Is it possible to have toned arms/etc. when you're overweight?

posted 3 years ago in Full Figured
Post # 2
7664 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: July 2013 - UK

Ho hum. This depends on your body and what size you are. In answer to your original question, it is definitely possible to be overweight (BMI greater than 25) and look amazing, because muscle weighs more than fat. For example, bodybuilders are clinicallly obese. It is also possible to be overweight (due to fat rather than muscle) and have one particularly toned area of your body, depending on your body and lifestyle.

However, my experience is that when you have quite a lot of weight to lose, there is a tipping point at which you won’t see any results without losing weight first. All that will happen is that the underlying muscle tone will push the fat outwards, and you may even start to look larger as a result. I started doing work on my stomach at one stage (my stomach is my problem area), and my waist measurements actually increased, because I had simply pushed the visceral fat outwards.

I would definitely say that if you have a BMI which is significantly greater than 30, which you know is not due to muscle mass, that you would need to lose weight to see results.

Post # 3
808 posts
Busy bee

talia.teresa:  When you say ‘tone’, I’m assuming you mean you want some muscle definition in  your arms? I have found that the only way to have ‘toned’ looking arms is to increase your muscle mass and decrease the fat covering them. If you want to increase muscle mass, I would lift heavy weights (don’t worry about becoming ‘bulky’ – it’s actually incredibly hard for women to put muscle mass on due to much lower testosterone levels than men), and to lose fat I would eat at a calorie deficit. It sounds like maybe your body tends to hold a little fat in your arms, so I think you’d need to lose enough fat (you can’t spot reduce, sadly) for it to start coming off your arms before you see significant definition there (everyone loses fat first in different places, so you may be lucky and it might come off your arms first!).

Post # 4
113 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: September 2014

i lost 12kg by cutting out all gluten and sugar occasional eat honey

Post # 5
8720 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: September 2013

Hmmm…good question. I think it’s possible if you are overweight which for BMI could be a person that’s a size 6 or 8. Ive never seen someone obese with toned arms though. That doesn’t mean it isn’t possible but I haven’t seen it. I’ve seen some women who are much smaller up top vs the bottom (pear shaped) who kind of have toned/smaller arms so I guess it depends….

Post # 6
4072 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: January 2014

I am technically overweight, and I can definitely tone up and have great muscle definition, and I have seen others do the same. But I’ve seen it more with folks in the 8-12 size. At size 18, I think some weight loss needs to happen in order to see results, but it’s not like you have to drop to a size 2. Weight training is great though and helps to burn the fat – more muscle means a higher metabolism.

Post # 8
1826 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: November 2014

3 months eating at a mild deficit (1800 cals/day) and doing compound lifts with progressive heavy weights had me losing 3 lbs and 2 pants sizes (tight tight 14 down to falling out of 12). It’s not a quick fix, but if your wedding is in Nov you should have time.

There is a book called “The new rules of lifting for women” that I think you should check out. Or, you could try Stronglifts 5×5, a free online weightlifting program.

Either way, barbell squats, bench press, deadlift, and overhead barbell presses are your best bet, with cardio on off days to boost your weight loss.

Post # 9
385 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: February 2015

I think it depends on your natural body composition. (Where you you carry your fat?) Two people can weigh the same and have the same fat/muscle ratio, but still carry the weight in different places. If your fat tends to naturally distribute it to places other than your arms (stomach, hips, legs, etc.), then sure, probably. But if you naturally carry a lot of it in your arms, then probably not.

Post # 10
1460 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2014

You are correct – you cannot have that “toned” look when you have a high percentage of body fat. I remember being a teenager and doing tons of crunches to get “abs” – silly me, that was never going to happen when I had a BMI of 28.

Sorry but the only way to have the arms you are imagining is to lose fat. Adding muscle will also help but the biggest difference will be seen if you focus on losing fat by eating clean, eating less, and moving more.

Post # 11
2426 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: February 2015

There’s no such thing as ‘toning’.  What you’re doing is building muscle.  I think what people call ‘toning’ is actually definition.  And you’re right.  You can build muscle all you want, but if there’s a layer of fat (or a sizeable layer of fat) over top you’ll never see it.  

My advice is the same as the others.  Eat a calorie deficit to lose some of the weight. Lift heavy weights to build up some muscle (which will also increase your metabolism and aid in the weight loss effort!)  Also, try yoga.  Seriously.  My friend (she’s not overweight, but she had no muscle definition and was pretty weak prior to starting) has been doing it for a few months and her arms are amazing.  They look fantastic.  And she does no other workout.  Just yoga.  I’ve started it as well (I have always lifted weights and done a lot of cardio/plyometrics.  I’ve never been an exercise class go-er, though I was an instructor).  I love it.  It’s challenging, you can do it at any level, its hilarious (he wants me to put what, where?)  And I find I absolutely cannot think about anything other than Yoga when I’m there.  It’s a nice brain shut off for me.  I’m a total convert and I never thought I’d say that.  I’m doing an April Yoga challenge.  26 days of at least 20 minutes of Yoga (either class, or at home).  I can take 4 days off in the month whenever I want to (its one day a week or 2 and 2 or all 4 at once.)  

If you don’t belong to a gym, there are lots of yoga videos.  You can buy them or find them free online.  It’ll take a bit to find one you like.  But when you do, it’s kind of addictive. 

Post # 12
2540 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: September 2014

sostobe: fellow yogi here- +1 to yoga!! After a few months of doing yoga 4 times a week i noticed a huge difference in my arms. I actually like them! And I am now starting to see ab definition

Howeve OP be sure to do a vinyasa flow type yoga if you want fast results.. certain types of yoga (like restoritive) won’t really help you. And since you say your are overweight, cardio cardio cardio on top of yoga. If you just do yoga and don’t lose fat covering the muscle, you won’t see definition



Post # 13
1590 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2014

I would actually disagree with some people saying you can’t be toned and overweight, but just from my own experience. I’m a size 12 right now, down from a 16 after losing 25lbs, and since a friend and I started strength traininer you can definitely see the muscle definition in my biceps. That being said, my problem area is still my lower arms, where the chub hangs; I can feel the tight muscle under the fat, but I’ll need to get rid of that fat first before anyone will be able to see it.

Post # 14
2052 posts
Buzzing bee

I think it really depends on your body type. I am the sort who is fat all over, so when I gain or lose, it’s everywhere not just one area. I have a friend though who has extremely toned arms and legs, but has a chubby face and a chubby belly.

I know they say you can’t spot reduce, but I’ve seen it done, but only on those with the body type that facilitates it.

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