Body-weight exercises, such as triceps dips and close-grip pushups, are effective for toning those oh-so-stubborn triceps and sparing you the indignity of soft jiggly arms. Both exercises may be difficult to perform, but if necessary, slight modifications will allow you to include them in your workout program.
Close-grip pushups, also called triangle pushups, differ from standard pushups in that you perform them with your hands positioned close together under your chest. Triceps dips are performed on a parallel-bar dipping station or on a bench. To do bench dips, place your hands on the edge of a bench with your legs extended in front of you and your heels on the floor. Bend your knees and lower your body until your upper arms are parallel to the floor. Push up back to your starting position by straightening your arms. On parallel bars, lower yourself with your elbows pointing backward until you feel the pull at the backs of your arms.
The triceps dip and close-grip pushup are compound multi-joint movements that work a number of other muscles besides your triceps. Close-grip pushups engage your chest and shoulders, while your biceps, abs and legs act as stabilizers. Triceps dips engage your chest, shoulders and upper back, with your biceps and trapezius acting as stabilizers.Both exercises make you considerably stronger, and anyone who dares challenge you to an arm wrestle contest, does so at his peril.
Safety and Difficulty
A lot of muscle-bound jocks get bruised egos when they can only do a paltry number of parallel bar dips, so don't despair if you find the exercise ridiculously difficult. Some gyms have an assisted machine that you stand or kneel on take up some of your body weight. Bench dips with your feet on the floor are much easier to do, but triceps dips in general place considerable strain on your shoulder joints. Close-grip pushups place negligible stress on your shoulder joints. Keep your knees on the floor if you find close grip pushups difficult to perform.
In a study sponsored by the American Council on Exercise, exercise scientists from the University of Wisconsin recruited 15 women between the ages of 20 and 24 to compare the effectiveness of eight different triceps exercises. Close-grip pushups elicited the most muscle activity, with triceps dips coming in a close third. Include both exercises in your triceps workout to keep the back of your arms taut and firm.
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