When you raise your arm to wave and the flesh between your armpit and your elbow keeps on flapping in the breeze, it's time to tune up your triceps. Though arm flab is a combination of fat, loose skin and untoned muscle, exercising the triceps can restore shape and tone to the backs of your arms.
The triceps is a group of three muscles that runs the length of the back of the arm, originating at the top on the shoulder blade and inserting at the elbow. The primary function of the triceps is elbow extension, although it plays a minor role in shoulder adduction. Exercises that extend the elbow against a resistance are the most effective for toning and shaping the triceps. Do three sets of eight to 12 repetitions per exercise to tone your arm and reduce flab. The weight you are using must be challenging enough such that it is difficult to complete your last two to three repetitions in each set.
Body Weight Exercises
Exercises that perform a pushing motion in the upper body recruit the triceps. Push-ups executed with the hands planted slightly inward from the shoulders place emphasis on the triceps. Begin with wall push-ups with your feet planted about two feet from the wall, arms out in front of you with palms against the wall. Keep your elbows close to your ribs as you exhale and push away, then inhale as you slowly lower yourself back toward the wall. When this becomes too easy, move to the floor, beginning with knee push-ups and eventually graduating to full-body push-ups. Be sure to keep the hips in line with the knees and shoulders, and do not allow them to "tent."
Use a cable machine with the pulley set at the top or a resistance tube looped over a high bar to do cable push-downs. The "V" bar or rope are the best attachments to use for this exercise. Gripping the attachment, stand with feet planted under the hips, knees slightly bent and navel drawn in toward the spine. Glue your elbows to your ribs. Exhale as you straighten your elbows, extending as far as possible. Inhale and slowly allow the elbows to bend, returning to your start position. Do not let the elbows drift away from the rib cage.
Free Weight Exercises
Select a dumbbell that is heavy enough to be challenging to do an overhead triceps extension. Sitting erect on a workout bench, grasp the dumbbell in your right hand and extend the arm overhead. Keep the upper arm close to your ear, stabilizing it with your left hand. Inhale and allow your elbow to bend, slowly lowering the weight toward your upper middle back. Exhale and extend the elbow, returning to your start position.