Squishy arms are NOT on the menu today.
Did writing on a whiteboard one meeting suddenly feel more jiggly than usual? Or did a recent picture of yourself in short sleeves make you wonder who replaced your upper arms with a pancake?
However the realization came about, it did – your arms could not be farther from Michelle Obama’s. But all hope is not lost, because all you need to add to your weekly workout routine are a few easy triceps exercises.
What Are Triceps?
Triceps are – as the name implies – a group of 3 muscles on the back of your arm that go from your shoulder to your elbow (opposite the bicep). They’re used for fine motor skills like writing, as well as shooting a basketball, playing tennis, doing pushups and yoga – think of how much it kills when your instructor makes you practice going from downward facing dog or plank to cobra over and over again.
‘Lunch Lady arms’ is a slang term for having untoned arms that wiggle and jiggle as you use your arm (apparently they can also be called ‘bingo wings’ so thank you for that, Urban Dictionary).
It’s important to remember that there is no such thing as ‘targeted weight loss,’ so doing all of the triceps exercises in the world won’t necessarily give you skinny, sculpted arms (if that is your goal) but building your triceps muscles does benefit you in that it adds tone, makes other upper body exercises easier, and helps your body lose weight, as muscle mass burns calories faster, even at rest.
Easy At-Home Triceps Exercises
While there are a bunch of ways to work out your triceps at the gym, here are some easy ways any beginner can work on them at home with a pair of dumbbells.
1. Triceps Extensions
The triceps extension is one of the easiest exercises for making sure you’re working the right muscle – trust us, you’ll feel it. To do it:
- Stand with your feet shoulder width apart
- Grasp the weight with both hands and place behind your head, aiming for between your shoulder blades
- Lift your arms so they’re straight above your head, making sure your elbows don’t flare outward too much
- Aim for 4 sets of 8 -12 reps
2. Triceps Kickback
You might feel a little silly in this crouched over, speed skater-esque position – you can also kneel on a bench with the leg opposite the arm lifting – but it’s a fantastic one for the back of your arms, and it’s a little easier to keep your elbows straight than a triceps extension.
- Stand with your feet together, knees slightly bent, and bent forward at the waist
- Hold onto your weights with your arms hanging straight down and then lift upward like they’re bags of groceries, keeping your arms close to your side. If you have a mirror you should see the back of your arm straight and slightly higher than your back, but you will also be able to feel your upper back /shoulder muscles ‘squish’ together.
- Bring your forearms back – again, staying close to your body – until your arm is straight, then repeat for 4 sets of 8 -12 reps.
3. Triceps Dips
Is there anything more impressive than someone casually doing triceps dips on a park bench during their run? Dips are a more intense triceps exercise because you’re supporting your whole body, so take it slow and work your way up to them!
- Find a low – and very secure – chair, table or bench and place your hands on it, shoulder-width apart, behind you.
- Put your feet in front of you with a slight bend.
- Straighten your arms – without locking them – and then slowly bend your elbows and lower your body toward the floor, until your elbow is at about a 90-degree angle. Remember to keep your butt close to the bench!
- Once your reach the ‘bottom’ of the move, straighten your arms to push down on the bench til you’re back ‘at the top.
- Do about 15 reps and 2-3 sets.
Tips to Remember
As with all weight-training, form is more important than doing things quickly or lifting a lot of weight – if you’re not sure that you’re doing it 100% correctly you can ask staff at your gym if you have one, or visit R/XXfitness on Reddit – it’s a place for women and nonbinary folks to discuss fitness in a positive and supportive space.