Finally Tone Your Triceps with This Simple Tip


“I exercise my arms all the time, but when I wave goodbye, my flags keep waving long after my hand has stopped.”

A client made this joke at the beginning of a Pilates mat class I taught years ago.

The “flags” in question? You guessed it, her triceps.

It was a funny way to say her arms were flabby, but I sensed her frustration. She was exercising, but not getting results.

And it got me thinking and asking myself:

With all her effort, why wouldn’t her arms tone up?

It was a pivotal moment in my teaching career because I seriously wanted to know the answer.

I’d noticed a similar thing happening with people’s butts that no amount of clamshell exercises seemed to rectify.

It turns out one major piece of this “exercised, yet under-toned” puzzle has to do with your bones and their alignment, especially when you exercise.

When your bones are aligned, your muscles have no choice but to turn on and help out.

But when your bones aren’t aligned?

Other muscles kick in to help get the job done, creating compensation patterns and tightness in their wake.

So, how do you get those arm bones aligned and get rid of the flapping flags?

I’ve got you! In today’s video, you’ll learn a tricep solution for your push-up to align your arm bones and boost your arm-toning game in a serious way.

After you give it a try, I’d love to hear how it goes. Make sure to let me know in the comments below.

Always aligning,

P.S. If getting on the floor is a challenge, check out this standing variation of the exercise instead:

Do Your Shoulders Sneak Up on You?





Hi, I'm Sydney and I'm a Restorative Movement Specialist here at Pilates Tonic. My goal is to empower you with tools to connect and live in your body in new and better ways. I'm a passionate advocate for wellness through optimally aligned movement and I look forward to designing a customized alignment and movement program just for you! If you want to find out more, just give me a call at 423.702.5233, or email me at [email protected] See you in the studio!

16 Responses

    1. Hi Julie, thanks for your message! Give it another try and see if it’s working now. If not, you could try updating your browser, or using another browser. And if that doesn’t work, clearing your browser’s cache and cookies might do the trick.

  1. In Australia, ‘flags’ are known as ‘bingo wings’. Anyway, I read a book by a physio a while ago that recommended rotating the elbows so that the flexor surface of the joint faced forwards as you rise up out of the push up

  2. Re: your mentioning of lack of glut development, what would be the contributing factor for this? My issue and I hike alot, as well as jog and walk.
    Thanks Sydney

    1. Great question, Judy! A couple of the most common factors contributing to inactive glutes are:

      Too much tension on the front of the hips preventing the thigh bone from extending behind the hip. When this happens the glutes aren’t able to participate in walking. The post linked below talks more about this:

      Standing with the pelvis shifted forward. Many people have a habit of standing with their hips forward, again putting the pelvis in a position where the glutes can’t share the load for walking and standing. The post linked below goes into more detail about standing alignment:

      You might also find this post helpful for exercises to improve walking:

      Thanks for your question!

      1. Thank you for the wealth of information. I do have posterior pelvic tilt and tight hip flexors and quads. Keep up your generous sharing! We all appreciate it.

  3. The problem that I encounter when bending my elbows back is lack of flexibility in my wrists. Props such as kettle bells or pushing up off of a foam roller/abs pipe fix that. It would be nice to be free of props for pushups.

  4. I’d noticed a similar thing happening with people’s butts that no amount of clamshell exercises seemed to rectify.

    Can you shed more light on the alignment of the glutes.. how to activate it more especially in the kneeling all four position ?

    1. Hi Mishie! When kneeling on all fours, often, people unknowingly hold their tailbone slightly tucked under. Relaxing the lower back and allowing the tail to float up toward the ceiling is the positioning I look for on all fours. And if you’re used to slightly tucking (like I was!), you’ll feel like you’re really sticking your bottom up. Thanks for your question!

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