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Triceps kickbacks can firm the back of your upper arm.
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The back of the upper arms is a common female problem area, especially after menopause or if you lead an inactive lifestyle. Weight gain can result in dreaded underarm jiggle that has you wearing long-sleeved shirts all year round. By exercising your triceps -- the three-headed muscle that takes up two-thirds of your upper arm -- you can firm and define this area so you can comfortably sport sleeveless shirts during hot summers.
Exercises With Free Weights
You can work your triceps with a barbell or dumbbells. The latter might be more convenient, since it allows you to work one arm at a time. Exercises can include triceps extensions and kickbacks. These require you to extend and bend your elbows to target the backs of your upper arms. You can do this while standing or sitting with a dumbbell in your hand with your arm extended overhead; you can bend forward from your waist and press the dumbbell back; or you can stand upright with your arms extended overhead while holding a dumbbell in your hands. Then, bend your elbows and lower the weight behind your head before raising it back up.
Exercises With Machines
The triceps machine and high-cable pulley station should become your best friends in the gym. Triceps machines require you to bend and extend your elbows by pressing and raising levers against the selected resistance. A high-cable pulley with a handle bar or rope attachment can also work your triceps. While in a split stance, you extend your elbows by pulling down the handle bar or rope from your chest level down to your thighs, all while working against the selected resistance.
Exercises With Your Body Weight
If you don't have access to free weights or machines, use your body weight for resistance. Triangle pushups and dips can effectively work your triceps, according to the American Council on Exercise. During triangle pushups, your thumbs and index fingers touch and form a triangle on the floor. During the pushups, your elbows stay tucked next to your sides. For a lesser challenge, do the pushups on your knees. To do dips, scoot your butt forward, off the edge of a chair or bench. Grasp the edge of the seat so your fingers point forward, and pulse your butt up and down above the floor by bending and extending your elbows.
Working Your Biceps
Your biceps make up one-third of your upper arms. They're engaged during daily activities, such as taking out the trash and carrying groceries. Although it's often the triceps area that is problematic for women, working the biceps can fill out your arms and create a flattering muscular balance. Perform biceps curls with dumbbells, a barbell or machine. During this exercise you bend your elbow next to your sides and bring your hands from thigh level up toward your shoulders. If you don't have access to weights, consider using a water bottle or can of food for resistance.
Things to Consider
Always warm up with low-intense cardio before doing strength-training exercises. Strengthen your muscles at least twice a week as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They also suggest finishing two to three sets and eight to 12 reps of each exercise, and using enough resistance so your final rep is the last one you can do with proper form. Also, perform 150 to 300 minutes of moderate cardio a week, especially if you need to lose excess fat that's covering up the muscle in your arms.