THERE is nothing more frustrating than working out, only to be left with no results.
But when your goal is to tone up your arms, you can easily find yourself doing just that.
I’m Cecilia Harris, a personal trainer, and one of the main reasons clients come to me and my fitness app RWL is because they have spent hours in the gym doing exercises they think will tone their arms, only for nothing to change.
I’m a firm believer that everyone should feel confident in their body, no matter what their shape or size, but if someone wants to work hard to make physical changes, then they should have the right support and advice to help them do just that.
And no area of the body do I hear more about from my female clients than the “bingo wing”.
If you are lucky enough to never have heard of the “bingo wing”, it refers to the area of the upper arm that, when you lift it to the side, can “sag down”.
In fact, the term bingo wing got its name from when women wave their arms in the air when calling out in bingo.
OK, so it’s not the most affectionate term, but for many women, that pesky sagging arm is a problem area that causes them to feel self conscious, especially when wearing sleeveless clothing.
So, why is it so hard to change?
The first reason is that the upper arms are an area that stubborn pockets of fat like to develop and settle when we gain weight.
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The second is that, as we age, our muscle mass decreases by between three and eight per cent per decade after the age of 30.
So those tricep muscles in our upper arms that are nice and firm in our youth, naturally go south as we age – that is, unless we do something to stop that from happening.
And that’s where the right exercises come in.
Work the muscles with regular movements designed to challenge them and you will not only be able to prevent bingo wings, but also rid yourself of them.
Before you start your new arm routine, it’s important to know that being overweight will be a major player in preventing you from being able to see results.
As well as beginning to exercise your arms, you should look at your diet and make sure you’re eating balanced, healthy meals and reduce your intake of processed foods.
You should also try and move more and sit still less, to help improve your chances of reaching a healthy BMI.
3 exercises that are a waste of time when trying to battle bingo wings
The reason some of these common arm exercises don’t work is because they are challenging and therefore result in poor form.
And if you can’t perform an exercise correctly, they are not worth the effort you are putting into them.
1. Tricep extensions
One of the worst tricep exercises is the tricep extension.
Ninety-nine per cent of people have a really hard time performing this exercise correctly and therefore end up doing nothing for their triceps at all.
The move involves holding a dumbbell above your head then lowering it down the back and lifting it back up above the head.
Yes it works your triceps, but it is extremely tough and awkward to do, so most people strain their shoulders and neck and some even end up dropping the weight as it’s too much of a challenge. Leave it out.
2. One arm tricep push up
You might have seen these exercises on TikTok and Instagram, but there really isn’t much point to them other than to try and look like you are doing a fancy exercise in front of your followers.
They are awkward and they really don’t take much effort from your arms to do, so the results won’t be noticeable.
3. Push ups
OK, so a push up can be a fantastic exercise if you are a very fit and strong individual with lots of upper body and core strength already.
For most people however, this is not the case, making a full push up very difficult to perform.
I see it all the time in the gym, people attempting push ups only to drop their head to the ground, arch their lower backs and yank their necks on the way up – all of which put strain on muscles everywhere else in the body, but not those arms you are so desperate to tone up.
The 3 moves you never knew you needed to rid yourself of bingo wings
1. Wall push up
You’ve heard my reasons for ditching push ups, but the best alternatives for beginners or those with weak upper body strength is the wall push up.
You still work your triceps and anterior deltoids (those lovely muscles at the top of the arms) but you can do it with control.
Not only does this mean you will do the exercise with the perfect form, it also means you will be able to perform more reps, really burning those muscles to improve tone and burn fat.
Stand in front of a wall and lift your arms to shoulder height, placing your palms against the wall just wider than your shoulders with fingers pointing upwards.
Move your feet a few feet away from the wall, keeping your arms straight.
From here, begin to bend your elbows and, while keeping your body in a straight line, with no arch in your back, bring your chest towards the wall coming as close as you can but not touching it.
When you reach the closest point, push into your hands and push yourself away from the wall until your arms are straight and your body has returned to the start position. Repeat 15 to 20 times.
2. Lying down tricep extension
A fantastic exercise for bingo wings is the lying down tricep extension.
By lying back, it forces you to use the tricep muscles with more control and there is less opportunity to perform this movement with incorrect form.
Grab yourself a pair of dumbbells and sit on the end of a flat bench.
Lie back, with feet on the floor and raise the dumbbells above your head, palms facing each other.
Slowly bend the elbows and, while keeping the upper part of the arms locked in place, lower the dumbbells until they are level with your ears.
From here, raise the dumbbells back to the starting position. Repeat 15 to 20 times.
3. Speed boxing
As we touched on earlier, losing weight can help to rid you of those pockets of fat that sit in your arms and cause you bingo wings.
Boxing is an amazing way to target the tricep muscles while also raising your heart rate to help you achieve a calorie deficit and burn fat.
Grab two really light weights (or two cans of baked beans) and stand with your left foot in front and right foot stepped back behind you.
Bring your weights to your chin with your elbows bent and squeeze them tightly.
From here, straighten your left arm and punch the weight forward in front of you.
Immediately bring the left hand back to the chin and, as you do so, straighten your right arm.
Alternate these speed punches with weights for 30 seconds, take a 30 second rest, then go again. Do this for ten minutes.