Stronger and bigger triceps don’t just help you look better from the back (yup, she’s secretly checking you out when your back is turned). They also promote shoulder stability. And take a leaf from your girlfriend’s book – jiggly underarms aren’t sexy at all. And working your triceps in tandem with your biceps will lead to toned arms that you can show off in sleeveless tops and singlets. Try these exercises for bigger triceps.
Lying Triceps Extension
Start: Grab a pair of dumbbells and lie on a bench. With a neutral, shoulder-width grip and straight arms, hold the dumbbells up over your forehead.
Finish: Bend at the elbows as you lower the weights down to the sides of your forehead. Keep your upper arms in the same position, and pause when your elbows are bent just past 90 degrees. Return to the starting position.
Swiss-Ball Lying Triceps Extension
Lie with only your head, neck, and shoulder blades in contact with a ball — your lower back should be off of it. Then with your feet shoulder-width apart, push to lift your hips until they’re parallel to the floor and your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle. Do standard lying triceps extensions, angling your arms back slightly as you hold the dumbbells overhead, to ensure more work for the long head of your triceps.
Cross-Body Unilateral Extension
Start: Sit on a bench and lean toward your dominant side, grabbing the side of the bench to steady yourself. With an overhand grip, hold a dumbbell in your non-dominant hand and raise it at arm’s length above your shoulder so your arm and torso are at the same angle.
Finish: Bend your elbow to lower the weight until it’s an inch or two above your jaw. Pause, then return to the starting position. Keep your upper arm in the same position throughout. Finish the set with that arm, then repeat with the other.
Overhead Triceps Extension
Start: Grab the end of a moderately heavy dumbbell with both hands, and sit at the end of a bench. With your palms around the bar and pressing up on the inside of the upper weight plate, lift the weight over your head, and hold it there with your elbows close to your head.
Finish: Lower the weight behind your head until your forearms are just past parallel to the floor. Pause, then return to the starting position. Keep your upper arms in the same position throughout.
Swiss-Ball Overhead Triceps Extension
This is basically the same as the standard overhead triceps extension, except that the ball requires you to balance, making the exercise more challenging.
Unilateral Overhead Triceps Extension with Lean
Start: Grab one light dumbbell in your non-dominant hand with an overhand grip, and sit sideways on a bench. Lean so your torso is at about a 75-degree angle to the bench. (You don’t have to break out the protractor here; you just want to be somewhere between 45 and 90 degrees.) Support your body with your other hand on the bench. Hold the dumbbell straight up over your head, following along the same angle as the rest of your body.
Finish: Lower the weight at an angle behind your head, toward the opposite ear. Pause, then return to the starting position. Keep your upper arm at the same angle throughout. Finish the set with that arm before repeating with the other.
Unilateral Triceps Kickback
Start: Grab a light dumbbell in your non-dominant hand and place your opposite hand and knee on a bench. (This is the same basic starting position as the one-arm row.) Plant your non-dominant foot flat on the floor. Bend forward at the hips so your torso is parallel to the floor. Hold the dumbbell at the side of your abdomen with a neutral grip, elbow pointed toward the ceiling.
Finish: Lift the weight up and back until your arm is straight. Keep your elbow pointed toward the ceiling and the rest of your body steady. Pause for 2 full seconds, then slowly return to the starting position. Finish the set on that side before repeating on the other.
Close-Grip Bench Press
Start: Grab a pair of dumbbells with a neutral grip, to maximize your triceps workload. Lie on a bench and extend both arms directly over your chest.
Finish: Lower the weights straight down toward your chest. (If you angle them outward, you’ll reduce the role of your triceps.) Bring your elbows past your sides and stop just before the weights touch your chest. Pause, then press back to the starting position.