Wellness & Fitness

Workouts for flab-free underarms


Bra bulge, also known as back fat, is common among women. It is a result of an accumulation of excess fat (subcutaneous) in the area right below the shoulder plate and just before the end of the rib cage, known as the bra area.

The bulge commonly occurs because of loose skin as a result of poor muscle tone or excess breast tissue leading to the extra fat pushing out from underneath the bra straps or bands forming an uneven surface.

Trizah Mudengani, a fitness trainer with AV Fitness Centre in Kilimani, Nairobi, says the extra fat is caused by several factors including poor diet, consuming more calories than is burnt, lack of exercise, age, sedentary lifestyle, hormonal and genetics to some extent.

She explains that the above factors will lead to surplus fat in the body which will need to find a place to be stored including the arms, belly, back or the hips. An individual’s body shape or genetics, says the trainer, dictate where the excess fat will be stored.

“So someone with a bra bulge means their excess fats have settled in the underarm area. This leads to an appearance of excess underarm fat making it hard to see her bra straps as they are blocked by the layers of fat,” she explains.

When it comes to reducing or eliminating bra bulges, several interventions exist including carrying out a mix of cardio workouts and strength-training exercises to define the back muscles.

Ms Mudengani recommends that before engaging in weighted exercises, an individual needs to first focus on strengthening their muscles to be able to lift the weights.

She says that the more muscles are strengthened, the firmer they become and this is particularly essential as the muscles that hold everything in shape.

“What you want first before going into losing the fat is to strengthen the muscles as this is what goes into holding everything together. It is more like working inside out. You will look leaner with more muscles than fat.”


Lie face down with arms extended in front with the legs put together and the top of the feet on the ground.

Then simultaneously raise the legs and arms a few inches off the ground without raising your head. Pause for a second or two at the top, then return to the starting position.

“The exercise works on muscle strength and spinal extension range of motion and not only strengthens the back, but also helps one to stay away from back pain.”

Bird dog

Be on all fours with the arms on the ground as well as the knees, then follow the same motions as contralateral limb lift. “The exercise not only strengthens the back but the core too. You cannot have a great core when your back is rubbish,” says the trainer.

Contralateral (opposite sides) limb lift

Take the same position as superman but instead of lifting both arms and legs, lift the right arm with the left leg.

Ms Mudengani says the workout is good for the back as it helps to strengthen the back, especially the erectile sterna muscles which help in keeping an upright posture.


Ms Mudengani says the bodyweight workout is good for beginners and involves one hanging on a bar with arms straight and hands at the level of shoulders.

Then an individual will pull themselves up and down making sure their chin crosses the bar while going up. While at it, keep the torso and the core tight and engaged while slowly straightening the arms until full extension when coming down.

“The wider you go with your hands, the more you hit the lats, the largest muscles in the back, which is the problem zone for bra bulge. Aim for between 12 and 15 reps of two to three sets.”

Standing cable pullover

The workout hits the back and chest, targeting the back bulge as well as the front chest area where the flab sits near the underarms.

Stand and face an adjustable cable machine with a straight-bar attachment positioned on a high setting. Grab the bar with an overhand grip, hands shoulder-width apart and with the arms straight, pull the bar down to the thighs while squeezing the shoulder blades together and keeping the core tight.

Arms Slide

Be on all fours with the knees on a mat while the sliders underneath the hands then tighten the abs and begin to push the hands out in front as far as possible without touching the ground. Slowly return to the starting position by pulling the hands back towards the chest. While at it, ensure the core is engaged and the hips straight.

Bent-over row

Holding dumbbells in both hands, push the hips back in such a way that the body is bent at an angle of 45 degrees with the arms in front.

With the back straight at all times, bend the body and lift dumbbells on the sides while keeping elbows close to the waist and squeezing the back. Ms Mudengani points out that the exercise targets the lats.

Bent-over flies

Use light dumbbells while following the bent-over rows routine and because you are facing down, fly the weight to the sides.

“For a start, I recommend 12 repetitions for either of the exercises of three sets and then someone can build on the same as time goes by,” recommends the trainer.

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