The Best Tricep Stretches After A Satisfying Arm Workout

The majority of the musculature of your arm is made up of two muscles: the biceps and triceps. It's estimated that the triceps make up 55% of upper arm muscle mass while the biceps account for 30% on average, according to a 2007 study from the Journal of Biomechanics. While you may have a preference for which one to train during weightlifting, both the biceps and triceps are equally important to the movement of the arms. They even rely on each other to function.

The main function of the triceps is to allow extension of the elbow joint, explains StatPearls. The triceps are composed of three heads: a long head, a lateral head, and a medial head. All three start at different places but end together at a single tendon at the bony part of your elbow. To really grow your triceps, you should perform the best weightlifting exercises that target the three different heads of the triceps. This only means that you should vary your triceps stretches after a satisfying arm workout as well.

Stretching improves flexibility and strength

The importance of stretching cannot be overstated. After a workout, whether it's running, weightlifting, or even yoga, the muscles tend to tighten up and become stiff, explains The Physio Company. By stretching the tired muscles after a workout, you elongate them, increasing the flexibility and strength of those muscles, explains Harvard Health Publishing. In fact, stretching doesn't need to be done only after a workout. It's best to stretch on a regular basis.

"A lot of people don't understand that stretching has to happen on a regular basis. It should be daily," said David Nolan, a physical therapist at Massachusetts General Hospital, speaking with Harvard Health Publishing.

When it comes to the triceps, you want to make sure that you're performing stretches that specifically target the three heads. It can be easy to accidentally stretch the shoulders or biceps when attempting to stretch the triceps. Thankfully, these stretches will help you improve your tricep flexibility and prevent injury.

Overhead triceps stretch

The overhead triceps stretch is one of the most popular ways to stretch the triceps because it targets all three heads at the same time. It can be done standing or sitting, depending on your preference, and can easily be done at home, according to Healthline. It will also stretch your deltoids (the muscles in your shoulder) and latissimus dorsi (the large flat muscle on the back that stretches behind the arm) making the stretch a comprehensive option, explains Washington State University.

First, extend your arm straight above you, pointing it at the ceiling. Bend at your elbow so your palm faces your back and your fingers are resting along your spine. Next, use your opposite arm to gently pull your elbow down towards the center of your body. Hold the stretch for as long as you want before releasing and completing the stretch on the other side. Try to complete three to four repetitions with both arms before moving on to the next stretch.

Triceps towel stretch

If you want a stretch that gets deeper into your tricep than the overhead tricep stretch, and you get to use an accessory, then the triceps towel stretch is for you. Find a towel to use with the stretch, although you can also use a bar or strap if all your towels are in the laundry, according to Healthline. During the stretch, make sure to keep your chest open.

Start by holding the towel in one hand then make the same bend in the elbow as the overhead triceps stretch, letting the towel fall along your spine. Take your other hand and reach behind your back to grab the bottom of the towel, making sure that you're keeping the back of your hand against your body. Finally, gently pull the towel with the bottom hand to stretch the triceps. Repeat on the other side and then do as many repetitions as you like.

Cross-body stretch

Here is a stretch that you probably have done before or seen on TV and in movies. While it primarily stretches the shoulders, the cross-body stretch will also stretch your triceps, making it a great option for those who have had a tough upper-body workout, explains Your House Fitness. This one can also be done standing or sitting and is one of the simplest stretches you can do.

Starting in a standing, kneeling, or sitting position, extend one arm to shoulder height then move the arm across your chest. Take the opposite arm, placing the forearm along the arm you want to stretch. Gently push the arm into your body to begin stretching the shoulders and triceps, according to Healthline. It's important to keep your arm at shoulder height through the stretch to maximize effectiveness. Go too high or too low and you will start stretching other muscles besides the shoulders and triceps.

Leaning tricep stretch

This is possibly the deepest tricep stretch you can get, although it may take some finessing before you execute it perfectly. This will require a chair, couch, bench, or even a rug or yoga mat on the floor. It can even be done standing against a wall or other surface, although you may not get as deep of a stretch. Anything that will make it harder for your elbows to slide and move will work. For this example, we will assume you're on a yoga mat on the floor.

Kneel down on the floor and bend forward so your head is touching the ground. Think of a child's pose in yoga. However, instead of extending your arms, place your elbows on the floor and your hands on your upper back. Slowly, without moving your elbows, lean your body back onto your heels and press your torso towards the floor to stretch out the triceps, explains Total Shape. As mentioned, it may take a few tries to find the perfect placement for your elbows.