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Strong triceps needed for arm mobility: muscles in your upper arm are active in hundreds of everyday tasks that involve pushing, pulling, and lifting.

Whether you're swinging a tennis racquet, picking up a grandchild, or grabbing a cup of coffee, you're using your triceps, the muscles that run along the back of the humerus, the bone in your upper arm.

The triceps are a primary mover in elbow extension and are involved in tasks such as pushing yourself up out of a chair, using a vacuum cleaner, pushing open doors, and placing an object on an overhead shelf. One section of the triceps, the long head, also plays a role in shoulder extension and helps stabilize the shoulder joint. (The other sections of the triceps are called the lateral and medial heads.)

The undersides of women's upper arms tend to droop and become flabby as they get older, making triceps exercises essential for improved appearance as well as strength. Most women have a higher percentage of body fat and a lower percentage of lean muscle mass than men, which can contribute to flabby upper arms. The look of your upper arms is also affected by changes in your skin, which loses some of its elasticity over time.

The Bigger Picture

While triceps are involved in pushing and reaching motions, they are usually just one of several muscles involved in these movements. It's rare to move your elbow in complete isolation; other muscles of the upper arm, chest, and back, including your pectoralis major (pecs), latissimus dorsi (lats), and deltoids, are the bigger muscles that frequently move along with the triceps, so it's important to include strengthening exercises for these muscles in your fitness program as well.

Maximize Results

When you exercise your triceps, you will get the best results and minimize your risk of injury if you follow these recommendations.

* Keep your shoulders down in their sockets; don't let them hike up toward your ears.

* Make sure your trunk and core muscles, including your abdominals, stay engaged and stable as you perform the exercises.

* Avoid driving your arm too hard through the end of the movement, as this can create tendonitis issues; think of it as "easing the train into the station" as you finish a repetition.

* Do strengthening exercises for your triceps or any other muscles no more frequently than every other day; your muscles need time to recover between exercise sessions.

Before starting any new exercise program, it's advisable to discuss it with your physician to ensure that the type of exercise you're planning is safe and appropriate for you. When you are exercising, if any movement causes discomfort or pain, stop and speak with a certified training professional or physical therapist before continuing.

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Title Annotation:BODYWORKS
Publication:Women's Nutrition Connection
Date:Jul 1, 2017
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