Make Your Triceps Your Best Feature

The jiggle under the arms is one of the biggest complaints women have about their bodies. If you can learn to love training your triceps, you can get rid of this problem. If you grudgingly huff through the motions with triceps exercises, well, I’m sorry… You may not get the results you want.

Think of attacking the jiggle under your arms as just that – getting tough and ruthless. You have a seriously intimidating weapon, which I will tell you about here. If you use this weapon you will conquer the jiggle. I’m going to give you the low down (it’s quite simple), and then it’s your job to bring it.

Let’s Just Get Past This – Fat

Well, you knew I was going to mention it, didn’t you? Some of that jiggle is fat and it won’t go away with weight lifting. So clean up your diet. It’s that simple. You’re the one in charge here, remember?

If you’re not trying to lose weight, keep cardio to twice a week maximum. Why, you say? Because you are trying to build muscle, and when you’re running every day or constantly on the elliptisuck (as my friend Michelle likes to call the elliptical), your body is busy burning all kinds of fuel to keep up, including fuel that needs to feed your muscles. So just cool it on the cardio while you’re on this mission. If you are trying to lose weight, keep up the cardio and follow this plan but have a razor-like focus on your diet.

Put Your Game Face On

Admit it: You not only want to lose the jiggle, you want your triceps to be firm and even muscular. Hell, why not strive for a horse shoe? If you want killer arms, triceps are part of that equation. But you need to get something very clear in your head first:

“For sizeaholics, the key to triceps development is lifting really, really heavy loads.”

-Men’s Health, “9 Secrets for Bigger, Stronger Muscles”

Now even if you’re not a “sizeaholic” (which I am, by the way), you do want more size. You can’t “shape” muscles but you can grow them. Larger muscles are what will give them shape and firmness, not “toning.” So for the sake of this particular goal, let’s just say that you are a sizeaholic. And don’t worry – you won’t get as big as a man. I am including a picture of me showing my arms in a natural position so you can see… I lift heavy and am not bulky at all. But I do love my arms.

Lift Big, Lift Heavy

So if you want to grow your triceps – that is, kill the jiggle – you need to lift heavy weights. Baby weights, Barbie weights, a zillion repetitions – these will not kill the jiggle. You need to lift as heavy a weight as you can safely lift.

What will this accomplish? It will encourage hypertrophy (enlargement of muscle fibers), which is the golden goal that will give you shapely arms.

To be specific, here is your plan:

  • When doing the specified number of reps, you will need to lift enough weight so that you can only lift about one more rep that specified reps (but stop at the specified number). You could eek out one or two more reps, but you won’t. You’ll stop before failure. You do not want to overtrain the muscles/joints.
  • Within a few weeks (or sooner), you should be able to increase the weights for these exercises. Increase it even if it’s only 3 pounds. And keep increasing it every time your muscles are not fatigued by the last rep.

Following are the workouts you’ll use. Mix these in with your usual routine if you like, or do triceps on a separate day so that they’re fresh. Be sure to track what you do in a training log or notebook so you know how much you lifted last time. For videos of these exercises, see

Workout 1

Do this workout 2x/week for weeks 1-4. Weeks 1 and 2 do 10-12 reps/3 sets. Weeks 3 and 4 do 6-8 reps/4 sets.

  • Cable Triceps Pushdown with V-bar
  • High Pulley Overhead Triceps Extension
  • Lying Barbell Triceps Extension (use dumbbells every other week)

Workout 2

Do this workout 2x/week for weeks 5-8. Weeks 5 and 6 do 10-12 reps/3 sets. Weeks 7 and 8 do 6-8 reps/4 sets.

  • Bench dips (To increase difficulty, put feet on bench. You can also do machine dips.)
  • Dumbbell Kickbacks
  • One-arm Overhead Triceps Extension (dumbbell)

Workout 3

Do this workout 2x/week for weeks 9-12. Weeks 9 and 10 do 10-12 reps/3 sets. Weeks 11 and 12 do 6-8 reps/4 sets.

  • Reverse Grip Triceps Extension (barbell or EZ bar)
  • Standing Barbell Behind-the-Head Extension
  • Cable Triceps Pushdown with Rope

When you’ve cycled through nine weeks, go back to Workout 1 and keep going. It’ll take about 6 weeks to see changes and several months to see muscle growth.

There you have it – your path to beautiful triceps. Lift heavy and lift big and you’ll see results as your reward.

29 thoughts on “Make Your Triceps Your Best Feature

  1. Thanks for this! It’s one of my trouble spots. I’m sure it’s partly fat but it’s also loose skin from losing a lot of weight. I started to see some changes when I was lifting consistently and hardcore this past year. Then I stopped while I was biking this summer. I need to get back it! Thanks for the workout.


  2. Oh, bless you! I love the way you lay out the facts, especially in explaining the difference between building muscle and “toning.” Argh!

    One of the reasons (I think) some women believe they don’t enjoy lifting is that tossing around Barbie weights is, frankly, boring. Lack of challenge is boring. Doing the same old machines every day is boring. But start doing some dips, kick-backs, French presses with heavier weights (and so on) and resistance training becomes a path toward bliss.


  3. About every third tri workout, I will do a singe set, to failure, of narrow-grip push-ups after completing each of my movements (not each of my sets). They always pump up extremely well on those days! I also always (gently) lock my elbows and squeeze each contraction as hard as I can with every rep on all tri movements — I am convinced this maximizes separation and clarity.


    • To anyone reading this, notice the “every third tri workout” and “not each of my sets” comment. Roy of course is a smart puppy not to overuse going to failure. I’m always up for pumped up muscles so I will do this next time! Love how you focus on every movement instead of mindlessly powering through.


  4. I’ll share what helped me a few years back.
    My first job after I left school, was as a librarian (stacking heavy books all day) and as a physio and occupational therapist. A lot of my job was collecting patients from wards and may have to push / pull 2 wheelchairs at a time, from one end of the hospital to another – I was very fit then 🙂


  5. Is this gonna hurt?

    I really want to be pro-active about the jiggle… I noticed it on a friend of mine recently. She’s older than I am and thought to myself… hmmmmm I might need to start thinking about that!


  6. Thank you for sharing these. Lifting some weight can surely make your body look great. I’ve been doing it as part of my morning routine and I love the feeling afterwards.


  7. Love it! I’m a big advocate of lifting heavy. I hear women concerned that if they lift heavy they will be big and bulky. That’s more of an old wives tale. The weeks with the 6-8 rep range is going to be your big gains. I think swimming is also an excellent option for tightening triceps.


    • Thanks Scott! Love hearing a man say women should lift heavy. I think guys are sometimes a little surprised at what they see me doing… not that I can lift as much as them, but you just see women doing a lot of little weights more often, and certainly not deadlifts and barbell squats. And I really must get into the pool… yet another reason.


  8. oh dear. I hardly EVER work my triceps.
    I’m going to hell – I know…
    Might they be “got” secondarily with pull ups by any chance? Or maybe even pushups?
    Or am I krazy?
    ok – I’m due to lift heavy… I keep saying that, but….
    I’m guessing the drop sets dont count here?
    I have been known to do that on my last set of rope/tri press down (Is that what its called?)
    Hey wait! I have done tri work before – wooot!


  9. I also think diamond push-ups and triceps extensions are great exercises to loose the giggle under the arms, combined with other variations of push-ups and of course cardio :).


  10. really great advice Suzanne, thank you – and what an inspiration to tackle that perennial problem of the jiggle – by next summer I may even have (excuse the cliche, please) ‘the right to bare arms’….LOL


  11. I love working triceps. For me, they grow much faster than my biceps so they’re becoming my largest, tiny muscle 🙂 which is fine with me. Yesterday I did a 21 workout for bis and tris and it’s mostly my tris that are so sore, as in I can barely wash my hair, lol. Great article.


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