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Fitness for the body, mind & spirit

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Thoughtful Thursday…3 exercises for stronger triceps ...

Welcome to Thoughtful Thursday. This GreenNote Fitness newsletter mindfully gathers and distills useful information that is supportive to our journey. It is my mission to educate, inspire, and propel you into action that moves you towards your goals and life of purpose. Take control of your journey today.

Biceps, cover your ears. The triceps are possibly the underrated muscles in the arms and arguably the muscles to pay a little more attention too. Sure, biceps’ have the catchy slogan, “suns out guns out”. However, we need to consider that triceps are the largest muscle group in the upper arms; not the biceps. Instead of having two heads like the biceps, the triceps have three muscles heads; the long head (originates under the scapula); the lateral head (“outer” part of the arm); and the medial head (covered by the other two except above the elbow). The main function of the triceps is to extend the elbow joint and thereby straighten the lower arm. They contribute greatly to our pressing ability, think bench press, or maybe more practically, lifting a suitcase into an overhead compartment on an airplane. Functionally, it makes sense to have strong triceps but also aesthetically as well. For example, when you wave good-bye before getting on that airplane, it would be nice if the whole underside of the arm didn’t do the wave. Let’s get some strength in those triceps. As we learned there are three different muscle heads that comprise the triceps so let’s make sure to train all three. Some tricep exercises target one or possibly two of the muscles heads. It is a good idea to vary the tricep exercises to make sure we are getting all of the areas. Here are three that I’m currently incorporating into my routine. My awesome client, Susan, is demonstrating.

1.) Close-grip Bench Press

Lie back on a flat bench. Grip the bar with a close grip; about shoulder width apart. Remove bar from the rack and hold over you with arms locked. Slowly lower bar to middle of chest and push back up (lowering should take twice as long as going back up).

The key here is to keep the elbows close to the body. I’m doing three sets with 10 repetitions. If no barbell is available, this could also be performed with dumbbells. If using dumbbells, make sure palms are facing each other.

2.) Skull-Crushers

Similar to the the close-grip bench press, lie back on a bench and using a close grip, grab an EZ bar, keeping it close to your chest. Once you are in position, press the weight to lockout. Unlock the elbows, allowing the EZ bar to lower to right above your forehead. Next, reverse the movement by extending the elbows while flexing the triceps to lockout. A common mistake I see during this exercise is dropping the elbows instead of keeping the elbows in place, allowing the elbows to bend.


Keep the elbows pointed forward, don’t let them flare out. I’m doing three sets with 10 repetitions. If you don’t have access to an EZ bar, you could substitute with a single dumbbell by holding it horizontally.

3.) Tricep Dumbbell Kick-Back

Start with right knee bent and placed on a flat bench. The right arm will be straight with hand on bench. Left foot is on the floor and left hand holding dumbbell. Elbow is close to body, arm bent at 90 degrees. This is the starting position. Keeping the elbow in place (don’t lower it), take it back, pause, and return to starting position. As with the skull-crushers, a common mistake is dropping or lowering the elbow. Instead, be sure to keep elbow in position and then take the dumbbell back.

The key here is to keep the elbows close to the body. I’m doing three sets with 10 repetitions on each side.

I like those three exercises as together, they hit all areas of the triceps. Try incorporating some of these into your training two times per week for 2 to 3 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions. Start with a light weight and gradually increase. Your triceps will be strong in no time!

If you enjoyed this newsletter and would like to see more like it, let me know. Enjoy your journey, Lisa Schaffer GreenNote Fitness You wouldn’t happen to know just one person that would benefit from this information? Please forward it to them! Did you miss last week’s newsletter on exercises for training grip strength...? P.S. Check out my Facebook page for inspiration. P.P.S. Discover GreenNote Fitness recommendations for books, podcasts, and more on body, mind, and spirit.

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