These 3 Exercises Are The Most Effective For Toning The Back Of Your Arms

best triceps exercises tricep dips
16 Best Triceps Exercises For Visibly Strong ArmsHearst Owned

No matter what time of year it is, strong arms are always in season. All-around upper-body strength looks awesome and comes with oh so many perks. To get there, you need to spend a little time working all the arm muscles (not just the biceps).

It's all too easy to neglect the triceps, which are a minor muscle group on the back of the arms. These small but mighty muscles are key to overall fitness. "The triceps are a super, super important muscle group," says Jacqueline Kasen, CPT. "It stabilizes your your arms and your shoulders. It also helps increase range of motion. So if you're strong there, triceps also help support chest, back, and shoulders."

Meet the experts:
Holly Roser, CPT, is based in New York City and San Francisco, where she teaches her signature H Method.
Jacqueline Kasen
, CPT, is a Miami-based coach and master trainer and senior director of group fitness at Anatomy.
Tatiana Firpo
, CPT, is a self-defense coach and training director at Fit Hit in New York City.

What are the triceps muscles?

Your triceps, which run along the backs of your upper arms, actually consist of three muscles—the long head, medial head, and lateral head—hence "tri." Together, these muscles help you extend your elbows and straighten your arms—and assist in chest-dominant exercises, like those infamous yogi pushups. There are different exercises that emphasize different parts of your triceps, so it's important to incorporate a variety of triceps exercises into your workout routine in order to build well-rounded strength.

Triceps Workout Tips

If you want to sculpt all 360 degrees of your upper arms (or finally nail that chaturanga in your next yoga class), it's time to add a tricep workout into your routine and give this muscle group some much-deserved attention. It's about shoring up strength and stamina in your arms and sculpt. And you can add visible definition in the process, too. Here's how:

  • Work the triceps three days a week. It is possible to grow the size of your triceps (which can help create toned arms) with regular targeted tricep workouts, Holly Roser, CPT, says. “Focus on full-body strength training and adding these triceps moves into your plan three days per week,” she recommends.

  • Aim for three sets of 8 to 15 reps. Use the right weights to optimize your sesh. “You know you’re using the correct resistance when the last two reps seem almost impossible to finish,” says Roser.

  • Focus on form and posture. You can effectively train the triceps in as little as two upper body-focused strength sessions a week, according to Kasen. One of the most common mistakes Kasen sees with triceps exercises is a rounded posture. To fix it, pull your shoulders back and down and check that they stay there through all the reps. That ensures you're targeting the triceps from start to finish.

  • Focus on the most effective triceps exercises. Not all triceps moves are created equal. The best bang for your buck are triangle pushups, triceps dips, and triceps kickbacks, according to an ACE study with all female participants. These elicited the most muscle activity and take momentum out of the equation. That means you're doing the work for every rep and getting the strength and definition as a reward.

16 Best Triceps Exercises

Ready to feel the backs of those arms burn? The moves listed here make for a fast and effective tricep workout.

Time: 15 minutes | Equipment: mat, dumbbells | Good for: triceps

Instructions: Choose one triceps exercise from each group below:

  • A: Dumbbell floor press, single-arm dumbbell floor press, alternating dumbbell floor press

  • B: Pushup, triceps pushup, hand-release pushup, sphinx press, 1/2 Turkish getup, dolphin pushup

  • C: Lying overhead triceps extension, triceps kickback, triceps dip, alternating triceps kickbacks, overhead triceps extension, triceps circle, plank triceps kickback

Complete three sets of the indicated number of reps for each move. Once you've completed all sets of one move, continue to the next, in ABC order, resting as needed. Alternatively, incorporate these triceps exercises into an upper-body workout routine.

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