Soft triceps with a layer of excess fat make the back of your arms flabby, but you don't need machines or weights to tone and tighten your triceps. A study commissioned by the American Council on Exercise, concluded a variation of the pushup is the most effective triceps-toning exercise. Spot reduction, however, doesn't exist. To get rid of the excess fat, include fat-burning cardiovasular exercises in your workout program.
Basic pushups with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart work your triceps, along with other upper-body muscles such as your pectorals, and anterior deltoids. Your biceps help stabilize your arms, while your abs and obliques stabilize your body and help keep your back straight. If you can't do full pushups, keep your knees on the floor to assist you.
A study commissioned by the American Council on Exercise used electromyographic equipment to gauge the effectiveness of eight commonly practiced triceps exercises. Some of the tested routines included body-weight exercises such as triangle pushups and dips, resistance machine exercises such as triceps pushdowns, and dumbbell exercises such as triceps kickbacks. Triangle pushups, also known as close-grip pushups, engaged the most muscle fibers in the triceps. To do this variation of the pushup, place your hands close together under your chest with your thumbs and forefingers forming a triangle. Triangle pushups are harder than the basic variety. For an easier variation, keep your knees on the floor until you get stronger.
Medicine Ball Pushups
As you get stronger, progress to harder pushup variations that work your triceps more intensely. For example, do pushups on an unstable surface such as a medicine ball. Place your hands on the sides of a medicine ball and keep your elbows tight to your body as you lower yourself and push up. The American Council on Exercise notes that using a ball with handles reduces the pressure on your wrists. ACE advises that due to the instability of the ball, do the exercise with slow controlled movements to reduce risk of injury.
Pushups may strengthen and tone your triceps, but you will see little benefit as long as the back of your arms carry a layer of excess fat. Burn this fat off with regular cardiovascular exercises at least three times a week, and reveal the toned triceps you have worked so hard to achieve. To ensure it is something you will keep up in the long term, choose an activity you enjoy doing. Some of your options can be gym exercises, including bicycling, running, swimming laps, hiking, jumping rope or aerobic classes.
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