Toned, trim triceps look great in sleeveless tops. If arm flab is an enemy you're battling, working your triceps can help tighten and sculpt the backs of your arms. A great exercise to accomplish this goal is the tricep pushup. The pushup is commonly used to work the pectorals; however, a slight modification can make pushups an excellent exercise for the triceps, too. Integrating dumbbells into your pushups increases the intensity of the movements and further isolates the triceps by altering your hand placement.
Dumbbell Triceps Pushup With Optional Kickback
To perform a dumbbell triceps pushup, you will need two hex dumbbells. Kneel in front of the dumbbells, placing them parallel to each other on the floor, slightly closer than shoulder-width. Place your hands on the dumbbells, palms facing each other, and assume a plank position. Your spine should be straight and your head neutral. Concentrate on holding your core tight throughout the movement; you don't want your hips to sag toward the ground at any point. Inhale as you bend your elbows to lower your body toward the floor. At the bottom of the movement, your arms should be bent and tucked by your sides. Exhale as you straighten your arms and push your body back up to the starting position. You can intensify the exercise by adding a triceps kickback. At the top of the pushup, pull your right arm back and up in a rowing motion. When the dumbbell reaches the side of your chest your upper arm should be parallel with the floor and your elbow bent at a right angle. Keep your upper arm as steady as possible while you move the dumbbell back with your forearm, until your entire arm is straight, then return the dumbbell to the floor. Perform a pushup and repeat the kickback with your left arm.
Decrease the Difficulty
If your upper body and core are not strong enough to perform a standard triceps dumbbell push-up, you can modify the movement. Bend your knees and kneel on the floor instead of assuming a plank position. The closer your knees are to your hands, the easier the movement will be, so try to keep the knees farther back so your body is stretched out at the bottom of the movement. Remember that your hands should be placed slightly closer than shoulder-width to target the tricepss.
Increase the Challenge
To increase the difficulty of the triceps dumbbell pushup, position your feet on a box or elevated platform instead of the floor. This alignment shifts more weight to your arms. You can also place your feet on a stability ball for elevation. Using a stability ball creates an unstable foundation, forcing your core to work harder and increasing the movement's intensity.
Always consult a doctor before beginning an exercise program. If you are not completely sure about how to perform an exercise, ask a fitness professional. If holding the dumbbells is uncomfortable to your hands, you can also perform triceps pushups by placing your palms flat on the floor. Position your hands so the thumb and index finger of each hand touches to form a triangle.
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Jessica Bell has been working in the health and fitness industry since 2002. She has served as a personal trainer and group fitness instructor. Bell holds an M.A. in communications and a B.A. in English.