Loose Skin


I am a 5'2" woman and I want to develop my triceps to avoid the loose skin that so many women get.

The problem is, the usual exercises that are recommended for that hurt my hands and wrists, which have some arthritis in them.

I am an exercise freak, and it really bothers that I am going to have to stop the exercises.

I have made a lot of progress in my triceps, but I can't risk any longer permanently harming my hands.

Thank you so much for your advice.

Answered By:

Mike Behnken, MS, CSCS ANswers the Fitness Question

Qualifications of Mike Behnken

Thank you for your question. Unfortunately it would have helped if you provided additional information because there is honestly a big difference between a 60 year old, 5'2" 300 pound person who says they have loose skin in the triceps area, versus a 30 year old, 5'2" 100 pound person with the same issue.

But to answer your question as best as I can with the limited information at hand, I think it is best if you understand the differences between loose saggy skin and body fat. As you will see, it is not uncommon for both to be misunderstood.

Loose Skin Vs. Body Fat

Skin is only 1mm Thick the rest is fat

If you look at the diagram above, you can see that for most of our body, exceptions being the palms of our hands and our eyelids, our skin (dermis & epidermis) is only around 1mm thick.

If you pinch as much skin as you can from your triceps area and it is more than 2mm thick (1mm + 1mm of skin) the rest is subcutaneous fat (sub = beneath, cutaneous = skin, beneath skin).

Your subcutaneous fat storage capacity is limitless. In the example diagram (right) the sub cutaneous fat is small but is several times larger in most areas of our body.

The "problem areas" where we store fat are primarily due to genetic disposition and sex. You should read more about body fat percentage in women. Click here to learn more.

Most People who think they Have Loose Skin, really need to Lose Body Fat

Skinfold is fat plus 2mm of skinThis is good news for you in your case if your body fat percentage is causing your triceps to appear flabby or not firm.

Weight training exercises which your arthritis is preventing you from doing provide little or no benefit for losing body fat.

Body fat loss is accomplished by cardio and full body weight training, a healthy diet, and proper rest. It may not sound right, but for at least 75% of people, lunges, squats, and cardio provide far more benefits for combating the loose skin in a woman's triceps area because they will help increase metabolism and help burn body fat significantly.

Buy Ankle or Wrist Straps from Amazon.comIf you do not have excess fat in your triceps area and there is loose skin, you can perform any exercise for your upper body which use the triceps as synergists such as push-ups, chest press and shoulder press. They should be less irritating for your arthritis.

Another idea if you really want to perform triceps exercises is to get wrist/ankle straps. You can attach them to cables at the gym and put them around your wrists or forearms and perform the triceps exercises without involving your wrists, fingers or hands.

Always perform exercises within your envelope of function, aka if it hurts... don't do it.

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