Fat just loves to accumulate on the backs of the arms. This tendency can make an upper arm appear to be more out of shape than it really is, and this problem is only accentuated as one gets older. But there is no need to have an arm like a senior citizen well before your time. The good news is that a commitment to working toward a firmer posterior arm is possible— beginning today.
Triceps punch-outs provide intense direct stimulation for the entire triceps complex, but they are especially effective for the outer area of your posterior arm.
Exercise: Triceps Punch-outs
1. Grab a dumbbell in both hands. Lean forward and bend your knees just slightly.
2. Keep your back straight and look up to make sure it stays straight and tight. Bring the upper arm of the limb holding the dumbbell up to the side of your rib cage. Position your arm so that it is parallel to the floor and in line with your spine. Your elbow should be pointing directly backward.
3. Keep your upper arm close to your body and punch the dumbbell back and up by extending (straightening) the elbow joint. You must make sure that your upper arm remains parallel to the floor throughout the exercise.
4. Stop the dumbbell just short of having your elbow locked out straight. Pause for a count of one at the top position. Be sure to keep control of the weight, and keep your arm in the correct position (this is not easy to do when you start to get tired).
5. Slowly lower the dumbbell over a count of two, by flexing the elbow.
6. Change to the other arm and repeat the movement.
7. Work up to 15 reps and 3 sets with each arm.
Tips & Tricks
• To increase the range of motion and to make the exercise a little harder, you can elevate your arm above parallel to the floor so the elbow is as high as possible throughout the whole movement.
• You can also heighten the toning and tightening properties of the triceps muscles by pausing for three to four seconds at the top of the movement before starting down with the weight— but be prepared, because this will really make the exercise much harder to do.
• It is really easy to develop poor form with this exercise, so you will have to work hard to keep your exercise performance correct. To help you do the exercise properly, you can use the mirror to see that your elbow is stationary against your side, and the extension of the elbow is complete.
• You should avoid moving your torso up and down during punch-outs. Upper body movements will “cheat” and allow you to do more lifts by jerking your torso upward, but it risks back injury, and does not help your triceps. You should also be careful to use your triceps muscles to straighten your elbow.
• It is important to stop the extension phase of the punch-out just short of fully locking out your elbow joint, because this will ensure that you have placed constant tension on the triceps muscle throughout the entire set and it will minimize any risk of bursa injury in your elbow.
• It is not necessary to hoist large weights for this exercise. In fact, you will likely find that relatively light weights will be quite adequate, especially at first, since you will be maintaining constant tension in the muscle throughout the set. After a few weeks, you can move to slightly heavier dumbbells as your triceps strengthens and tightens.
While this exercise is rather hard to do correctly, even with lightweights, you will fall in love with the effects of the exercise. A few months of consistent work will result in a tightening, toning and firming your posterior arms. A transformation from older-looking, soft posterior arms to younger, shapely and firmer arms will give the impression that you have undergone a full upper body renovation.
Barker RN, Brauer S and Carson R. Training-induced changes in the pattern of triceps to biceps activation during reaching tasks after chronic and severe stroke. Exp Brain Res, 196: 483-496, 2009.
Gacesa JZ, Dusko KB and Grujic NG. Triceps brachii strength and regional body composition changes after detraining quantified by MRI. J Magn Reson Imaging, 33: 1114-1120, 2011.
Gacesa JZ, Jakovljevic DG, Kozic DB, Dragnic NR, Brodie DA and Grujic NG. Morpho-functional response of the elbow extensor muscles to twelve-week self-perceived maximal resistance training. Clin Physiol Funct Imaging, 30: 413-419, 2010.
MacKenzie SJ, Rannelli LA and Yurchevich JJ. Neuromuscular adaptations following antagonist resisted training. J Strength Cond Res, 24: 156-164, 2010.
Moore, K.L. and A.F. Dalley. Clinically-Oriented Anatomy, 1999, 4th Edition. Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins, Baltimore, Philadelphia. Pp 722-733.
Popadic Gacesa JZ, Kozic DB, Dragnic NR, Jakovljevic DG, Brodie DA and Grujic NG. Changes of functional status and volume of triceps brachii measured by magnetic resonance imaging after maximal resistance training. J Magn Reson Imaging, 29: 671-676, 2009.