Best classic exercises for toned triceps

The classic push up is one of the best exercises to tone your arms

If you’re of a certain age, jiggly triceps could cause you to swear off short sleeves. If like me, you live in a hot climate, that’s just not an option. But if Michelle Obama can rock bare arms at over 50, why can’t you? At the very least, these moves can help you wave goodbye to your kids without fear of “bat wings” making an appearance.

Keep in mind that absolutely no toning exercise is going to help you shed pounds and look sculpted unless it’s part of an all-encompassing routine. Get your doctor’s clearance first, make sure you’re doing some cardio daily – walking the dog also counts – and incorporate these moves into an all-body workout.

If you do four sets of 10-15 reps of each of these every day, in three weeks you should be seeing the difference. How do I know? Few people who know me as an editor and a writer today know I was a certified fitness instructor in my 20’s and early 30’s and exercise is still a big part of my life. These work if you work them!

There’s nothing like using your own body weight as resistance to work those arms. When doing push ups, make sure your back is straight. If you can’t pull these off with straight legs, then by all means bend your knees for a modified version. If you can’t manage ten every time, then settle for as many as you can do using proper form. You’ll gradually build your strength. Traditional push-ups engage your back, chest and abdominal muscles too, which makes them a well-rounded exercise. Your ultimate aim should be to do four sets of as many reps as you can handle and gradually build on that.

Also Read: 7 Lifetime Beauty Habits to Look Fabulous at 50

Classic push ups are effective for arm toning

Classic push ups

Triceps dips
These are very effective if done regularly. If you don’t have a bench at home, a sturdy chair will do. Make sure to keep your arms and hands close together behind your back when extending and dipping down. To make the exercise more challenging, as you get stronger, set your feet on another bench or chair to increase the resistance. Four sets of as many reps as you can handle is what you should aim for.

Triceps dips are efficient arm toners

Triceps dips

One-arm triceps kickback
The trick for these is to choose the right weight for your dumbbell. If it’s too light, you’re missing out on the benefits of this exercise. If it’s too heavy, you won’t be able to do as many reps as you’d need to accomplish to result in toned arms. Start out with a dumbbell that will enable you to do around 15 reps comfortably, and increase the weight accordingly as you get stronger. 4 sets of 15 reps, where the last ones are a little hard to manage is what you want to get used to. Keep your arm close to your body throughout the exercise and think of your elbow as a hinge.

Triceps kickbacks are good toners

Triceps kickbacks

Standing dumbbell triceps extension
This is also known as the French Press, and you can practice it standing or sitting down. You will need one dumbbell, probably double the weight of the one used above as you’ll be using both arms to lift it. Your palms should face up and support the weight of your dumbbell on one end of it. Extend both arms over your head and then bend your arms from your elbows, dipping the dumbbell behind your back, then extend them again. Aim for 4 sets of around 10-15 reps and gradually increase the weight you lift.

Triceps extensions are done with both hands

Triceps extensions

Watch professional exercise videos or enlist the help of a trainer to teach you proper form. Efficiency is key. Fewer repetitions done right will render better results than many reps done wrong, which would also put you at a higher risk for injuries.

Don’t be afraid of bulky muscles. It’s actually very hard for that to happen. When you keep the number of repetitions high and the weight you’re lifting manageable, you’re muscles will get toned, not big.

Picture perfect:
Oh, and if you want your arms to look great in pictures when you’re wearing a tank top or short sleeves, contract your muscles while posing. I tell you, it works!

Disclaimer: This is not intended as medical advice. Make sure that you check with your doctor and a personal trainer before you start an exercise regimen. 

Lorraine C. Ladish

Bilingual and bicultural Latina editor, writer, speaker, online influencer and mom. Founder of Viva Fifty! Published author of 18 books. Her forthcoming title Your Best Age will be released by HarperCollins in September of 2017.


  1. I do all these! A great choice too are free weights 😉

    1. But dumbbells are free weights! 🙂