The triceps, also known as the three-headed arm muscle, is located in the back of your upper arm.
Some individuals, especially women, may be concerned about the excess fat and flabby skin covering this muscle, commonly called ‘bingo wings.’ Even the skin loses elasticity over time, and embracing body positivity is important; we understand the desire to tone your triceps.
This blog delivers 8 highly effective triceps exercises to help you achieve firmer arms.
So let me take you on a journey towards a more confident you, ladies!
Triceps Exercises for Women
Every triceps exercise is unique, giving you different intensities and more stimulus. This will result in achieving the desired triceps strength and shape quicker!
I detailed the unique benefits of each triceps exercise below! Choose what best suits your needs, goal, injury history, and fitness level!
1. Dumbbell Triceps Kickbacks
This exercise works your triceps while allowing the elbow joint to move in its entire range.
Other muscles, like the rhomboids, post deltoid, and traps, also assist in stabilizing the upper body during the movement! This demand for stability makes it an excellent fit to prevent injuries and treat shoulder pain.
Beginners may need help with the technique to start. Make sure to ask a qualified professional for instructions.
- Put one knee and the same side of your hand on the bench (opposite arm and leg, then you are working and holding the dumbbell in).
- Keep your palm under the shoulder.
- Stretch the other leg beside you/bench, and grab a dumbbell with your free arm.
- Maintain a neutral spine.
- Bring the elbow up to 90 degrees beside you.
- Extend the arm by kicking back the dumbbell. Breathe out as you ‘kick.’
❗When your elbows are fully extended, pause for 3 seconds.
❗Control the weight down for 3 seconds (Time Under Tension) for more stimulus and muscle gains.
2. Cable Triceps Pushdown
The cable machine offers constant resistance and tension throughout the movement.
The cable machine offers constant resistance and tension throughout the movement. This eccentric (lowering phase) training can help increase muscle mass and prevent injuries!
On top of this, you can access different grip attachments and variations like :
- Single/double rope
- Press-down bar
- Straight bar
- Soft/hard cable handle
This can allow women to use a suitable grip for their anatomy. The easily adjustable resistance also makes it ideal for beginners!
- Stand in front of a column bar, attach a straight bar or a rope to the cable.
- Adjust the cable slightly higher than the head height. Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
- Bend your knees slightly, and keep your elbows beside your hips/core.
- Bend your elbows 90 degrees or more (hands around chest height).
- Keep a straight, braced back.
- Push the bar/rope down your thighs by extending the arms.
- Return to the starting position by bending the elbows.
- Exhale as you extend the arm, and inhale while returning to the start.
- Repeat for the desired reps and sets.
❗Hinge slightly on your hips; this way, you can work the long and medial head of the triceps at the same time!
❗Avoid moving the elbows!
3. Triceps Bench Dips
The bodyweight triceps dip requires minimal equipment, making it suitable for a home workout for busy mums or women who don’t have access to a gym.
It’s a compound exercise that is also highly functional, working the chest, shoulder, and triceps, building strength, and making everyday activities easier.
- Get a sturdy chair, table, or bench.
- Place your palm on the edge of the bench, with your fingers pointing forward.
- Stretch your legs out in front of you, and keep your bottom off the bench too.
- Keep your elbows soft behind you; this will be your starting position.
- Slowly start bending the elbows to around 90 degrees.
- Push back to the starting position.
- Breathe out on the way up and in on the way down.
- Repeat for the desired reps and set.
❗Bend the knees instead of stretching the leg out. This will take some weight away from your arms.
❗Complete triceps dips on a dip bar. Lean forward to target the chest more or keep your torso upright to emphasize the triceps.
4. Triceps Push-Ups
Triceps push-ups are effective for working your triceps and engaging your core. Keep your body straight, engage your core, and squeeze your glutes to do them. This helps tone your arms and strengthen your core.
There are some triceps push-up modifications, too, for those who are just starting:
- Incline triceps push up (on a box, bench, or chair)
- Kneeling triceps push-ups
And you can do them ANYWHERE!
- Start in a high plank position (on your palms).
- Keep your hands and elbows neutral, and shoulder-width apart.
- Head/Eyes forward (look forward)
- Keep your core braced, squeeze your glutes, and maintain a neutral spine
- Keep the elbows close to your body when lowering down (between 45-70 degrees of angle)
- Pull your shoulders down to create stability and increase pushing strength.
- Push back to a high plank position once you are close to the ground with your chest.
- Inhale as you lower to the floor, and exhale when you press yourself up.
- Repeat for the desired reps and sets.
- Hands too wide turned in, and elbows flaring out (increased risks of shoulder impingement)
- Shoulder shrugging (overactive upper traps).
- Pushing the bum low, overextending the back (increased risk of lower back strains, lack of core stability)
- Pushing your bum too high
- Looking up
❗If you want a FULLY triceps-focused push-up, tuck the elbows in and bring them down and back as far away from your hands as you can, and your mobility allows you to!
5. TRX Triceps Extensions
This is one of the most superior triceps-building exercises you can do!
That’s because the unstable equipment (TRX) requires control and adjustment in angle to perform it correctly. It’s done on the suspension trainer, which engages the core and shoulder stabilizers throughout the movement.
This may be difficult for beginners, but you can prevent injuries and maximize your triceps gains with some practice and instructions.
- Tie the TRX on a high position to a stable bar, tree, or furniture.
- Grip the TRX handles with an overhand grip, placing your hands inside the handles and the rope outside.
- Maintain a neutral spine, standing upright, and position your arms in front of you at around chest level.
- Bend your elbows, lowering your body down until your elbows reach a 90-degree angle.
- Inhale as you lower yourself down.
- Exhale as you extend your arms and push yourself to the starting position.
- Repeat for the desired reps.
❗The more upright you stand, the easier the exercise is, as you will have to ‘lift’ less of your weight. The further back you step, the more challenging the exercise will get.
6. Close Grip Bench Press
This fantastic exercise works your chest and shoulders while emphasizing your triceps muscle. It’s considered one of the best compound exercises for strength and muscle development. Therefore, it is an excellent exercise for overall upper-body training.
If you are a beginner, start with light weights and have a spotter who can assist you in lifting a barbell and use a safety bar or power rack to ensure your safety.
- Lay down on the bench. Keep your feet planted into the ground.
- Grip on the barbell slightly closer than shoulder-width apart.
- Keep your wrist straight and in line with the elbows.
- Brace your core, and press your upper back into the bench to set your shoulders into a safe position.
- Inhale, and bring the bar down to your last rib by bending the elbows to around 90 degrees.
- Exhale as you push the barbell up, using your breath to help generate force and maintain core stability.
- Avoid locking out your elbows at the top of the movement.
- Repeat for the desired sets and reps.
- Your grip is too narrow (touching hands), increasing the risk of wrist injuries
- Not keeping the wrist over the elbows increases the chance of shoulder impingement
- Using too heavy weights too suddenly.
❗Have a natural curve on your lower back while bench pressing.
To achieve this, squeeze your shoulder blades back and down, raising your chest.
Squeeze your glutes and brace to the core while maintaining that natural arch on your lower back.
7. Cable Triceps Overhead Extension
By extending your arms overhead, you place a significant workload on the long head of the triceps. We already know that the cable machine exercises enhance stability and result in functional strength.
It is a good option for beginners if using an appropriate weight.
- Set the cable at a high position on the cable machine.
- Attach a rope to the cable and grab it with two hands with the thumbs facing up.
- Turn around, facing away from the column bar.
- Extend your arms overhead while keeping your elbows close to your ears.
- Breathe in, and lower the handle behind your head by bending your elbows, forming 90 degrees angle.
- Pause briefly at the bottom of the movement.
- Breathe out and slowly return to the starting position by extending your arms.
- Repeat for the desired reps and sets.
❗Don’t allow your elbows to flare out.
❗Drop your chest slightly down while performing the exercise to get more contraction on your triceps.
8. DB Bridge Pullovers
Prepare to be amazed by this impressive exercise that goes beyond targeting just your triceps. It works your chest, lats, and rotator cuff muscles simultaneously, making it a good exercise for building muscle and preventing injuries.
As a woman, I know how much we love training our legs.
You can also give your glutes a fantastic workout by performing pullovers in a bridge position. We are hitting two birds with one stone; how awesome is that?
- Sit on the edge of the bench, tilt your hip to the side and get it on your hips.
- Then, grip one side of the dumbbell with an underhand grip.
- Bridge up, and stretch your arm with the dumbbell in front of your chest. This is your starting position.
- Your upper back must be supported, your head slightly off the bench, and your chin tucked down.
- Squeeze your glutes, and brace your core.
- Inhale, and lower the dumbbell over your head in 3-5 seconds.
- Avoid overextending your back!
- Exhale, and bring the weight back to the start (over your chest).
❗Lower the dumbbell until you feel a slight but comfortable stretch in your lats and chest. Stretching your triceps under load will lead to a firmer upper arm!
❗If you are a beginner, use a lighter weight or lie flat on a bench instead of bridging!
Sample Triceps Workouts for Women
When and where you should implement your triceps workout depends on your preferred training style, program, and fitness goal.
Here are some examples:
Chest and/or Shoulders & Triceps
You can implement triceps exercises into your chest and shoulders routine, as the triceps involve many pressing and pushing movements. This can increase the intensity and load on the triceps, leading to more gains in muscle mass.
Sample plan: (For reps & sets, read below).
- Chest exercise: Close-Grip Bench press
- (Compound) Triceps exercises: Triceps Push-Ups
- If you are more advanced, superset Close-Grip Bench Press with Triceps Push-Ups
- Shoulder exercise: Dumbbell Press
- (Isolation) Triceps exercise: Cable Triceps Overhead Extension or Triceps Pushdown
- If you are more advanced, superset Dumbbell Press with Triceps Overhead Extensions
- Chest and Front Deltoid Exercise: Dumbbell Incline Pec Fly
- Finish with a Triceps Dip until failure. As a beginner, do Bench dips!
A popular routine among bodybuilders is to dedicate an entire session just for an arm workout. This allows you to focus specifically on arm development and can be beneficial if you want to prioritize arm strength or toning. You train both biceps and triceps these days.
- Triset Triceps exercises:
- (Isolation) DB Triceps Kickbacks
- (Compound) Triceps Push-ups
- (Isolation) Cable Triceps Extensions
- Biceps exercise:
- Plate Pinch
- Hammer curl
* For Hypertrophy purposes, add 3 triceps exercises; if your aim is more triceps and upper body strength, throw in a biceps exercise instead of one triceps.
Full Body Workouts
Adding triceps exercises to a full-body routine can benefit women who want to improve overall upper-body strength, muscle development, and functional fitness. This approach allows you to target multiple muscle groups, including the triceps, in a comprehensive full-body workout.
- Primary movements to start with: Thrusters/ Deadlift/ Overhead Press/Bent Over Row
- Compound triceps exercise: DB Bride Pullover
- Functional compound triceps exercise: TRX Triceps Extension
- Leg exercise (post chain): Hyperextensions
- Leg exercise: Leg extension
For advanced athletes, finish with another primary movement like close grip bench press.
Other tips for triceps workout
Reps and Sets
When choosing the reps and sets for your workout, consider whether the exercise is isolation (working a single muscle, like the triceps) or compound movement (involving two or more joints and muscles to perform the exercise).
Isolation exercises aim to ‘burn’ your muscles. If you load them too heavy other muscles will compensate, but they should work for one specific muscle.
Therefore, higher reps work better for them, like:
3 sets of 15-20 reps with 30-second rest. Increase the weight gradually as you get stronger.
However, compound moves work well with a variety of rep ranges.
- For muscle growth (hypertrophy): 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
- For strength: 4-6 sets of 3-8 reps
Make sure you always prioritize technique over quantity in either case!
- Dumbbell Triceps Kickback, Cable Triceps Pushdowns, Cable Triceps Overhead Extension
- Triceps Bench Grips, Triceps Push-Ups, Close Grip Bench Press, Dumbbell Bridge Pullovers, TRX Triceps Extension
Add Training Systems
Choose 2 of the above triceps exercises. Complete them back-to-back, then rest after the seconds exercise for 30-60 seconds.
This will result in more stimulus leading to muscle growth.
Similarly, to the superset, this time, choose 3 of the above exercises and rest after the 3rd.
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