How to Lose Tricep Fat and Gain Definition

African American man holding dumbbell in the gym

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The triceps (located on the back of the arms) are, unfortunately, a place many of us tend to store excess fat. As you've probably heard, it's the part of you that keeps on waving, even when you've stopped.

The fact that we do store more fat there makes it challenging to get rid of and, unfortunately, spot training won't work. In other words, you can't do tricep exercises and hope that will reduce the extra fat there. The body actually uses energy from the entire body during exercise, not just from the muscles you're working.

The Importance of Losing Overall Body Fat Rather Than Doing Triceps Exercises

Your body may be in charge of when, where, and how you lose fat, but that doesn't mean you can't do something to help things along. Your first step is to focus on losing overall body fat with exercise and a healthy diet. There's no guarantee you'll lose fat from your triceps right away, but allowing your body to respond to your program will tell you what your body is capable of achieving.

Part of that process is strength training for the triceps (and the rest of your body as well). Triceps exercises won't reduce fat there (not specifically, at least), but they do help you build more muscle.

More muscle overall means firmer, stronger triceps and a higher metabolism, which will contribute to fat loss.

Get Regular Cardio Exercise

You should be doing regular cardio exercise in your target heart rate zone. For fat loss, the general guidelines suggest cardio most days of the week for 30-60 minutes (or working up to that if you're a beginner).

If you really want more bang for your buck, incorporate one or two interval training workouts into your routine. These workouts get you out of your comfort zone (just for short periods of time), which helps you burn more calories during and after your workout.

Focus on Strength Training

Yes, you want to work your triceps, of course, but you also want to lift weights for your entire body at least 1 to 3 non-consecutive days a week. There are endless ways to lift weights, but it's best to start with a simple beginner's program if you're just getting started. 

Adopt Healthier Eating Habits

Exercise can help you burn calories, but your diet is where you can really make a difference. A few simple tips to consider:

  • Keep a food diary in which you write down what you eat or drink. Successful weight losers regularly monitor themselves to keep themselves on track.
  • Use a tracking website or app to track and calculate your calories. Some favorites: FitWatch or Lose It! (More fitness and diet apps)
  • Keep an eye on your portion sizes.
  • Make small changes every day instead of changing everything at once.

Rather than depriving yourself, focus on adding healthier foods to your diet. Fruits, vegetables and other foods with lots of fiber, water, and nutrients help fill you up, leaving less room for foods that offer lots of calories but little nutrition.

Give your body time to respond to what you're doing. Even if you're not losing weight exactly where you want (like those triceps), that doesn't mean you won't get there eventually.

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