Triceps is a muscle that makes up back of your arm. This muscle straightens the elbow. When you are doing push-ups, planks or just standing from a sitting position with pushing your arms, you are using this important muscle of your arm. Many times, people are so concentrating on biceps and that “v” look of arms, while building their muscles, they totally forgot this key muscle on the back of the arm. This causes muscle imbalances and invites a lot of pain as well as injury. So let’s talk about this crucial push-up muscle in this article.
Anatomy of Triceps:
As the name suggests, triceps has three different heads of origin. It originates from the scapula, and two parts originate from a shaft of the humerus. This muscle inserts on the olecranon process of Ulna. It gets its nerve supply from the Radial nerve.
The action of Triceps:
As mentioned earlier, triceps is the main elbow extensor. It also retracts the scapula. The triceps muscle is the main antagonist of the biceps muscle. And so, it acts as a shoulder and elbow stabilizer.
How to Strengthen Triceps:
There are several ways to strengthen this crucial muscle. The first three exercises below talks about the isolated strengthening of Triceps. One needs to perform the isolated strengthening in case of severe weakness or injury to the muscle.
Elbow extension with gravity
This is performing elbow extension or straightening the elbow with the help of gravity. It is important to note that when gravity helps the movement, one needs to be cautious to perform a slow and controlled movement. We do not want to see an elbow “falling down” or losing control while trying to straighten it.
You can perform this movement while sitting or standing. Make sure, you are not bending forward or using your back while straightening your elbow.
You can also use some weights (like dumbells or just soup cans) while bending and straightening the elbow.
Elbow extension against gravity
This is again the isolated movement of triceps against gravity. In physical therapy language, this is to strengthen at level 4 or above. You can perform the exercise as shown in the picture below.
The other way is to bring the shoulder in full flexion with elbow bent, and then straighten the elbow with shoulder flexed 180 degrees. This is a better exercise as you don’t need to maintain your balance but it requires a full range of motion on the shoulder. Getting to full 180 degrees of flexion in adults is quite difficult.
Both the above pictures show elbow extension with weight. You can choose to start the exercise without the weights at first and then introduce the weights/ dumbbells gradually.
So above exercises are isolating triceps muscle for strengthening. You can also work on the whole body exercises and the same muscle. The exercises that strengthen these muscles are:
- Bench press
All of the above exercises work on Triceps muscle. The muscle may be acting as a stabilizer, contract either isometrically or eccentrically. Different poses of yoga and pilates work on Triceps in great detail. For example, triceps act as a stabilizer in warrior poses, while contract in all different type while performing sun salutation.
And as always, here is the print out version of the exercise.