How to Tone the Backs Of Your Arms

Learn the best arm-toning workout.

Ben Greenfield
4-minute read
Episode #48

Have you ever heard of “bye-bye” arms? That’s when the flapping fat on the back of your arm keeps on waving even after you’ve stopped. My mom used to call her arms “flopping fish”, and flabby arms are also known as “lunch lady arms,” “quail flanks,” and “bingo wings.”( Thank you, Urban Dictionary.)

How to Tone the Backs of Your Arms

Regardless of what we call them, the fat on the back of the arms can be an annoying reason for avoiding t-shirts and tank tops. In this article, you’ll learn how to tone the back of your arms and discover the best arm toning workout.

What Muscles Are On the Back Of Your Arms?

The muscles on the back of the arms are called the triceps. In anatomy, the technical term is actually “triceps brachii”, which is Latin for three-headed muscle. Though this seems to make your triceps sound like some kind of fairy-tale monster, the reason for this name is that the triceps are comprised of three different muscle bundles on the outside, middle, and inside of the back of your arms.

Because the triceps has three different muscles, simply doing one exercise is typically not enough to tone the back of your arms. Instead, you need to come at that three-headed monster from as many angles as possible, using a variety of exercises and hand positions.

The Best Exercises For the Back of The Arms

In the Quick and Dirty Tips video “Tone the Back Of Your Arms” I demonstrate two exercises with a Gymstick: the overhead triceps extension and the narrow grip chest press. But there are many additional exercises that work well for the back of your arms, including these fantastic five:

Narrow Grip Pushups: Do a pushup in the regular or knee push-up position, but keep your hands closer together and make sure your elbows brush your ribcage as you lower yourself down and push yourself back up.

Tricep Pushdowns: At most gyms, you’ll find a cable apparatus with a rope or bar attached to it. This is perfect for triceps pushdowns, in which you start with your arms bent at 90 degrees and then extend them until they’re completely straight. By using different handles and grips, like a front grip, a reverse grip, or a rope grip, you can ensure that you work all three heads of your triceps.

Dips: For this triceps exercise, you begin by holding onto two bars and suspending your body in the air. You then lower yourself as far as you can--or until your elbows are at about 90 degrees--then push yourself back up. Sound too hard? Don’t worry, many gyms have an assisted dip machine, which is similar to an assisted pull-up machine, and includes the ability to select the amount of weight you’d like to help you complete the dip.


All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own health provider. Please consult a licensed health professional for all individual questions and issues.

About the Author

Ben Greenfield

Ben Greenfield received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from University of Idaho in sports science and exercise physiology; personal training and strength and conditioning certifications from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA); a sports nutrition certification from the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), an advanced bicycle fitting certification from Serotta. He has over 11 years’ experience in coaching professional, collegiate, and recreational athletes from all sports, and as helped hundreds of clients achieve weight loss and fitness success.