As women get older, some aspects of aging gracefully just require extra attention to diet and exercise — like how much harder it is to lose that holiday weight with each passing new year. Others are just a part of the cycle of life, and dealing with them gracefully is just a matter of acceptance. However, when you know the causes of flabby arms in women, you can burn away that layer of fat that bothers you so much and stops you from wearing short sleeve outfits.
A third category includes things that you can’t fix by doubling down on healthy habits you already have, but which aren’t something you simply accept and move on with.
Those flabby (even flappy) triceps that seem an unavoidable part of a woman’s later years are an example.
Research suggests those upper arms are a matter of hormone changes, not an artifact of not doing as much exercise as you used to in your 20s. Doing 100 dips and pullups a day won’t be enough to keep them toned, but knowing the causes and what to do about them can reduce or eliminate that arm flab.
Testosterone and Saggy Arms in Women
Several recent studies have linked those “bat wings” to low testosterone levels. For both men and women, testosterone is one of the most important hormones for maintaining lean and tight muscle fibers.
As your body produces less testosterone in later decades, that lack lets your muscles — most visible on the underside of your upper arms — become loose and flappy.
More testosterone can reverse, or at least slow, that effect as the increased content of the hormone in your blood improves muscle health, tone and leanness throughout your body.
Ways to increase your testosterone include increasing your protein intake and getting enough sleep. Exercise also helps, since high-intensity training and heavy weight lifting stimulate testosterone production in men and in women.
If you’re not experienced with those workouts, consult with a personal trainer or join a group fitness class to make sure you’re doing it safely. Extreme cases — defined as situations where low testosterone is causing health issues as well as less attractive arms — may call for actual hormone treatment to elevate your testosterone levels.
High Estrogen and Flabby Arms
Estrogen and testosterone are the yin and yang of the human body and their balance is a huge cause of flabby arms in women. Men and women need both, and their interplay has a lot to do with many aspects of health throughout the human life cycle. Increased estrogen for men or women leads to reduced testosterone. In men, this can be one of the primary causes of poor sexual health in middle age.
For women, it can lead to a variety of issues — including flabby upper arms.
The trouble with reducing estrogen is that your body really needs estrogen. The slowdown of estrogen production in middle age has been linked with a spectrum of health problems, which is why many women opt to go on hormone treatments. So you don’t want to mess with lowering your estrogen the way you can up your testosterone.
Instead, you want to focus on reducing xenoestrogens. Xenoestrogens are chemicals that mimic estrogen well enough that your body thinks it’s onboarding estrogen without actually using the estrogen it produces.
This gives you al lthe drawbacks of altered estrogen production (including flabby arms) with none of the corresponding health benefits.
Xenoestrogens come to you via hormone-laden foods, personal care products and a variety of other products used in manufacturing that can leach right into your body through skin contact. Read here for a link to the details of xenoestrogens, how they work, and how best to avoid them.
Low Human Growth Hormone and Saggy Arms
Human growth hormone is one of the primay agents responsible for growing lean, strong, taut muscles. That’s why some athletes inject it directly for a steroid-like impact, and why that practice is illegal in most professional sports.
It provides an unfair advantage by creating a higher-than-natural muscle mass in competitors. Conversely low HGH can cause flab on arms, especially with females.
As you age, your body naturally produces less human growth hormone (and this process is often exacerbated by lower activity levels later in life). This does the opposite of “juicing” for athletes: produces lower-than-natural muscle mass. This happens across the entire body, but like other things that create slack muscles it’s most visible in those upper arms.
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) actively stimulates your body to product more human growth hormone. HIIT is a seriously brutal workout, but not out of reach for even people who are beginning to get back into shape.
It consists of brief intervals of extreme effort (usually some form of calisthenics) broken by periods of rest. Because it is so extreme, it tricks your body into thinking it needs a lot of extra muscles quickly.
Your body responds by naturally producing extra HGH. The result: leaner, tighter muscles in your arms and elsewhere.
Causes of Flabby Arms in Women: Conclusion
If saggy upper arms are the symptom, the prescription is simple, if not exactly easy to fulfill in full.
Step One: Increase testosterone via strategic changes in your diet and behavior.
Step Two: Reduce estrogen, and especially xenoestrogen intake from your diet and environment.
Step Three: Take on a HIIT class to elevate your body’s production of HGH.
Combined, these three factors can reduce upper arm flab as you get older. As a bonus, all three steps also improve body composition, overall health and personal energy. It’s not exactly as easy as I just made it sound, but the basic steps are exactly that simple.
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