It doesn’t matter whether you’re an A-cup or a D-cup, or a size XS or XL—women of every shape and size experience bra bulge. Sometimes, it might just be a matter of getting a bra that actually fits. But for many, this area between the armpits and chest just tends to be under toned and therefore, a bit flabby.
Since you can’t spot lose fat, you need to commit to eating clean and mix in both cardio and strength training to truly see results. This increases your heart rate and metabolic burn both during the workout and in the days following—called the “afterburn.”
To get you started, there’s a great workout circuit staggering cardio and resistance exercises that target all of the muscles intersecting at the armpit. For each, perform as many reps as you are able to within a certain time while still maintaining correct form, so focusing on the accuracy and quality of your movements is what will give you the toned results you’re after.
Incline Chest Fly/Press
For this exercise, lie back on a bench at an incline, with feet flat on the ground. The angle allows you to hit higher up on the chest, closer to your shoulders. This move especially works the anterior head of your shoulders and the pectoralis muscles, both important for firming up this area.
1. Hold a dumbbell in each hand (5-7 pounds each) and place arms straight out in front of you, elbows locked and hands in a hammer grip position (palms facing each other).
2. Slowly open arms out to your sides, keeping them straight, palms facing up. Extend until you feel a gentle stretch across the chest, shoulders and biceps, arms perpendicular to your body. This is the fly.
3. Pull arms back up to starting position.
4. Bring arms back down to the sides of the body, but this time bend at the elbows to create a 90-degree angle. Then press the arms back up to start position, squeezing the weights together as if you’re crushing something between them. This is the press.
Continue alternating between fly/press movements for one minute, focusing on clean, purposeful movements. Be careful not to let your wrists bend back—you’ll lose isolation and won’t hit the muscles correctly.
Chances are you’ve done a few of these before, but you probably didn’t realize how much of a full-body workout they really are.
1. Start in plank position, hands directly underneath your shoulders, elbows locked, abs tight and engaged, glutes squeezed, knees and feet together.
2. Raise one knee up, bent in towards your chest with the ball of the foot planted on the ground.
3. Jump and switch the position of the legs while you’re still in the air. Focus on keeping the body straight and in that tight plank position throughout.
Repeat this movement in rapid succession while still maintaining form, for 30 seconds to one minute. If your wrists start to hurt, try putting hands into fists, or put your fingers out to the side.
An easy and effective cardio workout, jumping rope can burn an average of 11-20 calories per minute. By adding wrist weights or using a weighted rope, you can up the burn a bit—plus, the arm movement works the back and shoulders at the same time.
1. Stand with feet and knees together, elbows relaxed at sides, holding the handles in each hand and rope placed behind you at your heels. Chin should be tucked and relaxed. Train your gaze at the ground roughly 4 feet in front of you.
2. Begin jumping rope while still maintaining your form (starting position of knees and feet touching, chin tucked). Squeeze shoulder blades as well to add some extra back work.
Jump for 1-3 minutes, going as fast as you can without getting sloppy.
Compass Jumping Jacks
Another short burst of cardio, this variation on a jumping jack will get your heart rate up and isolate the shoulder area. If you want to up the difficulty, wear 1-2-pound wrist weights.
1. Stand with feet together, arms in front of your face, closed fists, tops of your hands facing forward, forearms together and elbows pointed toward the ground.
2. Jump feet out, and instead of swinging arms up to meet above your head like a traditional jumping jack, punch arms out in front of you, rotating your arms as you punch so that you end with the palm-side of your hands facing out.
3. Jump back to starting position, rotating arms and fists again so that palms are facing each other and fists are touching.
Continue for 1-2 minutes.
This jumping jack challenges a larger variety of shoulder muscles than traditional ones.