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Tips for tightening up triceps muscle

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012 1:15 a.m. CDT

In the strength training class I teach for women, it never fails that someone will ask about exercises for the triceps muscle on the back of the upper arm, or as I like to call it “the part that keeps waving even after I stop.”

The triceps muscle is used in daily pushing and pulling activities such as vacuuming, weeding, and getting up from a bed or chair. There are several effective exercises that can be done for the triceps area. One of these is a push-up, which also works muscles in the shoulders and back, but not everyone is able to do a push-up. Here are a couple of simple exercises that almost anyone can do.

A triceps kickback can be performed from a standing position or using a bench or coffee table. Hold a weight (it can be a bottle of water or a can of beans) in your right hand. Take a step forward with your left foot and bend forward at the hip, keeping your back straight. Rest your left hand on the top of your left thigh for support. Bend your right arm slightly, so that your elbow is resting right next to your hip. Keeping your elbow next to your hip, slowly straighten your arm, lifting the weight behind you. If using a bench, you will be resting your left hand and left knee on the bench while you do this. Do several slow repetitions until the muscle feels tired. Rest for about 1 minute and do the same number of repetitions again.  Then do the same with the other arm. This is a very effective exercise for the triceps; you should feel the muscle contract and pinch.

Another exercise for the triceps is an overhead triceps extension. This can be done in a seated or standing position. Holding a single weight with both hands, extend your arms straight over your head. Bend your elbows until the weight is hanging behind your head. Slowly lift the weight until arms are straight over your head again. Again, do several repetitions, rest, and repeat.

Don’t be discouraged if at first you cannot do many repetitions. On the other hand, if you are able to do more than 10 repetitions of either exercise with ease, try to find a heavier weight to use. 

Strength training exercises like these should be performed 2 or 3 times each week on non-consecutive days. It may take several weeks to see and feel results, so don’t get discouraged. 

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