Flabby arm exercises for seniors

As we get older our skin loses elasticity. This combined with excess body fat can cause flabby upper arms that can be an embarrassing ailment to many seniors. Today we will talk about flabby arm exercises for seniors.

Flabby arms are more commonly a problem that older women have but men can suffer from with as well. It is a very common reason for cosmetic surgery as well.

The operation to fix flabby arms is called a Brachioplasty or an arm lift. It is done if the loose skin and excess fat of the arms have not responded well to exercise and diet.

Flabby arms are not just a cosmetic inconvenience. They can make finding shirts and dresses that fit nearly impossible. In extreme cases typical shirt sleeves won’t go over upper arms and t-shirts might even restrict blood flow.

Flabby arms can also cause troublesome abrasions and hygiene problems, so it’s important to do your best to fix them.

You can usually do much to improve the flabby arms without resorting in extreme procedures like liposuction or corrective surgery. You just have to understand what causes the problem and do the necessary lifestyle changes to fix the root cause.

Let’s start by looking at what exactly causes the problem with flabby arms!

What causes flabby arms in seniors

The flabby arms are caused by a combination of three things in the upper arm region: Excess fat tissue, excess skin and lack of muscle mass. These three factors combine to make a saggy appearance because gravity causes the fat and excess skin to fold and sag.

Flabby arms can be accompanied by cellulite but that’s not always the case. Cellulite can give hint to the reason of the fat deposits of the upper arm.

Flabby arms can be the result of significant obesity but sometimes they can form even on normal-weight people, especially on women.

In seniors, the flabby arms are exacerbated by the natural loss of skin elasticity which leads the fat deposits of the upper arm to sag even if it wasn’t a problem before. As we age we also tend to lose muscle mass and the big muscles of the upper arm are what prevents the arms from sagging to an extent by giving skin support and form.

If you are significantly overweight or obese your flabby arms are likely simply a result of having too much body fat and the genetic propensity to store fat in the upper arm region.

You see, there are essentially two things that dictate where we store our fat. Genes and hormones. Genes have a much more significant role but hormones can affect especially certain places like the hips, chest and a bit surprisingly upper arms.

That’s why women are much more prone to having flabby arms. Due to genetic and hormonal reasons like higher estrogen levels, they are more prone to storing fat in the upper arm region.

So If you are at a healthy weight and have flabby arms, you probably have fairly high estrogen levels (or had pre-menopause). Flabby arms always require excess body fat to an extent, however. You can have fairly high body fat percentage even if you are normal weight.

That’s why it important to follow your overall fat and muscle mass instead of absolute weight. If you take two 150 lbs persons they can have completely different body composition.

A person weighing 140 lbs and having a 12 % body fat would look very lean and athletic, even muscular if not very tall. Another person weighing exactly the same could have a body fat percentage of 30 %. They would look very soft and likely quite weak because of the lack of muscle mass.

Which one do you think would be more likely to have flabby arms?

Now that we know what causes flabby arms let’s find out what can we do to fix them!

There is no spot fat reduction

Typically most health magazines and internet tutorials would tell you to do specific arm exercises to lose the fat on the upper arm and to “tone” your arms. These are just nonsense fitness articles written without any thought or understanding of the core problem.

The core problem is too high body fat levels and lack of muscle mass, possibly too high estrogen levels as well. So the solution will be to lower body fat and to increase muscle mass in the upper arm region.

Unfortunately losing fat in the arms is not just a case of doing arm exercises. This is because there is no spot reduction. This, of course, means you have to lose overall fat mass to reduce the fat in your arms.

Depending on your genetics and hormonal status this can mean a significant loss of overall body fat before seeing significant results on your arms. You should think of this as a good thing. Losing overall body fat will make you much healthier and you will improve other problem areas at the same time.

Unfortunately, this means it takes a time span of several weeks at the least to start seeing significant results. Don’t buy into anyone selling quick fixes, there are none. Short of liposuction and cosmetic surgery of course, but those are unhealthy, risky and unnecessary.

Your flabby arms probably took years to form so you have to accept the fact it’s going to take some time to get rid of them. There is also the possibility that you will be left with significant loose skin after losing the fat but that is not always the case. So lose the fat before thinking about corrective surgery.

The other part of the equation that we can affect is muscle mass. Adding muscle mass will increase the density of your upper arm and fill out some of the loose skin that the lost fat will be freeing.

Muscle mass requires high-intensity strength training to have any significant results. Anyone afraid of building bulging muscles and just wanting to “tone” their arm should forget that nonsense.

Normal people who are not using steroids can not build large bulging muscles unless they have exceptionally good genetics for it combined with a young age.

Older women especially will have to work hard to build any significant muscle mass. We will talk about the best exercises for building muscle mass in a moment!

Fatloss for flabby arms

Fatloss requires a caloric deficit to happen effectively. You need to be in a caloric deficit and you need to have a healthy diet that has enough protein so you don’t lose muscle mass.

While all this might seem simple enough, it actually requires quite a lot of knowledge, healthy routines, self-control and meticulous measuring of your food intake, body weight and waistline to succeed effectively in fat loss.

This can be very hard to achieve without proper guidance. Fortunately having a well thought out and proven senior-friendly weight loss program can make all the difference in your fat loss efforts.

When you have a good program it’s only up to you to follow the directions instead of trying to figure this all out yourself.

fix your diet to lose middle age spread

You also need to strength training for your whole body to avoid loss of muscle mass while in a caloric deficit. You can find more information about losing fat for seniors here, about losing weight after middle age here and for postmenopausal women here.

The other important thing is to fix your hormones, especially estrogen. Let’s look at that next.

How to lower estrogen

If you are a senior female who has gone through menopause, there is likely no reason to lower estrogen levels any further. Estrogen is affected by our genetics but our lifestyles as well. The things we can affect are diet and exercise.

Losing body fat lowers our estrogen levels, especially in men because body fat converts testosterone into estrogen through an enzyme called aromatase. So losing body fat will have double benefits for flabby arms.

Our diet affect the functioning of our gut microbes and our liver, which both are in part responsible for removing and estrogen from our bodies.

Fortunately a diet consisting of real, nutritionally dense food, that is aimed to losing body fat will also aid in healing your liver function and your gut microbes.

So losing weight with a healthy diet causes a triple benefit for flabby arms!

Building muscle to tone flabby arms

Now that we know how to lose fat it’s time to look at building some muscle mass to fill out the sagging skin. Building muscle mass requires two important things to happen effectively.

Firstly, you need to do strength or resistance training to cause stress to the muscles that gives them the need to adapt. When you stress your muscles with strength training they essentially get slightly injured. When they recover from this injury they with time they become stronger.

When you do this cycle over and over again, adding just a bit more stress (in the form of weight or reps) to each cycle, your muscles will become much stronger. They will also increase in size and it’s this size that we want to fill our upper arms.

Muscles mass is very good for your health and you need to build a very large amount of it for it to even be noticeable to anyone else but your self. The greatest benefit is the vastly increase in strength.

We will soon write more about improving strength and muscle mass in your arms, but these quick exercises to lose flabby arms will get you a long way:

Remember to use a resistance that requires some effort. If you can do over twenty reps without failure, you are using a too light dumbbell.

Start light but don’t be afraid to go up in weight once you can accomplish 20 reps. Do every exercise for three sets couple times a week. Add a repetition or two every week and once you can do 20 reps for three times on each exercise, it’s time to move to a heavier weight.

This why it’s wise to get adjustable dumbbells so you can add weight as you progress.


We hope you found these tips for losing flabby arms useful and will use them successfully yourself. We would love to hear from you if you do!

If you have any questions or suggestions, please leave a comment below and we promise to answer as soon as possible.

Having flabby arms can be a really annoying ailment and we understand why you would want to get rid of them. We would like to point out it’s also important to accept your body as it is while doing your best to improve it.

We can improve the way our body functions and looks in several ways with healthy lifestyle choices and exercise but there is only that much you can do. There are things that can be improved significantly, like leg strength and cardiovascular health and things we can’t do much about, like sagging loose skin and our bone structure.

The important thing is to do your best to live healthy and accept your body as it is no matter what. It’s the only way to be healthy at the end of the day.

If you enjoy reading about strength training and health tips for seniors, please subscribe to our newsletter and bookmark our site!

See you next time,

Elder Strength

8 thoughts on “Flabby arm exercises for seniors”

  1. You’re absolutely correct upon stating one cannot simply spot reduce fat. This is a proven component many fail to accept but it is true. When we lose body fat, we lose overall fat.

    In addition to arms, many try to spot-reduce body fat in the core but again, they will always come up short. The upside is that we can and will lose fat all over our bodies in a systemic way and while we can’t spot-reduce, the fact we can at least lose overall fat should be motivating for anyone looking to embark on a fat loss journey.

    • Thank you for the comment Todd! Spot reduction is a very common misconception people have. This is because thousands of fitness magazines and exercise machine adds have lead people on. Anyone who has studied physiology, nutrition and sport sciences even for a little bit will understand that spot reduction is just nonsense. The science is very clear on this one.

  2. All in all a very informative website. I really enjoyed the “Building muscle to tone flabby arms”. Something I didn’t know and am on a weight loss program myself. Starting to show loose skin and am concerned about what to do with it. I will definitely return here for more ideas in the future as I’m very near to the elderly stage!

    • Thank you for the comment Ken! Building muscle mass will help fill out the loose skin. You should give the skin several months or even years before jumping into conclusions if the loose skin is permanent. Even though we lose skin elasticity as we get older the skin will still slowly shrink for some time after significant weight loss. All the best to you!

    • Hi Suellen! Great question. Spot reduction is the term that is used to describe fat loss in a small area i.e. a spot. Like losing fat only in your upper arms. As I explained in the article, this just doesn’t happen in the human body. The body stores and burns fat based on your genetic predisposition and you can’t affect where it goes first. So spot reduction refers to fat loss. Building muscle on the other hand is exactly what it says, building muscle tissue. This can be targeted as only the muscles that are worked out get bigger. So you can for example build bigger tricep and bicep muscles in your upper arms through correct exercise but it takes time. Hope this helps!


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