Tuckshop lady arms. Bingo wings. Sugargliders. Whatever you call them, flabby arms tend to be one of the first things people want to target when it comes to exercise and toning up the body.
As people age, it’s normal to lose muscle strength to hormone changes and lifestyle factors. Being less active causes the muscles to reduce in size and also makes areas like our arms a prime location for fat to accumulate.
“The dreaded ‘bingo wing’ is an accumulation of fatty tissue on the rear side of the upper arm, where the tricep muscle group is located,” Andrew Wynd, APA sports physiotherapist at Balwyn Sports and Physiotherapy Centre, tells Starts at 60. “As this area gets flabby, these ‘wings’ tend to flop and shake with arm movements – hence the nickname.”
Levels of testosterone – which influence where fat is likely to be deposited in the body – also decrease with age. The speed of testosterone decline is faster in women, who also have less testosterone to begin with, which is why they’re more likely than men to develop fat around the arms. High insulin levels can also limit testosterone production and certain foods can increase the likelihood of the arms, and the rest of the body, becoming flabbier.
“We know that a diet high in sugar and refined carbohydrates causes elevated insulin levels which has the double negative effect of stopping fat burning and halting testosterone production. Cut out the sugar and refined carbs to reduce the wings,” Wynd says.
Meanwhile, those with insulin resistance (the pre-cursor to type 2 diabetes) and women with metabolic syndrome or thyroid problems are most at risk of gaining weight and developing fat around the body. Physical exercise is one of the key ways to improve health and reduce fat around the arms and Wynd has provided Starts at 60 with some examples of the best workouts to reduce bingo wings.
It’s recommended exercises are completed at least three times a week and repeated between eight and 12 times per set.
Get on all fours on the ground, put your feet together and place your hands out in front of you, a bit more than shoulder-width apart. Lower yourself down as far as you can and then push back up.
Your pelvis should be in line with the rest of your body at all times. Don’t let your chin move forward and keep your head in line with your spine.
Lay down on the ground on your back and and hold the dumbbells over your shoulders with your elbows on the ground. From this position, press the dumbbells straight up, then lower them under control to touch your elbows on the ground. Repeat.
Sit on a bench and place your hands on the edge of the bench with your fingers facing forward. Make sure your hands are just touching the outside of your thighs.
With your legs extended on the floor (or on a step if it’s easier), shimmy your bottom forward so it’s just off the bench and you’re supporting your weight with your hands and arms. Dip bottom down and up. You should feel the backs of your upper arms working hard.
Stand straight and place a piece of tubing or an exercise band around your shoulders. Bend your elbows so your hands are close to your shoulders and hold the tubing in each hand.
Extend your elbows pulling the tubing. Hold briefly then relax and bend your elbows to return to the starting position.