Female Strength Training - Triceps & Biceps
This article was originally published in The MuscleTalker January 2009 edition
Weight training has many benefits as we know, including increased strength and bone density, enhanced immune system and improved confidence, women are starting to realise this and do not fear that it will make them 'big' and masculine. Women also have lower levels of testosterone, the anabolic hormone that contributes to increased muscle mass so making it harder to gain mass, weight training actually facilitates positive changes in body composition for example, lower body fat, tighter looking muscles and improved strength.
Any new female trainer when asked says they want to improve the muscle tone of their arms, get rid of their 'bingo wings' but not get too 'big'. Any regular trainer will tell you how hard it is to put that muscle on!
Arm exercises are fun to do because you can really see the muscle working. People like to train the biceps together with the triceps; although they are both arm movements, they involve muscles on opposite sides of the body that perform entirely different functions. You can train the biceps first and then the triceps, or the triceps then the biceps, or you can alternate them, doing first a biceps and then a triceps exercise or adding them on to a different body part, depending on your training split.
Outlined below is an example training routine:Tricep Dips
- Using either parallel bars, but preferably a dip machine (assisted if needed), press yourself with arms extended, chest up and feet crossed behind you. Lower your body by bending your elbows until your upper arms are above parallel to the floor, keeping your stomach muscles tight with your head up, this will place the emphasis on the triceps rather than the chest. Aim for three sets; 8-10 reps or to failure.Seated Hammer Curls
- Targeting the biceps, brachialis, brachioradialis. Sit on a bench and hold the dumbbells with a palm-in grip. Contract the biceps to curl the weights towards the shoulders. Hold and squeeze at the top. Aim for 3 sets; 12-15 reps or to failure.Preacher Curls
- Emphasis is on the short head of the bicep, with top of the preacher bench under your armpits; use an underhand grip, shoulder-width apart on the bar. Raise the bar as high as possible, keeping your elbows on the bench. Contract your biceps at the top of the movement then return slowly to the start position. Aim for 3 sets; 12-15 reps or to failure.Close grip Push-up
- Targeting the triceps and the chest. Start in a push-up position with your back straight then move your hands inwards so they inside shoulder width. Bend your elbows and slowly lower your body until your chest is almost touching your hands, then slowly return to the start position. Focus on your triceps during the move. Again aiming for 3 sets, to failure.
The biceps muscle has two tendons that attach in different places and also two different muscle heads that arise from these tendons. The tricep originates from three tendons and has three different heads that join together for a common tendon insertion on the elbow. Because of the different origins of the heads, you need to train these muscles using different exercises and angles to emphasize each head so try to vary your training routine every few weeks to ensure you are maximizing the results. Hopefully we will see more women gravitating towards the weights area!