Flexing the biceps may be a popular display of strength, but when it comes to the true star of the show, the triceps take center stage. Located on the back of the arm, the triceps make up a significant portion of upper arm mass. Despite being hidden behind, they deserve just as much attention as the biceps. While many people focus on exercises like triceps pushdowns and skull crushers to train their triceps, there are other effective ways to bulk up these muscles. For those who primarily engage in bodyweight exercises, the classic pushdown/skull crusher combo may not be an option. However, there are ten excellent calisthenic triceps exercises that can help strengthen and build these muscles. In this article, we will explore these exercises and provide a workout for readers to try.
Calisthenics, also known as bodyweight training, is an ancient form of exercise that has experienced a recent surge in popularity. While going to the gym will always be a popular choice, more and more people are opting to work out at home or in outdoor settings like parks. Calisthenics exercises include pull-ups, push-ups, lunges, air squats, pistols, reverse Nordics, muscle-ups, and front and back levers. The word “calisthenics” comes from the Greek words “kallos” and “sthenos,” meaning beauty and strength. This form of training is widely used in various disciplines, including martial arts, gymnastics, and the military. Calisthenics is a versatile training system that can help achieve a range of fitness goals, such as building muscle, gaining strength, increasing fitness, and burning fat.
There are several advantages to bodyweight training. Firstly, it is cost-effective as it primarily relies on the individual’s body weight, eliminating the need for expensive gym memberships or equipment. Additionally, calisthenics can be performed anywhere, making it convenient for individuals with busy schedules. Moreover, calisthenics exercises engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously, providing a comprehensive full-body workout. The movements in calisthenics mimic natural, everyday actions, enhancing functional strength that is practical in daily life. Furthermore, exercises like lunges improve joint flexibility and mobility, reducing the risk of injuries. Calisthenics promotes lean muscle development, leading to a toned and athletic physique. Many exercises, such as push-ups and planks, target the core muscles, strengthening the midsection. Movements like handstands improve coordination and balance, which is beneficial in various activities. Calisthenics exercises can be adapted to suit any fitness level, ensuring continuous progression. Finally, overcoming the challenges in calisthenics can boost mental resilience and discipline.
However, there are a few drawbacks to calisthenics. Some foundational exercises, like pull-ups and push-ups, can be challenging for beginners, potentially leading to discouragement. It is crucial to maintain good technique in calisthenics to avoid injuries and develop proper form. Without weights, it can be more challenging to progressively increase resistance, which may slow down strength gains for some individuals. As individuals become more advanced, the lack of resistance variety in calisthenics may lead to plateaus in strength and muscle growth. Moreover, those aiming to build significant muscle bulk may find calisthenics limiting compared to traditional weightlifting. Unlike weightlifting, calisthenics exercises can make it challenging to isolate and work on individual muscle groups.
Understanding the anatomy of the triceps can be helpful in selecting effective exercises. The triceps brachii, or triceps, is composed of three distinct heads: the long head, the lateral head, and the medial head. The long head is located on the innermost part of the upper triceps and contributes to the thickness of the upper arm. The lateral head is responsible for the triceps’ horseshoe shape and is the outermost head. The medial head, the smallest of the three, is located above the elbow. All three heads work together to extend the elbows, but the long head also crosses the shoulder joint, contributing to shoulder extension. While it is not possible to isolate any specific triceps head, it is possible to emphasize each one by adjusting the position of the arm relative to the torso. Exercises performed with the arms raised overhead emphasize the long head, while exercises with the arms next to the torso activate the lateral head. The medial head is involved in all triceps exercises but is especially active when the arms are extended out in front of the body.
To effectively target the triceps, it is important to include a variety of exercises in your workout routine. Here are ten calisthenic triceps exercises to consider:
1. Diamond Push-Ups: Place your hands close together, forming a diamond shape with your thumbs and index fingers. Lower your body and push back up, focusing on engaging the triceps.
2. Triceps Dips: Position your hands shoulder-width apart on a stable surface behind you. Lower your body by bending your elbows, then push back up.
3. Close Grip Push-Ups: Place your hands slightly narrower than shoulder-width apart. Perform push-ups, keeping your elbows close to your body.
4. Bench Dips: Sit on the edge of a bench or chair with your hands gripping the edge. Extend your legs forward and lower your body by bending your elbows, then push back up.
5. Triceps Push-Ups: Start in a push-up position, but with your hands closer together, directly under your chest. Lower your body, allowing your elbows to brush against your sides, and push back up.
6. Plank to Push-Up: Begin in a plank position and lower yourself into a push-up position. Push back up into a plank, alternating between the two positions.
7. Pike Push-Ups: Assume a downward dog position, with your hips raised and your body forming an inverted V shape. Lower your head towards the ground, then push back up.
8. Handstand Push-Ups: Perform a handstand against a wall, then lower your head towards the ground and push back up.
9. Triceps Extensions: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms extended overhead. Bend your elbows, lowering your hands toward your back, then extend your arms back up.
10. Triceps Dips on Parallel Bars: Position your hands on parallel bars, with your body hanging between them. Lower your body by bending your elbows, then push back up.
Incorporating these exercises into your triceps workouts will help target and strengthen the different heads of the triceps. Remember to adjust the position of your arms relative to your torso to emphasize specific heads.
In conclusion, calisthenics is a versatile and cost-effective form of exercise that can help achieve various fitness goals. While there are some limitations to this training system, it offers numerous benefits, including full-body workouts, improved flexibility and mobility, and enhanced core strength. Understanding the anatomy of the triceps and incorporating a range of exercises can help effectively target and strengthen these muscles. By including the ten calisthenic triceps exercises mentioned in this article, individuals can work towards developing strong and defined triceps. So, flex those triceps and show off the true star of the gun show!