So far, we’ve covered glute and legs. Today we’re getting into the upper body- starting with the triceps.
Before we get started with why these muscles are important, I think it’s important to understand the muscles. Take your arm and straighten it as much as it will go (almost to the point of hyperextension from the elbow)! You feel that muscle that feels like it’s about to bulge off of your arm?! That’s your triceps! So why are they called the triceps you may ask? Your triceps include three different points of origin. That’s where we get the “tri” from! The tricep originates just below the socket of the scapula (your shoulder blade) and at two distinct areas of the humerus (the bone in your upper arm). Basically, it is in opposition to the biceps. Now that we’ve talked about the anatomy of our triceps, we can discuss why they’re important.
Now comes the question- WHY?
Why are these important? What do they help? Why do exercises involving the triceps always burn more?????
The triceps are located on the back of our upper arms and they are responsible for elbow, shoulder and forearm movements. Strong triceps help stabilize your shoulder joint and are important for daily tasks. Increasing tricep strength brings stability to your shoulders and arms, improves flexibility and increases range of motion!
Another pro of triceps?? It can also help to manage arthritis pain by reducing swelling, pain and bone loss while strengthening and lubricating joints!
Now that we’ve covered why the triceps are important- it’s important to know what we can do to strengthen them! Here’s a couple of examples of exercises we do in class that help to strengthen these muscles:
- Tricep kick backs
- Tricep overhead press (this can be with weight or without weights and with TRX straps!!)
- Tricep push-ups (you know, the push-ups where your arms are as close to your body as possible?! The burn in the back of your arms as you push up are your triceps working!)
- Pressing your palms back at the top of a squat also hits on those triceps!
- Diamond push-ups
Another topic regarding your triceps is how to take care of these muscles. While working these muscles is important, we also want to keep them healthy, so we are able to experience their full benefit! Here’s a couple of things we suggest doing to keep your muscles (specifically your triceps) healthy and working!
- ALWAYS warm up and cool down your body for 5 to 10 minutes at the beginning and end of each session.
- Starting out, use the lowest weight available while you work on learning proper form and technique. This is SO important and overlooked often; it’s not important to have the heaviest weights in the studio, it’s important you are comfortable with your weights and aren’t overextending yourself! It takes much longer to recover from an injury than it does to take it slow and steady and build up your muscles. Don’t forget to stay true to you and focus on what weights you need. Don’t worry about what the person next to you has, push yourself to your limit!
- Another common thing seen with tricep exercise is injuries involving the neck or shoulder or back. It’s easy to tense up when the exercise is hard and that can cause some tension in other muscles. Make sure you think about keeping your chest open and your shoulders rolled back and down and away from your ears.
- Make sure when performing these exercises, you’re able to keep smooth, steady, controlled movements instead of jerky forceful movements. This will help to protect your muscles.
- Another important thing that we cannot emphasize enough: LET YOUR BODY RECOVER!!!! Now this can refer to any injuries, minor or major it’s always important to let your body recover! Working out is very important but it’s just as important to let your body rest so you are able to recover. Another important aspect to recovery is hydration. Staying hydrated will allow you to keep your intensity throughout the workout and to feel great the next day. I know I commonly feel myself hurting the morning after a tough workout if I don’t drink enough water- staying hydrated solves this!
- Another important aspect of building strength is letting your body catch up. You may want to work hard every day, but realistically your body needs a day of rest. Try and take one day a week to completely rest your body!
STRETCHING! How do we stretch our triceps?!?
We just went over how important it is to let your body recover so your muscles are able to recover but another huge thing with exercising is stretching your muscles! Stretching after tough workouts can help improve our flexibility and they can also help further prevent injuries! You know how sometimes you wake up the morning after a KILLER workout and you feel like you can’t move? Bet you didn’t stretch very adequately and that’s why you’re struggling so much. Here are a couple of our favorite tricep stretches we use in class to increase our flexibility!
- Overhead triceps stretch
- Lift both arms to the ceiling, take your right hand in between your shoulder blades and grab your right elbow with your left hand. Repeat on both sides!
- Triceps towel stretch
- Taking both arms overhead (making sure you have a towel in one hand), let the hand containing the towel drop in between your shoulder blades and let your other hand reach up from the bottom to grab the bottom of the towel. This one stretches a little bit deeper so this one is helpful for those of you who are a little bit tight!
Your triceps are so important for the movement of your shoulders and arms and back- make sure you’re taking care of them! While our triceps are important it is also important to note all of the tips listed above are good to keep in mind for every muscle in your body. It’s important whatever muscles you’re working you give your body time to rest and recover.