Loads of people, mainly females I have to say, complain that their upper arms are flabby and loose, and this tends to happen naturally as we age. But does it have to be so? And what is the cause of bingo wings?!
Arms which have a layer of fat over the muscle will never look toned, so the first task is to reduce body fat. It’s like any muscle group, it won’t show through a thick layer of fat. Females also have a tendency, especially if apple-shaped, to store fat on the upper arms. The female body is very clever at storing fat in places it considers the least dangerous to health! So that’s arms, bum, hips and legs. Additionally, as we age, our skin loses its elasticity and we lose muscle, so we end up with loose skin hanging at the back of our arms. Added to this, the way we use our arms these days means that the biceps are often flexed for long periods of time – typing at a computer, for instance, and the triceps are relaxed. People also tend to concentrate on building the muscles at the front of their body, where they can see them, and they ignore everything at the back.
A healthy diet and regular exercise are the first step; fat percentage needs to be brought down to a healthy range. That’s around 22-25% for females and about 12-17% for males. Mean time we can work the triceps muscles at the back of the arms very easily, no special equipment required.
Unfortunately, people who have been very overweight, who are older, may find it impossible to get rid of the loose skin, because the arm skin has grown to accomodate fat and lacks the elasticity to spring back. However, it’s still worth a good try.
So what are triceps?
Triceps are the muscles at the back of the upper arms. They are called ‘tri’ because the muscle has three main parts. The triceps are mainly there to straighten the arm; so imagine you are in a relay race and waiting to take the baton; you have your arm straight out behind you and it’s your triceps that are holding it there. They also help with shoulder movement. When we train our triceps they seem to respond very quickly, that’s because we are usually starting from a position of very weak, barely visble triceps.
How to tone and build your triceps
There are several very effective exercises for triceps, remember to work the opposing muscle group too – that’s the rule for all strength training!
I say worktop but it can be anything like a bath, a chair, a bench, an old fallen tree. anything like that!
Stand facing away from the worktop. Rest the heels of your hands on the worktop and take your feet out in front of you. Your arms should be just wider than hip distance apart. Bend your elbows to lower your body, your knees will bend at the same time, then push back up using only your arms. You must fully straighten (but not snap) the arms at the top of the movement, it’s at that point when the triceps will be at full load.
Repeat until you feel you can’t do another. Take a rest for 10-20 seconds then do another set. Do that three times whenever you have the opportunity! Perhaps 2-3 times a day for the first week, and see how things develop.
If you stand at the corner-of-worktop you can even try dipping your whole body weight, it’s easier than you think.
Press ups not only work the triceps but bring in a whole host of other muscles too! They’re not the easiest thing to master, so don’t set yourself big goals at the start. You might only be able to manage two or three, but it’s worth persevering.
You can try using the 100pushups app
Tricep kick backs
This is where you hold a weight, perhaps 1kg, and lean forward, supported on one arm, then you straighten the arm holding the weight. It’s when the arm is straight out behind you that you will feel your triceps really come in to play.
Try doing three sets of eight on each arm.
This is where you stand or sit holding a weight above your head, in both hands, then bend and straighten the arms taking the weight behind your head. Use a weight of about 2kg, depending on your strength. Try not to bonk yourself on the head with it please 🙂
Again try three sets of eight.
When you’ve worked your muscles it’s also good to stretch them. Place your arm right next to your ear, bend the elbow and take the hand behind your back. Gently pull the arm behind you using the opposite hand, so you feel the stretch down the back of the arm. Hold for 20 secs then do the other side.
Start today, right now! These things can be done anywhere.