Stop making excuses for weak upper arms. With only a pair of dumbbells, you can tone and firm your triceps in no time. This troublesome area will shape up when you add specific exercises into your training routine. You have choices, as always, and the triceps are no exception. For example, you can train this muscle group from a standing or lying position; each method has its own benefits.
Your triceps muscles perform elbow extension. In other words, when you straighten your arm, your triceps shorten to pull on the lower arm bones and extend your elbow. The muscle group is located on the back of your upper arm. When you straighten your arm against resistance -- such as the weight of a dumbbell -- you mildly damage the muscles. The muscles then repair, leaving them stronger than before you began exercising. Whether you work the muscles in a lying or a standing position, the triceps contract.
During the lying triceps extension, you're on your back either on a flat bench or the floor. Your feet are flat on the surface to provide support for your lower back. Position your arms straight up from your shoulders with your palms facing each other. Begin the standing kickback extension in a split stance with one foot in front of the other. Lean slightly forward with your front hand on the front leg. Hold the dumbbell in the opposite hand with your elbow bent and high next to your body. Perform a standing dumbbell extension with a single weight over your head. Stand tall with both arms extended toward the sky.
When you perform any of the three extension exercises, you move the dumbbell against gravity for a greater contraction in the muscle. On your back, your arms bend and straighten as you lower the weights to either side of your head, then push the dumbbells toward the sky. During the kickback, you press the weight upward when you extend your arm behind you, then lower the weight as you bend your elbow and return your hand to your side. The overhead extension creates a triceps contraction as you lower the weight behind your head, moving with gravity, then extend your arms overhead against gravity.
Although all three exercises can be performed with one or both arms at the same time, each has a recommended method. During the lying triceps extension, use both arms at one time, with a dumbbell in each hand, and keep your elbows directly above your shoulders. During the kickback, use one hand at a time and keep your elbow close to your side. For the overhead extension, hold one dumbbell with both hands and keep your elbows close to your head.
A mother of two and passionate fitness presenter, Lisa M. Wolfe had her first fitness article published in 2001. She is the author of six fitness books and holds an Associate of Arts in exercise science from Oakland Community College. When not writing, Wolfe is hula-hooping, kayaking, walking or cycling.