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Training the Triceps
Namita Nayyar, president, Women Fitness

In this week###s article we will focus on the much ignored muscles of the arm- the triceps. The triceps are the muscles that run on the backside of the upper arm from your shoulder to your elbow. They constitute two-thirds of your upper arm. Their primary function is to extend the elbow and facilitate the backward motion of the arm in the shoulder joint .

The problem with the triceps is that as you get older your triceps will just keep getting softer and gooey. But there is no need to worry, because you can tighten and tone your arms by following a regular training routine. If you are too busy and can###t make it to a gym, you can always use your furniture as gym equipment.

The triceps are a large muscle mass and need to be trained more than the biceps, which are smaller. When you hear somebody comment on the size of someone###s arms, what they are really noticing is the development of that person###s triceps. The triceps are among the most visible parts of the body, whether flexing, exercising or just hanging out.
Here###s a triad of exercises to help you carve those three stingy muscles.

  • Dips:
    Line up two flat exercise benches wide enough apart so that when you lean on one with the palms of your hands, the heels of your feet just fit on the edge of the other bench without falling off. Curl your fingers around the edge of the bench, holding your hands outside of your hips. Slowly lower your body as far down as possible (until your upper arms are parallel to the floor) by bending your upper arms. Keep your forearms and elbows stationary throughout the exercise. Raise yourself to the starting position by pushing up with your triceps. Flex your triceps as you raise to the top. Try doing 20 repetitions of your own weight for 3 sets. If this is not difficult enough, you can always hook weights around your waist with a belt.

  • Dumbbell Kickbacks:
    Start with a light dumbbell in your right hand, with your palms facing in towards your body. Your right foot should be on the ground; your left knee and your left hand should rest on a bench for support. Position your upper arms so that from your shoulder to your elbow is parallel to the floor and stationary at all times. Your elbow should remain in close to your body. Your back should be straight and roughly parallel to the floor. Extend the dumbbell upwards until your arm is straight and fully extended and your triceps are contracted (flexed). Hold for a brief second flexing your triceps. Return the weight to the starting position in a slow, controlled manner. Repeat this motion for 10-12 repetitions on each arm. Do 3 sets on each side.

  • Tricep Pushdowns:
    Stand in front of the pulley machine in basic position with feet either parallel or with one foot forward. Your upper arms should rest at your sides, while your fore arms are bent at an angle of 45 degrees (approx) with your hands holding the bent palms should be facing downwards. Straighten your arms in an even semicircular movement until almost fully extended. Slowly bring back the bar to the starting position with exactly the opposite movement. Try 12 reps over 3 sets.

A wise way to work triceps into your workout regimen is to couple them with either chest or

shoulder workouts.

Ms. Namita Nayyar, M.Sc., is a nutrition and fitness expert and the president of Women Fitness. She is the author of five online books of complete fitness and has designed customized strength training, cardiovascular training and flexibility training programs for women. She is also a certified aerobics and fitness instructor, certified by the International Fitness Associatioin. For more information, go to www.womenfitness.net.