Shaping Up Those 'Hello Helen' Muscles

Shaping Up Those 'Hello Helen' Muscles

While visiting with my mother recently, we were discussing senior fitness and how important it is to preserve range of motion, flexibility and good muscle tone.

She asked, "What can I do about my 'Hello Helen' muscles?"

I must have had a puzzled look on my face so she proceeded to demonstrate.

"You know, when I raise my arm and wave hello to Helen, see how all that loose stuff wiggles underneath? I call those my 'Hello Helen' muscles."

Triceps are some of the first muscles to become slack as fitness wanes, and as a trainer in a women's gym, I hear this problem mentioned a lot.

Below are some simple exercises to firm up those jiggly triceps you've been hiding under long sleeves. Use enough weight that you can complete 3 sets of 15 repetitions. Do them at least three times a week.


These can be performed with dumbbells, but cans of soup or similarly shaped objects work, too. They may be done one arm at a time with heavier weights, or both arms together using lighter weights. Be sure to stabilize the lower back by keeping it level and straight.

1. Hold a weight in each hand. Bend over at the waist until your torso is parallel to the floor. Pull in abdominal muscles to support lower back. Knees should be slightly bent.

2. Bending arms at the elbow, bring weights up toward shoulders, then extend arms behind until they are parallel to the floor, keeping upper arms stationary. As you perform the movement, squeeze triceps into your sides as your arms become fully extended, palms facing inward.

3. Bend arms back to starting position and repeat.

Tips: Keep abs tight, eyes forward and back flat during entire movement. Do not swing weights; control the movement, keeping the triceps muscles fully engaged. Keep upper arms stationary, bending only at the elbow.

Triceps Extensions — Supine

Lying down for this exercise adds gravity to the weight of the dumbbells.

1. Lie on the floor. Using light to medium weights, extend arms straight up over chest, palms facing in.

2. Bend elbows and lower your hands until they're next to your ears (elbows will be at 90-degree angle).

3. Squeeze triceps to straighten arms without locking joints.

4. Move only the forearms, keeping elbows steady throughout the entire movement.


Dips require the use of a sturdy chair or bench. Use caution if shoulder joints are weak or at risk.

1. Sitting on bench or chair, place hands on the seat close to your hips.

2. Push up, placing your weight onto your hands and bringing your hips forward off the chair.

3. Keeping the back straight, shoulders down and body close to chair, bend your elbows and lower hips toward the floor (to 90 degrees).

4. Using triceps, push up until arms are straight. Do not lock elbows. Lower hips again to 90 degrees. Repeat. Difficulty is increased as feet are extended.


Pushups are one of the most effective exercises for increasing upper-body strength, especially the triceps. They can be done anywhere and require nothing more than a little floor space, your own body weight, and, of course, a dose of motivation. Beginners may allow knees to remain on the floor.

Cindy Quick Wilson is a certified trainer at the Women's Fitness Company in Medford, which specializes in women's fitness and fitness nutrition.

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