When it comes to sculpting toned arms, nothing beats a great triceps workout. While muscular arms are a surefire way to look fit and strong, it’s not necessary to repeat every set of bicep curls as many believe. Instead, focusing your arm workouts on your triceps can help tone your arms and prevent the dreaded arm sagging.
Another benefit of isolating your triceps (besides improving the overall physique and strength of your arms) is a plethora of tricep variations and exercises you can perform with a variety of exercise equipment, including dumbbells, resistance bands, cables, bars, and even your body weight . In addition, many triceps exercises can strengthen your pecs (chest) and delts (shoulders) for an overall stronger upper body.
“Triceps-focused workouts can help shape the arms over time,” says Kate Meier, CPT, a certified personal trainer with Gym Garage Reviews. “This can help prevent flabby arms over time, although diet and genetics also factor into the equation regarding the overall appearance of your physique.”
If you want more toned arms, keep reading. We asked Meier to share her favorite triceps workout that will firm up saggy arms and maintain an overall toned upper body physique. Next, check out the ultimate “Turkey Wings” kettlebell workout for flabby arms.
The first step in our triceps workout is the bench dip. This is a simple and effective bodyweight exercise that will strengthen your triceps. The best part is that you can do bench dips anywhere, anytime, using a couch, chair, couch, countertop, or any other stable surface.
Start sitting on the long edge of a bench. Step forward with your feet and place your hands on the edge of the bench. Move your body just in front of the bench with your arms straight. Bend at the elbows, using your triceps to slowly lower yourself down until your elbows reach a 90-degree angle and you feel a slight stretch in your triceps. Push back to the starting position and repeat.
“If this exercise is too difficult, you can scale it back by moving your feet closer to the bench and bending your knees as you lower,” Meier instructs. The goal is to perform three sets of 10 to 12 reps.
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One-arm overhead triceps extension
“Focusing on one side at a time during an exercise ensures that each side is pulling its weight during movements when you use both sides at once,” explains Meier. “This also helps prevent muscle imbalances. For example, if one arm is weaker, try adding a few extra reps on that side to safely strengthen it over time.”
Hold a single dumbbell in one hand. Bring the barbell behind your head with your triceps perpendicular to the floor; your elbow should point toward the ceiling. Contract your triceps to raise the barbell straight up until your arm is fully extended. Keep a slight bend at the top to avoid locking your elbow. Slowly lower the dumbbell back to the starting position. During this exercise you can use your free arm for balance. Complete your reps on one side before doing them on the other side. Perform three sets of 10 to 12 reps.
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Close Grip Dumbbell Chest Press
While this is technically a chest-focused exercise, the close-grip variation activates the triceps and puts more tension on them than a standard chest press.
To perform the exercise, Meier says, “Grab two dumbbells that are a moderate weight for your fitness level, then lie back on a bench (or the floor) while holding the weights near your chest. Raise the dumbbells slightly above your chest up with a neutral grip, meaning your palms are facing each other.Then press the dumbbells together and hold them together as you push them straight up to the ceiling.Once your arms are straight, slowly lower the dumbbells while keep them pressed together. Aim for three sets of eight to 10 reps.”
“Kickbacks are a great exercise to strengthen the triceps, and you don’t need a lot of weight to feel their effects,” says Meier. “Start with light dumbbells and increase the weight incrementally to make sure your form doesn’t suffer. Make sure your triceps stay parallel to the floor throughout the movement to get the desired effect.”
Here’s how to give a bribe to get those arms tighter and tighter. Stand with your knees slightly bent and a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing your hips. Keeping your back straight and shoulders back, hinge at the hips until your torso is parallel to the floor. Next, position your arms at a 90-degree angle with your triceps parallel to the floor. Then straighten your arms to move the dumbbells up and back until your arms are straight. Return to the starting position and repeat. Do three sets of 10 to 12 reps.