Exercise of the Week: Triceps

I’ve heard a lot of people in the gym give me some crap about working my triceps, saying that it’s a “girly exercise.” That is definitely not the case, and it is one of my favorite muscle groups to work in BodyPump.

That being said, no two tricep tracks in Pump are alike, and different exercises can tone this muscle in a plethora of ways. Here are the different tricep exercises we see in BodyPump, and how they should be properly executed.

Kickbacks: Funny that I lead with this one, as this is one of my least-favorite exercises in Pump. Technique-wise, it’s a very difficult move to execute properly, but if done correctly, you can really feel it in the back of the arms. The big keys are to keep your back flat and your abs braced, and tuck your chin slightly. This move is preferably done with a light plate or dumbbell (no more than a 2kg or 5kg), since it’s not only a small muscle group, it’s easy to lose your technique if you use too much weight. The trick is keeping your elbow high, and your arm at a 90-degree bend, and sending it up and down, like a hinge on a door. You’ll really feel the burn with this exercise.

Overhead extensions: These typically come during the last 45-60 seconds of a tricep track, when our muscles are fatigued, so technique is important here. You want to use a big plate, or two medium plates, depending on your fitness level. I find these easier to do on your feet, but some in some Pump releases, you’re sitting on your benchtop with your legs crossed. It’s a simple exercise, all you do is bring the plate sky-high, keep your elbows close to your ears, and bring it down and back. It’s a great move that finishes off the arms, and is one of my favorites. I do these every other day in the weight room, and if you’re training outside of your Pump classes, I would recommend doing 3 sets of 12-15 extensions at least twice a week.

Push-ups: Yes, you can do push-ups and still burn the back of those arms!! We don’t see them often in tricep tracks, as we usually annihilate our shoulders with push-ups. However, tricep push-ups are a good exercise for the back of the arms. They are easier to execute with your hands on the benchtop, and you want to keep your hands in close, about shoulder-width apart, and make sure your elbows hug the sides of your body on the way down.

Tricep presses and skull-crushers:  Any tricep track wouldn’t be complete without barbell work, right? These last two moves are quite simple. Laying on your bench, you want your hands to be in closer than you would if you were doing a chest press, with your warmup weight (or slightly more) on the bar. For the tricep presses, you want to bring the bar down below mid-chest, keeping those elbows above that benchtop, back flat on the bench and keep your elbows in tight. The skull-crusher, aka the Barbie Doll move (thanks Deb), really loads the back of the arms, and since we usually see it in the first couple of sets, it sets the tone for the remainder of the track. To properly execute it, pretend you’re wearing a baseball cap, and aim the bar towards where the bill of the cap would be, keeping your hands in close and elbows pointed to the heavens. If you bring your hands out, you’re loading your chest and upper deltoids, which we’ve already worked in Track 3, so we don’t want to burn those anymore!

The tricep track marks the halfway point of your BodyPump class, so when it’s all said and done, you’re workout is 50 percent completed!

Ryan McLaughlin

About Ryan McLaughlin

BDN sports reporter Ryan McLaughlin grew up in Brewer and is a lifelong fan of the New England Patriots, Boston Red Sox, Boston Celtics and Boston Bruins. In "The Boston Blitz" he'll be sharing his perspective with BDN readers about what's happening on the Boston professional sports scene.