Not only are dumbbells inexpensive and convenient to use, they are one of the most effective tools for toning your triceps. In a recent study by ACE Fitness, in which eight tricep exercises were rated based on the amount of muscle activity measured during the exercise, two of the top four most effective exercises were done with dumbbells. You can perform these two exercises, the kickback and overhead extension, to tone and strengthen your upper arms.
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Standing Triceps Kickback
Hold a dumbbell in your right hand. Stand with your left foot in front of you and your right foot behind you. With your back straight, lean forward so that your shoulders, hips and right ankle are lined up on an angle. Place your left and on your left thigh to support your weight. With your right upper arm in line with your torso, bend your right elbow so the dumbbell hangs down toward the floor. Contract your triceps, which are on the back of your upper arm, to straighten your arm up behind you. Bend your elbow back to 90 degrees and repeat. Complete desired repetitions before switching sides.
Triceps Kickback with a Bench
As a variation of the standing triceps kickback, use a bench for this exercise. Rest your left hand and left knee on the bench. Hold a dumbbell in your right hand. Position your upper arm along your torso and bend your elbow so the weight is hanging toward the floor. Straighten your elbow until your entire arm is parallel to your body. Bend elbow back to 90 degrees and complete desired repetitions.
Stand with one foot slightly in front of the other. Holding the dumbbell on one end with both hands, bring it up over your head. Bend your elbows to 90 degrees so the dumbbell is hanging lengthwise from your hands straight behind your head. From this starting position, straighten your elbows and push the weight over your head. Bend elbows to return to starting position, and complete the desired repetitions.
Overhead Extension on a Stability Ball
Perform overhead extensions on a stability ball instead of standing if you want to give your abs a workout while you do this exercise. Sit on the ball with both feet on the floor in front of you. Complete overhead extensions just as you would in the standing position, keeping your abdominal muscles tight to hold the ball stable throughout the movement.
If you’re looking to tone your triceps and build muscle endurance, complete two to three sets of 12 to 15 repetitions of each exercise. To build strength, complete two to three sets of six to eight repetitions with a heavier weight. Choose a weight with which you can complete all repetitions and sets while still feeling a slight burn at the end of each set. Rest for at least 30 seconds between sets. Don’t forget to warm up with five to 10 minutes of cardio before you starting your weight lifting session.