One of the most popular requests that trainers get from clients is to “tone their triceps” so that they don’t “jiggle like jelly.” The expert reply: “Everyone’s triceps jiggle, but yes we can build muscle in our arms to appear more toned.”
Aaptiv is packed with arms workouts like “Triceps Trimmer,” “Up in Arms,” and “All About The Arms” designed to build muscle with minimal equipment in just a few minutes. The repetition ranges to hit with arms training will be anywhere from eight to 30 reps depending on whether you’re working exclusively on building muscle or looking to improve muscular endurance.
Getting eight to 15 reps will result in hypertrophy (aka muscle growth), while 20-30 reps will increase the muscle’s ability to perform repeated contractions against lighter resistance (muscular endurance). Before we share eight great triceps moves to get you toned, let’s take a quick anatomy lesson.
What is a tricep?
The triceps brachii is the large muscle located on the posterior (backside) of the arm. It’s named based on its number of tendons of origin. A tendon is a white, fibrous, rope-like cord of collagen fibers arranged in long bundles that attaches muscle to bone. So, the triceps attaches to the scapula (back bone) at one tendon and attaches to the humerus (arm bone) at another two tendons. Each tendon has a muscle, which are called the long head (attached to the scapula tendon), lateral head (attached to the arm bone tendon), and medial head (also attached to arm bone tendon).
The triceps is responsible for pushing movements like moving furniture or getting yourself off the floor. It’s also an assisting muscle while carrying groceries, your pets, or during any physical job like nursing or construction. And, of course, the triceps is what shows most while going sleeveless. Try these easy eight triceps exercises to get muscles exactly where you want them.
Close Grip Push-up
How to Do It: Get into a plank position with palms flat on the floor about six inches apart so that your wrists are within the width of your shoulders. The toes are pointed into the ground and torso is in a straight line; this is the starting position. Keeping your elbows tucked in towards the body, lower yourself as low as possible, ideally until your chest taps the ground. Push your arms against the ground to get yourself yourself back up the starting position. That’s one rep.
How to Do It: Place your palms on a bench or non-rolling chair and straighten your legs in front of you; this is the starting position. Lower your body halfway to the floor. Then, extend your elbows to come up.
Resistance Band Triceps Extension
How to Do It: Attach a resistance band (preferably a closed loop one, like these) to a sturdy overhead object or in your door jam. Grab the other end (or handle) with both hands, stand in front of it with a straight back, and tuck and bend your elbows at your sides; this is the starting position. Extend your elbows towards the floor until your arms are fully straight. Return the band and your hands to chest height (don’t go all the way up with your hands). That’s one rep.
Mini Band Triceps Pushdown
How to Do It: This exercise requires a mini band. Use a lighter one, definitely not a black band since those are typically the thickest. Stand tall and loop the mini band around the four fingers of the left hand (not the thumb). Now, place that hand on the right shoulder, effectively locking the band in place. Now, place your right hand over the band in the open loop and press down against it until your elbow is fully locked out. That’s one rep.
Dumbbell Overhead Triceps Extension
How to Do It: Hold one dumbbell in both hands by locking both palms around the handle of the weight. Raise your arms behind your head with your elbows bent. Extend your elbows until the weight is directly overhead and arms are fully straight. That’s one rep.
How to Do It: Get into a reverse plank position with your feet flat on the ground, torso and pelvis facing the ceiling, and your palms on the ground behind your back. Your hips should be off the ground. This is the starting position. Step forward, one foot at a time, then crawl both hands forward. Continue crawling forward for the prescribed distance/duration. You can also crab walk backwards and laterally.
Duration: 30-40 seconds for three rounds
Plank to Push-up
How to Do It: Assume the top push-up position with palms on the floor, feet pointed into the ground and back straight; this is the starting position. Next, rest your forearms on the floor with palms down. Keeping your core tight and your body in a straight line, extend your elbows so your arms are straight. That’s one rep.
Underhand Dumbbell Triceps Kickback
How to Do It: Stand tall holding a dumbbell in your right hand with the palm facing up (supinated grip) next to your chest. Bend the hips back, bend the knees, and lower your torso until it’s almost parallel to the floor; this is the starting position. Extend the elbows until the arm is fully straight. Squeeze the triceps at the end of the movement here. Then, keeping the elbow tight to the body, return the weight back up towards your chest. That’s one rep on the right side.
Reps: 15-20 each side
Mark Barroso is an NSCA-CPT and Spartan SGX Coach.