Study Reveals Top 3 Triceps-Toning Exercises


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  25 comments   :  98,492 Views

No one wants saggy or flabby arms that flap like wings when you wave to a friend or raise your glass for a celebratory toast. That back-of-the-upper-arm area is a common trouble zone for women, a place where extra fat and excess skin seems to gather, hang out (literally) and never go away!

One of the best ways to improve the appearance of your arms is to tone up those triceps. While there is no such thing as spot-training (the idea that you can lose weight in a specific area of the body by exercising it more), strength training does help you improve your overall muscle tone. Combine that with a good diet and cardio exercise (the real key to burning the fat that's hanging off those arms), and you'll achieve a fitter, more toned appearance. (And let's not forget that strong muscles are functional and healthy!)

I was eager to read the latest study from the American Council on Exercise (ACE).  ACE enlisted a team of exercise scientists from the University of Wisconsin/La Crosse Exercise and Health Program to find out which of the 8 most common triceps exercises are the most effective, and which are a waste of time.
The results are noteworthy for anyone who wants to get the most from their time spent working out—especially those of us who want to tone those triceps.
So are you wasting your time on triceps exercises that don't really do much, or are you using the most effective triceps toners?
The study named "triangle pushups" (where you put your hands close together) as the most effective exercise, closely followed by triceps kickbacks and triceps dips. How awesome is it that the best move doesn’t require any equipment, and is super functional and multi-tasking to boot? (Pushups also strengthen your core and shoulders, too—talk about getting results in less time!)
Here's a video from ACE demonstrating how to do each of these moves:

And here are some additional variations and demos you can try from SparkPeople:
Have you been doing the best triceps exercises or not? What is your favorite triceps-toning move?

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  • 25
    Thank you for sharing this video and the modified exercises. Very helpful! - 10/8/2017   6:43:19 AM
  • 24
    Thanks - 9/19/2017   12:05:50 AM
  • 23
    love the pictures! - 7/23/2017   9:25:12 AM
    The triceps kickbacks (with the weight) would be a lot more effective if he was LIFTING the weight instead of SWINGING it. It should be a slow, controlled movement that doesn't use momentum from the weight's downswing to drive it back up. - 10/28/2014   12:23:25 PM
  • 21
    I am not exactly sure where to ask this however I want to find out the best exercises to do to help if you need to give CPR. I recently certified and after 5cycles of the chest compressions and rescue breathes I thought I might need CPR. so any suggestions. - 6/12/2014   11:38:52 PM
  • 20
    I really need help in this area and these exercises will do the job - 1/6/2013   7:36:22 AM
  • 19
    Like theses! - 1/17/2012   8:28:24 PM
  • 18
    I have been doing all of these and more. MamabeckTN1959, First, give yourself time to completely heal... Then progress from wall push ups with your feet closer to the wall, to wall push-ups with your feet further back, a little further each week, when your feet are far enough back that wall push-ups would not be practical if you move an further back, then progress to chair pushups (hands on chair), when you can manage chair pushups, move on to pushups on the ground from your knees.
    Also, remember that your core is used as much as your arms, so while you are working through this progression, also try planks or chair planks, hold them as long as YOU can, not as long as anyone else suggests. - 8/16/2011   2:43:52 PM
  • JULIA1154
    I wasn't familiar with the triangle pushups, so look forward to adding them to the routine. I do tricep kickbacks with a kettlebell and find them very effective. - 8/14/2011   4:34:09 PM
  • 16
    What a great blog & video! Thanks for sharing this link! - 8/14/2011   11:43:48 AM
  • TSANC01
    I've been doing the seated tricep dips as well as regular pushups and recenty tried a triangle pushup (modified) in a gym class. It was difficult for me, I will try it again. - 8/13/2011   5:21:55 PM
  • 14
    After I broke my arm last summer, my triceps got really saggy and they are so hard to tone since I have arthritis in my wrists due to old fractures. I still will try these but aim for the 6-12 reps per sets. - 8/13/2011   9:08:07 AM
  • 13
    P90X has a dvd that takes push ups to the extreme! I had no idea there were so many variations of what seemed to be such a simple and effective exercise. - 8/12/2011   11:28:19 PM
  • 12
    Anyone have any ideas on how to stop the pain in your triceps, when you have done a bit too much, I was at a boot camp and was told to do 50 regular pushups. I did them on my knees in groups of 5 or so, then went on to do 50 tricep dips in groups of about 8 to 10. it is 3 days later and I am still in a good deal of pai and still cant bend my arms fully. SOMEBODY HELP. I did take today off completely. - 8/12/2011   9:05:00 PM
  • 11
    It's good to know that the kick-backs are in the top 3. It looks like I need to add the other two into my routine. - 8/12/2011   10:24:57 AM
  • 10
    Ohhh I have been working on my arms lately and this is exactly what I needed to read/see this morning. =) So far so good! I'm going to add some of these tricep exercises! Hope to see results in a few months! I'm tired of my flabby arms! - 8/12/2011   10:19:00 AM
    I have been doing the seated triceps exercise for awhile and really don't like it. I always had trouble with pushups, but have done the wall version and, after reading this, will go back to doing that version. Also, I have NEVER been able to do the triceps dip exercises in any form. My arms seem strong enough and are in pretty good shape looks-wise, but they've never been really strong. Thanks for highlighting these essential exercises. - 8/12/2011   9:52:52 AM
  • 8
    Hmm, i ought to try this out!! - 8/12/2011   9:43:48 AM
  • 7
    Hmm, i ought to try this out!! - 8/12/2011   9:43:44 AM
  • 6
    I will start using these exercises on my next ST day. - 8/12/2011   8:36:55 AM
  • 5
    Following a suggestion I read on Sparkpeople about doing mini-exercise breaks during the day, I take a couple of minutes each bathroom trip during the day to do wall push-ups and toe touches : ) BONUS is that it helps my shoulder and back since I sit at the front desk all day at work. - 8/12/2011   8:28:20 AM
  • 4
    Oooh, a new exercise I can learn! I've never even heard of triangle push-ups but he demonstrated on how to do them really well. Is it just me or was form a bit strange with the tricep kickbacks though? Nevermind, this is very informative and I definitely need to tighten up my bingo wings! - 8/12/2011   8:20:20 AM
  • 3
    I like triangle pushups..they just make me feel weak. I was also wondering about skullcrushers....I wonder where they fall on the list. - 8/12/2011   7:52:47 AM
    I thought doing wall pushups for a month was enough to advance to the modified. I was wrong... I pulled the deltoid muscle and the tendon in my right arm and now am limited for a few weeks to minimal use. I need other options. - 8/12/2011   7:35:55 AM
    It's not just a trouble zone for women, but for men too...
    I personally like skullcrushers... - 8/12/2011   7:10:17 AM

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