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Good Calisthenic Triceps Exercises

author image Meg Campbell
Based just outside Chicago, Meg Campbell has worked in the fitness industry since 1997. She’s been writing health-related articles since 2010, focusing primarily on diet and nutrition. Campbell divides her time between her hometown and Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Good Calisthenic Triceps Exercises
A woman pressing into the green grass and rising into upward facing dog pose. Photo Credit HyperionPixels/iStock/Getty Images

Your triceps are the three-headed muscles along the back of your upper arms that contract to straighten your elbows. You don’t need external resistance to strengthen and tone your triceps — compound exercises that require you to support your body weight with your arms can provide you with a challenging triceps workout. Moreover, body weight exercises simultaneously engage multiple muscle groups, while most triceps exercises that utilize dumbbells or resistance bands only target the triceps.

Traditional Pushups

Pushups primarily target your triceps, pectoral and deltoid muscles. Begin on your hands and knees with your abdominal muscles engaged and your hands aligned under your shoulders, fingers pointing away from you. One at a time, step your feet back, pressing your legs together or positioning them hip-width apart, with your toes tucked into the floor. Your body should form a rigid, unbending plank from your head to your heels. Lower your entire body toward the floor, bending your elbows out to the sides. Maintain abdominal engagement to avoid raising your hips or sinking through your lower back. Hold it momentarily, then press back up by fully extending your arms to push the floor away from you. Repeat only until you can't maintain technical form.

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Close Grip Wall Pushups

Close grip pushups demand stronger triceps than traditional pushups. Performing them against the wall is easier than performing them with your hands on the edge of a table or bed. Doing close grip pushups on the floor is a more challenging progression. Stand with your hands on the wall at chest height, shoulder-width apart or slightly narrower, your arms fully extended and your fingers pointing upward. Engage your abdominal muscles to brace your torso. Bend your elbows to bring your body in toward the wall, raising your heels off the floor to prevent bending at your waist. Keep your elbows alongside your ribcage. Extend your arms to push yourself away from the wall with control.

Advanced Bench Dips

You can perform dips on the floor, the edge of a bed or on a weight bench. Keeping your feet on the floor makes the exercise easier, while elevating them increases resistance to the triceps. Place two weight benches side by side and parallel to one another, a little less than leg-length distance apart. Sit facing the other bench with your hands on either side of you, fingers wrapped around the edge. Inch forward to slide your bottom off the bench while placing your heels on the other bench, hip-width apart. Keep your legs straight. Lower your hips toward the floor by bending your elbows without allowing them to flare out. Stop when you feel a stretch through your chest, then straighten your elbows to press up.

Upward-Facing Dog

Upward-Facing Dog is a triceps-intensive yoga pose from the traditional Sun Salutation sequence. Lie on your belly with your legs stretched out behind you. Place your hands on the floor alongside your lower ribcage, fingers spread wide and forearms almost vertical. Press the tops of your feet into the floor, slightly lifting your knees and thighs. Inhale, straightening your elbows to press yourself evenly away from the floor through your hands and the tops of your feet. Lift your sternum and raise your legs a few inches off the floor, keeping your leg and gluteal muscles firm, but not tight. Hold the pose for 15 to 30 seconds before releasing with control.

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