Boost Your Upper-Body Endurance With These 7 Triceps Exercises
How many times have you hit a descent and move your hands to the drops, only to realise your arms feel more tired than your legs? You can thank your triceps for that as they hold you up on the bike all day long. This is why it’s important to work triceps exercises into your strength-training days.
It’s tough to think about your upper body when so much of your power on the bike comes from your legs, but your triceps—a three-headed muscle along the back of your arm that’s mostly responsible for elbow extension—is crucial when it comes to not just controlling the handlebars, but literally propping yourself up on those bars over long distances, says Matthew Johnson Harris, certified trainer and fitness instructor.
Because of the hunched position you’re in on a bike, your triceps spend almost the entire time in a fixed, flexed position, which shortens and tightens the muscle—not a great feeling. And “if your triceps are undertrained, you’ll find them fatiguing early in your ride, which can lead to next-day soreness,” says Johnson Harris.
By targeting those tris with strategic exercises, “you’ll be able to ride longer because your back and legs won’t be supporting all of your weight,” he says. Stronger triceps can also help you avoid lower back pain—an issue more than half of cyclists suffer from, research shows.
With that in mind, Johnson Harris shares seven triceps exercises you can use in your cross-training to boost your upper-body endurance on the bike.
How to use this list: The moves below are demonstrated by Johnson Harris so you can master the proper form. Choose three of the triceps exercises and add them to the rest of your routine. “You don’t need to do all seven because your triceps are activated when working your chest, biceps, and shoulders, too—and you want to make sure you are not overtraining them,” he explains.
Perform 3 sets of the 3 moves you choose for the number of reps indicated, 2 to 3 times per week. Because your triceps are a smaller muscle group, aim for lower weight and higher reps. You will need a set of lightweight dumbbells, a resistance band, and a chair or bench
Overhead Triceps Extension
How to do it: Stand with feet hip-width apart, light dumbbells in both hands, and lift the weights overhead until arms are straight. Keeping upper arms and elbows still, bend elbows to lower the weight slowly behind head. Pause, then straighten arms to contract the triceps and return to start. That’s one rep. Do 3 sets of 12 to 18 reps.
Triceps Kick Back
How to do it: Stand with knees bent and lean forward slightly, holding a dumbbell in each hand. Keeping back straight, bend arms 90 degrees at the elbow until triceps are aligned with your back. Hinging at the elbows, straighten your arms to lift the dumbbells up and back. Pause to contract the triceps, then draw weights back to starting position. That’s one rep. Do 3 sets of 12 to 18 reps.
How to do it: Stand with one foot (for less resistance) or both feet (for more resistance) on the centre of a resistance band. Grab the opposite end of the band with both hands, palms facing up. Curl hands up to shoulders, squeezing biceps and keeping elbows next to your sides. As slowly as possible, lower hands back down with control to the starting position, contracting the triceps. That’s one rep. Do 3 sets of 12 to 18 reps.
How to do it: Lie faceup with a dumbbell in each hand, extend arms straight above you, palms facing in. Hinging at the elbow, lower the weight back toward your ears so arms form a 90-degree angle. Press the weight back up and straighten arm. That’s one rep. Do 3 sets of 12 to 18 reps.
How to do it: Start in a high plank position. Move hands close together so index fingers and thumbs touch to create a diamond or triangle shape beneath your chest. Engage core, then bend elbows to lower chest toward the floor. Lower as far as possible without letting hips dip then press into palms to push body back up to start. That’s one rep. Do 3 sets of 15 to 20 reps.
How to do it: Start in a high plank position, wrists under shoulders, palms slightly closer than shoulder-width apart. Bend elbows straight back to lower chest toward the floor, keeping the elbows tight to ribs to target the triceps. Press into palms to push body back to start. That’s one rep. Do 3 sets of 15 to 20 reps.
How to do it: Sit on a bench or chair with hands on the edge next to hips. Pressing into palms to extend arms, lift hips off the bench, and walk feet forward a few inches so hips are in front of the bench. Bend elbows straight back to lower hips until elbows form a 90-degree angle. Pause, then press into palms to straighten arms to return to starting position. Do 3 sets of 15 to 20 reps.