How Do I Choose the Best Underarm Exercises?

Susan Abe

The triceps brachii, or triceps muscle, is the large muscle on the back of the human upper arm. Located between the rear shoulder and the elbow, this muscle makes up more than two-thirds of the arm's muscle mass. The triceps is an antagonist muscle — or oppositional — of the better-known biceps. Triceps works, or underarm exercises, are classified as isolated exercises or combination ones depending upon the muscle or muscle groups they target. The best underarm exercises are those an exerciser has the equipment, strength and motivation to perform.

Push-ups can help strengthen the underarm area.
Push-ups can help strengthen the underarm area.

Aging and a sedentary lifestyle combine to cause the triceps muscle to become underused and flabby, particularly in women. If a person is overweight or obese, weight loss in combination with exercise, including underarm exercises, will be necessary to see results. Persons of normal weight or those who are slightly overweight are not going to eradicate their flabby arms by dieting alone. The only way to remedy this situation is by performing underarm exercises and toning the muscle. Reading about and then choosing an exercise is a good first step, but to see results, a person must actually perform the exercise on a regular basis.

Dips -- an exercise in which the arms are used to push up the body -- can strengthen and tone the triceps.
Dips -- an exercise in which the arms are used to push up the body -- can strengthen and tone the triceps.

One of the best underarm exercises to isolate and firm the triceps are push-backs, also known as posterior arm extensions, that are done one arm at a time. Push-backs require a weight bench and a smaller dumbbell weight, such as 5 lbs (about 2.25 kg). Standing, the individual places a bent right knee on the bench and then bends forward to place the palm of the right hand on the bench for stability. A dumbbell of lesser weight is held in the left hand with the elbow bent forward. The exerciser then slowly straightens the left arm out behind the back, keeping the arm close to the torso.

Triceps exercises should be done slowly and deliberately.
Triceps exercises should be done slowly and deliberately.

Bench dips are another type of triceps underarm exercises that also sculpt the shoulders and lower arms. An exerciser sits on the long edge of a weight bench with the legs straight and extended together resting on the heels. The heels of the palms are then placed on each side of the body with the fingers curled over the edge. The exerciser then slips her bottom off the bench and holds her body weight with arms. The body is lowered toward the floor by bending the arms and raised by straightening the arms.

Push-ups, skull-crushers — or lying triceps extensions — and standing behind-the-head arm extensions are also excellent triceps underarm exercises. They are best started when an individual has mastered the primary underarm exercises to ensure adequate strength. All triceps exercises should be performed slowly and deliberately in order to work the muscle body entirely and avoid injury.

Lateral raises help tone, sculpt and strengthen the shoulders.
Lateral raises help tone, sculpt and strengthen the shoulders.

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Discussion Comments


@Fa5t3r - Very few people are only going to have one body part that they will focus on to that extent. It's fairly common knowledge at this point that you need to work out with cardio exercises to lose fat and use weights to tone up, for example so most people will use a healthy mixture of the two, rather than just performing a few push-ups.


@KoiwiGal - I know appearance can be a catalyst for a lot of people to get into healthy eating and exercise, but I think it's a mistake to focus on one part of the body like this. For one thing, concentrating on exercises for only one part of the body is dangerous, as you can end up straining your muscles by building up one set and leaving the rest without the same exercise.

For another thing, some people are just never going to be able to improve the part they want to improve and underarms are notorious for this. They are often the result of loose skin rather than fat and even toning the muscles isn't going to do much to correct that. If you look at candid pictures of people who have lost a lot of weight, they often still have larger upper arms for this reason.

If you make improving one part rather than your health as a whole the goal of your workouts then you will lose motivation when it becomes obvious that you'll never reach that goal. And improving your health is important.


You need to diet and exercise in order to see any improvement in this area. If you just do toning exercises you will improve the muscle mass and firm it up, but you'll still be flabby. And if you only diet you won't see much of a result on your underarms, because they tend to have naturally loose skin.

Using both together is the only way to really make a difference, although it's not a guarantee either.

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