When you consider how you want your body to look, it’s easy to focus on the front side that you see whenever you glance in the mirror. Who doesn’t want a flat tummy, toned biceps, and strong quads? However, don’t forget there’s a whole other side to you, literally. All too often, exercisers spend their time trying to sculpt abs, pecs, and biceps, without thinking about the important triceps and back muscles. Your back muscles and triceps are critical to a well-functioning body and help you perform a lot of important movements. Sculpting these muscles with a solid back and triceps workout can also give you a balanced and well-designed body that looks great front to back.
Before we help you craft an unbeatable back and triceps workout, it’s important to note that targeted weight loss does not exist. If you’ve dreamed of getting rid of your bat wings by doing a hundred dips a day, that just won’t work. Instead, adding a back and triceps workout into your fitness routine will help you build these muscles. This will add more definition to your arms and back while also helping you lose weight throughout your body.
Let’s Talk Triceps
If you feel a little too much jiggle when you raise your arm to wave goodbye to your friends after a great dinner out, you may be suffering from the unfortunate syndrome known as “lunch lady arms.” This sad situation can be firmed up by focusing on the development of your triceps muscles.
As its name implies, your triceps are actually three muscles that run from your shoulder to your elbow along the back of your arm. They sit opposite your biceps. What many exercisers don’t realize is that your triceps actually make up the majority of your upper arm. If you’ve been spending your workouts busting out endless sets of bicep curls in an effort to tone or bulk up your arms, you’ve been going about it all wrong. Add in some triceps exercises if you really want to get those sculpted guns.
Getting great arms is just one benefit of working out your triceps. You can also improve your overall functionality. Triceps are heavily involved in pushing movements. If you shoot a basketball, perform a bench press, or push yourself into the downward dog pose in yoga, all of these movements require your triceps. More importantly, if you should ever fall down, you’ll need your triceps to push yourself back up.
With that in mind, here are five excellent triceps exercises for beginner, intermediate, and advanced exercisers.
Simple but effective, pushups will help you strengthen your triceps, as well as your shoulders and your chest muscles. Focus on using the correct form with each pushup – quality over quantity. Keep your back straight and don’t stick your glutes in the air. When your chest touches the ground, focus on engaging your triceps to push yourself up. Try to push your body up as a single movement instead of peeling up.
Modification: Knee pushups. If you can’t maintain good form while doing regular pushups, start with knee pushups.
2. Triceps Extension
Hold a single dumbbell between your hands and extend it overhead. Keeping your arms overhead, lower the dumbbell, behind you. Your elbows should act like hinges while staying at your ears. When your elbows are at a 90-degree angle, focus on engaging your triceps as you raise the weight back up. If you are performing this movement correctly, you should feel the burn in your triceps within a few reps.
Modification: Use a weight light enough that you can perform at least five reps without dropping the weight. Try to pick a weight that is challenging for a rep scheme between five and ten.
Advanced: Perform the movement with one arm at a time to ensure your stronger arm doesn’t take on more of the load. To make this movement more challenging use a kettlebell instead of a dumbbell.
Dips will sizzle your triceps quickly, and they’re also an excellent functional movement. If you ever need to lower yourself down from a ledge while hiking, you’ll be glad your triceps are well trained in this motion from plenty of dips. When performing the dip, lower yourself slowly until your elbows are bent at roughly a 90-degree angle. Engage your triceps to push your body back up until your arms are locked out. Keep the movement slow and steady.
Modification: Beginners should start by performing dips on a chair or bench. Move your feet closer to your body to make the movement easier and farther out to make them more difficult.
Advanced: Intermediate and advanced exercisers should perform dips on a power tower. Focus on lowering your body all the way down to a 90-degree angle even if it means doing fewer reps.
Put Your Back into It
Trapezius, latissimus dorsi, levator scapulae, rhomboids. These are the muscles that run from your neck all the way down to your booty, otherwise known as your back muscles. Although you can’t see your back muscles unless you do some admirable mirror aerobics, that doesn’t mean these muscles aren’t important. It turns out, they are. Developing your back muscles helps improve your posture and stabilizes your core. This not only helps you avoid that unattractive computer hunch, but it can also lower and/or prevent back pain.
Your back also helps you out in ways big and small. You need your back when you carry things, when you pull something towards you, and when you push your body up. As it just so happens, a well-defined back is also pleasant to look at.
Here are three great exercises to help you get your back, back into business:
This is an excellent exercise for beginners and can be done at home. Start on the floor on your stomach. Keep your legs straight and reach your arms in front of you. Together, lift your arms and legs off the floor and then lower yourself back down. A gentle arch in your back is all you need to feel the burn in your glutes and lower back. Take care not to overarch or hyperextend your back on this movement. To make this move a little more difficult, pause in the Superman pose and flutter your feet and arms.
Advanced: If a Superman on the floor feels too easy for you, try using a Roman chair, which will allow you to move your body through a much fuller motion. Again, take care not to arch your back too much.
You’ll need a barbell and appropriate weight plates for this movement. Start with the barbell on the ground almost resting against your shins. Set your back, bend your knees, and grip the barbell. Straighten your legs while simultaneously pulling the barbell up to your hips and then lower the barbell back down to the ground. A deadlift movement may look simple enough, but it is imperative that you use correct form. Do not hunch your back or bend over the bar. Keep your engaged (keeping the lumbar curve activated). As you lift the bar, engage your glutes and hamstrings. If you do the movement correctly, you’ll get a nice workout for your lower back as well.
To modify this work, simply use less weight to make it easier and more weight to make it more difficult.
3. Kettlebell Swings
The Superman exercise and deadlifts are both designed to strengthen your lower back. Don’t forget about your mid-back and upper back. An excellent workout to light up your lats and traps is kettlebell swings. During the swing, engage your lats and traps to swing the kettlebell up to either your face (known as a Russian kettlebell swing) or overhead (known as an American kettlebell swing). You’ll also get a nice workout for your glutes and lower back with this movement as well.
The key to making your kettlebell swings count is to use a weight that is sufficiently challenging but not so heavy that you find the weight dragging you down at the bottom of the swing. Experiment with different weights and make sure to really use your hips to thrust at the beginning of the swing.
Time to Design Your Back and Triceps Workout
Now that you know how important the back side of your body is, it’s up to you to use the exercises listed in this article to design a back and triceps workout for your next home gym session. The most important thing is to show your triceps and your back muscles the respect they deserve. These muscles help you every day even if you don’t realize it.
At Marcy, we are your one-stop-shop for all your home gym equipment. Take a look at our full collection of fitness machines and free weights so that you can give your triceps and back the workout they deserve!