If the word “bicep” conjures images of over-muscled guys pumping iron in sweat-stained t-shirts, you’re only getting part of the picture—and a small part at that. Despite all the bulging biceps and triceps showcased on video, magazines and websites, scarce attention is paid to the critical function these elbow-flexor muscles play in the lives of ordinary people.
Biceps are the large muscles in the front of your upper arm. Triceps run along the back. Together, they let you extend and contract your forearm. Triceps also support the shoulder in its enormous range of motion. So from carting groceries to swinging your grandkids, they allow you to do the heavy lifting of work and play—quite literally helping you embrace life.
“From carting groceries to swinging your grandkids, biceps and triceps allow you to do the heavy lifting of work and play.”
And though their role doesn’t diminish as we age, the muscles themselves do. By the time most sedentary adults reach age 50, they’ve lost 10 to 20 percent of the muscle mass in their upper extremities. And it only gets worse over time. As many people enter their 80s, they’ve lost at least 40 percent of their arm muscles. That makes it tough to push yourself out of an armchair, let alone swing a tennis racquet.
“Sensible bicep and triceps training isn’t about ‘bulking up’ and ‘hulking out.’”
Fortunately, strength training can restore lost muscle and prevent age-related loss. Still, if you haven’t done a pushup since high school, the prospect of grabbing a pair of dumbbells and ripping through a set of curls can be intimidating. Worse, it can be dangerous. Older adults with significant muscle loss are more prone to shoulder injuries. However, with the right training and equipment, you can restore strength in these vital muscles, safely and effectively.
Remember, sensible bicep and triceps training isn’t about “bulking up” and “hulking out.” With safe, consistent workouts, you’ll tone up, build strength, and keep your arms wide open for a lifetime of enriching experiences and activities.