How to Train Your Triceps to Be Toned and Tight

Flappy arms, or what some rude folks refer as bat wings, are actually a very common problem area for many people. But just because it is common doesn’t mean that we have to live with it. If this is an area that bothers you, here are some tips to help tighten and tone those triceps. 

Brock Armstrong
8-minute read
Episode #397
Photo of a woman doing a triceps workout

What Is Circuit Training?

Circuit training is a term for going directly from one set of an exercise to another set of an exercise, that usually engages a different muscle group, and back and forth until you have completed the prescribed amount of sets. This is a great way to maximize your workout time while also ensuring that your heart rate stays and remains elevated.

This is one of my favorite ways to work out because, if you are doing a circuit training session, you can complete a full-body workout in 30 minutes or less. And in that 30 minutes, you get the benefits of muscle building and toning along with an intense cardio workout. The exercise options that you place in your circuit are pretty much endless and you can switch up the exercises frequently to keep your interest high and keep your muscles and mind working hard. 

I will give you a killer arm-specific circuit training workout in just a bit, but first, let’s talk about the muscles that we want to target.

Anatomy of the Triceps

Triceps are the back portion of the upper arm between the elbow and the shoulder that are used for extension of the elbow.

I find that you need to come at the triceps from as many angles as possible to truly make them strong and t-shirt enhancing.

On the anatomy poster that I keep in my office, the technical term for these muscles is Triceps Brachii, which is Latin for "three-headed muscle." The reason they are called that is because the triceps are composed of three different muscle bundles on the outside, inside, and middle of the back of your arms.

Because the triceps are made of three different muscles, you won’t be able to target them fully by simply doing one or two exercises. I find that you need to come at them from as many angles as possible, using a variety of exercises, moves, grips, and hand positions to truly make them strong and t-shirt bulging.

Triceps Exercises

Two of the best exercises for this part of your body are the Lying Tricep Press and the Close-Grip Bench Press, but those both can be intimidating ones to start with. Those exercises also usually require a trip to the gym, so let’s start with a few that you can do at home.

  • Narrow-Grip Pushups: This is a home-friendly version of to the Close-Grip Bench Press that I mentioned earlier, but instead of lifting dumbbells or a barbell, you lift your own bodyweight.

To do this, simply do a regular push-up, or a wall or stair push-up, and keep your hands closer together than usual. You can form a triangle with your hands if you like and make sure your elbows brush your ribcage as you go down and back up.

  • Dips: This one works many of the same muscles as the Lying Tricep Press but, once again, you are using your body weight instead of steel and lead.

To do this exercise, begin by sitting on a chair and placing your hands on either side of your butt. Now scoot your body forward so you are able to lower your backside down to the floor using just your arms. Then push yourself back up.

You can make this more or less challenging by bending or straightening your legs and moving your feet closer or farther away from you. To make it really challenging, try resting your feet on a stability (or yoga) ball way out in front of you!


About the Author

Brock Armstrong

Brock Armstrong is a certified AFLCA Group Fitness Leader with a designation in Portable Equipment, NCCP and CAC Triathlon Coach, and a TnT certified run coach. He is also on the board of advisors for the Primal Health Coach Institute and a guest faculty member of the Human Potential Institute. Do you have a fitness question? Leave a message on the Get-Fit Guy listener line. Your question could be featured on the show. 

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