Help! I Have Bat Wings!

Dear Dani,

I’m in my 30′s, but my arms look about 70. I hate them! I work out about 2-3 times a week, but the bat wings, or mud flaps as I call them, won’t go away (you know, the extra flabby skin under the arms…). I’m really frustrated and wish I could just have nice toned arms without worrying that eventually it’s going to extend down to my knees. What can I do to get rid of it?

Thanks, Batwing Girl

Dear Batwing Girl,

I’m not sure how long you’ve been exercising for or what you’re eating is like, but 2-3 times a week isn’t really going to cut it if you want super sleek arms. You have to work at it 4-5 days per week and you have to include a balance of cardio, to burn calories and ultimately fat, and resistance training to tone the muscles underneath the skin. A sample schedule would look like this: Monday – 30-40 minutes cardio, Tuesday – resistance training, Wednesday cardio, etc… Keep alternating like this for a total of 4-5 days per week. Perform 8-10 repetitions of exercises such as dips, tricep extensions, push-ups. You want to choose a weight that is heavy enough so that by the time you get to 10 you feel like you can’t do another one even if someone paid you. Another thing to take into consideration is your food: Make sure your carbs are coming from whole-grains, fruits, and vegetables, and that you’re also getting adequate amount of calories, so that you’re body doesn’t go into starvation mode and try to hold onto every little morsel you feed it. Never dip below 1200 calories per day.

Also, take a look at your mother and grandmothers. Your arms may be the product of genetics, which doesn’t mean that you can’t do anything about it, it just means that you have to be realistic about your expectations. You can get arms that you’ll feel good about, but it just may take longer to accomplish and you might not end up looking like a fitness model. There’s a reason I never use videos or photos of women who look like that, and it’s because it takes either super lucky genetics to easily build muscle like that or such intense amounts of training and nutrition that it’s not really doable for the average person.

In the meantime, don’t hate on yourself. Most likely no one else is staring at your arms the way you are, so channel your inner black woman (as I always say) and flaunt what your momma gave you!

Have a question that needs answering? Send ‘em in! Every Thursday I’ll be answering a new question, and it might just be yours!

Comments (6)

  1. Good advice on the workout! How much does Batwing Girl weighs? I know, how dare I ask! However, all this starvation-mode talk (found all over the net and not necessarily just in your post) is irrelevant when it comes to overweight people. How do you starve yourself when your body is storing many pounds of fat and is able to burn it for energy? Batwing Girl needs to increase her water intake down to half-her weight in ounces-of-water. Water is the ultimate weapon in shaping and ridding the body of flabby skin.

    Thu, June 10, 2010 1:04 PM BY phatpast
  2. Actually, drinking water is fabulous for your skin, hair, nails, cognition, and overall balance, but it’s not a cure-all for weight loss. The only thing that rids the body of flabby skin is a healthy balanced diet of carbs proteins, fruits, and veggies, and a healthy dose of exercise to burn calories (which means burning flabby skin), as well as tone.

    Everyone can go into starvation mode, because your body needs a minimum amount of calories to maintain itself while at rest (basal metabolic rate). If you dip below that amount of calories your body will hold onto everything that you feed it, because it doesn’t know when you’re going to feed it again and it needs everything you give it to just simply pump your heart, grow you hair and nail, think, breath, etc.

    Starving yourself will drop the pounds at first, but when you begin eating again you will hold onto everything you take in, because your metabolism slows down to make your body more efficient on less calories (therefore, you will store as fat whatever your body doesn’t need). This ultimately won’t help your bat wing problem.

    Thu, June 10, 2010 1:14 PM BY Dani
  3. You mention alternating cardio and resistance training – However, I have been doing cardio every time I go to the gym, and then do weights/resistance training, most days, but not all. Is that bad? I like doing the cardio before the weights, it’s like a warm up.

    Thu, July 1, 2010 4:11 PM BY spagate
    • Doing cardio every time you go to the gym is ok, but just make sure to vary it up. Your body adapts when you do too much of the same thing, so maybe try working in intervals to your weight routine, rather than doing cardio separately after (doing cardio before is ok, but a lot of people say that they feel sluggish after 30 minutes on the elliptical or treadmill and can’t concentrate on form as well). For instance, do 2-3 exercises and then do 60 sec. of a high intensity burst, such as mountain climbers, sprints, jump rope, etc.
      Let me know if you have any other questions; I answer a new one every Thursday!

      Fri, July 2, 2010 3:28 PM BY Dani
  4. Interesting, because I often don’t feel like doing much cardio after weights. I was under the impression that if I did cardio first, then my weight workout would burn more calories because my heartrate would be “up” – Am I wrong?

    Is it okay to do “different exercises” on the same machine? i.e. I do interval training and then mountains and then foothills and then around the world on the elliptical. (different programs). And I am still pushing myself to reach new speeds on the elliptical etc.

    Wed, July 7, 2010 9:59 AM BY spagate
  5. It doesn’t really make a difference in terms of calorie burn. I think what you might be thinking of is the EPOC effect, which essentially means that you burn more calories after your workout. The way to tap into the EPOC effect is with interval training, like I described above. This way your heart rate stays elevated throughout your workout, and you actually end up burning more calories, because you can really give it your all for the 60 second burst, rather than having a moderate amount of activity for 30-40 minutes at a time. This kind of workout will help you burn more calories at rest for a few hours after your workout.

    That doesn’t give you free reign to let all hell break loose and eat whatever you want, but it is definitely great if you’re trying to lose weight.

    Wed, July 7, 2010 10:43 AM BY Dani