How To Really Get Toned Arms {+ WORKOUT}

I love hearing what types of blogs you’d like to see. Recently, a blog subscriber wrote saying she struggled toning the “jiggly parts” on her arms. She asked for tips to get “toned arms” and get rid of her “bat wings” (her words) 😉

If you Google how to get “toned arms,” you get a variety of answers online. Unfortunately, there is so much inaccurate information out there, and the fitness industry tries to sell products or teach techniques that are not effective.

I’d like to sort through these myths and give you REAL solutions (and a workout – below) to get the arms you want.


  • MYTH 1: Doing upper body exercises like curls, dips, kickbacks, alone will burn off the arm jiggle (i.e. you can spot reduce).

    • I see this myth a lot and it’s not true. It comes from the idea if you do a bunch of arm exercises, you will burn the fat off, spot reduce any jiggly parts and get toned arms. In reality, strength training and resistance exercises for your arms may build the muscles underneath (which is good!), but you cannot burn away problem areas with exercise alone.


  • MYTH 2: If arms are a problem area, exercise them as frequently as possible.

    • We often think it would be more effective to do upper body workouts daily, if that’s an area we’d like to change. Sometimes exercising the same muscles too much slows progress. Muscles need time to rest, recover and rebuild. Upper Body workouts 2-4 times per week if often all you’ll need!


  • MYTH 3: You need expensive lotions, body wraps or exercise machines to get toned arms.

    • The fitness industry makes a lot of money over the areas we don’t like on our bodies. You do not need expensive gadgets to make your arms leaner. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!


  • MYTH 4: If you’re older or recently lost a lot of weight and have sagging skin, it’s impossible to ever have toned arms again.

    • Yes, we may have some extra skin or stretch marks (which may not go away), but it is still usually possible for make noticeable changes in our arms. How? By reducing your overall body fat and adding strength training. More on this below.



  • TRUTH 1: You need to lower your total body fat to firm up your arms.

    • As mentioned, you cannot spot reduce, so instead focus on lowering your total body fat to not only firm your arms, but also lean down in other places as well. It’s all about body fat %. The more body fat you lose as you drop weight, the more your arms firm up.


  • TRUTH 2: You need to add strength training – and not just upper body workouts.

    • How do you burn off body fat? It’s a process with multiple pieces that need to be simultaneously put into place so your body will respond. Performing total body strength training exercises burns off body fat more efficiently than sticking with upper body exercises alone.


  • TRUTH 3: You need to monitor nutrition – the most important piece: being in a calorie deficit.

    • You need to drop body fat to firm up your body all over (including arms). The biggest driver of body fat reduction will always be diet. You need a caloric deficit to burn body fat. For the majority of people, it is near to impossible to get the caloric deficit needed from exercise alone. There is value to tracking calories (at least temporarily) on a calorie-tracking app, like My Fitness Pal to make sure calories and portions are in line for fat loss.


  • TRUTH 4: You need to be consistent and realize it takes TIME!

    • Once you get all the pieces in place, you need to be consistent. This not only relates to firming up your arms, but your lifestyle changes in general. Also, building muscle takes time. I was frustrated when after 3 months of consistent strength training, my arms didn’t look how they looked the way I wanted them to yet, especially when fitness magazines said I could get the look I wanted in that time. Truth be told, some of the best changes in my arms took 2-3 years. It takes time and consistency. I don’t say that to be discouraging. I did see change after about 6 months, but the longer I stuck with it (2-3 years later), the better they looked!


Although I started to see changes about 6 months after I started lifting, the best changes occurred 2-3 years after consistent lifting.


Now that you know the truths and myths, here’s a great upper body workout. Remember, we can’t spot reduce fat on our arms, but we can build the muscle underneath. Pair these exercises with the other “truths” above, and this workout can help you get those tank-top arms we love!

Set your timer for 20-minutes & do each exercise back-to-back for 12 reps. Build in rest periods when you need them (keep the timer running).

  • 1) Standing Dumbbell Row (Alternate-Arm) – 12x
  • 2) Shoulder Press (Alternate-Arm) – 12x
  • 3) High Bicep Curls – 12x
  • 4) Triceps Dips – 12x
  • 5) Push-ups – 12x (option on knees instead of toes)
p.s. If you like what you read here, you may also enjoy my previous blog post on why the word “toning” is partly a myth itself. Read that blog post HERE