hands on bench beside you with fin­ger tips over the edge. Shift your bot­tom for­wards until it is off the bench, so you are sup­por­ted on your arms. Lower your bum down towards the floor, bend­ing at the elbow. Stop short of the ground and push down with your arms to raise your body back up. Without sit­ting back on the bench, repeat the move. Click here for the full exer­cise.

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