It’s an area many of us may neglect, but the triceps are actually a really important area to target in our workouts. Mike Turner, personal trainer and founder of Unity Fitness, a philanthropic fitness training brand, explains why.
“The Triceps Brachii, or triceps for short, are a large muscle in the upper arm that run along the humerus, which is the main upper arm bone. Along with the biceps, the triceps work together to control the movement of the elbow. To extend the elbow, the triceps work by contracting while the bicep muscle simultaneously relaxes to pull the lower arm downward. To bend the elbow, the triceps relax while the bicep muscle simultaneously contracts to lift the lower arm upward.”
There are three main reasons we should exercise our triceps, Turner explains:
- Injury Prevention
- Shoulder Stability
- Upper Body Strength Development
Julie Lohre, a personal trainer and women’s fitness expert, recommends these easy exercises to work the triceps anywhere with limited equipment.
Overhead Tricep Extension (Band or Dumbbell)
“Begin standing with your hips slightly tucked in a neutral position and with your core tight. If using a band, grasp each side of the band with each hand and pull one arm behind your back at waist level and the other up overhead. The top elbow will come in, close to your ear and the top hand will drop back to bring a 90 degree angle to your elbow. Extend upward while maintaining tension on the band using that tricep muscle. Slowly return to the starting position.”
“Start the tricep kickback movement by standing with one foot in front of the other in a small lunge. Tighten your core and lean slightly forward. With a dumbbell in one hand, draw your elbow back and up, bringing that hand and dumbbell just outside of your hip bone. From that 90 degree bent position, extend the dumbbell up and back, straightening out the arm. At the top of the movement, your back arm should be completely straight. In a steady, controlled manner, bring the dumbbell back to your hip.”
“I love that tricep dips can be performed [almost] anywhere using a chair, bench or low sturdy table. First, sit down on the bench and place your hands next to your hips on the table. You will wrap your fingers around the edge of the bench while keeping your palms flat. Move your feet and hips forward to bring your glutes off the bench. Maintain strong support with your arms and upper body. In a controlled manner, lower your body as far down as you can using the tricep muscles for your descent. Pressing through your palms, push back to the top of the movement. For beginners, you will want to bend your knees and draw your feet closer to your body for more support.”
“Begin on your hands and knees on the floor with your hands directly under your shoulders. Bring your thumbs and index fingers together to form a triangle with your hands. This will bring your hands touching. From here, connect your knees and move to the starting position of a kneeling plank. Your form should include a straight line extending down from your shoulders through your knees. To begin the pushup, allow your elbows to come out wide and draw your chest down toward your hands. Go as far down as you feel comfortable. Using those tricep muscles, press back to the top of the plank by pressing through your palms.”