While you might have been focusing on building those biceps, @mattdoesfitness is here to remind you to take a look at training those triceps too.
These 4 moves are ideal for adding into your workout, whether at home or in the gym. All you need is a set of dumbbells and a bench or a chair.
We’ve asked Personal Trainer Joe Nixon to take us through each exercise, so you can get the most out of each move.
1. Overhead dumbbell tricep extension
Endless bicep curls are great, but nothing fills a shirt like big back arms; the triceps themselves make up more than two-thirds of upper-arm mass. As the name suggests, the humble tricep extension is a great way to target the back of your arms and performing a single arm movement first can make those bilateral movements all the harder when you have limited equipment.
Step by step
- Hold a dumbbell in one hand and stretch it vertically overhead. This is the starting position.
- Keeping full control and tension on the triceps, bend at the elbow and lower the weight to the back of your neck, being careful not to hit your head. The upper arm should be vertical throughout, with your lower arm pointing towards your body.
- When the weight reaches the bottom, contract your tricep to extend the weight back overhead.
2. Dumbbell French press
A form of tricep extension, the French press acts as a bilateral arm movement, so you can apply some heavier loads. Choose a dumbbell that challenges you, but doesn’t put you at risk with the weight overhead. Remember, it’s not a compound movement, so squeeze hard to get the reps in. They will have to work harder than normal following the previous tricep extensions, so really push it here.
Step by step
- Stand up straight and hold a single dumbbell straight overhead. Hold the dumbbell with your palms facing upwards, and hands forming a diamond.
- With your head tilted slightly forward, bend your elbow to bring one side of the dumbbell to the back of your neck. Your elbows will flare out slightly as the weight lowers.
- When the dumbbell touches the back of your neck, contract hard to press it back to the starting position, maintaining complete control throughout.
3. Lying dumbbell skull crushers
It’s wise to use a bench for this exercise, but it can be done on any flat surface, including the ground. You’ll find you can press more weight than you think, so don’t underestimate your strength with these, but start out easy to gauge how the triceps are doing at this stage.
Step by step
- Lay on a bench and hold a dumbbell in each hand straight out towards the sky. This is the starting position.
- Bend your elbows but keep your them pointed towards the sky throughout. Lower the weight very carefully to the sides of your head.
- Once at the bottom, contract your triceps forcefully to extend your arms back to the starting position.
4. Bench dips
Bench dips have been a favourite muscle-builder for decades, and with good reason. They hit all the major pressing areas of the upper body; the triceps, pectorals and deltoids all get a good look in. With this variation most of the tension will be on the triceps, which is just what we want – but be careful with your form.
Step by step
- Facing away from the bench, place your palms flat on the surface with your heels a few feet out in front of you. Keep your weight on your hands (to make it more difficult, place your heels on a raised platform, such as another bench). Your bum should have a clear path towards the ground.
- Bend your elbows and lower your bum towards the ground. Stop bending your elbows when they reach approximately 90 degrees – if you keep bending at this point, the tension goes out of your triceps and onto your shoulder joint, risking injury.
- Pause briefly at 90 degrees, then contract forcefully to fully extend the triceps and return to the starting position.
Take home message
Whether you’re new to lifting, or looking for something to spice up your arm workouts, these tricep exercises from @mattdoesfitness are sure to leave your muscles burning in the best way possible. So, pick up your dumbbells and get pumping.
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Evangeline has taken part in competitive sports since a young age. As a qualified RYA Dinghy Instructor, she understands the importance of proper nutrition for fuelling extreme and endurance sports, especially due to her experience in Team GBR Squads and captaining and coaching her University first team.
In her spare time, Evangeline loves running – especially marathons. On the weekends, you’ll find her taking on water sports or hiking up a hill. Her favourite evenings are spent taking on a HIIT session or squats in the gym before digging into some spicy food and a ton of vegetables – yum!
Find out more about Evie's experience here.