02 Apr Bye-Bye Flabby Arms
Bye-Bye Flabby Arms
Are you tired of waving goodbye, only to have your saggy triceps continue to wave long after you’ve stopped? Do you find yourself covering up with long sleeves or hiding your arms behind other people when someone’s taking photos? Can you pinch more than an inch of flab on your upper arms? If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, let’s get to work.
I’ve divided this “Bye-Bye Flabby Arm” treatment into 3 sections (Muscle Tone, Skin Tone, and Surgery Options) because just like the need to “attack the aging process from all angles,” sometimes you have to attack a certain body part from all angles. And the arms fall into that category.
First, let’s see what we are dealing with. Go to a full length mirror. If you are wearing long sleeves, you’ll need to take your shirt off. Stand with your back to the mirror, put your arms straight down to your sides. Now gaze backwards… and brace yourself (emotionally). If you are over 45, it’s probably not pretty. And if you are really fine with what you see, chances are I will suggest an eye-exam to accompany this saggy arm remedy.
Ok, so looking in the mirror (with accurate vision), a question arises. And I don’t think I am alone in asking it…
I mean, one day my arms were sleek, smooth, and toned… and, before I knew it, gravity slapped me in the face (and apparently on the back of my arms) as my elbows began their wrinkled retreat under the less-than-taut skin of my triceps. UGGHHH!
After this frightful discovery, I found myself consciously walking and standing, with slightly bent arms in order to create the illusion of a more youthful arm. I know, I know… it seems like a ridiculous response. But “ridiculous” is how I roll sometimes. After all, I write a blog about aging. And let’s face it, some aspects of aging are ridiculous- like wondering how it is that my elbows look less and less like those of my teenaged daughters and more and more like those belonging to a certain reptile that retreats back into a shell. Okay, now that you’re aware of the problem, what to do?
As I said above, there are 3 different types of treatment we will focus on in order to get our youthful arms back: Muscle Tone, Skin Tone, and (as an absolute last resort) Surgery.
1. MUSCLE TONE:
If you want toned arms, you have to lift weights. This isn’t rocket science, people. Everyone over the age of 30 should be incorporating some form of weight lifting. If your current exercise regime does not incorporate weights, or if you are feeling that you need to add additional sessions for this sagging troubled spot, get yourself a pair of dumbbells for at-home use. That’s all the equipment you really need. I use 8-10 pound weights, but if you are new to this whole thing, you may want to start with 5 pound weights. You can add dumbbell exercises for chest, back, and lats to make this circuit a full, upper body workout. (That’s a later blog.) But today, we are just focusing on the arms. Here are my favorite basics.
Start with the weights resting on the tops of your thighs, keeping your palms facing up and your elbows hugging the sides of your ribcage. Raise the weights to chest level, squeezing your biceps. Then, lower weights back to the top of your thighs. Repeat 20 times.
Start with the weights resting at your sides, palms facing your torso, as if you are holding two buckets-or well, hammers. Keeping your palms facing inward and your elbows close to your body, raise both weights to chest level. Your upper arms should remain stationary. Lower weights back to the starting position. Repeat 20 times.
ANGLED BICEP CURLS
Start with the weights resting on the tops of your thighs, palms facing up and angled outward at a 45 degree angle. Keeping the weights angled in this way, raise the weights to shoulder level. Then return to starting position. Repeat 20 times.
OVER-HEAD TRICEP EXTENSIONS
Hold one, or both, of the weights over your head. Bending at the elbows, lower the weights behind you, toward the center of your back. Then press the weights up over your head again, straightening your elbows. Repeat 20 times.
Stand with your feet together, your knees bent, and hinge your torso slightly forward at the waist. Hug your elbows close to your body and bring the weights waist-level, so that your arms make a 90 degree angle. Extend the weights behind you, straightening your arms. Flex your triceps, as you pause at the top of the exercise. Bend your elbows and return the weights to the starting position. Repeat 20 times.
TRICEP PULSE BACKS
Stand with your feet together, knees bent and, again, hinge your torso slightly forward at the waist. Holding the dumbbells, extend your arms behind your body, your palms facing the ceiling. With straight arms, pulse the weights up toward the ceiling. Repeat 20 times.
OVERHEAD SHOULDER PRESS
Stand with your feet together (or hip-distance apart), knees slightly bent. Lift the weights above your head, your thumbs facing each other. Bending at the elbows, lower both weights toward your shoulders, so that your arms form a goal-post. Press the weights back up above your head. Repeat 20 times.
FRONT RAISE/LATERAL RAISE COMBINATION
Stand with your feet together, weights resting on your upper thighs. With your palms facing down, raise the weights to eye level, then back down to your thighs. Next, raise the weights straight out to your sides, shoulder level, and return to the starting position. That’s 1 rep. Repeat 20 times.
Stand with feet together and knees slightly bent. Start with the weights resting on your thighs, palms facing down. Bend your elbows and bring both weights above your chest, flaring your elbows wide. Lower weights to starting position. Repeat 20 times.
THAT’S IT. That’s one circuit. Once you have finished this first circuit, start back at the beginning. Repeat the entire circuit 3 times. If that seems like a lot of work, go back to standing in front of the mirror and take an honest look at yourself. You’ll see what you need. And if you’re worried that it’s excessive – don’t be. Unless you’re taking steroids, you will never have arms like the muscle heads that live in the gym.
2. SKIN TONE:
Our less-than-stellar arms are not merely the result of a lack of muscle tone. We’re also fighting a losing battle with gravity. Have no fear, ladies. There are things you can do in this ongoing battle to put up a good fight. Here is the basic principal: you have to stimulate collagen production in order to lift that area up. And, thank God, there are many ways to do this.
The first place to start is with Micro-needling. It’s cheap. It’s easy. And you can do it yourself at home. The concept is simple: by creating tiny perforations in your skin, the tissue’s natural response is to repair itself. When it does this, collagen is stimulated. It really works. I believe in this so much that I wrote an entire blog on the subject.
Retin-A is another important weapon in this battle. It not only exfoliates the turtle skin on your elbows, it has been shown to stimulate collagen production as well. Apply to the back of clean, dry arms. Focus on the elbows and on the area from your elbows to your armpits. Apply nightly. Please make sure you wear sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Retin-A makes your skin more susceptible to sunburn. And nothing, my friends, ages your skin, by sabotaging elasticity and diminishing collagen production, like the sun.
There are some really good cutting-edge lasers that make noticeable differences in skin elasticity, with little or no recovery time. Thermage and Ulthera are great choices for skin tightening. These two different lasers work underneath the skin with no down-time at all. But be prepared to suck up the tears, ladies. They don’t tickle. In addition, Fraxil Lasers have been shown to have great results for tightening and skin resurfacing. Fractal Lasers work on the outer skin to resurface, and work on the same principals as Micro-needling. All of these can be quite pricey and hurt like hell, but other than that, this reviewer gives them “2 thumbs up!”
Finally, believe it or not, they are coming out with some very good body creams that actually help with sagging skin. 10 years ago, I would have screamed, “Bullshit!” but the cosmetic industry has gotten so much better with new formulas; I have actually seen results within a few days. These potions should be applied at least once a day. I apply every night (on top of my Retin-A) and every morning, as well… And I’m telling you, I’ve definitely noticed a huge difference. Here are my top picks… Vivitae, Pericone D Sub-Cold Plasma Body, Nivea Skin Firming Hydration, and my all-time favorite in this category, ENVIRON derma-lac lotion and enhanced body oil.
If all else fails, or if you just aren’t getting the results you want, liposuction is the way to go. Stop and pay attention to what I’m about to say: I am in NO WAY condoning this approach if you are not doing everything in your power to remedy the problem through diet, exercise, and collagen stimulation. Surgery must be a last resort and not the easy fix of the Listless and the Lazy. But let’s face it, all women’s bodies are not created equal. We are not a one-size-fits-all species. Some (I stress some) of you are doing everything in your power, but you are STILL not getting the results you want. You can blame your mother, or your grandmothers, for your genetic make-up. After all, if you’re truly working at it, then your DNA is the problem. So, with all of that as a prologue, here’s the deal on liposuction.
This is one of the easiest and most successful areas to “lipo” because the back of our arms tends to be collection sites for extra fat. In addition, this procedure requires only one small incision in the wrinkly crease of your elbow, one that’s practically impossible to detect. Many surgeons treat this as an in-office procedure and won’t even put you under general anesthesia! And the newer liposuction lasers heat the skin from underneath, which automatically contracts the skin to tighten it as they suck the fat out. (Guess what heating the skin from underneath does? That’s right… it stimulates collagen! HOORAY!)
An arm lift, or brachioplasty, is another surgical option. But it’s drastic. This procedure involves cutting the arm from elbow to armpit and removing the excess skin and fat. This will greatly reduce the size of your arm and is more commonly used after an individual has rapidly lost excessive weight, such as after Gastric bypass surgery. This is a very large incision, folks. I do NOT recommend this surgery to anyone who ever wants to wear a tank-top again. However, I suppose that if your arms were so saggy that this type of surgery was recommended, you most likely weren’t wearing short sleeves in the first place.
So there you have it. Like so many issues related to aging, you have to attack this problem from every angle. Then you can wave goodbye to those flabby arms. (And this time, when you stop waving, so will they.)