Training the Triceps


Just because we’re putting away our tank tops for the season doesn’t mean that it’s time to ignore our triceps. The triceps are located on the back side of our upper arm and consist of three heads: lateral, long and medial. They are the muscles that extend the elbow joint (straighten the arm) and stabilize it when the forearm and hand are doing fine motor movements.  Although it’s utilized more than one may think, strengthening it effectively is sometimes challenging and really requires good technique and proper form.
One common mistake made when working the triceps is assistance from the shoulder during repetitions. Tricep kickbacks are a perfect example of this (see image below). The key is to bend the arm at the elbow and extend it with each rep. Often people will forget this, keep a straight arm and merely swing it forward and back. The tricep will not be targeted  effectively without full range of motion from bending to extension with this particular exercise.


Another potentially dangerous mistake when doing many tricep exercises is unstable wrists or movement of the wrists. Remember that tricep exercises are about extension of the elbows; the wrists should only hold the dumbbell or support your body weight, never bend. Only repetitions with good form are worth doing so if you find that you are unable to finish the exercise properly either do less repetitions, modify the exercise or lower the amount of weight that you’re using.
Finally, remember to keep your elbows close to your body when doing exercises like overhead extensions and skull crushers. What I like to call “Chicken Wing Arm” is an unsafe position for the elbows and should be corrected. (See image below for correct form.)


However you chose to work your triceps just remember to keep them as part of your strength training routine even during the upcoming sweater wearing months. Your body will thank you in May when it’s time to bare those beautiful arms once again.
*(Below are four great exercises for targeting the triceps. Remember to have good form and consult a Certified Personal Trainer if you have any questions on proper technique.)

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