3 Key Exercises To Shape Your Triceps

Thursday, July 06, 2017. Author Paul Rose

Tricep Extension

Summer season is upon us, which means you’ve probably swapped your sweaters and coats for sleeveless tops, swimwear and strapless dresses, so your upper arms will be on show for all to see!

It’s time to arm yourself with the best strengthening exercises to really target this potentially troublesome area and to avoid soft, weak arms!

First an important disclaimer – Spot reduction of fat from individual body parts is a myth and people telling you otherwise are either lacking in knowledge or looking for a quick buck.

Poor diet and lack of physical activity are the primary causes of body fat storage. These should be your main concerns if you are overweight or obese. Using workout plans involving the whole body, coupled with a good nutrition strategy are by far the most effective ways to lose excess fat before looking to define your arms. FitnessGenes offers a wide variety of workout and nutrition plans that will put you on the right track to showing off your arms….and the rest of your body.


Tricep Anatomy

The Triceps are the main muscle group located at the back of the arm, and working this muscle group will help bring some real definition and shape to your upper arms. 

The Triceps heads feed into and insert at the elbow joint, so triceps work requires elbow extension – or pressing movements.

Three heads are better than one

The Triceps have three heads - the Long, the Lateral and the Medial heads. Using a mind-muscle connection can give that complete triceps workout to really shape your arms.


Here are some quick exercises you can do at home or at the gym to make sure you are working all parts of your triceps!


The Long Head

The Long head is the big muscle located at the back of your upper arm, inserting at your elbow, crossing the back of the arm and attaching to the back of your Scapula (shoulder blade). 

Lying Dumbbell Tricep Extension

Starting Position: Lie with your back on a bench, extending your arms straight above your chest. Keep your hands shoulder width apart, with dumbbells gripped in a neutral position. Keep your shoulder blades back and tight on the bench, knees bent, spine neutral and abs engaged.

Action: Keeping your upper arms motionless and parallel (elbows pointed to the ceiling), bend your elbows and lower the weights slowly towards your head. Stop just as your hands come in line with your head, and extend your elbows back to the starting position.

Avoid: Moving shoulders up towards your ears, overarching your back or lowering your upper arm. 

Alternative modification: Dumbbell Overhead Triceps Extension


The Lateral Head

The Lateral head as you may have guessed is the head of the Triceps located more on the side of your arm and creates the front part of the horseshoe shape.

A great exercise to target the lateral head of your triceps is the pushdown.

Tricep Pushdowns

Use either a Resistance Band over a door frame or the cable machine at the gym with a rope or V-bar attachment.

Starting Position: Stand with your knees and hips slightly bent and your torso leaning slightly forward. Grasp the resistance band (or triceps rope or handle attachment from the top of a cable machine) with your hands facing down. Your elbows should be tucked in by your sides in line with your back, with your chest and head looking forward. Keep your core nice and solid!

Action: As you exhale pull the band (or cable attachment) down to the floor, towards your lap, straightening your arms completely. Your lower arms should travel slightly outward to target the lateral head. Pause for a second at the bottom of the movement, then inhale as you control the rope back to its starting position.

Avoid: Letting your elbows leave your side, shrugging or rounding the shoulders, or leaning backwards to help move the weight.


The Medial Head

The Medial head, the least visible and often forgotten member of the Triceps complex lays just beneath the Long head. Although it is less visible, it helps stabilize and support the muscle group during movements and helps develop overall Tricep strength.

Close Grip Bench Press

Starting Position: Lie with your back on a bench, extending your arms straight above your chest. Your hand grip should be slightly narrower than shoulder width apart, with your palms facing upwards. Keep your shoulders down against the bench and your abs engaged while maintaining a neutral spine position. 

Action: Keeping your elbows close to your sides, and forearms pointing straight upwards, inhale as you lower the weights towards the mid lower chest. Exhale, and return the weights to their starting position.

Avoid: Lowering the weight too quickly or bouncing the weights– keep the motion smooth and controlled.

Alternative Modification: Narrow or Diamond Push Ups


I hope you enjoyed this article and I invite you to read my other blog posts:

Bilateral vs Unilateral Training

The Mind-Muscle Connection

Resting metabolic rate and its impact on body composition

Women and weight training

Phytonutrients-The Key to Longevity

The Correct Way to Warm-Up

Core Stability

Learn how to lunge

Build explosive power with kettlebell swings

How to achieve your fitness goals

Meditation: Train your brain for change

3 Easy Ways You Can Get Started

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