Having stronger arms is a popular fitness goal. Yes, there is an element of aesthetic appeal, especially when trying out the one-shoulder trend. But let’s face it – it’s also really useful to be able to push a bit of weight around. So whether it’s to help progress our lifting in the gym, or just to make carrying heavy things easier, we’re always looking for the best ways to grow more muscle.
While the big moves like press-ups and deadlifts are the best way to strength train, it’s important to not forget about isolating our smaller muscles. Not only will this target imbalances, but adding strength to specific areas will help support you in those big lifts.
Your arms are the perfect example: building your triceps can support you in chest and shoulder exercises. But what tricep exercises are best if you want strong arms?
Each week, members of the Strong Women Collective answer some of the most asked questions from women who want to get into lifting. Today, they’re explaining the best way to get stronger triceps.
WHAT ARE THE BEST TRICEP EXERCISES?
Emma Obayuvana, Strong Women Ambassador
“Press-ups are great for your triceps, but specifically close grip press-ups. Make sure your hands are shoulder width apart, elbows are pinned back, and you lower all the way down so your chest touches the floor. If you’re squeezing your armpits into your side when you’re doing it you’ll be feeling your triceps work.
“Tricep kickbacks are also good to include. That’s when you’re standing in a bent over position with bent elbows and you slowly straighten the arm so they extend backwards.
“Another really good one is tricep dips. Place your hands behind you on a stool, your sofa, a bench or any risen surface and bend your elbow to lower down. But the important thing here is tempo: go slow on the way down rather than just collapsing. Play with the timing of the exercises and just really use the eccentric, or lowering, phase of the movement to challenge the muscle.”
Alice Miller, Strong Women Ambassador
“My favourite exercises for the triceps are press-ups and overhead press. These compound moves are going to offer you way more than just doing tricep isolation moves because you’ve got muscles that all work together, like your triceps, chest and shoulders.
“Dips between two bars or two chairs are also a really great one when it comes to bodyweight moves. It completely stresses the body, but your triceps work particularly hard as they have to lock out at the top of the move.”
HOW MANY TRICEP EXERCISES SHOULD YOU DO IN ONE SESSION?
Alice: “I would always focus on the big compound moves at the start of the session, maybe one or two big lifts. Then if you have time and you want to build a little bit more muscle on the arms, go for one or two isolation exercises for the triceps.”
HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU TRAIN TRICEPS?
Emma: “Triceps are a really small muscle group, so it’s really important to choose a day when you’re training other parts of your upper body to do them. Don’t just dedicate a whole day to them. You might do them on the same day as biceps to make sure you’re hitting all the muscles in the arms equally or do a few small isolation moves after a more compound push day.”
Alice: “If you’re doing a workout split that involves two upper body days, I’d say you can get tricep training in on both of those. But not just in isolation: add in with your dips and press-ups and different variations of presses and you’ll be targeting your triceps.”
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