If you feel self-conscious about that extra bit of jiggle under your arms when waving hello and goodbye, you're not alone. Many people affectionately refer to this area as "armpit pooch." And while it's entirely natural, you may be looking to tone and firm up this area. That's why we spoke with Kate Meier, CPT, a certified personal trainer with Garage Gym Reviews, who shares eight stellar exercises to get rid of your armpit pooch for good.
Before we dive in, you're likely wondering why some people are more susceptible to armpit pooch than others. A 2019 study found that dozens of genetic factors can determine where your body stores fat and that women are more likely to store it in the armpit area than men.
"It's important to note that it isn't possible to spot-reduce fat on one area of the body more than another," says Meier. "Overall fat loss is the only way to truly reduce fat in this area, so incorporating a consistent exercise routine and a healthy diet are also crucial steps to achieving this goal."
The following exercises can help strengthen your upper body, including that stubborn armpit area. Over time, building these muscles can help create the look of a well-rounded upper body and tighten your underarm area. Keep reading for the eight best dumbbell exercises to get rid of your armpit pooch. Then, don't miss these 5 Quick HIIT Workouts To Melt Your "Jelly Belly" for Good.
"This exercise targets the entire upper back and shoulders, which can also help tone the armpit area. Renegade rows also get your heart rate up, which can add a cardio aspect if you keep up a good pace without sacrificing form," says Meier.
Start in a high plank position, holding a dumbbell in each hand. Keep one dumbbell planted on the floor as you row the other straight up to chest level. At the top of the movement, squeeze your back muscles on the side you're working on before slowly lowering the dumbbell back to the floor. Alternate arms with each rep. Aim for three to four sets of 10 to 12 reps per arm.
"Pullovers mostly work the chest and upper back, but they also engage the serratus muscles that run up and down the sides of the ribcage, which includes the underarm area," explains Meier.
Lie on a bench or the floor, ensuring your upper back and shoulders are supported. Hold a dumbbell with both hands, arms straight out in front of your chest. Keep your arms straight as you lower the dumbbell behind your head until you feel your chest and back muscles stretch slightly. Perform three to four sets of 12 to 15 reps.
Dumbbell Bench Presses
The bench press isn't just for bodybuilders at the gym. When done correctly, it can be a powerful exercise for sculpting your upper body, including your armpit area. "This classic chest exercise is a great overall upper-body movement that can help tighten and tone the pecs as well as the area around the armpits," says Meier.
Lie on a bench with a dumbbell in each hand at chest level and your elbows bent at roughly 90-degree angles. Push the dumbbells up until your arms are fully extended, then slowly lower them to the starting position, and repeat. Go for three to four sets of eight to 12 reps.
Bent-Over Dumbbell Rows
"Dumbbell rows work a range of upper-body muscles, including the latissimus dorsi and the rear deltoids. Engaging this area overall can help tighten the upper body," says Meier.
Stand with a dumbbell in each hand and your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees slightly, then hinge at the hips while keeping your back straight. Pull the dumbbells up toward your torso between your hips and chest, adjusting as needed until you feel the exercise in your back muscles. At the top of the move, squeeze your shoulder blades together before lowering the dumbbells to the starting position. Shoot for three or four sets of 10 to 12 reps.
"Dumbbell flyes are known for isolating the chest muscles but also secondarily engage the arms and the anterior deltoids for stability throughout the move," says Meier. "Building the chest can give an overall look of a toned, strong upper body."
Lie on a bench with a dumbbell in each hand and your arms extended straight up in front of your chest. Slowly lower the dumbbells out to your sides, keeping your arms slightly bent but nearly straight. Lower the dumbbells until you feel a stretch in your chest, then bring them back up and to the center. Perform three to four sets of 12 to 15 reps.
Dumbbell Front Raises
Try dumbbell front raises for a sleek and sculpted look in your armpit area. "This exercise targets the anterior deltoids (the front of the shoulders)," explains Meier. "They don't specifically target the area below the armpits, but they help create a well-rounded and strong upper body, which will help with that goal."
Stand with a dumbbell in each hand, arms in front of your hips, and palms facing your body. Keeping your arms straight, raise the dumbbells out and up until they reach about shoulder height. Slowly lower them to the starting position. Repeat for three to four sets of 10 to 12 reps.
Dumbbell Overhead Triceps Extensions
Strong triceps help you with daily activities and contribute to firmer arms. "While triceps extensions predominantly work the triceps, keeping your arms overhead requires core strength, including the muscles that wrap around your torso," says Meier.
Hold a dumbbell straight overhead with both hands and arms extended straight up. Bend your elbows to lower the dumbbell behind your head slowly, then extend your elbows to lift the weight back up to the starting position.
Standing Lateral Raises
This list of dumbbell exercises to get rid of your armpit pooch wraps up with standing lateral raises. "This exercise targets the lateral delts on the outsides of your shoulders, but this movement also demands core strength, which includes the serratus muscles running up and down your ribcage," says Meier.
Stand with a dumbbell in each hand and your hands at your sides, palms facing the outsides of your hips. Raise the dumbbells to the sides and upward until they reach shoulder height, then lower them to the starting position.