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The Best Tricep Exercises For Women


In the last few years, we’ve seen more women get into weightlifting, whether that’s to build muscle, or to simply gain the benefits of strength training – like increased bone density, improved strength, better posture, and more! Prior to this, a lot of women were scared that lifting weights would give them big, bulky muscles.

Times have now changed, and building muscle is a goal that many women have! However, the triceps often get overlooked in workout routines as they’re not as noticeable as muscles like the biceps or glutes. In this blog, Personal Trainer Suzy Quinn, who is based in PureGym Birmingham Arcadian Centre, explains why training your triceps is really important, and what the best tricep workouts for women are.

What are triceps?

The triceps brachii, commonly referred to as the triceps, is a large muscle spanning the back of your upper arm. It has three heads, the medial head, lateral head, and long head, and attaches to both the shoulder blade and elbow joint.

The triceps have two main jobs. The first is to work with the biceps to extend and bend your elbow to allow your forearms to move, and the second is to help stabilise the shoulders. The shoulder joint has a huge range of motion, which makes it very unstable; the triceps help stabilise this joint and keep it healthy.

5 reasons to train your triceps

  1. Improved big lifts

    A lot of ‘bigger lifts’, or compound exercises, work smaller muscles like the triceps, so when these muscles are weak, it’s difficult to perform these exercises effectively, or to progress to heavier weights. Some of the compound exercises triceps play a role in include bench press, overhead press, and dips. Having weak triceps will compromise these lifts, making it hard to increase the weight, or leading to muscle imbalances or even injury.

  2. Increased shoulder stability

    Triceps play a part in stabilising the shoulder joint, which can reduce your risk of injury and help with both your everyday movements and your exercises in the gym.

  3. Toned, defined arms

    Biceps tend to get more recognition when it comes to our arm muscles, but the triceps make up two-thirds of your arm and neglecting this muscle will have a big impact on both your upper body strength, and how defined your arms look. If you want to build toned, lean arms, you need to train your triceps.

  4. Better day to day movements

    Almost every upper body movement uses your triceps, from more obvious movements like carrying and loading shopping, to writing in a notebook. If it involves your shoulder, elbow, or forearm, it involves your triceps! Having strong triceps will help to improve your performance and endurance for daily tasks, from simple to complex.

  5. Improved sports performance

    Training your triceps will help to improve your athletic performance in multiple sports, including tennis, netball, and hockey, by increasing your endurance and power. Having strong triceps means you’re also less likely to get injured while playing sports due to the increased shoulder stability.

Tricep exercises for women

Want to grow your triceps? The key to building any muscle is to train the muscle 2-3x a week, making sure to progressively overload by increasing either the reps or weights. If your goal is to increase tricep size, you’ll also want to make sure you’re eating enough protein and calories to help recovery and muscle growth.

The best tricep workout for women is one that combines compound and isolation exercises, as this helps to build both strength and size of the triceps. You can build your own tricep women's workout by picking 2 of the following compound exercises, and 2-3 isolation exercises, or check out our chest and tricep workout here.

Compound exercises

  1. Bench press

    The bench press is a key lift and is great to include, in some form, in any chest and tricep workout women do. The narrow grip bench press works the triceps to a greater degree, but all bench press variations target the triceps in some way.

  2. Chest or tricep dips

    The chest dip and the tricep dip are both bodyweight compound exercises that are performed on a dip bar. Both work the triceps, but the chest dip places more focus on the chest so if triceps is your main goal, try this variation. If you find it too hard, seated tricep dips are a good place to start.

  3. Push ups

    Push ups are another bodyweight exercise which works the chest, shoulders, triceps, and core. If a standard push up is too hard, try a wall push up, incline push up, or starting on your knees.

  4. Overhead press

    The overhead press, or shoulder press, predominantly targets the shoulders and upper back but the triceps do get worked. Overhead strength is great for so many daily activities, making this an exercise that’s great to do for improving functional strength.

Isolation exercises

Isolation exercises are single joint exercises which typically focus on one muscle. Adding them into the start or end of the workout helps to fatigue a specific muscle, which helps to build size and strength.

There’s plenty of tricep isolation exercises to try, here are some of our favourites. You can also watch how to do tricep exercises here.

  1. Skull crusher

    Skull crushers may sound intimidating, but as long as you use proper form, this exercise is completely safe and is a great way to build toned triceps.

  2. Overhead Extension

    The overhead extension has so many benefits: it works the triceps at a lengthened position, it requires a high level of stability in the shoulders and core, and the movement works against gravity which adds extra resistance.

  3. Cable Pull Down

    Cable machines provide constant tension throughout the movement pattern, which makes them an excellent bit of kit for hypertrophy (muscle gains). The tricep cable pulldown (also known as the cable pushdown) is brilliant for building the triceps.

  4. Overhead Cable Pull

    The overhead cable pull is the cable version of a tricep extension. The cable resistance makes this variation a little harder and works the stabilising muscles a little more.

  5. Kickbacks

    Tricep kickbacks are one of the most well know tricep exercises, and it’s a good for beginners and expert lifters alike. You can do this exercise with dumbbells or on the cable machine.

Triceps workout at home for women

Can’t make it into the gym? You can still train your triceps at home! Swap out dumbbells for heavy items around the house, cable machines for resistance bands, or try these bodyweight only exercises.

  1. Push ups

  2. Incline push ups

  3. Seated tricep dips

  4. Tricep bar extensions

If you’re in need of more workout inspiration, check out our favourite arm exercises for women here, or our favourite women’s dumbbell exercises here.

Ready to get started? Find the nearest PureGym near you here.

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