Looking great sleeveless is the dream of many midlife women, especially since celebrities over 50 like Madonna, Demi Moore, Nicole Kidman, and Angelina Jolie, including Michelle Obama and Queen Letizia Of Spain, have shown off toned arms and strong triceps.
Far away from leaving the force of gravity interfering with their beauty, they quickly became a source of inspiration showing us it’s never too late to eliminate those unpleasant “bat wings“. In the end, age is a handy excuse, but not one that’s watertight.
What are bat wings and how to get rid of them?
As you get older, your skin quality changes. Skin that was once tight and elastic becomes thinner and stretched out. On the arms, this excess skin is prone to jiggling with movement, hence the name bat wings.
Weight loss is a major contributing factor to developing those unpleasant saggy underarms. “When we gain weight, the skin stretches to accommodate more fat“, explains experts at The New Orleans Center of Aesthetics and Plastic Surgery. “Unfortunately, skin doesn’t contract as easily as it expands. Loose skin and remaining pockets of fat on the upper arm are very common after weight loss”.
Choosing to avoid wearing clothing that exposes our arms can be a very limiting solution and wreaks havoc on self-confidence. But there is hope for those ladies suffering from “bat wings” that can make them start looking forward to wearing that summer dress or even simply their favourite t-shirt: it’s called a workout.
Yes, you can have toned and sexy arms at any age regardless of your current fitness level or how bad your arms are sagging right now as long as you’re prepared to exercise.
Getting the toned arms of your dream
There was a time when muscles were not particularly perceived as feminine or something women should aspire to have. Now, toned arms are seen as a symbol of health, and have become the new body must-haves for high-profile women.
You can get them too if you focus on your arms every day, targeting the triceps and biceps on alternate days. But of course, everyone’s body is different and the definition in the arms can take a while to show, so don’t get discouraged if the results don’t show after just two weeks. Consistency is the key to getting results.
For instance, Michelle Obama has said she exercises in a 90-minute workout three times a week with a personal trainer. But fitness experts say arm exercises alone are not enough to get toned arms if you don’t get rid of fat from the body. So, a good workout program has to target all major muscles, especially during menopause when we tend to lose muscle mass.
Usually, old-fashioned press-ups are the ones that get the fastest improvements. But anything that uses your own body weight is a speedy hack. Type ‘swan arms’ into YouTube and you’ll find the Swan Arms Series, from Ballet Beautiful, which are mightily challenging 15-minute upper body workouts for the arms, shoulders, upper back, core and centre.
As a rule of thumb, both cardio exercises and strength training are needed to speed up metabolism and burn body fat. Ideally, we should do moderate-intensity cardio for 30 minutes, five times a week or vigorous-intensity cardio for 20 minutes, three times a week.
For beginners, the American Council on Exercises library offers several examples to browse through: from doing 12 to 15 repetitions of bicep curls and tricep kickbacks with a suitable set of dumbbells (five pounds or more) to a set of exercises to improve the back of the arm, shoulder and lateral raises.
Also, don’t underestimate the power of the barre method, which targets the fast twitch muscles, burns fat, and encourages long lean muscles. It’s ideal for all ages but particularly good for those in their late 40s and above.
Barre classes involve performing small, repeated movements, using your body weight and holding your body in certain positions. Sometimes dumbbells, ankle weights and resistance bands are added into the mix too.
Are you ready to “feel the burn“? With the right combination of strength training, cardio and nutrition and patience, you can let those wings fly away and reclaim your confidence for good in time for summer.