fit womens weekly blog

Tricep Exercises For Women – 16 Solid Options

Triceps are a sexy looking muscle.

I think I have some pretty good looking triceps. When they’re flexed… ha!

Before I go into the exercises, let’s quickly look at the tricep muscle and it’s function. Once you understand the muscle, you’ll be able to make it stronger faster.

(And you’ll probably train it a little different than you might think.)

The tricep brachii is actually three muscles…

  • The long head attaches at the elbow and to your scapula… that’s actually important
  • The lateral head attached at the elbow and up at your humerus.
  • The medial head is underneath these two and attaches at the elbow and towards the top of the humerus.

Here’s a picture…

triceps muscle breakdown

There are two functions of your tricep (maybe three)…

  1. Extend your forearm at the elbow joint.
  2. Stabilize your shoulder (this is really important)
  3. Make your arms look really good when wearing strappless tops. (Come on… that’s important!)

You work your tricep anytime you have your arm extending straight. So in order to get your tricep stronger, you need to focus on extending your arm. I’ll show you lots of ways to get this done.

But it’s also vital for stabilization. This is really important if you want to be athletically fit and not just “look good” fit.

Shoulder stabilization is vital for doing lots of exercises and movements as you’ll see. And I think some of these exercises are better for training even though they may not seem that way at first.

I’ll show you what I mean.

16 Tricep Exercises for Women

(This is by no means an end all be all list)

The Classics

Let’s get all the classics out of the way first.

The following exercises will isolate the tricep as the primary mover and little to know real other help. At least that’s the goal.

#1 – Tricep Kick Back

classic tricep kickbacks
classic tricep kickbacks
This is the classic tricep exercise. It’s good in that it hits your tricep directly.

But what I don’t like about it is you need to keep your elbow pinned in space so you really hit your tricep muscles. However, when you’re knocking out reps it’s WAY too easy to start using momentum and effectively ruin the exercise.

#2 – Overhead Tricep Extension with Dumbbell

overhead dumbbell tricep extension
overhead dumbbell tricep extension
This is a pretty good one like above. However, the same problem exists in that as you fatigue, you will start to throw your whole body into the movement.

#3 – Overhead Tricep Extension with Bands

overhead band tricep extension
overhead band tricep extension
Bands are great. I have really begun to love bands in my routines. Why?

Because the more you stretch it the harder it gets, BUT it also requires great stability on the eccentric part of the rep (when you’re bending your arm).

Eccentric training is a great way to build muscle.

But again, be careful not to begin throwing your whole body into the movement. Finding the right band is key.

#4 – Overhead Tricep Extension with Suspension System

overhead suspension system tricep extension
overhead suspension system tricep extension
I am not a big fan of this one because the suspension system stays in place and your body is moving backwards. It’s really strange feeling.

But all in all, it’s the same movement. If you’re going to do this one… get a band.

#5 – Tricep Pull Down

band tricep pull down
band tricep pull down
I told you I love bands. This is probably the best of the “classic” exercises because I feel you focus more on your triceps without the rest of your body influencing the movement.

Plus at the bottom, you can really squeeze your contraction and do super slow eccentric motion too.

I like to use the bands because again… it get’s tougher the lower you go and compared to cables, you need more stability. You can feel it right away.

These were all the direct extension exercises. The ones that isolate the tricep.

Yes, this is a great way to build this muscle. But unless you have a muscle imbalance or a really weak tricep muscle… I would prefer something different.

They are great for rehabbing and some focused strength work, but I’ll show you others I think are better.

The Dips

Tricep dips. Super popular and famous, but I’ll show you some different – better – ways to do these.

#6 – Box/Bench Dips

box or bench dips
box or bench dips
Traditionally, most women put their hands on a bench BEHIND THEM and then proceed to move their hips down and up IN FRONT OF the bench.

This puts your shoulder in a tough position. You can even feel some tightness when you do this in front of your shoulder where your humerus connects to your shoulder. Not the best position.

So all you have to do is take two benches or boxes and sit between them. Now you can keep your shoulder in a more neutral position.

#7 – Parallette Dips

parallette dips
parallette dips
I love parallettes. It’s the same idea as above, but with parallettes, you can do so many more cool exercises… many of which hit your triceps perfectly.

I highly recommend adding a set of parallettes to your equipment bundle.

#8 – Ring Dips

ring dips
ring dips
These are by far the toughest.

Instable… bigger range of motion… and flat out hard. Keep your hands close to your body as you go down and at the top, squeeze your triceps and arms and rotate your palms so they face forward.

This is an advanced move. You can do a modification with your feet on the ground so your legs can help.

It’s a total body move for sure!

The Pushups

I love pushups and they can totally hit your triceps, especially if you do them correctly.

Here is my full pushup progression. You can learn how and why you should do pushups with your elbows in… not out.

#9 – Close Grip Pushups

close grip pushups
close grip pushups
Classic close grip pushups definition hit your triceps hard. Just look at the movement. It’s a classic extension of your arms.

So when you do any pushup with your elbows in, you are getting tricep work done.

#10 – Double Kettlebell Close Grip Pushups

double kettlebell close grip pushups
double kettlebell close grip pushups
I love doing pushups on kettlebells. It requires more muscle activation because you have to stabilize a little more. Trust me, you’ll feel this immediately when you do it.

Just make sure you use kettlebells that have a big enough base so you don’t risk rolling the bell and hurting yourself. Be smart!

#11 – Single Kettlebell Pushups

single kettlebell pushup
single kettlebell pushup
Tough Tough Tough!

Two hands on one kettlebell and then do your close grip pushup. This is hard. And you can get even more out of it is you rest the kettlebell on the round side so it can roll a little.

You will have to tighten and brace your body like never before. More muscle. More communication. Better results.

#12 – Tiger Pushups

tiger pushups
tiger pushups
tiger pushups
tiger pushups
I cannot remember where I heard of these. If I had to guess, I would say my first kettlebell mentor Jason Brown. He has some awesome pushup variations.

This is tough so listen to your body.

You first go back to forearms and let your butt go high. Then you stay low and slide forward until your in the bottom of a pushup position. And then you can just pushup from there.

You’ll really feel your triceps get the work done as you slide forward. It’s a tough one but fun and challenging.

#13 – Concentration Pushups

concentration pushups
concentration pushups
One arm goes way out to the side. And even better… you only use your finger tips on that arm. Then you pushup over the other arm that remains close to your body.

This is a step towards one armed pushups.

The arm that’s way out there on the finger tips, can help you a little with strength and balance… but not much.

Listen to your body on this one.

#14 – One Armed Pushups

one armed pushup
one armed pushup
Might as well just go the distance right?

Full one armed pushups. Isolate one arm at a time and you have a tough exercise that of course will nail your tricep muscle.

These do take practice. Personally… I’m working on bringing my legs closer together because right now I need to keep them pretty wide.

#15 – Side Pushups

side pushups
side pushups
I decided to toss these in because they hit your triceps but I don’t really use them anymore for myself or in my programming.

You lay on your side and just push the upper half of your body off the ground with one arm. It’s okay I guess.

Different Exercises

Lastly, I wanted to share some hard but really great exercises that hit your triceps in a different way. But what I think is better. I love fully body exercises that have a focus.

#15 – Rope Climb

rope climb
Climbing the rope is a GREAT exercise. Great for your abs and Great for your arms.

In fact, I was listening to a podcast with an Olympic gymnastics coach and he said all the male athletes get their arm size (which is considerable) from doing rope climbs.

If it’s good enough for them… it’s good enough for me.

The ultimate goal is to do climbs without your feet. But it does take practice and strength building to get there. But if I can do it… you can do it too.

#16 – Tricep Pullups

planch pullup
planch pullup
So this is actually a step in the progression towards doing a reverse planche from the bar. And I totally stink at these but I think you’ll get them idea.

You start above the bar as if you just did a pullup. Then you lay back – ideally until your arms are straight – and then you pull back to the bar where you started.

It’s an eccentric tricep move with an isolation at the bottom which makes it really hard. Listen to your body because my hubs hurt his tricep doing these.

In the picture, my legs are kinda straight. If you tuck them into your body it becomes easier to do and this is where you should start. I don’t know why I didn’t take a picture of this.

That’s a Pretty Good Collection of Tricep Exercises Right?

I would recommend mastering the pushups… I like the dips… and love the rope climb.

Anytime you can do an exercise that works all of your body but focuses on a certain muscle or group is better.

You get more bang for your buck. You don’t have to workout as long if you don’t want to.

And you build a body that works together and communicates with itself better.

When you do the bodybuilding style of workout, it’s really easy to build imbalance and muscles that don’t function together well.

If you want to learn more and use exercises like these in a full speed workout, come join Fit Women’s Weekly.

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