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Taming the Terrible ‘Turkey Wings’

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Tricep Nerdery Specific to the Ladies

As I mentioned in my post, Constructing a Fitness Femme Fatale, there are few tweaks in training that I make when working with female clients.  Sure, 90% of what I do is the same for men and women, but for that 10% I take a different approach.

Today, I want to talk you about a body part that I get a lot of questions about from my female readers and clients—the back of the upper arms, those tricky, tricky triceps.

The triceps are an interesting training conundrum for women (and for those who train women); as you know, you need to do some weight training to develop the musculature and give it shape and form.

However, too much training (or improper training) and the muscles will grow.  Generally, that’s a good thing—after all, it’s a good part of why we train with weights.  However, in the case of many of my female clients, developing bigger arms isn’t really high on the priority list.

In fact, many women tell me that the last thing they want is “bulky” arms.

There are a few things we need to address here.

  1. “Bulky” is their word, not mine.  I’m of the belief that muscle gives you shape.  Muscles have definitive forms and curves.  If you look “bulky” it’s because you have fat on top of your muscle, and that needs to be addressed.
  2. In general, women cannot gain huge amounts of muscle.  You just CAN’T.  Women don’t have the testosterone to build very large muscles.  Or, even a significant amount of muscle in a short time.

Which means, DO NOT worry about getting “too big, too quickly.”

The goal of this post is not to reinforce crazy fallacies about female training and encourage fear of weights.

The goal is to shed some new light on triceps anatomy, and therefore give you some new ideas, and possibly a different way to train your triceps.

Got it?

Okay—you’re going to be surprised by a lot of this.  One of the sources that I pull a lot of my inspiration from for female triceps training is a book that is intended for none other than bodybuilders.

In fact, the name of the book is Target Bodybuilding.

Hang on!

I know, I know…but, seriously, don’t write it off just yet.  I get it: Target Bodybuilding, doesn’t exactly sound (or look) female friendly, but this book has been a huge help to me when designing programs for women.

It’s a really great resource with a lot of interesting information that we can learn from. 

The author, a PhD named Per Tesch, is a professor of physiology and an expert in human performance in strength training.  And his book takes a really unique look at your muscles.  And by that, I mean, a look INSIDE your muscles.

You’ve obviously heard of MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging.  In the medical context, MRI is used to take a look inside and determine the existence of or severity of injury, and from which appropriate treatment will be selected.

Well, Tesch decided this could be used to better understand the human body in terms of training.  You see, using MRI, Dr. Tesch conducted hundreds of experiments on multiple trainees to determine how muscles—and parts of muscles—worked during various exercises.

Before I get too far off topic, let’s look at the triceps.  (We’ll come back to MRI stuff in a bit).

(Very) Basic Anatomy

tricepI assume some of you know this, but a few don’t, so let’s cover the basics.  The muscle in question is actually called “triceps brachii” – and that translates to “three-headed arm muscle.”

Not overly creative, perhaps, but the important thing: as the name implies, there are three separate parts or “heads” of the triceps

  • Medial head
  • Lateral lateral
  • Long head

As you can see from this awesome photo I was clever enough to grab from Google Images, the positions are the reasons for the name.  When in anatomical position, the medial head is closest to the midline body, the lateral is further to the outside, and the long head is simply the longest.

Nerdy Anatomy

For those who want to dig a little deeper, I figure we should briefly go over anatomy; not only will this give you some idea of relevancy, but also clue you in that I either know what I’m talking about or that I know how to copy from my anatomy textbook.

I’ve bolded the parts are important for our discussion.

The medial head arises distally from the groove of the radial nerve; from the back of the humerus; from the medial intermuscular septum; and its distal part also arises from the lateral intermuscular septum. The medial head is mostly covered by the lateral and long heads, and is only visible distally on the humerus.[1]

The lateral head arises from the back surface of the humerus, lateral and proximal to the groove of the radial nerve, from the greater tubercle down to the region of the lateral intermuscular septum.[1]

TRANSLATION: the lateral head is on the outside of the arm, lying over the medial head.

The long head arises from the infraglenoid tubercle of the scapula. It extends distally anterior to the teres minor and posterior to the teres major. [1] 

TRANSLATION: the long head attaches the highest up on the arm, at the shoulder blade.

Each of the three fascicles has its own motorneuron subnucleus in the motor column in the spinal cord. The medial head is formed predominantly by small type I fibers and motor units, the lateral head of large type IIb fibers and motor units and the long head of a mixture of fiber types and motor units.[2]

How Fiber Make Up Affects Triceps Training

This is an important point—there  are multiple types of muscle fibers, and a complete discussion of each would be a bit beyond the scope of our discussion here.

Suffice it to say that there are slow twitch and fast twitch fibers.  Slow twitch fibers (type I) make up the medial head, and are recruited primarily through higher rep training.

Type IIb fibers are fast twitch, and make up the lateral head.  These fibers are the densest and have the greatest capacity for muscular growth. Type IIB fibers fatigue quickly but are very powerful, and respond very well to training with heavier weight and low reps.

Which means that the lateral head of the triceps has the greatest potential for growth, especially when trained with heavy weight.

MRI and Triceps Recruitment

As I mentioned earlier in the post, Dr. Per Tesch used magnetic resonance imaging to look at how different exercises worked your muscles; and more specifically which part.

You see, what Tesch was able to do with MRI technology was determine which triceps exercise worked which head of the triceps.  Pretty cool, huh?

For bodybuilders looking to develop a certain look, this is certainly important information; as it would help them ascertain which exercises they should rely on to prioritize a particular part of the muscle.

However, for women who want to develop a sexy, shapely arm without getting too much size, it can be equally important, in the sense that it can help us figure out which exercises to modify and how to modify them, as well as which to avoid.

Now, Tesch covered 20 exercises in the book, from kickbacks to overhead presses, detailing to what extent each exercise relies on each head of the triceps.  And there are some interesting findings.

I’m going to give you a breakdown of my thoughts, but the really important factor is the triceps involvement changes dramatically based on two things:

1) The position of the humerus relative to the torso

  • When the humerus is parallel to the torso and below the shoulder, all three heads of the triceps tend to get involved, with emphasis being on the lateral head in nearly all exercises.  (Cable press downs are a good example.)
  • When the humerus is parallel to the torso and above the shoulder, the long head of the triceps becomes involved more so than in any other variation.  Overhead triceps exercises fall into this category.
  • When the humerus is perpendicular to the torso, the long head can be isolated further (depending on weight and hand position).

2) Rotation of the hand

  • When the hand is rotated to a pronated (palms-down) grip, involvement of the medial and lateral heads increases.
  • When the hand is rotated to a neutral grip, the lateral head takes over a quite a bit
  • When the hand is rotated to a supinated (palms up) grip, the involvement of the long head increases.

To a muscle nerd like me, that’s all incredibly interesting and really useful to know.  And, again, we can leverage this information to help you, where you’re trying to shape sexy arms or get “hyoooooge effin’ gunz.”

Now, this post is for the ladies, so we’ll have to leave hyoooge gunz for another time.

Looking at the information I listed, it can get confusing; so let me explain what I think the goal should be.

If you want strong triceps that don’t jiggle, you have to address the long head of the triceps.  As I mentioned earlier, it attaches the highest up on the arm, and for women, the “turkey wing” phenomenon happens pretty much where the arm flows out of the armpit.  The more we can work the long head and make it strong, the better we are.

Secondly, one of the other things we want to consider is the “look” of a sexy arm; an arm that is well developed and fit without being over-developed.

Take a look at Jamie Eason’s arm in this picture.  Her arms clearly indicate that she works out, but they are not over developed or overly muscular.

jamie-eason

 

To hit this look, I recommend that women attempt to develop the lateral head of the triceps while minimizing involvement of the medial head.  In fact, ideally you’ll work the medial head just enough to prevent any negative muscular imbalances.

Why?

Well, firstly, you can’t SEE the damn thing!  Remember, the medial head lies UNDERNEATH the lateral head—which means that if we make it grow, it will “pop” the lateral head out and make the arm look bigger.

Now, this is great for guys who arm looking to increase the circumference of their upper arms (take note, fellas), but for a woman, increase the girth of the arm possibly might look okay in a tank top…but once you put a sweater on or a long sleeve shirt, how’s it gonna look?  If I may borrow from my readers, “bulky.

Still with me?

All right, awesome.

Okay, so far we want to hit long head and keep the long head involved without getting too much of the medial head.

EXERCISES FOR THE LONG HEAD OF THE TRICEPS

For the long head, pretty much any overhead movement will suffice…BUT some are better than others.  Sure, overhead extensions are okay, but we can make them better.

As I mentioned, hand positioning will also affect which head is recruited.  In this instance, we’re trying to hit the long head of the triceps, and so turning the palm into a supine grip is the way to go.

Which means that an overhead extension with a reverse grip is one of the best exercises that women can do to develop sexy arms.

My favorite way to have clients do these is with a cable, as shown in this video.   

Of course, you can also do them with dumbbells.

Interestingly, you don’t have to train exclusively with overhead movements to train the long head; it’s also worked very well with the classic movement, the French press, also known as the barbell skull-crusher. And, since we know that taking a reverse grip increases the involvement of the long head, if you’re brave enough and trust yourself not to drop the barbell on your dome, you can try a reverse grip skull-crusher.  It’s killer.


Note – I don’t have a video of this but I’ll shoot one for you.

As mentioned, the long head is made up of mixed fibers, so you should do a mixed range of weight, reps, and sets.  We don’t have too much in over development.

 

EXERCISES FOR THE LATERAL HEAD OF THE TRICEPS

The lateral head and the medial head try to work as a team, so we have to pick exercises that really focus on the lateral and minimize the medial.  Harder than it sounds.  Thankfully, there are a few.

A key factor here is, again, hand position.  Using a neutral grip (palms facing each other) puts a bit more onus on the lateral head.

The supine triceps extension with neutral grip is a great example.  Now, that’s kind of just a fancy name for a skull crusher/French press done with dumbbells.

YouTube Preview Image

Please, forgive the cheesy video intro.  I need to just shoot one for you, but this gives you an idea.

As I said, it’s very similar to a regular skull crusher.  The interesting thing is that by making two simple tweaks—changing a barbell to dumbbells, and shifting from a reverse grip to a neutral grip—and you take the emphasis off the long head and put it on the lateral head.  Pretty cool.

Here’s something else that’s interesting.  While it’s true that generally speaking overhead extension movements prioritize the long head, sometimes hand positioning is more important.  For example, and overhead triceps extension done with a rope attachment showed great recruitment of the lateral head, and only mild long head involvement.

RANDOM PRESSDOWN STUFF

As expected, nearly all variations of the cable triceps pressdown showed equal involvement of all three heads of the triceps.  However, one stood out: the triceps pressdown performed with a straight bar and a narrow grip hit the long and lateral heads while minimizing the medial head.  If you’re going with a pressdown movement, pick this one.

EXERCISES TO AVOID

Here’s a brief list of exercises I think a woman can do without, at least for a while.  Are they evil? NO.  Do they have some benefit? YES, of course.  However, if you’re training specifically for aesthetics, you should minimizethese in your program.

  • Kickback – honestly, just not really a great exercise over all.  It’s good with very light weight as a pre-activation exercise, but that’s it.
  • Close Grip Bench – fantasic for guys looking to build big triceps and a strong bench.  Ladies, unless you’re trying to build maximum pressing strength, you can skip this.
  • One-arm Triceps Pressdown – too much medial head involvement; if you’re going to do these, use a reverse grip.
  • Standing French Press (cable stack) – too much medial head involvement; plus it just works better as a barbell movement.

 

And now, without further delay, I’ve got a workout for you!

Roman’s Tricky Triceps Training Session for Sexy Arms

1a) Push-Ups1 set of 8 reps (on knees if you need to)
1b) Push-Up Hold1 set, hold for 30 seconds at the top of the push-up movement.

2) Overhead Extension with Reverse Grip2 sets of 12-15
(rest 60 seconds between)

3a) Supine Triceps Extension with Neutral Grip3 sets of 6
3b) Triceps Pressdowns with Straight Bar and Narrow Grip
3 sets of 10
(Perform a set of extensions, rest for 30 seconds, then perform the presdowns.  Rest 75 seconds and repeat.  Perform a total of 3 alternations.)

4) Skullcrusher with Reverse Grip1 set of 12 reps

 

References:

  1. Platzer, Werner (2004). Color Atlas of Human Anatomy, Vol. 1: Locomotor System (5th ed.).
  2. Lucas-Osma, AM; Collazos-Castro, JE. (2009). “Compartmentalization in the triceps brachii motoneuron nucleus and its relation to muscle architecture”. J Comp Neurol 516 (3): 226–39.

Ladies: did you learn something here?  Did I trash one of your favorite exercises, or maybe teach you a new one?  Let me know in the comments!

And don’t forget, if you’re looking for a program designed specifically for women, there’s still time to pick up Flavia’s program, CURVALICIOUS during the half price sale, and get some extra bonuses.  Including the soon-to-be-filmed video of me getting trained on camera but the lady herself!

About the Author

John Romaniello is a level 70 orc wizard who spends his days lifting heavy shit and his nights fighting crime. When not doing that, he serves as the Chief Bro King of the Roman Empire and Executive Editor here on RFS. You can read his articles here, and rants on Facebook.

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  • Jesica Miotti

    Hi, John. I’d like to mention that the first video (overhead extension) is not working. I’d like to see it if possible!

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  • Lisa Lepla

    Sounds like a great workout. Can’t wait to give it a try. In regards to Flavia’s workout – I ordered it and received it but once I took a look at it, I realized it was not something I was interested in. However, when I returned it, I never did get my refund. Terrible customer service and I won’t order anything from her again.

    • Hey Lisa, I’m sure it’s just lost in the shuffle. We use the same customer service people. Shoot me an email at support at romanfitnesssystems dot com and we’ll get it sorted.

  • Joanne

    Definitely good stuff! I will be introducing the overhead extension with a reverse grip to my workout buddy and include it in our workouts. I will also use our kickbacks that we have been doing now as pre-activation; that makes a lot of sense. We both need to work on our push ups.

    Thanks so much for your very informative posts. Yesterday and today have been awesome. Mary and I have learned more from readiing than from the gym owner.

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  • TheTylerCarter

    Reverse skull crushers are terrifying.

  • Ginette

    Been doing the above exercises but having it brooken down really helps a great deal.  I’ve picked up Flavia’s Curvalicious.  Can’t wait to work on both.
    Thanks
    Ginette

  • SirenSongWoman

    Thank you :).

  • Liruiz

    sweeeet!  down for next arm day, for sure!

  • joan

    Awesome information to store away. Always am interested in learning new muscle bulding techniques. However I would not purchase any of Flavia’s workouts in the future. Bad customer service never helps anyone trying to make a name for themselves. Whenever I e-mailed with questions or concerns I was never even given an e-mail back so she got my FULL purchase price that was all she needed.

  • Leah

    Excellent, loved that, called my husband to come and read it too, amazed at the depth of info you have given here. Great. Thank you.

  • Mappy1270

    Cool. I’m going to try the tricep workout today. Thank you.

  • Chris

    Great Roman!  Thanks so much – can’t wait to try!

  • What about tricep dips?  I’ve always disliked them, but I thought they were considered one of the best exercises for triceps.

    •  Parallel bar drips are great. Dips with arms behind you aren’t generally great, as they put the scapula in an iffy position.

  • Helane

    Fabulous post – can’t wait to teach my clients why we do what we do – thank you!!!

  • Louise Holt

    Okay, I have turkey wings. I am 57 yrs old, for crying out loud!! I have lost 40 pounds of Accounting Dept weight and have about 12 more pounds to go. I have incorporated walking and jogging on a daily basis (I have “needy” dogs so this is very great for me) and I periodically workout with weights, using one of your programs (Xtreme Diet Soln workouts). I have my 40th HS class reunion this summer so would like to take care of these jiggles from the weight loss after menopause. :(
    I am excited to do this workout for arms, tho! Thanks so much for looking out for us ladies, Roman!!! :D

  • Christinjacketta

    love the info, thanks! cant wait to try tri workout tomorrow!!

  • Maria

    I love it very much, the details were fantastic

  • MMS

    For suggested work out, it would be great to show a picture of each exercise to make sure it is easily understood.

  • Sky Gal

    “Bulky” is their word, not mine.  I’m of the belief that muscle gives you shape.  Muscles have definitive forms and curves.  If you look “bulky” it’s because you have fat on top of your muscle, and that needs to be addressed” 

    Amen.

  • Ari

    Are crab pushups ok?

  • kim

    yes always done kickbacks. definitely will be trying some exercises you posted here.
    thx

  • Medmal

    Turkey wings are due to skin that is not elastic (tight) enough to pull back the weight of  fat connected to it. This is the problem for old people. I don’t think you can build enough muscle to stretch old skin from the inside.

  • I find it very informative. I’m following you for almost a year and I have to say
    that I’ve learned a lot. XFLD is my No.1 program that thought me how to combine
    the workouts with the diet, so I practically built my own personal lifestyle around
    the XFLD concept. As a suggestion, maybe you could make slight adjustments of
    the program for women. :)
    As I will not have access to gym nor dumbbells for few months I have a small request.   I would really appreciate if you could dedicate a blog or something to performing the exercises with resistance band. Thanks in advance…
    Great job!!!

  • Dianne

    Good article there!  Surprised you suggest eliminating the standing french press.  What do think of standing with 1 DB OH tri ext (grip is fairly neutral.)   Also how about the traditional TRX triceps extension….too much medial head? It’s kind of like doing a suspended narrow grip pushup.

    BTW  I love doing rev grip skull crushers with DB on the stability ball!

  • Dragongirl92000

    Reverse grip skull crushers…hmmm, tomorrow, I try this!

  • Nozibele

    You are a blessing! Thank you for the intelligent info, I look forward to training my tricepts now more than ever!!! No more skinny shapeless arms for me:-D I’m sharing this with my galz,whoopwhoop!

  • Chelsey Lynne Reschke

    Wow, once again you’re really nailed the “why” of exercise that you present. Thank you SO much. 

  • Jjerell557

    Movie Star Motivator-Personal Trainer NYC, ”I motivate you”. John is a master adviser.Image consultant Date coach and Business consultant. Servicing the client’s tempered headquarters: http://motivationamust.com/home.html
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  • Sami

    Roman,

    You ROCK! your information is solid, thank you, I appreciate your effort, keep it coming.

    Cheers,

    Sami

  • Mila

    Roman,

    You are honestly one of the most well-educated trainers I have come across in years. I love your blog, it has been immensely informative and helpful to a great extent. Keep up the good work, keep the good stuff coming. It's good to see someone addressing the needs of female weight lifters, there are a lot of us out there :).

    Thank you :)

  • LT

    Very informative post, exactly what I was looking for to a degree. My fiancee and I are trying to get all sexy for our wedding, and I finally convinced her to start lifting with me (instead of doing endurance cardio). Her main focus is gettin lean arms, and the triceps breakdown looks like it'll be very helpful.

    On a different note, we're about to start Joel's XFLD, but she (and I) have one big question: on the typical breakdown of fat loss by inches for the female…bust measurement took a huge dive. We both love my fiancee's breasts, and would honestly like to preserve them at all costs. Understanding that fat loss = loss in areas with abundant surface fat (like the breasts), I've got to ask: is there any boobs-sparing course to still losing a lot of body fat?

    Keep up the good shit, man.

  • Katie

    Hey what about at home tricep stuff, only using body weight?

  • I would still do weight training, just use lighter weights and make sure the training is more metabolic

  • Cynthia

    You had metioned that women do not make enough testosterone to get big. I am taking a testerone cream for hormone replacement, and have fat to loose. When I do weight training I gain lbs. should I only stick with cardio at first?

  • Carole Arsenault

    thanks for the insight on the tricep exercises… i have lost 120 pounds over the last two years i have an underactive thyroid and am a single mom in my 2nd year at University, the arms are not too bad but could use some thing different, I do lots of pushups but now have two new exercises to add to my routine..thanks again..

  • Janet

    I like but please for the very new to exersize explain or have vids of the and could you have more for home workouts without a lot of equipment

    thanks alot

    j

  • Lauren

    Great post, Roman! Question: what do you recommend for a woman who has had a weight loss of 80 pounds or more and has excess skin creating the “bat wing”? How much can that be improved without surgery to remove excess skin?

  • Loved this post!

  • Debs

    great info and well presented. My 'bat wings' snuck up on me & must be destroyed ! Any similar tips for the inner thigh jiggles would be awesome…. [fear not; I do have a few presentable bits :)]

  • Ty

    100!

  • Ty

    I am posting this comment to support the shaping of sexy women.

  • Bella

    Thanks Roman,

    really needed this information .Its good to get now and then anatomy lesson ,either to learn something new or to refresh the knowledge.

  • Jill

    Keep these coming. Its amazing how wrong we can get it through lack of knowledge and guidance. I appreciate you taking time to inform us all.

    Jill

  • Jonathan

    Roman! Another fascinating article.

    I'm not a personal trainer, but these kinds of “how to program and train” for women to become sexy women are making me think that the field of personal training is a cool place to work in.

  • sonya

    Hi Roman,

    Thankyou for such an indepth female oriented look at triceps. I will definately be trying your suggestions. I hope you post more info like this for other problem areas.

  • jilligan

    OK, so did these Friday night and I still look jacked today (Sunday). And this is with light weights (10 – 15lbs). Seriously good stuff!

  • Cass

    Roman,

    Should the Triceps Pressdowns with Straight Bar and Narrow Grip be done with a reverse grip (i.e. palms up) or the regular way, palms down?

    Cass

  • Close grip dip is different in terms of muscle involvement than the bench press. You're set =)

  • I will absolutely do some more posts along these lines. Ideally I'll have one for each muscle =)

  • The principles are certainly the same; that said, as you implied, each of these would deserves it's own blog post.

    I touched briefly on quads in both my “constructing a female femme fetale” and “6 tips for a sexy female body” posts.

    I'll definitely tackle calves at some point.

  • My pleasure! thanks so much for commenting!

  • Interestingly, the degree to which the individual triceps heads are involved doesn't change much push-up to push-up.

    For example, let's say an “elbows out” push-up is dependent on 60% chest and 40% triceps. That 40% will be divided evenly over the 3 heads.

    If you're talking a close-grip or triceps push up, let's say that will be 75% triceps and 25% chest. Well, that 75% will be pretty much evenly spread over all 3 heads.

    it seems that for compound exercises like presses and dips, the three heads share work.

  • I think (hope) it will have some benefit. So please feel free to forward it around!

  • Hey Cass,

    Rep ranges will vary, depending on what your goal is. For most people I liked to do sets between 6 and 10, though.

    Twice per week is fine!

  • Thanks so much, Diane, I appreciate the kind words! Keep checking back =)

  • Tanya

    Thanks Roman – very useful. My biceps/triceps have been out of whack for a while, so this will help immensely. Thanks again!

  • Sarah

    Its great to get your advice on tweeking weight training to suit us ladies a little better. Thanks :)

  • Cass

    Roman-

    How many times per week do you suggest we ladie do tricep work, similar to the workout you posted?

    I do an upper/lower split so I am lifting weights 4x/week, doing upper body twice per week. Is 2x/week enough to get those triceps firm? What about rep ranges and number of sets in each of those 2 workouts? Any suggestions?

    Thanks!

    Cass

  • Casey

    Hi there,

    I don't usually comment, but this blog is very much what I've been looking for. I just had a question – when you say 'push ups' in your exercise routine – do you mean the regular kind – elbows out, or tricep pushups?

    Thanks!

  • Frances

    Hi Roman,

    My triceps are my weakest arm muscles and I've been looking for a way to build them up. I'll definitely incorporate some of your exercises in my program (just got Flavia Del Monte's FBL, haven't tried it yet but it looks awesome!)

    I'll definitely be glad to see the back of kickbacks, I hate them!

    Cheers,

    Frances (UK).

  • Jonathan

    Great post Roman. I'll definitely take this into account when designing workouts for women.

    Totally agree with: muscle covered in fat = bulky; lean muscle = sexy and shapely

    Do you use the same principle for women who want definition with less size on biceps (supinated grip to emphasize biceps over brachialis), and for calves (avoid seated calf raises, which isolate the soleus)? …or is that for another post?

  • AnnieLaurie Burke

    Great info! Being a science nerd, I love all the technical stuff on anatomy and physiology. It really helps one's focus during workouts if one knows what to “feel” in hte muscle (and why that “feel” occurs). This is the first time I have seen an explanation of the jiggle problem (and why one might still have some of it in spite of intense triceps routines). I have been relying too much on kickbacks (hate them but thought they were helpful). I am inspired to add those “skull crushers” and experiment with different grips. Super article!

    (BTW – the anit-spam question has no correct answer — depends if you are talking tufa or granite…)

  • Cindy from Sydney Australia

    Hey John,

    Fantastic post, very informative and stuff I've never heard before. I also am not sure how to do all the exercises you recommend. If you could do a brief video demo on those it would be extremely helpful. If possible could you give alternatives for any that involve cables as I work out at home with minimal equipment. Thanks again, LOVE your work. Have a great day

  • Saskia

    thank you so much! I was just doing triceps exercises but now I know so much more on getting the real good looking arms

  • Debs

    Thanks for posting this and please, please,please post more in the same vein (thighs for example) – really interesting. Like most women with already disportionally large arms the fear of bulk is ever present when training and I've always suspected that there should be differences in training between men and women from an aesthetic point of view. Very few programs seem to address the fact that most women (not all I know) want to be strong but without looking particularly muscular. Not sure I agree with you though about Jaimie Eason's arms – would like mine smaller than that really! Thanks again.

  • Ara

    Hi roman, thank you so very much for this info. I got thick arms as it is as well as wide waist line hate it… no matter how much weight I loose, cant seem to shrink middle section. Hope to see some blogs about this soon. I bought your program through coach Josh diet both great.. And today i bought flavias program I am ready to rock and roll with all this info :)

  • Mel

    Excellent info, thanks! My tri's are kind of weak, I usually performs skulls with 40-50lbs but do dips for more overall weight. Is this at all effective for adding strength and size to the tricep?

  • Amy

    Awesome post! I love to lift heavy, but getting good triceps has been a struggle. I just started FPFL2. Would you suggest supplementing the tricep workout you have here on one of the workout days? If so, to which one (i.e., lactic, density, dynamic or strength)?

  • Tara

    Great stuff, Roman! My kids are looking at me funny sitting here on the couch trying out the different hand positions and extensions, but what the hey…arms are my FAVE and now I've got the science behind the moves. Thanks…you're funny and great!

  • Yvonne

    Thanks for posting this, Roman. I always enjoy hearing about why something works, rather than being told to do something just because it supposedly works. This is why your blog is different. (In a good way, not a bad way!)

  • Patty

    Great post, Roman….this is one area I always want to “clean up” so this information is invaluable. Thanks!

  • christine campagna

    Thank you so much for the training info! and thanks for the tips on tricep kickbacks… they are not my favorite… :)) if ever you were to do an article on deltoid training, that would be great, as I am desperatly trying to gain definition on my rear deltoids (I love defined shoulders) but I just dont seem to get it quite right… Love your blog!

  • Jilligan

    Thank you for explaining why my arms got so big (and looked BULKY) while on a strength gaining routine. I've been having great results with the FPFL and noticed my arms are slimming down without any strength loss – but I'm going to pay attention to hand positions for any tricep work. Great post!

  • Even if you copied from text, I'm sure you know what's up. Love getting the Anatomy lessons! Thank you Roman!

  • Mary

    Thanks for the great info,as always! I'm not afraid of developing my triceps more, as I've been working them for some time with limited success. How often would you train them per week for greater strength? BTW, I started doing pushup holds recently and I hate them but love them, if you know what I mean! They're nasty, but super challenging!

  • Manda

    tricep pressdown don't use gym equipment just free weights…color me dense but what exercise do i use if not with a cable?

  • kim

    will be doing these to get rid of the for ever waving arm fat

  • Shelby Meidinginger

    I am so going to try these out tonight. I think outside of abs, arms are one of the hardest parts for a woman to train because of the sag. I know lots of women who are in great shape but still have saggy arms, so this post will be a great benefit.

  • Sounds like your trainer is on the right track!

    Speaking generally I like to change a program anywhere between 4 and 12 weeks for fat loss. For muscle gain, 8-16 weeks.

  • Thank you for the compliment. I'm so happy you're diggin' the humor, and even happier you are getting something out of the site! I appreciate you commenting.

  • It's true, bench dips and chair dips are a bit hard on the shoulders. They're not COMPLETELY dangerous like some would have you believe.

    of course, if it hurts, don't do it. If you don't feel pain, you're fine.

    I'd say don't do more than 2 sets per week.

  • Diane

    really excellent detailed info on arm & tricep training for women not easily found in one place as well! I've been doing FPFL wkouts over past several months (on a slower schedule due to my schedule),but have felt challenged, strengthened, w/ good results, and enjoyed the variety! Thanks for your high quality blog & coaching!

  • chris

    Great post Roman.

    Thanks

  • Bobi

    Love your tips on working out the arms…..can't wait to hit the gym tomorrow for arm day…..Thank you!

  • jenny

    I usually don't comment, but I love your sense of humor, and your videos are very helpful! Most trainers wont show you ANYTHING untill you show them the money!!! ( I have been out alot of money for mediocre info.)

    Anyway…thank you for all the info. and help.(and humor)

  • Tracy

    I have been told not to do dips from a chair or bench because it will ruin my shoulders. Is this true? How do we know what to believe and what not to believe? HELP!!!

  • wanda

    Thanks so much Roman for this information. i have been working out for 2yrs now and that has been a problem area for me & now i know why. I will definitely incorporate these new exercises into my routine. Great Blog.

  • Steph

    Hi Roman –

    Thanks for the great info – very informative. I'm pretty new to the strenght training world so most of the exercises you mention I'm unfamiliar with – basically I know kickbacks & dips. Is there anyway you can post a video, or videos, of all the exercises in the recommended circuit? And possibly even those in the Do Not Do list, just to make sure we all know what those are.

    Also, I did purchase Flavia's program & have only reviewed her Day 1 (thighs) video. In that she has us doing a close grip tricep dip. Is that the same thing as the Close Grip Bench that you say to avoid? I haven't checked out the other four vidoes yet, but I want to make sure to replace any potentially bad tricep exerices with ones u recommend since I already have “bulky” enough arms :)

    Thanks!

  • Jan-Marie

    great article! love knowing “how and why”. Long standing “tennis elbow” confines me to kick-backs for tricept. any suggestions?

    thanks.

  • Push-ups and dips seem to recruit all three heads equally, based on the MRI stuff. Close grip push-ups might have a tad less emphasis on the long head, but it's a good exercise =)

  • Love this stuff… a huge problem area for post-menopausal women, especially those of us living in the South where sleeveless is required!!!!

    Two exercises that are staples of my training routines are dips (bench & floor mostly) and close-grip push-ups (also a staple of Pilates routines). Can you help me figure out what they are affecting?

  • Amanda

    I'm with Yiwa. I definitely “train like a man.” I definitely put on muscle fairly easily and love it. I liked the short anatomy lesson and the dissection of the different exercises. It gives me something to think about as my training progresses, and as I change exercises to target different areas of the muscle.

  • You got it bru. Glad you liked it =)

  • Sara

    tried this. triceps died. those pushup+holds are no joke — definitely will need to work up to 8 of them (doing them on toes, not knees). thanks for the workout, brah

  • Dee

    I am a big fan of the nerdy info. :) I always like to know why something works better – great info!!! Thank you!

  • I'm fairly certain my web designer meant it as a euphemism ;)

  • This is a really great idea. I like it. Thanks man!

  • For sure. Off days, once per week. Enjoy!

  • Sweet! Glad you liked it. Let me know how you like the workout =)

  • Izaak R

    Great stuff Roman! I currently have my Fiancé doing Turbulance Training Booty for Wife 2.0. She just started it this week. Can this triceps workout be done on that workouts off days maybe once or twice a week? Thanks and btw..great blog!

    Izaak R

  • Stephanie

    Thank you. Now, I can stop the less than useful triceps exercises and concentrate on the exercises that you have shown us.

  • Interesting point. I'll look into Zuzzana and check out some of her training philosophies. I know she mostly does BW but I think she had done some KB stuff for a while. I'll check it out.

  • Excellent, glad you got something out of it. Lay off the CG bench for a bit and I think you'll see a difference.

    And thanks for the kind words about the blog!

  • Welcome =)

  • Basing the statement on the MRI examples in Tesch's book. For example, a pressdown with overhand grip had only mild involvement of the long head, whereas taking a reverse grip increased involvement.

  • To my knowledge, I can't insert videos directly into emails. You'll have to watch them on the blog – sorry!

  • Thanks, Rachel! Glad you enjoyed =)

  • Ha! It's amazing how many people HATE kickbacks and yet just keep doing them.

  • Corinne

    Thanks for all the info! I'm so glad to read that kick backs aren't really worth my effort (b/c I hate doing those LOL)

  • Bernice

    Thanks, Roman! I learned a lot and have a good idea what is causing the sharp pain in my elbow. I'm going to forward this information on to my yoga instructor so she can tweek our workouts. My only problem so far is that there weren't any videos in the email when I opened it up to read. Can that be fixed? You are on it, my man!

  • Joanne

    Great articles…hope to get more as we go along!

    Just to confirm the routine you've shown, are the supine tri exensions and skull crushers the same exercise but performed each time with different grips?

    Thanks!

  • Pat

    Thank you, thank you, thank you !

  • Pd

    This is great. I am “top heavy” and can bulk up so easy in the arm area and am always confused how to stay toned while not getting bigger…because i DO get bigger! I see that a few of the exercises I do (e.g. close grip bench) need to come off my repertoire. thanks! p.s. new blog looks fab!

  • Rachel

    Another awesome post, Roman – thanks for the info on how to get rid of “bingo wings,” “Batwings,” and such.

    I really appreciated the (nerdy) anatomy breakdown – you're not the only one who finds it interesting.

    -Rachel

  • christel

    Wow that makes sense … no problem, no kick backs for me. I much rather work on something that actualy makes a difference.

    Thanks! Your honesty is refreshing!

  • Alice Bellia

    Hi Roman,

    thanks a lot for this post! As a lot of women i do too have trouble in gaining definition there..I've done full body weights workouts for a year and trying some split routines, circuits and supersets to lose weights.

    I had chosen some of the exercises you proposed, but one of them was the kickback so I'll make sure to follow your tips.

    Thanks a lot

  • Susan

    Thanks for this! I am always looking for new ways to tone my arms. These are simple exercises that make sense – the videos were a HUGE help, too.

  • I have been working with a trainer for a month now, he has me doing a full body weights workout twice a week. It is really helping. Right now, I am doing the close grip triceps pressdown in an a/b set with dumbell curls to work opposing muscles. One of the days I do heavier weight, less reps and the other day I do a little lighter weight with more reps.

    How often to you think a program should be changed?

  • Is going to be hard to tell the ladies not to do kickbacks hahahaha! But that's the job we have to do.

    Awesome post Roman

  • Ylwa

    I know that the statement I'm about to make will force me to put my muscles where my mouth is in the week to come, but so be it.

    Touching on this post and the previous one (both great of course), I will definetely have to say that I sort myself under the category “women who train like men”. With a few minor exceptions.

    I have enough programs in my library to make up a couple of years worth of training and I'd say 90% of them comes from male trainers. 100% of the stuff I've used on myself over the past two years.

    There is a reason for this, and it's very simple: 9 times out of 10 that I've tried out a program designed for and/or by females, I find them wussy! Sure I won't break my nails but I sure as hell won't break a sweat either.

    Of course there are exeptions that make the rule, and often you need to tweak some details to make it work (for instance doing chest press and shoulder press with the same weight for the same reps) but in general I find that “unisex” programs or “male” program are alot more straight forward and gives you alot more value for the time put in.

  • Cara

    How often would you recommend doing this workout?

    I tried it out – it's great – except I started hearing a popping noise in/near my shoulders. Bad sign, eh?

  • Amanda

    I have a question regarding push-up on your knees. I have been told that if women can't do push-ups they should start by doing them on an incline or on a Smith machine and slowly lowering the incline until they are on the floor. this will help to continue to engage the muscles in the abs. What are your thoughts on this?

  • kim

    Great info. what about a triceps dip btw benches?

  • Ty

    Lots of useful information here for the fellas too! Thanks.

  • Mechelle

    Hi Roman, thanks for the info. Actually, youdid-'t take away one of my favorites. You took away one I hate. I have always found the price kickback awkward, and I hate it. Thanks!

  • Tom

    Hey Roman,

    where did you hear that rotation of the hand alters degree of involvement of each head of the triceps, they all attach onto the ulna which doesn't rotate at all with supination or pronation of the wrist, I don't see how this can happen, could you help me understand?

    Thanks

  • sabrina attique

    Thanks for a very good info, and i want to know the exercises for hips and sides of the thighs….as i work a lot on my legs…Please help…..Looking forward to see the info about it .THANKS ONCE AGAIN

  • Lizzie

    Thanks for all this information. Just what I need at this time when I've lost some weight. Bless you.

  • Jen

    GREAT info!! Thanks so much!

  • Bev Tredtin

    Excellent and timely info~thanks so much! Would love to see those videos you are going to shoot~they help so much! Also, for a future post, info on calf development would be great!

  • Jess

    Excellent post. I am one of those who seldom make it to the end of a post or book unless very interesting and well written…you deserve a brownie point! ;)

    I also have a question for you: would body weight exercises be enough to build a body like Jamie Eason's? Zuzana of bodyrock.tv trains mainly with bodyweight exercises and sometimes a sandbag, and to my eyes Jamie and Zuzana look similar. I am not an expert therefore I am missing something for sure!

    Thank you for the inspiration :)

  • laura

    This info couldn't have come at a more perfect time. Thanks so much!

  • Terra

    very very cool info. Now I know where to concentrate my efforts, and what exercises to skip! thanks!

  • Janice

    Excellent info – thanks so much!!!

  • Per

    I'll soak up that info and pass it along to the ladies at the office for whom I've put together some “non-pink dumbbell” programs.

    (If you have pink bananas Roman, you might want to reconsider where you get them… The rock-question usually works though.)

  • Rachel Macmanus

    Really good info here, well researched, well delivered! I'll be using it immediately, thankyou!

  • Great post John, its great to see fitness professionals who know there shit (it wasn't fuck mate, thats my once)

    this is what people need to know. Also i think it would be benificial for females to know the difference between calf and soleus, ie muscle fibers, and how to build sculpted calves (possibly an add on to your next post)

    keep up the great work.

    Brett

  • Maya

    Oh, thank you sooo much! That's a lot of new coll information!!!! Priceless!!!

  • YES! I was looking for it! Nice variety of triceps exercises, man! And the anatomy part helps a lot! Awesome! Im heading to the gym to try it right now :P

    Linking…Sharing….