This is probably one of the most common questions for any Personal Trainer to be asked.
The term originated in the 90’s when during bingo the lucky winner would wave their card around in their hand causing their underarm to ‘jiggle’…
What might be the cause?
As we get older, our metabolism slows down, our hormone production levels change and this can affect where our fat is stored in the body. It’s common therefore, for women to notice increased body fat in the thighs, lower belly and the arms.
What can I do to help?
The first (and slightly disappointing) thing to understand is that there are no ‘quick-fix’ exercises which will eliminate the fat on your upper arm specifically. Often the issue is a lack of tone to the arm which is due to both an excess of body fat and a lack of muscle. Therefore, to get defined arms we need to minimise one (the fat) and increase the other (the muscle).
Losing body fat
It’s very unlikely that you will be lean everywhere else and then hold on to body fat in your arms, so when you’re losing fat you will undoubtedly feel the effects elsewhere too. To lose body fat you will need to look at a calorie deficit, by either eating less, exercising more or a combination of the two. A straightforward way of making sure you are in a calorie deficit is to track everything that you have eaten in an app such as ‘My FitnessPal’. You can use their calculator to work out the number of calories you usually burn a week depending on your height and weight. Then, if your weight has been stable for a couple of weeks, you can calculate everything you eat for a week, divide this by 7 and then you will then have a daily goal. If you know you’re going out for a meal, or having a drink one day, you can manipulate your calories to account for this. Once you have this number, aim to eat 5% less calories than this number each week and in turn your weight should decrease too. As you lose weight you will continually need to adapt this number. You should also look at your protein intake and make sure you are hitting your protein goals (see our recent blog post on protein) to make sure you’re getting enough protein in your diet to help build and repair your muscles.
As we’ve mentioned time and time again, you will not get bulky by lifting weights! Women lack the levels of testosterone which are needed to really build a lot of muscle, so please do not worry about this. To achieve toned and sculpted arms you need to work on a number of muscles and the most obvious when people think of ‘bingo wings’ are your triceps, These lie along the back of the upper arm and work together with your bicep at the front. To see improvements in muscle growth you need to be thinking of including an upper body workout in your fitness routine about twice a week. This will help improve strength and tone without overloading too much. We go into more detail on this in our previous blog ‘does this kettlebell make me look bulky?’
Key exercises which can help:
- Tricep dips
- Tricep press ups (a press up with the elbows tucked in)
- Tricep extensions
- Skull crushers (using weights)
Remember that HIIT workouts are an effective way to burn calories in a short amount of time so if you’re schedule is jam packed, a 30 minute workout is all you need! You can add in exercises such as tricep push ups, tricep dips and mountain climbers to really feel the burn in your triceps. So although there might not be a ‘quick-fix’ when it comes to getting rid of bingo wings, if you’re consistent with your efforts and work hard, you’ll notice the difference in no time!