We have all lamented that jiggle. You know the one—you wave to a friend and feel the backside of your arm jiggle back and forth in flab-ulous style. The triceps are the most common “complaint area” for women—and they’re actually easy to tone.
Of course, there is no such thing as spot training—so, you’ll still need to burn fat and focus on overall fitness and toning—but, if you want to shape up those triceps, the American Council on Exercise has studied the most effective ways to strengthen and tone this muscle group. They researched eight common triceps exercises and narrowed it down to three no-fail strategies for toning the triceps. So, if you want the most bang for your buck, focus on these three exercises. Before you know it, you’ll be flaunting those arms in sleeveless tops.
Triangle Push-Ups: The push-up is an excellent all-around exercise. There are a variety of ways to perform push-ups, each designed to target a specific muscle group. Triangle push-ups are for the triceps. To perform a triangle push-up, get into a standard plank position and then bring your hands together so that your thumbs and forefingers touch in the shape of a triangle. Lower yourself toward the ground by bending your elbows straight back so they graze the rib cage. Stop when your upper arms are parallel to the floor and then slowly push back up.
Modifications: If triangle push-ups feel too challenging to start, try performing them against a wall or from the knees.
Triceps Kickbacks: The triceps kickback is a simple weightlifting move that is sure to leave your triceps burning. You can perform these kneeling in a low lunge or standing with one foot slightly in front of the other. Hold a light dumbbell in each hand—somewhere between three and eight pounds is usually sufficient. Hinge forward at the hips and draw your hands alongside your hips, palms facing in, so the elbows are bent. Extend your arms behind you without moving your upper arms—so the forearm is the only thing to move. Imagine that you’re trying to lift the pinky side of your fist toward the ceiling. You’ll know you’re doing these correctly if your triceps start burning.
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Modifications: If you don’t have dumbbells, you can use water bottles, soup cans, or rocks.
Chair Dips: Chair dips are an excellent, do-anywhere triceps exercise. To perform these, place the heels of your hands on the edge of a sturdy chair, bench, stair, or coffee table. Slide your rear end away from the seat and extend both legs straight or bend one leg at 90 degrees and extend the other. Bend your elbows and slowly lower your rear end toward the floor, keeping your elbows tucked in close to your body. Press back up until your arms are straight.
Challenge: To add an extra challenge, place your heels on a stability ball instead of the floor.
Boehler B, Porcari JP, Kline D, et al. Terrific Triceps. American Council on Exercise. ACE Sponsored Research. Available at: