The Experts’ Guide To Toning Your Arms
The Experts’ Guide To Toning Your Arms

The Experts’ Guide To Toning Your Arms

When it comes to toned arms, there are no quick fixes. But the experts say a few simple changes to your exercise routine – done regularly – can make all the difference. With that in mind, we went to the capital’s leading PTs to discover their secrets for building lean muscle and sculpting a stronger physique later in life…

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Start By Assessing Your Goals

“The area we describe as bingo wings is the skin that can hang down from the upper arm when the arm is lifted – it is very common and very normal. Bingo wings are usually caused by a combination of a lack of muscle tone, stretched skin (if someone has gained and lost weight rapidly), age (skin loses its elasticity as you age) and body fat. If the cause of your bingo wings is large amounts of body fat weighing the skin down and causing the sagging effect, then cardiovascular exercise will help reduce overall body fat. If, however, they are caused by a lack of muscle tone, then strength work is what’s needed. A lack of muscle tone is often apparent in very slim women, or someone who has lost weight quickly through either illness or diet.” – Hollie Grant, PT and founder of The Bump Plan

Your Hormones Play A Part

“During and after the menopause, we experience a huge hormonal shift. Our oestrogen levels decrease, which can take its toll in several ways. Firstly, oestrogen inhibits muscle breakdown and preserves lean muscle – as levels plummet with age, this makes staying leaner more challenging. At the same time, oestrogen plays a role in collagen synthesis, which is important for maintaining connective tissues, including tendons and ligaments. Strong connective tissues provide stability and support to muscles, so a lack of oestrogen later in life means muscles can be weaker. Testosterone – although typically lower in women compared to men – also declines with age. Testosterone is vital for muscle strength and a decrease in this hormone can contribute to a reduction in both muscle mass and tone, which may lead to an increase in body fat. But all is not lost – regular exercise can mitigate some of these effects.” – Sana Shirvani, celebrity PT

Start Lifting Weights

“Strength training exercises that target the arm muscles, such as bicep curls, tricep dips, push-ups and overhead presses, can help maintain and build muscle mass. And by increasing muscle mass, you can improve arm muscle tone, strength and the overall appearance of your arms. Remember to start with weights that are appropriate for your fitness level and gradually increase the resistance as you get stronger. If you are new to fitness, consider using resistance bands for your first set at first – they are easier on the joints and will help increase blood flow and joint mobility prior to moving on to heavier weights.” – Sana

Don’t Worry About Bulking Up

“Lots of women think strength training will cause them to become bulky, but this isn’t true. In fact, the more you train with weights, the more fat you burn and the more definition you will create. If you are concerned, stick with lighter weights and higher repetitions. Resistance training is the quickest way to build muscle in a particular area and should be part of a weight management programme. You won’t necessarily burn more calories lifting weights than doing cardio, but the increased muscle mass you develop will make your body burn calories during rest.” – Louisa Drake, founder of The Louisa Drake Method

A LACK OF OESTROGEN later in life makes staying leaner MORE CHALLENGING, while less testosterone can lead to an INCREASE IN BODY FAT.

Consider Compound Exercises

“Compound moves – i.e., moves that engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously – such as deadlifts and push-ups are a fantastic way to tone both the arms and build strength in the rest of the body. Full-body strength training exercises tend to be more metabolically demanding compared to isolated arm exercises, too, which means they burn more calories during and after your workout. Compound moves will also improve functional strength, which is important for daily activities and maintaining independence as you age. By doing these moves, you enhance your ability to perform tasks that involve the entire body, such as lifting heavy shopping bags or climbing the stairs.” – Sana

Target The Main Muscles

“When it comes to sculpting the arms, targeting the biceps, triceps and lats are key. If you do back exercises using a wide, overhand grip, this will build strength in your lats, which are the biggest muscle in your back. Building definition here will also make your waist appear narrower. Remember, when we talk about ‘toned’ arms, what we really mean is ‘visible muscle’, which means you need to have some muscle shape and low body fat in that area. There’s no exercise that will increase the muscle or reduce the fat in your arms specifically, but lift heavier than you think, and eat well.” – Sarah Lindsay, co-founder of Roar Fitness

Invest In A Set Of Resistance Bands

“A resistance band may seem like a small piece of kit, but don’t underestimate its potential when it comes to shaping the body. The number of exercises you can do with a resistance band is endless and the burn is real – you can make it as hard as you want. The reason a resistance band is so effective is because you work with and against the resistance compared to weights, when people often load the muscles in one direction and then release for the second part. When using a resistance band, there’s constant tension, meaning you’ll get more out of it.” – Nathalie Mewes, founder of NRG Barrebody

Be Focused

“If you want to tone your arms, treat a strength session differently to a cardio workout. Don’t fixate on getting your heart rate up; instead, take the time to feel the burn and focus on the muscles you’re working. Cardio has its place but remember cardio will burn the calories needed to recover from strength training, and a muscle that isn’t recovered enough won’t get stronger. The ideal upper body session should be slow, controlled and not necessarily sweaty.” – Nathalie

The more you train with weights, the MORE FAT YOU BURN and the MORE DEFINITION you will create.

Get Creative

“You can use a flat, long resistance band to do everything from standing chest presses to incline rows and standing bicep curls. It can also be tied around the legs or onto an anchor point such as a park bench. It’s the perfect piece of kit to sculpt and define the body, and improve posture.” – Louisa

Work Your Arms Three Times A Week

“Set realistic expectations and focus on overall progress rather than short-term results. Aim to include three full-body sessions per week, ensuring you are focusing on some isolated arm exercises – such as a bicep curl – at least twice a week. To continue seeing results, keep the body challenged – gradually increase the intensity, weight or number of repetitions over time. This will keep the muscles guessing. If you are consistent, you can expect to see results within a few weeks to a month, but proper nutrition, adequate rest and recovery, and managing stress levels will all contribute to overall progress.” – Sana

Eat More Protein

“Nutrition is the backbone to building muscle, losing fat and therefore toning the body. We tend to eat less protein as we age, but it’s important to aim for a minimum of 1.6g of protein per kilo of bodyweight daily for sufficient muscle growth and maintenance. For example, if you weigh 60kg, this equates to 96g of protein daily. Aim for 30-35g per meal and you’ll reach your goal. Good sources of protein include poultry, eggs, lean red meat and dairy products.” – Mitch Raynsford, strength & conditioning coach at P3RFORM

Prioritise A Nutrient-Dense Diet

“Carbohydrates get a bad rap, especially later in life, but your body needs carbs to provide energy for workouts, while healthy fats are just as important to keep hormones stable. Focus on consuming nutrient-dense foods that provide a variety of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants – include plenty of fruits, vegetables and wholegrains. Even if you have weight to lose, avoid excessive calorie restriction as this can lead to muscle loss and hinder progress. If your goal is to tone the arms and reduce body fat, create a slight – but not excessive – calorie deficit through a combination of diet and exercise.” – Sana  

For more information visit,,,, and follow @Sana.Shirvanii

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DISCLAIMER: Features published by SheerLuxe are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. Always seek the advice of your GP or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programme.

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