5 Moves for Tighter Triceps (That Aren’t Kickbacks or Dips)

These killer arm exercises tone your tris from all angles. Take that, tank tops!

July 1, 2014
tricep exercerices

If you want strong, sculpted arms that don’t jiggle and wiggle when you wave goodbye, you’ll need to incorporate exercises into your fitness routine that firm and strengthen your triceps, those muscles that run down the back of your arm from your shoulder to elbow.

In an effort to get tank top-ready arms, you’ve probably worked this muscle group with traditional tri exercises like triceps kickbacks or dips -- which means your muscles are probably used to those moves by now, and it’s time to graduate to a more challenging arm routine if you want to seriously firm up your tris.  


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Take your arm-toning workout to the next level with these five fresh tricep-tightening moves from certified personal trainer Jessica Matthews, assistant professor of health and exercise science at Miramar College in San Diego:

Tri Toner #1: Sandbell Slam with Triangle Push-Up
Matthews recommends this total-body toning exercise as a way to take the triangle push-up (which was ranked the number-one triceps exercise by the American Council on Exercise) to the next level.

1.  Begin in a squatting position, holding a SandBell at chest level. As you inhale, press the SandBell overhead and rise up onto your toes.

2. Exhale as you perform a slam, forcibly throwing the SandBell to the ground. Once released, quickly jump or step back to a high plank position, placing your hands on the SandBell in a triangle formation (pointer fingers and thumbs towards one another) with your hands directly below your chest.

3.Keeping your elbows close to your body, perform a triangle pushup, slowly lowering the body down to just above the SandBell and pushing back up to your starting plank position. Use the strength of your entire body to jump the feet up toward the SandBell, coming into a low squat position. Once again grab the sides of the SandBell and repeat this sequence. Complete 6 to 8 reps.

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Tri Toner #2: Medicine Ball Overhead Triceps Extension with Squat
This exercise works both the upper and lower body by combining an effective triceps exercise with the butt-sculpting benefits of the squat.


1. Stand with your feet hip-width distance apart holding a medicine ball overhead with both arms extended.

2. Keeping the core engaged inhale as you hinge at the hips, bending the knees so that you’re in a squat while simultaneously bending both elbows to lower the medicine ball behind your neck.

3. As you exhale slowly straighten the arms and knees returning to your starting position. Complete 12 to 15 reps.

Tri Toner #3: Glute-Bridge Skull Crushers
This exercise targets the triceps while also working the glutes and core.

1. Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor about 12 inches away from your hips.

2. Holding a dumbbell in each hand, extend arms upward, keeping wrists aligned with the shoulders.

3. With the core engaged and spine in a neutral position, slowly tuck under with your pelvis, pushing into the heels and lifting the glutes and lower back off of the floor until the hips are completely open at the top without arching the back. From this position lower the hips to hover just above the mat and perform a skull crusher, bending at the elbows as your draw the hands beside each ear.

4. Re-extend the arms and press the hips up once again before slowly lowering down to your starting position. Complete 12 to 15 reps.

Tri Toner #4: TRX Triceps Press
This move challenges your tris, while simultaneously building core strength.

1. Start with the TRX strap attached to a secure post above a foot higher than your head and behind you.


2. Begin in a split stance with the right foot forward and left foot back, holding the handles of the TRX with the arms extended out in front of the body at shoulder height with palms facing the floor.  

3. Keeping the core engaged, slowly bend the elbows, driving the forehead to the back of the palms, leaning forward into the right leg. Re-extend the arms with control, returning to your starting position. Complete 12 to 15 reps.

Tri Toner #5: Narrow-Grip Barbell Bench Press
This bench press variation primarily emphasizes the triceps and forearms while also working the chest and shoulders -- and (bonus!), a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning found that it produces less strain in the shoulders than a traditional wide-grip bench press.

1. Lie on a flat bench holding a barbell with a shoulder-width distance grip directly over the chest with the arms full extended.

2. As you inhale, slowly bend the elbows and lower the bar down to just above the chest. Elbows will stay close to the body but be slightly below the bench when the bar is just above your chest.

3. As you exhale, slowly bring the bar back up to your starting position. Complete 12 to 15 reps.

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