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The triceps are the small muscle group at the back of the arm.
For women, they’re a popular target because no woman wants ‘flabby’ arms.
I’ve found the best way to achieve a tight and toned triceps area is by doing high rep exercises with low weights.
You can (and should) use dumbbells, a barbell, an exercise step and your body weight to get variety and hit the triceps from different angles.
You’ll notice that some of the exercises below are similar but not identical.
By making the smallest modifications (in your exercises) you’ll hit the muscles in a different way and get different results, so make sure you try them all.
Start with light weight and go slow until your form is perfect. Then amp it up with more reps and heavier weights as soon as you’re ready.
Mix things up by changing rep patterns, tempo and weight. And of course, blend these exercises in with your cardio and other major muscle group exercises to get total body results.
I’ve included tips on doing the exercises below each video.
PRO TIP >> You can find links to everything used in these videos at the end of the post.
ATTENTION: I use the word ‘tricep’ rather than ‘triceps’ in this post. Please don’t email me and tell me I’m saying the wrong word. The fact is, most people use the word without the ‘s’ at the end when talking about the group of muscles that make up the triceps so I chose to use it the way most people would be familiar with (although it’s technically not correct). Thanks for understanding.
Lets get started…
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Keep your body close to the step
Don’t let your shoulders and neck collapse together. Stay tall and extended.
Go straight up and down.
Add variety by extending one leg
You can do these on the floor but you’ll get better range of motion (and results) doing these on an aerobic step, workout bench or something similar.
*Remember, I’ve got a links to all the equipment you see in the videos at the bottom of this post.
Your arms should graze your rib cage when you do these
Keep your palms facing each other as you go straight up and down
You’ll feel this a little in your chest, too, but mostly in the triceps
Keep a nice slow rep pattern when you’re doing these. You don’t want momentum or a ‘bounce’ at the bottom of the move.
I’m using 12 lb. dumbbells in the video but you can use any weight depending on your baseline strength and how many reps/sets you plan to do.
Don’t round your back when you’re doing your kickbacks. Try to keep your spine in a straight line from your neck all the way to your tailbone.
Keep your arm stable and just flex and extend at the elbow
Start with a very light weight until you know you have perfect form
Try not to bounce or swing the dumbbell
I’m using a 10 lb. dumbbell in the demo video but if I’m doing a lot of reps then I often go with an 8 lb. dumbbell.
Make sure you GO SLOW if you’ve never tried these. (You don’t want to hit your head with the barbell bar. #ivedoneitbefore)
Notice that my arms stay steady and only bend at the elbow with each rep
This is one of my favorite triceps exercises?
I’m using a barbell that’s about 25 lbs. in the video (each plate is 10 lbs. and the bar is about 5 lbs.).
This exercise is laser-focused on the triceps.
Go slow and steady
The dumbbell should come straight up and down
Don’t lock out your arms at the top of the move
Keep your core tight and your back straight (no slouching)
I’m using a 20 lb. dumbbell in the video.
To make this exercise really tough try doing sets of pulses.
These are HARD. Don’t be discouraged if you can only do one or two. That’s a great start to build on.
Your arms should graze your ribcage as you go down and up
Don’t elevate your feet too high or you’ll be forced to do a regular push up (which will shift the work to your chest more than the triceps muscles)
Keep your core rock solid with every rep
This is similar to the single-arm kickback (above) but with an extra ‘umph’ because you add a rotation at the top of the move. Make sure you rotate your palms up to the sky at the top of the kickback to really hit those muscles at the back of the arm
Go slow and steady. It’s hard not to swing and bounce but concentrate on being very deliberate so you can minimize any momentum
I’m using 10 lb. dumbbells in the demo but I’d recommend you do this with 8 lb. dumbbells (and higher reps) to tone the triceps area if you’re just getting started with dumbbells.
You can do this exercise on your toes or on your knees. (I like to do them on my knees.)
Notice the position of each hand (they’re staggered). One hand is placed for a tricep push up (grazing the ribcage) and the other hand is positioned for a traditional push up.
These are advanced and might take a few reps to find the perfect position (my hips always feel like they’re stacked wrong so I have to play around until I find the right position).
You’ll know when you’re doing them right because you’ll feel a burn in your triceps area immediately
You don’t need to go low (men will be able to go lower). The move is small.
Don’t be discouraged if you can only do a few! You’re a warrior and this exercise is hard. Keep trying it and you’ll be a pro in no time.
You don’t have to stabilize the working arm with your hand but I think it helps
Don’t start with a heavy dumbbell when you try this for the first time.
Go slow! You should have full control of the dumbbell through the entire move
I’m using a 10 lb. dumbbell in the demo. If you’re not sure what to start with then try it with a 5 lb. dumbbell first and then go up in weight when you’re ready.
This is your traditional triceps push up.
This hits your triceps from a different angle than the triceps push ups with your toes elevated (so you need to try them both)
Your arms should stay tight to your side and graze your ribcage as you go up and down
This is an advanced exercise! (It took me FOREVER to get it down.) Don’t give up!
Try this on your knees if you can’t do it on your toes
Helpful Links to All the Stuff I Used in the Exercises:
Want to see more exercise video clips>> Check out 10 Ab Exercises for Women (that work)
Have an incredible workout!
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