The 8 Best Tricep Exercises For Women

The 8 BEST tricep exercises for women, designed to strengthen and tone the back of your arms! Plus, I’m combining these 8 tricep exercises into 3 different workout formats you can do at home; all you need is a set of dumbbells.

Tricep exercises with dumbbells

Jump To The Workout: 8 Tricep Exercises For Women

STRONG, DEFINED, TONED ARMS.

That’s the goal of all the upper body workouts I share on the blog, and this one is no different! Today we’re focusing on the back of the arm, the tricep muscle.

The goal is to completely fatigue the triceps by combining three dumbbell tricep exercises with five bodyweight tricep exercises.

Biceps tend to steal the show when we talk about ‘showing off our muscles’ in the classic ‘flex’ move but I’m here to tell you that the tricep is JUST as important!

In fact, did you know that our triceps have the capacity to be bigger than our biceps?! The tricep is a three-headed muscle. Whereas, the bicep is a two-headed muscle. Women especially tend to ‘under-work’ the tricep.

So how can you strengthen and tone the triceps?

  1. Tricep Push Ups
  2. Tricep Dips
  3. Tricep Kickbacks

Researchers have identified tricep push ups, tricep dips, and tricep kickbacks as some of the exercises that most efficiently fire up the muscle in back of the arm (ACE Fitness).

This arm workout includes all three of these ‘power’ tricep exercises.

Tricep Push Up exercise

The 8 Best Tricep Exercises For Women

The best tricep exercises for women in 3 different workout formats.

The goal is to strength and tone the back of the arm, the tricep muscle.

Equipment: Bodyweight and a medium set of dumbbells.

*If you don’t have dumbbells available to you, you can always use filled water bottles or skip the first three dumbbell exercises and do the 5 bodyweight tricep exercises. 

Select one of the three, tricep workout formats below: 

  1. 20-Minute AMRAP Tricep Workout — AMRAP or ‘as many rounds as possible’ workout. Set a timer for 20-minutes. Complete 10 repetitions of each tricep exercise. Repeat as many rounds as possible, or AMRAP, in 20-minutes; taking breaks as needed.
  2. 8-Minute EMOM Tricep Workout — EMOM or an ‘every minute on the minute’ workout. Set a timer for 8 minutes. At the start of the first minute complete 12 repetitions of the first tricep exercise. Then rest for the remaining time left in the minute. At the start of the second minute complete 12 repetitions of the second tricep exercise. Then rest for the remaining time left in the second minute. Repeat this format for all 8 minutes. Option to repeat this format for a 16 minute workout.
  3. Make it a Tricep Burnout Workout that you add onto the end of your upper body workout to burnout the tricep muscles — Complete 15-20 repetitions of each tricep exercise; one time through. This will ‘burnout’ or fatigue the tricep muscles at the end of your arm workout. Burnout workouts are great for building muscle; pushing the muscle to fatigue which allows it to grow!

8 Tricep Exercises for Toned Arms

The 8 Best Tricep Exercises (see video demo of each exercise below):

  1. Dumbbell Overhead Tricep Extension
  2. Dumbbell Skull Crushers
  3. Dumbbell Tricep Kickbacks
  4. Tricep Push Up (also known as a Narrow Push Up or Military Push Up)
  5. Side Lying Tricep Press (also known as a Side Push Up)
  6. Tricep Plank Up
  7. Bear Crawl Tricep Press
  8. Bodyweight Tricep Dips

Dumbbell Overhead Tricep Extension

Dumbbell overhead tricep extensions are a strength exercise that targets the back of the upper arm; the triceps brachii muscles. As you extend the dumbbells overhead, all three heads of the tricep muscle are working.

The key to making this overhead tricep extension exercise effective is to keep the arms next to the ears as you lower the weight behind you.

dumbbell overhead tricep extension exercise

How To Do Overhead Tricep Extensions:

  1. Standing with feet hip distance apart, or personally I like to stagger my feet to better support my low back.
  2. Hold one dumbbell or two dumbbells straight overhead and activate your core by squeezing your glutes and abs to protect your lower back.
  3. Bend your elbows to a 90-degree angle, bringing the dumbbell(s) behind your head. Think ‘hide the dumbbells, show the dumbbells’ if you were watching yourself in a mirror. Keep your elbows close to your ears throughout the entire movement (don’t let your elbows flare out as you fatigue).

Dumbbell Skull Crushers

Dumbbell skull crushers are a push exercise that isolate the triceps or triceps brachii muscle. Working the long head and lateral heads of the tricep mucles from the elbow up to the latissimus dorsi of the back muscle.

Skull crushers tighten and tone the back of the arm, a common ‘trouble area’ for women as they age.

dumbbell skull crusher exercises

How To Do Skull Crushers:

  1. Lie flat on the ground or on a bench or stability ball.
  2. With one dumbbell in each fully extend your arms so the dumbbells are directly overhead.
  3. Bending at the elbows slowly lower the dumbbells towards your head (just bending at the elbows).
  4. Then push the dumbbells back overhead to return to the starting position.

Dumbbell Tricep Kickback

Mentioned above as one of the top 3 exercises to strengthen and tone the triceps, dumbbell tricep kickbacks are a simple and effective way to build arm and upper body strength.

Again this is a push exercise to isolate the triceps or triceps brachii muscle. This exercise can be done ‘single-sided’ on one arm (pictured below), or you ‘double-sided’ working both arms at the same time.

dumbbell tricep kickback

How To Do Tricep Kickbacks: 

  1. Start with feet hip distance apart, slightly bend knees and hinge forward. Personally, I like to stagger my feet to help support my low back (especially when pregnant as pictured above).
  2. Hold one dumbbell at your side with your arm bent at a 90-degree angle. Think shoulders down and back away from your ears. If performing a double-sided kickback to work both arms you would have one dumbbell in each hand.
  3. From here you will ‘kickback’, extending the elbow so your arm forms a straight line as you push the dumbbell back past your hips.
  4. Then slow and controlled return the dumbbell to the starting position.

Tricep Push Up (also known as a Narrow Push Up or Military Push Up)

Tricep push ups, considered one of the most effective tricep exercises.

A classic bodyweight exercise for building upper body strength; targeting the chest, triceps, shoulders, core and lower back. Push ups are a fast and effective way build muscle definition in the arms and abs. 

tricep push up

How To Do Tricep Push Ups:

  1. Start in high plank position with your shoulders stacked over your wrists, weight evenly distributed amongst all 10 fingers. Pull your kneecaps up towards your belly.
  2. Hold this position maintaining a straight line with your body, flat back, tight core, and neck in line with spine, gaze slightly in front of you.
  3. Slowly lower your chest down towards the ground, keeping your elbows pinned to your sides. Keeping your elbows narrow engages your triceps rather than your chest muscles, like a standard push up would. Maintain a straight line with your body — head, chest and legs in one straight line.
  4. Once at the bottom of your push up, exhale as you push back up into high plank, starting position.

Modify tricep push ups by dropping down to one or both knees. Or check out this post for more ways to modify push ups

Side Lying Tricep Press (also known as a Side Push Up)

The side lying tricep press is a challenging, yet effective bodyweight tricep exercise. 

While this exercise targets the triceps it also activates the abs, core, and shoulders.

side lying tricep press bodyweight tricep exercise

How To Do A Lying Tricep Press:

  1. Lie down on one side, stacking your shoulders, hips, and feet.
  2. Plant your top hand to the mat directly in front of your bottom shoulder. Gently hold your top shoulder with your bottom hand (this keeps the shoulder stable and insures the work is coming from your triceps).
  3. Pressing through the palm of your hand on the mat, push yourself up off the mat until your arm is almost fully extended.
  4. With control, lower yourself back to the mat returning to the starting position.

Plank Up

Plank up, basically a tricep push up steroids. And an effective way to target the core, chest, and triceps while also improving posture and balance.

The key to making this exercise effective is to maintain a strong plank position and a neutral spine the whole time. Squeeze your legs and glutes to keep your hips as stable as possible.

plank up tricep exercise

How To Do Plank Ups: 

  1. Start in a forearm plank position with your forearms on the mat and shoulders stacked over your elbows. Pull your kneecaps up towards your belly.
  2. Hold this position maintaining a straight line with your body, flat back, tight core, and neck in line with spine, gaze slightly in front of you.
  3. Slowly lower your chest down towards the ground, keeping your elbows pinned to your sides. Shoulders will come directly over palms of hands.
  4. Once at the bottom of your push up, exhale as you push back up into the forearm plank, starting position.

This is a very difficult exercise. You can modify the plank up by dropping down to one or both knees. 

Bear Crawl Tricep Press

Another challenging bodyweight strength exercise targeting the triceps.

While isolating the triceps this exercise is also great for overall strength, flexibility and range of motion. 

Bear Crawl Tricep Press

How To Do Bear Crawl Tricep Press: 

  1. Start in a table top position on all fours, shoulders stacked over wrists and hips stacked over knees.
  2. Tuck your toes under and lift your knees off the mat, finding a bear crawl position.
  3. Slowly shifter your weight back towards your hips, lowering your forearms down to the mat. Shooting your elbows straight back towards your knees.
  4. Once at the bottom, exhale as you push back up into the bear crawl, starting position.

This is a very difficult bodyweight exercise. You can modify the bear crawl tricep press by dropping down to your knees. 

Bodywieght Tricep Dips

Tricep dips are one of the most commonly known and best exercises to strength and tone the triceps using just your bodyweight. 

This upper body strength exercise targets the back of the arm, triceps, but also hits the shoulder (anterior deltoid) and chest (pectoralis muscles).

bodyweight tricep dips

How To Do Bodyweight Tricep Dips:

  1. Sit on the ground with your knees bent at 90 degrees and your hands behind you, fingertips pointed toward your toes, elbows bent. 
  2. Press into the ground to straighten your elbows, raising your hips off the ground.
  3. Slowly lower down, shooting your elbows straight back behind you.
  4. Tap or hover your butt on the ground then push back up to the starting position.

Get more of the best upper body exercises for women:

Prefer follow-along workout videos? Check out these popular upper body workouts with full-length videos:

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the 8 best tricep exercises for toned arms

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