Arm Strengthening Exercises

Some wrist strengthening exercises to do as part of a rehabilitation programme after injury.

Tricep Extension with Band

Tricep Extension with Band intro

Aim

To strengthen the triceps.

Technique

  • The athlete positions the resistance band under the feet leaving an equal length of band for each hand.
  • The athlete straightens both arms above the head.
  • Keeping the elbows pointed upward, the forearms are lowered until a stretch in the tricep is felt.
  • The arms are then straightened again.

Muscles worked: Triceps brachii.

Tricep Dip on Ball

A tricep dip is a commonly performed exercise. Adding a Swiss ball makes it more challenging for both the arms and the core muscles.

Teaching Points:

  • The athlete positions themselves with their back to the ball, knees bent and feet on the floor with the hands on the ball, fingers pointing towards their back as shown.
  • The elbows are then bent, to lower the bottom towards the floor.
  • The athlete then pushes back up before repeating.

Muscles worked: Triceps brachii, Anconeus

Alternative Exercises: Tricep pushdowns

Partner Resisted Triceps Exercise

The partner resisted triceps exercise (elbow extension) involves a partner providing resistance as the athlete tries to straighten the elbow. This is great for the early stages of triceps strengthening.

Teaching Points:

  • The athlete lies on their back with the upper arm support and the elbow bent.
  • The therapist applied gentle pressure to the back of the wrist as the athlete tries to extend the elbow.
  • This can be performed as an isometric exercise - with no movement for early stage strengthening, or a resisted exercise, as shown.

Muscles Worked: Triceps Brachii, Anconeus

Alternatives: Isometric triceps contraction

Partner Resisted Biceps Curl

A therapist or partner provides resistance while the athlete performs the bicep curl. This is a good early stage rehabilitation exercise.

Teaching Points:

  • The athlete lies on their back with the upper arm supported on the couch/floor and elbow straight
  • The therapist provides resistance at the wrist at the athlete tries to bend the elbow.
  • This can be performed as an isometric exercise (with no movement) or resisted - with the elbow moving through its full range.

Muscles Worked: Biceps Brachii

Alternative Exercises: Isometric biceps contractions

Isometric Triceps

Static contraction of the triceps muscle at the back of the upper arm. Used in the early stages of rehabilitation.

Aim:

To begin strengthening the Triceps muscle after injury.

Technique:

  • The athlete provides resistance with the other hand as they attempt to straighten the elbow.
  • Ensure the upper arm is stabilised by the side.
  • This can be performed starting with the elbow bent to various degrees of flexion.

Muscles worked: Triceps Brachii, Anconeus

Similar exercise: Resisted triceps with partner

Bicep Curl

The bicep curl is one of the best known weight training exercises. There are many different variations which work the muscle in different ways and for different effects.

Teaching points:

  • Stand with the feet shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent and back straight.
  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand with the palms facing forwards and elbows straight. 
  • Bend the elbows to lift the dumbbells from by your thighs, up towards you shoulders. Avoid swinging the weights or arching the back to help lift the weight. Slowly return the weights back to the starting position.

Variations & progressions:

  • Use a barbell to perform the same movement. 
  • Perform the same movement with the palms facing backwards. This places more emphasis on the wrist muscles.

Muscles worked: Biceps Brachii, Brachialis, Brachioradialis.

Alternative exercises: Bicep curl using a resistance band, Hammer curl.

Bicep Curl with Resistance Band

This rehabilitation exercise is designed to strengthen the biceps muscle either in the mid stages of rehab or for those looking to increase muscle tone.

Teaching points:

  • The athlete holds one end of the band, whilst the other is anchored near the floor.
  • The working arm is supported at the back by the other hand as the athlete bends the elbow against the resistance of the band, before slowly returning the arm to the starting position.

Muscles worked: Biceps Brachii, Brachialis

Resistance Band Pronation Exercise

Resistance Band Pronation Exercise

The resistance band pronation exercise is used to strengthen the muscles which turn the hand over which is useful after an injury such as a wrist or forearm fracture.

Teaching Points

  • Tie one end of the band around something sturdy at waist height with the arm being worked closet to the attachment point.
  • Wrap the other end around the end of a long thin object and hold the other end.
  • Band you elbow and position the upper arm by your side.
  • Start with your hand positioned so that your thumb faces up.
  • Pronate the hand (turn it over so that the palm faces down).
  • Return to the starting position.

Muscles Worked: Pronator Teres, Pronator Quadratus.

Related Injuries: De Quervains tenosynovitis.

Tricep Extension Supine

The tricep extension exercise shown here strengthens the Triceps Brachii muscle. It is sometimes also known as a skull crusher or jaw breaker!

Teaching Points:

  • The starting position is lying on the back with the elbow bent and pointing to the celieing as shown.
  • The elbow is the straightened, listing the weight up above the head.
  • The weight is then carefully lowered back down to the shoulder.

Muscles Worked: Triceps Brachii, Anconeus

Alternative Exercises: Tricep dip on a ball.

Tricep Kickback

The tricep kickback exercise is great for isolating the Triceps muscle, although make sure that the upper arm and shoulder stay still throughout.

Teaching points:

  • Place one hand and the same knee on a bench and lean over so the back is flat.
  • Hold a dumbbell in the free hand and hold with the upper arm horizontal next to the upper body, the elbow bent to a right angle and palm facing in.
  • Straighten the elbow out behind you, ensuring the upper arm stays still.
  • Slowly return to the starting position.

Variations & progressions:

  • Perform both arms at a time by adopting a wide stance and leaning forwards from the hips.

Muscles worked: Triceps Brachii.

Alternative exercises: Tricep extension using a resistance band, Tricep dip.

Tricep Kickbacks with Band

The tricep kickback exercise can be performed with a resistance band as shown here, or with a dumbbell. It is a great mid-stage rehab exercise to isolate the triceps.

Teaching points:

  • Stand with one end of the band under the feet and the other end in one hand.
  • Lean forwards at the hip, keeping the back straight.
  • Start with the arm bent at the elbow, wrist at chest level.
  • Straighten the arm out behind you.

Muscles worked: Triceps brachii, Anconeus

Alternative exercises: Overhead tricep extension.

Tricep Push Downs

The tricep push down exercise can be performed with a band as shown here or on some resistance machines.

Teaching Points:

  • The band is anchored to a high point and one end held in each hand.
  • The athlete starts with their elbows bent and then straightens them against the resistance of the band.

Muscles Worked: Triceps brachii, Anconeus

Alternative Exercises: Triceps kickback with band.

Resistance Band Tricep Extension

This exercise works the tricep muscle. The athlete starts with the elbow bent and pointing to the ceiling and straightens the arm in a controlled manner.

Teaching points:

  • Place the centre of the band under your feet and hold one end in each hand.
  • Start with the arms behind your head, elbows pointing to the ceiling.
  • Straighten the arms overhead.

Muscles worked: Triceps brachii, Anconeus

Alternative exercises: Tricep kickback.

This article has been written with reference to the bibliography.