FYI: Strong arms are definitely making my “in” list this year…and every year. Why? A few of the perks of strong arm muscles (thanks to triceps exercises and shoulder and biceps moves) include lifting anything with ease, moving through water, performing upper-body workouts with perfect form, and much more.
But, you’re likely neglecting the triceps, which are a minor muscle group but 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 like 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.
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.
It is possible to grow the size of your triceps (which can help make them pop) 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, adding that three sets of 8 to 15 reps is best. “You know you’re using the correct resistance when the last two reps seem almost impossible to finish.”
You can effectively train the triceps in as little as two upper body-focused strength sessions a week, according to Kasen. Make them count by focusing on proper form. 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.
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, stability ball | 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, close-grip pushup, hand-release pushup, single-arm sphinx press, 1/2 Turkish getup to pushup, dolphin pushup
- C: Lying overhead triceps extension, triceps kickback, triceps dip, alternating triceps kickbacks, overhead triceps extension, kneeling triceps extension, 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.