Every new client itemizes their goals. First on most people’s list -- irrespective of age and gender – is some variation on “improved triceps” (the back of the arm).
Some people want “stronger triceps.” Others ask for “toned triceps.” Others request more “muscular triceps.” The net take-away is that no one seems completely happy with their current triceps workout.
Below are my current favourite triceps exercises.
- For stronger triceps, lift heavier weights for 6-8 reps.
- For more toned triceps, focus on your diet and aim for 12-15 reps.
- For bulkier triceps, aim for 8-12 reps.
Note: don’t just stop at the desired repetition range; pick a weight or version of the exercise that ensures you are tired by the last repetition of your desired rep range. So, for 6-8 reps you should hit exhaustion by rep 8.
1. Bird Dog Kickbacks
Start on all fours. Holding a light weight in your left hand, straighten your right leg behind you- don’t shift as you do this.
Now, hold this position as you “kick” your right hand backwards. Keep your upper arm bone stable. Engage your triceps to do the work.
The goal is to stay stable. Don’t shift your weight as you move your limbs. Switch and repeat on opposite side.
Tip: Keep your core stable as you kick your leg out. Do not arch through your lower back. Consider putting a water bottle or foam roller on your back as a “test”.
Progression: Lift the left leg off of the ground. Lift heavier weight.
Regression: Don’t straighten the leg - keep both knees on the ground. Lift a lighter weight.
2. French Press
Start on your back. Knees bent. Feet on floor. Hold one weight in each hand. Arms start straight up above your shoulders. Keep everything from your shoulder to your elbow still as you bend the weights towards your ears. Straighten your arms using your triceps muscles.
Tip: bend at your elbows. Don’t rock your arms.
Regression: use lighter weights
Progression: use heavier weights, superset the French Press with exercise 1 or 3, or place your head and shoulders on a stability ball and hold your hips up in the air in a bridge position. Holding the bridge engages the lower body and core.
3. Up/ Up / Down / Downs
Start in a plank position on your hands and feet - core engaged. Without letting your hips move, lower your right and then left forearm down to the ground. Hold for a moment and then replace your right and then left hand onto the ground so you return to your initial position.
Stay as stable as possible through your hips. Make sure your alternate which hands starts the motion.
Regression: Perform the exercise from your knees.
Progression: place a weight plate on your back or do the exercise with your feet on a small step to challenge your shoulders.
Katheleen Trotter is a personal trainer in Toronto who loves audiobooks, planks and having a growth mindset. Check out her website http://www.kathleentrotter.com/