From a functional perspective, your triceps help extend your elbow and push objects. From an aesthetic perspective, well-defined triceps make your arms look fully developed. Weighted exercises like tricep extensions and push-downs can build your upper triceps, as can modified bench presses and body-weight exercises like dips.
Your triceps brachii has three regions or heads. The long head begins near your scapula. The narrower lateral head runs along the top, outside portion of your humerus. Of the three heads, the medial triceps head begins the farthest down the arm.
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Many types of tricep extensions exist, including overhead, incline and decline versions. Fitness experts, however, often recommend the lying French press for triceps development. The American Council on Exercise recommends you start on a bench, lying on your back. Hold a barbell at your chest, hands shoulder-width apart -- your palms are facing your feet. Extend your arms and raise the bar above your chest. Keep your upper arms locked and use your forearms to lower the bar toward your forehead. Carefully raise the bar back to the starting position.
You'll need an overhead pulley found in most gyms for push-downs. Place your feet shoulder-distance apart. Grip a bar or rope with your arms bent. Keep your elbows tucked as your push your forearms down. After a short hold, allow your forearms to rise back to the starting point. Maintain good upper body posture and a slight bend in your legs.
When most people think about bench presses, they imagine developing their chests. Close-grip bench presses, however, can be an effective triceps builder, says ProjectSwole.com, a fitness development site. Lying on a bench, place your hands on the barbell above so they are no more than shoulder-distance apart. Don't allow your elbows to flare as you lower the barbell; keep them tucked in as you raise the weights back up.
Dips and Push-Ups
You can build your triceps without weights. Dips work your triceps, chest and shoulders, according to bodybuilder Lee Hayward. You perform classic dips using parallel bars. You also can use chair dips, in which you position your arms on the edge of a chair and lower yourself toward the ground. For diamond push-ups, place your hands beneath your chest and close together so your index fingers and thumbs touch, forming a diamond. Lower your chest to the floor and push up.
Weighted triceps exercises, particularly extensions, often require lighter weights. Consider using a spotter for bench and lying French presses. Consult your physician before beginning any exercise routine.