As we get older, many of us become more and more concerned about tightening up our triceps. The triceps brachii muscle (Latin for “three-headed arm muscle”), which is the large muscle on the back of the upper arm, is responsible for extension of the elbow joint (straightening of the arm). Here are some of my favorite exercises that I believe are both effective and challenging for toning up that area.
1. Dumbbell Tricep Extension: Sit up straight or stand for this exercise. Grab a dumbbell and hold it over your head with both arms extended above the head. Slowly lower the weight behind your head (bending the elbows) and return to start. Make sure you keep your elbows close to your head and only move the forearms up and down.
2. Skull Crusher: Lay on a bench or floor with a small barbell or two dumbbells. Hold it up straight and slowly bend the arms (stabilizing the shoulders) lowering the barbell towards your forehead or the dumbbells toward your shoulders. Work on slow lowering of four to six seconds. Only move the forearm and keep your elbows pointing up toward the ceiling.
3. Close Grip push-ups: This one you can do anywhere because it doesn’t require any equipment except for your own body weight. In addition to your triceps, it works the abdominals, back, and chest. Get into a push up position (either on your toes or knees) and place hands directly under your shoulders. Keeping elbows in by your side, lower down bringing your chest about an inch from the ground and then push up to return to start. Make sure you draw your stomach muscles in tight and keep your glutes low.
4. Tricep Dip: Dips are an advanced exercise targeting the triceps. This is a compound move, involving both the elbow and the shoulder joint. Sit on a bench or chair and place the hands next to or slightly under the hips, keeping your fingers pointing to your glutes. Lift up onto the hands and bring the hips forward off the bench or chair. Bend your elbows (no lower than 90 degrees) and lower the hips down, keeping them very close to the chair. Keep the shoulders down and away from the ears. Push back up without locking the elbows and repeat. Remember to keep your hips close to the bench or chair.
These four tricep exercises are great because you will instantly feel the burn. Just make sure to not work this muscle on consecutive days; just two to three days per week is all you need. Your goal is three sets of eight to 12 repetitions of each exercise.
Jennifer Adams is a nationally certified personal trainer and exercise instructor who has been in the fitness industry for more than 20 years. She is the owner of Sand N Sea Fitness in Santa Cruz and is a practicing attorney. Contact her at Jennifer@sandnseafitness.com.