Kick(back) Those Bat Wings

I want to address an often neglected area of the body that many (myself included) like to pretend doesn't exist. It can be a difficult muscle group to train, so it's no surprise that it's often forgotten about... that is, until you accidentally catch a glimpse of yourself waving your arms in front of a mirror. Sigh, I just did that the other day.  You'll be doing tricep kickbacks in your sleep after that, trust me.

Yep, I'm talking about "bat wings." And there is nothing good or useful about them. But, the good news is that you can tone and tighten these jiggly suckers to keep your wings in check. 

Before beginning, there is something very important to understand. You cannot spot reduce fat. So no amount of kickbacks, tricep dips, etc. will eliminate fat from this area and turn it directly into muscle. Rather, you should focus on maintaining a proper diet, develop an exercise routine to build up the surrounding areas (bigger shoulders give the illusion of smaller arms), and add a little toning regime for your triceps (the backside of your upper arms) to help minimize this stubborn area. If you don't have a gym membership, the next time you stop at Target, pick up a set of dumbbells and do these workouts at home. 

My favorite tricep exercises are below. I like to match these up with bicep exercises and do them together in supersets, but you can choose to do these however you like. 

 

Tricep Dips - If you are at the gym, find a bench to use (if doing this at home you can substitute a folding chair or any object that is about standard seating height). It's a pretty simple movement to do, but don't rush through it. Be slow and deliberate to get the most out of the exercise. 

Place your hands right next to your sides, on the very edge of the bench.  Lift your butt off of the seat and extend outwards. I like to keep my legs fully extended, but you can bend your knees if you like. Keep your feet together. Drop your butt until your arms form a 90 degree angle, and then use your triceps to push yourself back to the starting position. 

Advanced - Put your feet up on an adjacent bench so that you are completely off the floor and in a horizontal position. Follow the same rules as above. I like to put a 15 pound weight on my core to add a little more resistance. 

Do 10 reps. Repeat 3-4 times.

 

Tricep Kickbacks - These are easy to do at home with your own set of dumbbells. The weight does not have to be heavy to make these effective.Be slow and deliberate and squeeze your tricep during the kickback. 

Stabilize yourself on a bench, place your right knee on the bench and your right hand.  Grab a dumbbell with your left hand and bend your elbow until you are holding it right above your hip. Remember to keep your elbow tight to your body - it should extend straight backwards, not outwards. Push the weight back (kickback) until your arm is completely straight. Squeeze your tricep. Return to starting position. 

Start with a low weight, like 4 pounds, and work your way up. 

Do 10 reps. Repeat 3-4 times.  

 

Tricep Pushups - These are not easy to do, so you will likely have to work your way into them. Start in a plank position, arms extended, hands directly under your shoulders. This is different than a standard pushup (where your hands are generally wider apart). Keep your elbows pinned to your sides you when you press down - elbows should go back, not out. Go down onto your knees if needed. Focus on your form. Form is always more important than the number of reps you do.

Do 10 reps. Repeat 3-4 times.

 

Close Grip Tricep Press - If you are at the gym you can lay on the floor (or on an empty bench), whichever you prefer. I prefer to use a barbell for this exercise, but you can also use dumbbells if you are doing this at home. 

If using a barbell, keep your hands close (they should not be outside the distance of your shoulders) and position the bar above your chest. Squeezing your triceps, bring the bar down to your chest, while keeping your elbows pinned to your sides. Do not let your elbows push outwards. Push the bar back up to starting position, making sure to keep it above your chest (do not let it stray so that it is above your face or neck). 

If using dumbbells, follow the same rules as above. Keep the dumbbells close together so that your hands are in a similar position. Squeeze your triceps and keep your elbows pinned to your sides. 

Use whatever weight you are comfortable with; form trumps weight, which trumps reps. 

Do 10 reps. Repeat 3-4 times. 


Regular strength training is so important to keep these muscles toned. I try to exercise my triceps twice a week, with at least one day of rest in between. The muscles surrounding this area are also important to keep in mind. Try mixing in some biceps work, or shoulder work, to balance your triceps. Try this:  Sculpted Shoulder & Back Workout.