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
  • Tricep Pushdowns: This one you can do at home with a resistance band, a door, and some ingenuity—or you can go to a gym.

Throw the resistance band up and over the open door and then hold onto each end of it. Start with your arms bent at a little more than 90 degrees and then extend them (pulling against the band) until they are completely straight. By using different grips, like a front grip, a reverse grip, or a rope grip, you can use this one exercise to work all three heads of your triceps.

  • Close-Grip Bench Press: This one you will either need to go to a gym for or invest in a set of dumbbells and some type of bench to lay on.

I am sure you know what a regular bench press exercise is—lay on your back on a bench and then push a weight away from your body. Well, a close-grip bench press is the same exercise, but you keep your hands closer together and keep your elbows close to your body.

  • Skull Crusher: This exercise only lives up to its name if you drop the weight on your head. Avoid that!

Simply lie on your back on a bench, hold a barbell or dumbbell with your arms bent at 90 degrees and elbows on either side of your head. Then extend your arms until they are completely straight, then bring them back down to 90 degrees. By adjusting your hand position to knuckles up, knuckles down, or knuckles sideways, you can again target the different heads of your triceps muscle.

I would suggest doing this one with slightly lighter weights and increase the reps to the 10 to 15 range. Lifting too heavy a weight can cause elbow pain, and don’t worry, as long as you are failing by rep 13, 14 or 15, you will get the benefits.

  • Dumbbell Kickbacks: You will definitely need some dumbbells (or something heavy that you can hold in your hand) for this triceps exercise.

Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing inward. Keep your back straight and bend forward at the waist so your torso is almost parallel to the floor. Hold the dumbbells with your arms at a 90-degree angle, between your forearm and upper arm. Keeping your upper arms still, use your triceps to kick the weights back until your arms are fully extended. Focus on moving just the forearm. Bring your arms back to the starting position and repeat.

Triceps Circuit Workout

Make sure you warm up well before you start this workout and until you have done it a couple times (and written down the weights you used for each exercise for future reference) be conservative. I don’t want you to have to call a loved one into the bathroom to help you wash your hair for 48 hours after you do this workout!

Having strong arms is important to support almost every upper body movement that you do each day.

Since our goal is to make your arms look great all around, I snuck some bicep work in here along with the triceps exercises.

Instructions: Do 10-12 reps of each of the two exercises, three times back-to-back, before moving on to the next set.

  • Set 1: Tricep Pushdowns to Bicep Curls

Pro tip: Each time you do the workout, use a different handle or grip for the pushdowns.

  • Set 2:  Close-Grip Bench Press to Narrow-Grip Push-Ups

Pro tip: Do the close-grip bench press with a set of dumbbells and hold the dumbbells with different grip positions to target different parts of your triceps muscles.

  • Set 3:  Dips to Pull-ups

Pro tip: You can do the assisted version of both if desired.

  • Set 4: Skull Crusher to Kickbacks

Pro tip: Aim for 15 reps of the Skull Crushers but keep the Kickbacks at 10-12.

Having strong arms is important to support almost every upper body movement that you do each day, and your triceps are quite often the ones that do the heavy lifting. Everyday movements like pushing a door open, pushing a shopping cart or a stroller, using a lawnmower, throwing a baseball, shooting a basketball, using a hammer, or lifting a heavy box over your head onto a high shelf, all rely on you having strong triceps.

Being strong is important and an added bonus of having strong arms is that they also look more firm, toned, awesome—and yes, if that's what you're looking for, less jiggly.

For more arm info, jiggle tips, and to join the toning conversation, head over to Facebook.com/GetFitGuy or twitter.com/getfitguy. Also don't forget to subscribe to the Get-Fit Guy podcast on Apple Podcasts, StitcherSpotify, Google Play or via RSS.


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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