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Even fit women have weak triceps. And what you can do about it

Even if you strength train, your triceps might be your fitness Achilles heel. We find out why toning triceps is so hard. And why it’s more important than you think.

how to tone triceps woman

Weak triceps are the fit woman’s dirty little secret.

Even women who strength train regularly often have underdeveloped tricep muscles hiding behind their well-defined biceps, says Noah Neiman, a trainer at Barry’s Bootcamp in New York City and a consultant with Beachbody.

Their hidden location is one reason they get ignored. “It’s like this, my mom will spend a very long time in the mirror fixing the front of her hair, and I tell her the back is a little frizzy, and she’s like, ‘I don’t care, I can’t see it,'” says Neiman.

“It’s the same principle. Biceps, chest, abs—you see them. But no one talks about how glamorous the lower back or the triceps are.”

Another reason? Triceps are tiny muscles that require deliberate movements, says Neiman. They’re just plain harder to work.

noah nieman
Tricep-training drill sergeant: Noah Nieman

So why should you start giving your triceps some love and attention?

Well, there’s vanity. The area over the triceps is a common  fat-storage spot for women. (Hello, bat wings.) And we are approaching tank top season…

But there’s a better reason: The triceps are supporting muscles, so they’re crucial in helping you strengthen others. “Anytime there’s a deficiency in any muscle group, especially the smaller ones, the larger ones have to work harder, so you’ll fatigue faster,” says Neiman. “Strong triceps are going to help you facilitate growth in other areas.”

In short, they’ll make your push-ups and chaturangas easier.

The bottom line is this, says, Neiman: “People tend to focus on just the show muscles, which I call ‘The Jersey Shore approach.” That might have been cool at one time, but now it’s all about long, lean, functionally strong and sexy muscles.”

You’ll get there, with these three easy moves you can do at home from Noah Neiman of Barry’s Bootcamp. —Lisa Elaine Held