I will give this disclaimer every single time someone asks me what exercises they can do to reduce or eliminate armpit fat. The disclaimer is this: The idea that you can “spot reduce” fat is a myth. You cannot target or spot-reduce fat by doing specific exercises; however, don’t let that discourage you. Instead, let’s talk about a realistic and effective approach to getting rid of that pit pooch because it CAN be done.
True fat loss means you will lose fat all over, including your armpits.
Why is this an important point? Well, I have firsthand experience with this. Despite working out consistently for many years, at the end of 2017, I noticed that when I wasn’t as lean as I had been in years prior, I had more fat peeking out of my tank tops in my underarm area.
What struck me as funny is that while I am quite small-chested, fat does not and will not deposit into my breasts, but instead, there it is – armpit fat. I can grab it, tuck it, and pull it forward, or I can deploy my best strategies to reduce that bulge altogether.
Since I had been no less consistent in my workouts, the truth pointed to one thing and one thing only. I had gained weight due to a carb and calorie surplus, and some of that fat deposit went toward the creation of this “pit pooch.” I felt determined to reverse this and focused on tightening my nutrition for approximately 8 weeks. You will see that losing weight ALL over (and I obviously lost in my legs and hips) meant that I also reduced that armpit fat. Success!
While fat loss is the most important factor, there certainly are exercises to target the underarm area. Using exercise to target specific areas won’t specifically reduce fat in that area, but it will absolutely change the muscle that influences the appearance. Also, weight or resistance training and cardio exercises will help burn fat.
5 Basic Exercises To Build The Muscle In Your Arms And Underarms
I love pushups because they require zero equipment to do them, and they are highly effective at training your arms and chest. All the chest, arm, and underarm muscles that engage when doing a pushup are connected to the armpit area. The pushup is a timeless exercise that can be easily modified depending on your fitness level and is still effective regardless of the style or modification.
Pushups are simple exercises that can help you target underarm fat (and even overall body fat) while allowing you to strengthen your chest muscles and even reduce belly fat. Comparable to a pushup is a plank, and the plank position is one of the best ways to work your core muscles without using any exercise equipment or even leaving the house.
How to do a pushup:
- Get down on all fours, placing your hands slightly wider than your shoulders.
- Straighten your arms and legs.
- Lower your body until your chest nearly touches the floor.
- Pause, then push yourself back up.
Modification: After getting down on all fours and straightening your arms, place your knees on the floor (rather than toes) and perform the pushup from your knees. This modification will lessen the amount of resistance and allow you to perform more repetitions. Once you are ready for the challenge, perform the pushup by straightening your arms and legs.
2. Triceps Dumbbell Floor Press
Whenever you want results in one muscle, you’ll want to work the opposite muscle to get the most noticeable change. That’s where the triceps become important because they are a surrounding muscle to the underarm. The triceps are located on the back of the upper limb of the arm.
When targeting the underarm, it is important to work both the upper back and upper front of the arms, including the triceps and biceps. We’ll get into the biceps in a bit.
The triceps dumbbell press is a simple and portable movement because all you need is a set of dumbbells. When you lie on the floor (and this is a good thing), it limits your range of motion, shifting the emphasis more to your triceps than your chest. Also, it allows you to use heavier weights than you could with other exercises that simply isolate your triceps.
How to do a triceps dumbbell floor press:
- Lay down on your back, either on the floor or on a bench.
- With a dumbbell in each hand, start with a 90-degree angle from the wrist, to elbow, to shoulder, and glue your elbows to your rib cage.
- Push the dumbbells straight up, aiming for the ceiling, and think about knuckles making a punching motion at the ceiling.
- Come straight back down with the dumbbells while keeping a strong, straight up and down the wrist.
- Return elbows to your ribcage.
Modifications: The triceps press is an easy move. If you’re a beginner, you can start with a lighter-weight dumbbell. Dumbbells range in weight from 1 pound to super heavy. Always start with a weight that is safe for your fitness level and where you are certain you have 100% control of the weights. As you progress, increase your weight for maximum resistance and continued results. That exact weight will be different at different times for each person.
3. Bicep Curl
Bicep curls increase the strength in the muscles located at the front of the upper arm. This move does a great job of isolating the biceps, which ensures that you’re targeting these muscles.
How to do a bicep curl:
- Stand tall with your feet about hip-width apart. Keep your abdominal muscles engaged.
- Hold one dumbbell in each hand. Let your arms relax down at the sides of your body with palms facing forward.
- Keeping your upper arms stable and shoulders relaxed, bend at the elbow and lift the weights so that the dumbbells move up to your shoulders. Keep your elbows tucked close to your rib cage. Exhale while lifting.
- Lower the weights to the starting position.
4. Dumbbell Chest Press
The dumbbell chest press is the best exercise for building upper body strength. This is especially important as we age because women are typically less dominant in the upper body muscles. The more firm, trained, and strong your upper body is, the longer you will retain the ability to do important life tasks, which equals freedom and independence!
How to do a dumbbell chest press:
- Lie on a flat bench or on the ground with your feet pressing into the floor
- Draw your shoulders down and back to press them into the bench.
- Hold two dumbbells with palms facing forward and your thumbs wrapped around the handle.
- On an inhale, lower the dumbbells slightly wider than your mid-chest slowly and with control.
- Gently touch the dumbbells to your chest.
- On an exhale, press your arms upwards, keeping your elbows slightly bent.
- Position the dumbbells just below eye level.
5. Bench Triceps Dip
Triceps dips do so much more than just work your triceps. I love triceps dips because it is a bodyweight exercise and can be done anywhere. Triceps dips are an effective move for not only all three heads of your triceps but also your chest and shoulders too. At the gym, you can use a weight bench to do this exercise. If you’re at home, two sturdy chairs will do the job just as well.
Here’s how to do a triceps dip with a chair:
- Set yourself up by rolling your shoulders back, opening up your chest, and squeezing your shoulder blades together.
- Hands should be planted firmly on the bottom of the chair and positioned directly underneath your shoulders and just outside the hips.
- Extend your legs out in front of you on the floor.
- Bend your elbows and lower your hips toward the floor.
- Push through your hands and straighten the arms, bringing the body to the starting position.
- Squeeze the back of the arm at the top of the movement.
- Repeat the exercise 8-10 times. Do several sets of 8-10 reps as part of the rest of your workout routine.
There is no singular, simple path to changing the appearance of your underarms or getting rid of armpit fat (or the dreaded bra bulge). The most noticeable results will happen when you practice a healthy diet and consistently work all the muscles around the underarm area.
The above exercises will target the muscle groups connected to and surrounding the underarm and give you the best strategy for changing the firmness and appearance of the armpit, helping you get rid of underarm flab and get ready for sleeveless tops.