Lots of women worry about bingo wings, especially when it’s warm enough to wear short-sleeved tops. While there’s no quick fix for bingo wings (do we even need to fix them?), it’s well worth including arms exercises in your workout programme.
Having stronger arms is empowering (think 💪) and it makes many aspects of life easier, from carrying heavy things to opening that stubborn jar of olives. And having better-defined muscles in your upper arms might well make you feel more confident in showing them off.
We spoke to Mimi Bines, personal trainer and co-founder of Lift Studio—a women-only weightlifting studio in London—about bingo wings and what, if anything, you can do about them. As well as a body image pep talk, she gave us a simple four-move arms workout to help build upper-body strength.
Mimi Bines is a level 3 certified personal trainer with five years of experience. She is co-founder of Lift Studio LDN, a women-only weightlifting gym in Clapham, London, that offers small-group personal training.
How do you get rid of bingo wings?
“Bingo wings are just a normal part of women's bodies like any other,” says Bines. “There’s a deeper question there about why we’re trying to do this. It’s just another beauty standard that we don’t have to adhere to. I’m not sure why this has become a thing that we need to fix.”
Fair points, we’ll sure you’ll agree. But what if you still want to get rid of them?
“You have two variables in your control: muscle building and fat loss,” says Bines. “To lose fat you need to eat in a calorie deficit. You hear a lot of talk about ‘sculpting’ and ‘toning’ but these words simply mean building muscle.”
To achieve a calorie deficit safely, we recommend this weight loss meal plan for women. It’s been created by a dietitian and as well as creating a calorie deficit, it meets your daily requirements of things like fiber, as well as most minerals and vitamins.
Can strength training exercises help with bingo wings?
Working on your arm muscles can help. “Building muscle could potentially help with the appearance of bingo wings,” says Bines. “But bear in mind that you can choose where you build muscle, but not where you lose fat.
“There are so many benefits to strength training,” Bines continues. “Aesthetic goals shouldn’t necessarily be your foremost reason to be doing it. I think bingo wings are fine. Don't let that ruin your life, please! Wear the short-sleeved T-shirt!”
So, with strength and enjoyment in mind, if you are looking to work on your upper body and arms, try Bines’s straightforward four-move workout. And if it piques your interest in strength training, read what Bines has to say about weightlifting for women.
The Arms Workout For Strong, Defined Arms
The workout starts with two compound exercises—those that use more than one joint to complete the movement, so you get as much bang for your buck as possible. There’s an upper-body pull exercise followed by an upper-body push move.
This is followed by two isolation exercises—using one joint—targeting first the biceps and then the triceps.
To ensure you’re able to maintain good form, choose a weight that allows you to complete the sets feeling you could only manage to perform one or two more reps. Over time, you should find yourself getting stronger. In order to make progress you need to keep challenging your muscles. You can increase the number of reps, use heavier weights, or make the exercise harder by slowing down the movements.
Aim to make progress over the course of five to 10 weeks before changing the exercises.
Having process- or performance-driven goals is the best way to ensure you make great progress. “Aim to be consistent or to get strong,” says Bines. “This form of goal setting is not only proven to have better results but is also associated with better body image.”
Sets 3 Reps 10
Target: back, biceps
Find a suitable bar to use; if you’re in the gym you can set up a Smith machine with the bar just out of reach when lying on the floor underneath it. Lie under the bar and grasp it with an overhand grip, hands just wider than shoulder-width apart. Hold yourself up so your body forms a straight line from your head to your heels. Pull yourself up until your chest touches the bar, then lower slowly to the start.
If you’re struggling to get through your reps, move your feet closer to the bar, or bend your knees and place your feet flat on the ground. This will reduce the resistance involved and make it easier.
Sets 3 Reps 10
Target: chest, shoulders, triceps
Lie on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Hold dumbbells with your upper arms on the floor, elbows out to the sides and bent at 90°. Press the dumbbells straight up, keeping them in line with your shoulders, then lower to the start under control.
Sets 3 Reps 10
Stand holding dumbbells in front of your thighs with your palms facing forward. Keeping your upper arms still, bend your elbows to lift the dumbbells to your shoulders. Lower the weights to the start. Keep your movements slow and avoid using momentum.
Sets 3 Reps 10
Choose a light set of dumbbells and stand with feet shoulder-width apart, holding the dumbbells above your head with your arms extended. Bend your elbows to lower the dumbbells slowly behind your head, keeping your upper arms still. Don’t let your elbows flare out to the sides. Raise the dumbbells slowly again until your arms are extended.
Get the Coach Newsletter
Sign up for workout ideas, training advice, reviews of the latest gear and more.