One of the most frequently asked questions I get is- how can I get rid of this “flabbiness” beneath my arms, referred by some as “bat wings”? That loose skin is a result of unnecessary fat weighing on the elasticity of your skin in that area, and a lack of muscle to fill the skin underneath; specifically a lack of tricep muscle.
The solution is to build stronger, leaner arms. Attacking this problem successfully requires a three-pronged approach. There is no magic bullet, and there is no miracle pill- but I can guarantee you will succeed if you follow my prescription.
Firstly, you must eat a cleaner diet. Why this is essential will be covered in a separate blog (its a bit of a lengthy topic)- but simply put you must avoid eating processed and refined foods and sugars. When it comes to the body’s performance and looks, the old adage applies- garbage in, garbage out. You cannot nourish your body a steady stream of junk for food and expect your body to look good and perform at its peak. If you want stronger and leaner arms, it begins with your nutrition.
Secondly, understand the composition of the tricep and what you must do to develop this muscle group. The tricep is actually a bundle of three different muscles, hence, its name. The long head pictured here in red runs down the back of your arm and is the largest of the three heads (it’s also referred to as the inner head), the medial head pictured here in green is positioned on the midline of the triceps- lying deep within the arm, and the lateral head pictured in yellow is located on the outside of the arm (also known as the outer head). There is some research (1) that shows the long head is employed when sustained force generation is needed by the body, the lateral head is used for movements requiring occasional high-intensity force, while the medial head enables more precise, low-force movements.
In layman’s terms what this means to you is this, don’t think of working out your “tricep” muscle- instead think of training this muscle group as needing to strengthen and develop each head of the tricep muscle bundle. You should perform movements targeting each of the three heads of the muscle bundle. As you vary the angle of your arms when exercising, the intensity of stress affects the tree heads differently.
Lastly, train these muscles in the proper order. Why is this so crucial you may be asking yourself? It’s complicated, but I’m going to explain it to you very succinctly. When training any muscle group, you want to train the largest muscle group first, when your energy levels are highest and the muscle group isn’t fatigued. In the case of the tricep muscle group, exercising the longest head and working your way to the smaller ones lets you to put the most intensity and power into the largest head that is responsible for overall size and definition of your arms. Assuming of course that you want stronger, not just leaner arms.
Here, I am performing overhead tricep extensions. Overhead tricep extensions engage both the long and medial heads of the tricep. With a reverse grip on the handles the emphasis would be placed more on the long head. In the picture, my hand positioning is palms down pushing away from the body, isolating more the medial head. Always remember that training any of the three muscles will recruit assistance from the other two heads, just to varying degrees. The three heads of the tricep muscle group work as a team. As your trainer, I will show you exercises which target each of the tricep’s three heads, and have you perform them in the correct order- just one of the values of hiring me to help you achieve those strong, lean arms that you want.
Are you ready to do something about your arms? Don’t give up, contact me– let me help you!
1. Lucas-Osma, AM; Collazos-Castro, JE. (2009). “Compartmentalization in the triceps brachii motoneuron nucleus and its relation to muscle architecture”. J Comp Neurol 516 (3): 226–39.doi:10.1002/cne.22123. PMID 19598170