3 Triceps Stretches to Reduce Tension and Increase Mobility

3 Triceps Stretches to Reduce Tension and Increase Mobility

After a workout that includes plenty of pushing and pressing with your upper body, taking time for some triceps stretches can help prevent soreness and ease tightness — not only in your tris, but also in your shoulders and back, since those areas are also typically affected by triceps stretches.

Before you stretch your triceps, however, it’s helpful to understand exactly how that stretching will work its magic.

What Muscles Do Triceps Stretches Work?

OK, this answer isn’t as simple as it seems. Each of your triceps consists of three “heads” — in Latin, “tri” means three and “ceps” means heads — that fuse together and attach to your ulna (the longer of your two forearm bones).

And while the primary job of your triceps is to extend your elbows, because of where the long heads of those muscles originate (the scapula), they also affect shoulder mobility.

“And that’s where you’ll notice the most benefit from triceps stretches,” says Trevor Thieme, CSCS, Beachbody’s senior director of fitness and nutrition content. “The greater your shoulder mobility is, the greater your functional strength and workout performance will be.”

As you perform triceps stretches, keep in mind that those muscles won’t be the only ones to benefit.

Indeed, most triceps stretches will also hit muscles in your shoulders and back, says Aaron Leventhal, CSCS, a Minneapolis-based fitness trainer.

Nearly all of the stretches below will also reduce tension in your lats, for example. It’s a good reminder that muscles don’t function in isolation.

3 Triceps Stretches to Reduce Tension and Increase Mobility

After a taxing upper body workout, try any or all of the following triceps stretches.

Behind-the-head triceps stretch

This triceps stretch requires no props, making it an ideal one to keep in your pocket for whenever muscle stiffness strikes.

  • Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, extend your right arm over your head, and bend your right elbow, bringing your palm as far down your back as you can.
  • Grab your right elbow with your left hand and gently pull it to the left until you feel a stretch.
  • Hold for time, then switch arms and repeat.

Standing bench triceps stretch

Your bodyweight does the work with this triceps stretch, which also hits your lats.

  • Stand with your right side toward an incline bench or other sturdy, chest-high structure and spread your feet slightly wider than hip width.
  • Place your right elbow on top of the bench’s back support, and lower your body until you feel a stretch in your right triceps and lat.
  • Hold for time, and then repeat on your other side.

Towel triceps stretch

A towel allows you to take the behind-the-head triceps stretch even deeper.

  • Sit upright on the floor with your legs crossed, roll a towel lengthwise, and hold one end overhead in your right hand, allowing it to hang down your back.
  • Keeping your chest lifted, lower the towel until you can grab the other end in your left hand.
  • Maintain tension in the towel as you gently pull it as far down with your left hand as you can.
  • Hold for time, and then repeat on your other side.

Why You Should Stretch Your Triceps

Intense workouts can cause your triceps to feel tight, but so can simply spending much of your day with your arms at your sides, which over time can cause your triceps to adapt to a shortened position.

“Tight triceps can limit your strength, power, and mobility, especially when pressing weights overhead — so don’t neglect them,” Thieme says. “If your workout includes pressing movements or really any movement that involves elbow or shoulder extension, you need to stretch your triceps.”