Many of my clients have a less-than-kind name for the triceps (think: “chicken wings” or “underarm flab”). The back of the arms is a common trouble spot and many people complain about this area and want to know how to tone it.
The muscle behind the arm, opposite of the bicep, is the tricep muscle. A strong tricep muscle is important for performing everyday activities that require any sort of lifting or pulling motion. And yes, strengthening the triceps can help eliminate that common trouble spot that jiggles when you wave.
If this is an area of the body that you’d like to strengthen and tone, there are plenty of exercises that will help you accomplish just that. Here are some of my favorite tricep exercises. Repeat each exercise 10 times before moving on to the next. You can turn this into a circuit workout and repeat the entire circuit for three rounds, or add one or more of these exercises into your arm workout.
Standing with your feet as wide as your hips, hold one dumbbell with both hands. Reach the dumbbell overhead. Keeping your biceps still, bend the elbows, keeping them in alignment with the ears, as you lower the dumbbell down along your upper back. Engage your triceps as you reach the weight back up to the starting position.
Sitting on the ground, place your palms on the ground behind you with your fingers facing your body. Move your butt back toward your hands and press down through your feet to lift your butt up. Keep your knees bent. Bend your elbows straight back to lower down into the dip, then press down through your hands to come up to the starting position.
Starting in a plank position, pull your naval in toward your spine and make sure your shoulders are over your wrists. Bend the elbows straight back hugging them into your sides (as opposed to flared out to the sides in a traditional pushup.) Press down through the hands to come up to the starting position.
Starting in a plank position, walk your hands close to the center and touch your pointer fingers and thumbs together, making a diamond shape with your hands. This means that your wrists will be on a diagonal. Bend your elbows out to the sides, lowering your chest toward the ground, and then press down through the hands to come back to the starting position.
Stand with your feet as wide as your hips, knees slightly bent. Hold on to one weight in each hand, and let your arms hang down toward your knees. Hinge at the hips so that your chest is tilted down toward the ground. Hug your elbows into your sides and pull your elbows up into a row. From here, keep the elbows stationary and extend the forearms back into the tricep kickback. Come back to the row position and then repeat the kickback.
Single arm tricep reach
Hold onto a dumbbell with your right hand and step your left foot forward into a split stance. Bend your left knee and lean forward over your knee so that your torso is at a 45-degree angle to the ground. Keep your shoulders facing toward the front. Then, with your right palm facing inward, lift your right arm straight back behind the body only as high as you can without dipping the shoulder down. Engage the back of the arm and upper back. Then release the arm.
Pulsing arm kickbacks
Stand upright with the weights down by your sides. Flip the palms so that they face the back of the room. Press the arms back toward the wall behind you, and then come back to center. Repeat at a moderate pace.
Alligator mouth flies
Standing with your feet as wide as your hips, hold one dumbbell in each hand. Bend the knees slightly and hinge forward at the waist slightly. Pull your abs in. Dangle your arms down and then reach the right arm straight up in front of you until it is aligned with your right ear. Then, reach the left arm back behind you, engaging the left tricep. Think about forming one straight, diagonal line with both arms. Return to your starting position. Then alternate, reaching the left arm forward and the right arm back.
Lie down on your back. Bend your knees so that your feet are flat on the ground. Hold one dumbbell with both hands and extend both arms above your chest. Bending at the elbow, lower the weight slowly until it reaches the area behind your head. Extend your arms again until they are straight, then repeat.
Holding one dumbbell in each hand, stand with your feet as wide as your hips. Bend your elbows to hold the dumbbells close to your chest. Face your palms toward one another. Push one of the dumbbells forward and straighten your arm like you’re throwing a punch in boxing, then bring it back to the starting position and repeat with the other arm.