If you wave goodbye with less enthusiasm than you used to, the problem could be your flabby arms. Upper-arm flab is caused by a number of different factors, such as lifestyle, fitness, diet and nutrition, genetics and the aging process. But you don’t have to resign yourself to wearing long sleeves if you make a few changes in the way you eat, exercise and protect yourself from the sun.


Aging skin sags from loss of elasticity. In a Cornell Center for Materials Research Q and A, Mark Witmer, Ph.D, explains that during aging, skin connective tissues — collagen and elastin fibers — “become looser, thicker, clumped and even crosslinked to other fibers.” These changes lead to brittle, sagging skin. According to Witmer, genetics plays a major role in how your skin ages, but exposure to ultraviolet rays can hasten the aging process. While skin aging is not the only factor leading to flabby arms, the use of sunscreen can help protect you from premature loss of upper-arm skin firmness.


Weight loss can be a cure or a cause of flabby arms. Excess weight combined with slack skin can lead to saggy upper arms. But loss of weight reduces the plumping factor of fat, leaving loose skin hanging when you raise your upper arms. After rapid weight loss, it can take up to two years for skin to tighten to fit your new shape. And if you are past your prime, your skin might have lost too much elasticity to tighten up sufficiently to alleviate upper-arm flab. Ben Greenfield, in his article for HuffPost Healthy Living, recommends losing no more than 1 to 2 pounds per week to help prevent loose skin.


Lack of exercise can lead to diminished muscle tissue and loss of muscle tone, leaving your arms flabby. Reducing flab and shaping upper arms requires exercising both the triceps and the biceps. Exercises such as pushups, triceps extensions and dumbbell kickbacks work the triceps muscles in the backs of your upper arms, while biceps curls, dips and shoulder presses build mass in your biceps. Incorporate both cardio and strength-training exercises into your fitness program for best results.


In an article for “Shape,” Charlotte Andersen says eating colorful fruits and vegetables can add shape to your arms. Along with adequate hydration, your body needs essential nutrients to keep your skin elastic and your muscles strong. Andersen recommends foods high in vitamin C, fish oil, calcium, magnesium, B vitamins, vitamin D and vitamin E. These nutrients are found in fish, fruits and vegetables, nuts, whole grains, lean meat, fortified milk and dairy products.