Triceps Body-weight Exercises

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Whether you want bigger guns or you just want to tighten up your bat wings, triceps exercises using body weight can give you amazing results. Strong triceps fill out the back sides of your upper arms to give you tone and definition. And you don't need a lot of equipment to make them pop.

Triceps Anatomy and Function

Your triceps brachii is a long three-headed muscle at the back of your upper arm that works as an antagonist to your physiologically stronger biceps muscles. The long head originates at your scapula, or shoulder blade, and functions to bring your arm toward and behind your trunk. The medial and lateral heads originate at the upper part of your humerus, or upper arm bone. All three heads fuse together with a thick tendon at your elbow joint, attaching to the ulna of your lower arm. The primary function of the triceps is to extend your elbow joint, as when doing dips, pushups and some yoga poses.


Dips can be performed using a bench or parallel bars. For bench dips, sit on the edge of a bench and place your palms next to your hips. Move your hips off the bench and bend your elbows until your upper arms are parallel to the floor. Extend your elbows and repeat. To make bench dips more challenging, place your feet on another bench or on a stability ball. For bar dips, support your weight with extended arms. Slowly bend your elbows to 90 degrees. Extend and repeat. Avoid excessive forward leaning, and align your shoulders, elbows and wrists in the same plane to avoid placing excessive stress on your shoulder joints. Maintain an elongated spine, and don't sink into your shoulders.


Pushups work the muscles of your chest, shoulders and triceps. Traditional pushups are performed with the wrists at shoulder width, but by manipulating your hand placement, you can increase the load on your triceps. In a pushup position, place your hands palms down beneath your shoulders with the forefingers and thumbs touching to form a triangle. Extend your elbows, then slowly lower your chest toward the floor, keeping your arms close to your trunk. Maintain a rigid torso with a straight neck and spine throughout the exercise.


Many yoga postures recruit the triceps muscles, either dynamically or isometrically. Front and side planks with your trunk supported from the wrist engage your triceps isometrically as elbow extensors. Be careful not to hyperextend your elbow in the plank position. The cobra and chaturanga postures use your triceps as dynamic elbow extensors in a way similar to pushups. To minimize stress to the shoulder and elbow joints, be sure to keep your arms close to your sides, and position your wrists beneath your shoulders.