1. The prefix tri- means three, therefore, the triceps will emphasize your arms more than your biceps. Many people like working out the biceps, but if you really want big arms, you need to train the muscle on the back of the upper arm, triceps!
2. We have two movements: push and pull. In order to target the three muscles of the triceps, incorporating push movements that allow more hypertrophy like close-grip bench, dips, and overhead triceps extension using full range of motion (ROM) is crucial to your success in building big arms.
3. Focus on a lower rep range for compound movements so you can come back in the gym better and stronger. Moreover, we will execute higher rep ranges for isolation exercises.
4. Keep reading to learn more about the best triceps exercises. Thank me later.
If you want to be stronger and pack on more size, you have to work on your triceps. I know I know, but what about “curls for the girls?” Of course, you still need to work out your biceps so you can let the front of your body shine, but what about your side?
With triceps, you can’t afford to have a good side and bad side. Both sides need to be built tough like Fords!
When you’re out at a social event, and if you have t-shirt on, nothing will make you look even better than working out your triceps. Your short sleeve shirt will fill out a lot more when you train your triceps effectively and consistently using these 5 workouts below.
The Anatomy of the Triceps Muscles
What is the tricep muscle? By definition, the triceps brachii, is a large muscle on the posterior portion of the upper arm. The tricep’s, or tris (short term), main function is the extension of the elbow joint (straightening of the arm).
The triceps forms just below the socket of the scapula (shoulder blade) and at two different regions of the humerus, which is the bone of the upper portion of the arm. Furthermore, it helps stabilize the shoulder and scapula during your upper body workouts. Interestingly enough, based on the triceps origin of having three heads, it appears in the shape of a horseshoe at the back of the arm.
After reviewing the inside look of the triceps, you will notice that the long head portion of the tricep is actually the biggest out of the three. Later, we will get into more depth on we can make bigger and stronger gains on that bad boy.
Make no mistake, we must ensure all three heads – lateral, medial, and long – are targeted and ready to kick some ass! The end result will be exactly like an AMC theaters 3D iMAX movie – 3D but without the glasses. Again, achieving the 3D look can be accomplished with the exercises we will talk about later.
You’re probably thinking “So I need to have different exercises for all three heads?” Absolutely not. Rest assure my fellow tricep-less (is this even a word?) companion! I got you covered. Creating a tricep routine is fairly simply. We got this!
Brief overview: Triceps, the three-headed muscle, is your ticket to giving you a bigger and fuller look. It contains the long, lateral, and medial heads that are located on the back of your arm that is responsible for straightening your arm.
The Grapevine of Tricep Training
I firmly believe that if one thing works for someone, there’s a good chance it might not work for someone else. Everyone is different, however, even with the consideration of genetics, years and experience of training, and the “he said “she said,” there is evidence based research on how triceps should be trained.
The grapevine consists of people claiming high volume works really well, and others that preach lower volume is ideal for tricep training.
Many people even argue that triceps don’t have to be train at all if you include exercises that work on triceps as a SECONDARY muscle. That’s exactly it. If exercises like bench press or overhead press are working out your triceps as a secondary, not primary, that debunks that statement right there.
Let’s dive into what smart dudes with white lab coats and human history has taught us:
1. Focus on Specialized Triceps Exercises
Each part of your body needs special attention and focus. If you started your back day with chin ups, you’re still going to train biceps even though they helped with the chin ups, right? Of course! When you execute chin ups, the biceps help as a secondary muscle.
The same applies for exercises like bench press or overhead press. The triceps aids in the movement, but the pressure and muscle contraction isn’t 100% focused on the triceps, it’s focused on the chest.
We must incorporate exercises that are conducive to gaining more size and muscle on your triceps. Despite the fact that heavy pushing and pulling will help in growing your arms, it’s not suffice. Heavy compound exercises and isolation exercises will guarantee bigger and stronger triceps.
In fact, when you carry specialized routines into your workout, you will notice a strength increase in your bench press, overhead press, and dips. Our muscles work in a cohesive nature, therefore, you must work with your body, not against it.
2. Compound Exercises + Low Volume = More Muscle Fiber Recruitment
Debunk any myth that you’ve heard. You must include heavy, low-rep training if you want to get stronger, especially as you move to an advanced level of weight training.
In addition, heavy weight and low reps will guarantee to increase size, I’m talking serious gains. As natural weightlifters, it’s essential for us to keep getting stronger. If not, what’s the point? I don’t believe in training with intense volume and high reps if you’re not getting stronger. Why stay at 45lbs dumbbells? Yeah, you’ll get an okay pump, but the fact you’re not improving in the gym makes it downright boring and depressing.
Our bodies are capable of so many powerful things. We should always test the limits, and push any boundaries that is in our way. Stay mentally focused and push heavy weight, you my friend, will have bigger muscles in no time.
In my previous blog, I mentioned facts about speeding through weight and strength when you first begin. I remember when I use to work out in my basement.
Everyone was complimenting me because I gained a fair amount of size in a short period of time. This is normal. Your body isn’t use that type of resistance.
That’s why it’s important to stay consistent and keep educating yourself because once you reach an advanced level, strength and size will be more difficult to achieve.
How you ask? Well well…you’ve come to the right place.
Heavy weights. Yes, you have to think of Mike Tyson and Muhammad Ali kind of heavy weight. You have to think of lifting a bulldozer with your bare hands without chalk! Big, heavy weight!
Just kidding. All you need to do is include heavy, compound exercises into your tricep routine. Honestly, including heavy compound lifting is what everyone must do to get bigger and stronger. Not just in triceps either. It applies to your entire body.
Once I started implementing this strategy in each muscle group, my strength increased significantly. ALL muscle groups: biceps, shoulders, chest, back, legs, and calves need heavy compound lifting for growth and development.
After your body has been exposed to this intense training, it will lead to great proportions, aesthetics, and health.
There is no greater feeling then putting your mind, heart, and muscles to the test when you’re lifting heavy weight. If your heart isn’t beating before your heavy set, the weight isn’t heavy enough. Correspondingly, there isn’t really relevance regarding the type of fitness goals you have.
For example, if you’re trying to get big, you need to train heavy. If you want to more chiseled, you need to train heavy. Lastly, if you want to be more defined and toned, you need to train heavy. Did I mention that you need to train heavy? Good. Because you need to do a lot of it.
Are you with me so far? I hope this isn’t overwhelming. My goal is to leave you with no questions asked.
In order to determine what weight is light or heavy, I would say definitely use your best judgement. When I’m starting a new exercise, I usually have a range I choose from.
No matter what I choose, I never let my ego get in the way. Even if I know I can lift a certain weight, I still choose to go at least 5-10lbs lighter. For the first time, be confident but play it safe.
It’s not worth injuring yourself and missing out on these gains!
I would argue that compound exercises are a lot more difficult than isolation workouts.
The reason being is it takes a toll on your body due to the amount of muscles that are being worked out. When you’re executing compound exercises you are exerting a lot of energy from multiple joint and muscles. On the other hand, isolation exercises are more specialized because they focus on a finite amount of muscles and joints.
Whether you are a beginner or advanced lifter, the amount of rep ranges doesn’t matter. We focus strictly on training in which your first set is activating as much muscle fibers as possible. We want you to be fresh during this set, therefore, we will challenge your potential with the heaviest amount of weight you can do.
We call this Reverse Pyramid Training.
We take your strongest set, hit a low rep range then drop the weight for our 2nd and 3rd set. You will notice these sets are a lot easier based on the positive shock your muscles have received. More muscles fibers equals more energy and strength for your workout.
As you progress, the amount of weight you’re lifting will be shocking not only to yourself, but people in the gym as well. They’re going to wonder if you’re taking drugs, but of course, we’re all natty over here. You will gain insane strength without the need for drugs.
In fact, utilizing Reverse Pyramid Training demolishes the use of drugs because you’re getting stronger and experiencing better muscle gains.
According to Muscle and Strength, that cited a studying published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, stated “training in a moderate rep range (8-12 reps) allows for better muscle gains while training in the heavy rep range (2-4 reps) allows for better strength gains. With Reverse Pyramid Training, you’ll be training in both of these rep ranges and will therefore get the best of both worlds.”
As mentioned above, Reverse Pyramid Training unleashed your full potential. That’s one of our core values at FRLS MND: helping you realize and unleash your fullest potential. With RPT, your body will experience a superhero like training sensation with relatively low training volume.
3. Which workout split is best for triceps?
The best thing about fitness is everyone has different goals. Some people want to be athletic and fit, others feel the energy and meaning of life through powerlifting or bodybuilding. Despite what your goals are, everyone at least desires to get stronger.
If you’re lifting 3 days a week, I firmly believe training through RPT with a total of 6 sets each week is enough to build strong and big triceps. With the compound exercises, your muscles are getting hit hard, but we’re also taking in account the amount of volume, which is relatively low, each week.
For example, if you’re hitting weighted tricep dips on Mondays and Fridays with RPT for a total of 6 sets each week, that will be more than enough to see significant results. Most importantly, you will not burn out because you are training only 3 days a week which allowed for sufficient muscle and neural recovery.
However, if you’re training between 4-7 days a week, we need to be very mindful about the number of compound exercises as well as the volume we will be incorporating.
If you’re training more than 3 days per week, understanding the total number of reps can make or break you each week because of overtraining. In other words, higher volume (more reps) and heavier weight, the less you can do.
That’s why I think minimalistic training trumps any other type of training. Individuals who train numerous days a week don’t really experience significant strength gains and personal records. However, they do have a great amount of size based on the amount of volume they’re implementing.
Heavy training is essential for bigger muscles and brut like strength. If bench press or a standard military press is included in your regimen, it will be much more crucial to recuperate sufficiently so you can head back into the gym fully charged.
Ultimately, training 3 days per week, and lifting heavy weight with low volume is best. However, everyone is different. Some individuals like going to the gym 5-7x a week.
I’m not going to knock your hustle! In that case, you will benefit from higher volume of triceps sets per week. Moreover, a low number of sets that directly target your triceps tends to have better outcomes than depending solely on multi-muscle exercises, or compound exercise.
Use triceps workouts specifically for the triceps because each muscle group needs equal attention to promote better, faster, and stronger results.
Next, utilizing Reverse Pyramid Training (RPT) is one of the best types of training to maximize hypertrophy, more muscle recruitment, and stronger results. Stick with heavy lifting and low volume to benefit the most for bigger and stronger triceps.
Lastly, I tend to prefer 3 days a week for my lifting days since I heavily utilize RPT in my workouts. However, if you enjoy 5-7 days more than 3, I highly recommend working out your triceps with higher volume, less compound exercises and more triceps focused workouts.
Now, let’s get to the good part! All aboard to a one-trip stop to GAINS CITY!
The 10 Best Triceps Exercises
To be quite frank, I implement a handful of triceps workouts into my routine. I don’t focus on a plethora of workouts to the point to I can’t decide which one to choose, and then I don’t end up doing any of them.
Fitness should be simple. There is many confusing, multi-layered garbage that fitness gurus preach. It’s unfortunate that many people are fed the wrong thing, and don’t end up achieving their fitness goals.
That ends here! I will be sharing the exercises that will benefit you the most. Uncomplicated, simple to understand, and execute.
Ladies and Gentlemen, here are the 10 Best Triceps Exercises…
1. Close-Grip Bench Press
The exercise that resulted in the most growth and development of my triceps, and definitely gave my arms the badass look I needed is the Close-Grip Bench Press.
Honestly, I’ve never experienced a better pump or strength increase than after implementing the close grip bench. I even experienced stronger grip strength based on the width of my grip. In addition, your shoulders and chest will be in on the action!
According to the study published on National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), “within the close-grip bench press (CGBP) exercise itself, the reduction in grip distance generally results in a decrease in the maximum load that can be lifted, partially due to changes in the mechanical advantage of the muscles about the shoulder and elbow joints. The CGBP can also cause an increase in the activity of the triceps brachii when compared to the TBP.”
Furthermore, if you’ve experienced shoulder issues such as pain or joint discomfort, the CGBP will provide much more comfort and support so you won’t miss out on any gains.
In fact, “the CGBP is typically performed to place greater emphasis on the triceps brachii versus other prime movers such as pectoralis major or deltoids, as there is less shoulder abduction during this exercise which keeps the hands closer to the torso.”
Conclusively, the CGBP can provide an immense value compared to the traditional bench press (TBP). When compared to the TBP, the study further suggested a 1 rep max (1RM) CGBP resulted in a less ability to perform heavier weight, but had greater peak power and velocity. If you participate in boxing, football, basketball, or additional sports, the CGBP can aid in explosive arm action, which is beneficial for athletes that must begin an elbow extension with their hands close to the frame of their torso.
Where you need to positon your hands during the CGPB is vital to their effectiveness in building the triceps muscles. A little less than shoulder width will really target the muscles, and get those triceps pumped.
If you’re using a free weight bar, placing your index fingers at the end of the rough portion of the bar, where your index finger is adjacent to the soft area of the bar should suffice.
If you’re feeling discomfort, I recommend making your hand position less narrow. Another tip is using your hands and aligning them from your shoulder to the bar.
Take your hands, place them on your shoulders while lying on the bench, and move your hands towards the bar to get the correct “shoulder-width” alignment.
Make sure your knuckles are facing up, towards the ceiling. The last thing you want to do is end up with painful wrists. Many individuals have the tendency to the bend their wrists, having their palms face the up. Having your knuckles facing the ceiling will increase grip and forearm strength and will challenge your triceps a lot more.
How to Perform CGBP:
The second best triceps exercises are dips. Dips have different levels depending on your strength and experience exercising.
There are two types of dips that you can perform: the upright dip and the bench dip.
If you have the ability to hold your body up, you can perform the upright dip. However, if you’re just learning about the dip, I suggest grabbing a bench, or chair that will help support your body.
By now, I believe everyone has an iron gym in their home, if not, that’s okay. An iron gym is one of the most convenient and innovative inventions for home gyms. You have the ability to perform numerous upper-body weight and core exercises like push-ups, pull ups, L-sits, and dips.
If you’re not using the gym, definitely invest in an iron gym. Also, push-up bars or parallettes are very convenient for dips as well. I highly recommend purchasing a parallette that is 12 inches in height, with 18-24 inches in width. This will give you the most bang for your buck if you plan on mastering your body weight, and performing exercises like one arm push-ups, muscle ups, or one arm chin ups.
Why should you be doing dips?
Based on Muscle and Fitness, 3 reasons why you should incorporate dips in your routine are:
1. Bench Press Boost
2. Chest and Triceps Variations
3. Can be done in the gym or in the comfort of your home
Mark Anders from the American Council on Exercise (ACE), conducted a study on the activation of our triceps during dips. Utilizing electromyographic (EMG) electrodes on the triceps muscles, she found that the top three exercises were triangle push-ups, dips, and triceps kickbacks. In addition, these three exercises can be used interchangeably if you’re using a bench, chair, push-up bar/iron gym.
To perform a bench dip, sit on the edge of a bench with your palms resting next to your butt. Completely extend your legs with your heels on the floor and your toes facing up. Hang off the edge of the bench while your hands support you. By now, your butt is off the bench, hands and arms are holding your body, and heels are on the ground.
To execute the dip, remember “butt to ground” to complete the exercise. Your elbows are bending while your hips are descending towards the ground.
Body weight dips are a great exercise, however, you will reach a point in which your body weight will no longer be a challenge. Therefore, I recommend including weighted dips into your routine. This will take your chest, shoulders, and most importantly, your triceps, to the next level. Not only will you develop dense and bigger muscles, but your strength will skyrocket.
Take note, weighted dips should only be performed when you are able to complete 15-20 reps for 4 sets of your own body weight. That means great form too!
To execute the weighted dip, you can purchase a dip belt with weights attached to it, wear a weighted vest or a backpack, or holding a dumbbell between your ankles.
Dip belts and weighted vests can be found on amazon.com. The gym is the most preferable place to before weighted dips, however, purchasing a dip station can be advantageous for your fitness journey.
Healthline conveyed weighted dips can maximize muscle activation for your chest, shoulders, and triceps. Your upper and lower back will be activated as well. “When done correctly, weighted dips can add muscle mass to your upper body. This exercise can also help build your strength for other exercises like bench presses. Another benefit of weighted dips is the ability to work opposing muscle groups at once.”
How to do weighted dips:
Follow these steps by Healthline to do weighted dips safely and with good form.
1. Start by wrapping your dip belt around your waist, chain side in front. Take the chain end with the carabiner on it and drop it through the belt loop so the belt can tighten. Attach your weight plate to the dropped side before looping it around, and clip it back to the other side of your belt.
2. Mount the dip bar facing outward. Hold onto the bars as you hold your body at arm’s length — arms and elbows straight and locked. Keep your head in line with your trunk, wrists in line with your forearms.
3. Inhale as you slowly start to lower your body. Let your torso move slightly forward and your elbows to flare out to the side.
4. Once you feel a stretch in your chest, breathe out and start to push yourself slowly back up to the starting position.
5. Repeat the movement.
Be sure to perform weighted dips no more than 2x a week using RPT. Remember, Reverse Pyramid Training is excellent for building superhero strength. ONLY include weighted dips as a first or second set. Never last.
For the 1st set, aim for 4-5 reps, 2nd set 6 reps, and 3rd set 8 reps. It’s important that each week you’re either increasing the weight by 2.5lbs-5lbs or completing one additional rep. Do not increase the weight until each rep has been completed with good form (5, 6, and 8 reps). Make sure you each set is subtracted by 10-15lbs.
1st set – 20lbs for 5 reps
2nd set – 10lbs for 6 reps
3rd set – bodyweight for 8 reps
Allow 2-3 days for sufficient recovery before performing this exercise again.
Take a look at this tutorial on how to perform bench dips:
Take a look at this tutorial on how to perform upright dips:
3. Triangle or Diamond Push-Ups
Triangle Push-Ups are fun to do, and are a killer triceps exercise. If you’re looking for a workout that will leave you challenged and sore the next day, include this into your routine.
As mentioned earlier, ACE conducted a study in 2011 that named the No. 1 exercise for training the triceps is the triangle push-up.
In fact, they found this exercise to build the triceps more effectively than the overhead triceps extensions, cable pushdown, lying triceps extension, and close-grip bench press.
People create the misconception that triangle push-ups are limited because weight cannot be added. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
You can increase the challenge of a triangle push-up by placing weight on your back or wearing a weighted vested, even a backpack with weights inside. This will take your triceps to the very next level.
Make sure you are confident going into this advanced level by mastering bodyweight triangle push-ups first. If you incorporate RPT with this exercise, your triceps will probably be the strongest in the gym.
How to Perform the Triangle Push-Up
Place yourself in a push-up positon, with hands and feet on the ground. Make sure your hands are under your shoulders, keep your core tight, and your hips parallel to the ground. Don’t bend your back as this makes the exercise easier, and is considered “cheating.”
Bring your hands together under your chest, and connect your index fingers and thumb in the shape of a triangle. Your index fingers create the point, and your thumb connect together to form the base.
Descend to the ground by facing front, not the floor, and keeping your elbows as close to your body as you can. If your elbows flare out, this puts less pressure on your triceps which will steal from bigger and stronger triceps.
Maintain your core by keeping your hips up, and your abdominal (stomach area) parallel to the ground. Again, do not bend your back.
Chest to hands, and push back up to complete the exercise. Keep your elbows close to your body as much as possible through the exercise.
4. Triceps Kickback
Triceps Kickbacks are a great exercise. The only problem with this exercise is you are limited by the amount of weight you can do. Earlier, we spoke about the importance of lifting heavy to build strength and muscle. If you want big triceps, triceps kickbacks will need to be included with another triceps exercise to put your triceps at maximum effort.
Another issue I found when performing the triceps kickback with dumbbells is overthinking about the form.
You might find yourself wondering if the exercise is doing its job, and if you’re doing it correctly.
The reason why your triceps will feel activated, but not as much utilizing other exercises in this list is because your triceps are only being worked towards the end of the each rep, when the exercise is finished.
We want consistent tension in order for the muscles to breakdown so they can get repaired and come back bigger and stronger.
Cables is a great way to eliminate this worry. The best part about cables versus dumbbells is the ongoing tension that is being places on your muscles.
If you’re using dumbbells for an exercise, and you’re not getting challenged enough, definitely swap it out for cables if applicable.
Here’s what you’ll find with the triceps kickbacks:
1. More weight can be added for increased contraction
2. Better form than with dumbbell
3. Less opportunity to cheat
Check out the dumbbell triceps kickbacks:
Check out the Cable triceps kickbacks:
5. Dumbbell Overhead Triceps Extension
The dumbbell overhead triceps extension is a tough cookie! Once I placed this in my routine, I noticed a massive size difference with my triceps.
The main area of the triceps that will be targeted is the medial head. Depending on which variation you choose, heavy load of weight can be lifted that will get those muscles fibers working.
There are two ways this exercise can be performed: standing or seated. It’s really based on personal preference, but seated will be the most beneficial. The reason being is you’re using less of your body to perform the exercise. As you are seated, only your triceps are pushing the weight. However, performing this exercise while you’re standing can make your lower body or core assist your during the workout.
I recommend not using a bench. Most gyms should have a seat that doesn’t adjust to an incline or decline. These are called Upright Benches, which are mainly used for dumbbell shoulder press. Ultimately, if the bench or seat doesn’t go passed your neck, you should be good to go.
1. One-handed triceps press
2. Two-handed triceps press
Both variations are excellent at building your triceps. I prefer the one-handed triceps press because you are challenging each arm to its fullest potential. You’re concentrated, have the ability to still push heavy weight, and maintain balance between each arm. Lifting 30-40lbs on each arm for one-arm triceps press is difficult but gives your triceps what it needs.
Completing the one-arm with RPT is great, especially if you start in the 6-8 rep range for your first set, 8-10 for the second, and 10-12 for the third.
The benefit of the two-handed triceps press is it gives you more options to lift heavier weight. Depending on your level, you can find yourself at the rack where the big boy weight is placed. Two hands are used, but be mindful that there is a higher outcome of muscle imbalance to occur.
One arm might be bigger and stronger than the other, so if you want to prevent this from occurring, stick with the one-arm triceps press.
Overall, if you want to lift heavy, go with two handed. If you want to prevent muscle imbalance, stick with one handed. Both will still give bigger and stronger triceps.
Here’s how we execute:
6. Lying Triceps Extensions (Skull Crushers, French Extensions, or French Presses)
Lying triceps extensions, or as I like to call them, Skull crushers, are an excellent triceps exercise that will blow up your muscles significantly. After implementing this exercise into your routine, you will notice significant strength increase in your triceps especially when you rotate to another exercise after completing the skull crushers for about 8 weeks.
The trick for skull crushers is to not let tension get away. It’s important to dial in the form for this exercise because it can make or break your progress.
To ensure successful execution, make sure you are pushing the EZ bar, straight bar, prefixed weight, or dumbbell towards the ceiling. Many people make the mistake by placing the weight above their head.
You will notice greater tension and results when you push the weight towards the ceiling as opposed to putting the weight above your head.
Your hand position should be closer than shoulder width. I like placing my index fingers at the end of the rough portion of the bar. Keep your hands close to each other, but not together.
Here’s how it’s done:
7. Cable Triceps Extension
This is my go-to triceps exercise. It works very well in building the triceps, and leaves my muscles swoll and feeling great.
You can use a straight bar attachment, rope attachment, or v-bar to allow you to push/press down.
I like using the rope as it gives my triceps the maximum amount of tension to build bigger guns.
A key trick during the Triceps Rope Pushdown is keeping both sides of the ropes as separate as possible as you are pressing down and returning to your regular position. When you’re not putting your hands next to each other, it increases the stress needed to blow out your triceps.
When you’re starting, keep your shoulders back with your scapula contracted to avoid using your back and shoulders. Next, keep your feet shoulder width apart while leanings slightly forward.
Keep the rope apart, and contract your muscles by pressing down the weight. How you started the exercises by keeping the ropes apart is not changing during your when you complete the rep. Keep the ropes separated and repeat.
If you want to add more weight, use the v-bar or straight bar attachments. The rope pushdown limits your ability to push heavier weight.
Check out this video:
Double Rope Triceps Pushdowns
Another trick that is beneficial to building your triceps is taking two ropes, and hooking them together at the top of the cable attachment.
Left side will have one rope, right side will have another rope, instead of using one rope total.
Double Rope Triceps Pushdown allow for an extended range of motion, better contraction, and works out the long head of your triceps a lot better than regular triceps rope pushdowns.
Here’s a video:
8. Cable Overhead Triceps Extension
Similar to the dumbbell overhead extension, this monster of a triceps exercise can build powerful, aesthetic triceps.
Whatever is worth saying is worth repeating, right? Well remember when I mentioned the benefits of cables versus free weights? The constant tension is crucial the amount of gains you will make inside the gym.
You will be able to lock in with a full range of motion with the Cable overhead triceps extension. In this exercise, the only option you will have is standing whereas the dumbbell version you have the leisure of both standing and sitting.
There’s a ton of flexibility with cables. Moreover, you will be able to swap out between rope, v-bar, a straight bar, and an EZ bar. Utilizing an EZ bar is fantastic and hits my triceps hard.
Keep in mind, using the rope will allow for a longer range of motion, and is an invaluable exception. If you’re experiencing elbow pain, especially in the joints, this will be a great substitute.
Using cables will help you push heavier weight without placing a painful amount of pressure on your joints.
Watch this video:
9. Barbell Overhead Press (OHP)
Although this is arguably the best shoulder exercise, the Barbell overhead press is excellent for your triceps as well.
If you strive to get stronger on your barbell overhead press, you’re not going to have small triceps. Why? Because Heavy OHP equals big triceps.
It’s vital to say that if you work on your pushing exercises like OHP, your triceps will be significantly stronger and bigger.
According to Heathline, you’ll work most of the large muscles in your upper body when executing the overhead press. These muscles include pectorals (chest), deltoids (shoulders), triceps (arms), and trapezius (upper back).
Moreover, you will recruit the muscles in your core, including your abdominals and lower back.
It’s imperative to have proper form while implementing this exercise. A strong core is something you have to consistently work on. You will notice a dramatic change in each of your exercises once this muscle is strong and dense.
If you’re getting stronger on OHP, you’re more likely to injure your spine if you’re not using proper form.
How to do the OHP:
1. Walk to the bar and grip the bar with hands placed close to shoulder-width apart or slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
2. Unrack the bar and take a step back. Ensure that the bar is comfortably in your hands close to your clavicle, or collarbone.
3. Before you push up, tighten your core as much as you can, squeeze your glutes, and drive up toward the ceiling.
4. As you are lifting the bar and driving upward, tilt your head forward to allow for full range of motion and maximum contraction. It is important to keep your core and glutes engaged throughout the entire movement from start to finish. If not, you will be prone to use your lower back for assistance which will result in pain and injury. Do not use your lower beck.
5. Make sure you are lifting with your shoulders, not your body. Many people using this torso to push the weight up when only the shoulders should be doing the work.
6. At a moderate speed, lower the bar back to your shoulders.
Here’s a video:
10. Barbell or Dumbbell Bench Press
We know that barbell bench press is an OG exercise. It’s made its mark as the most well-known exercise that determines strength, and makes the most impressions. The bench press is the answer to all your questions, it is the deity of fitness aesthetics.
Even though it’s primarily a chest exercise, it’s also one of the best and most effective triceps exercises.Remember, if you get stronger on your pushing exercise, your triceps will be big and strong as well. You’re not going to see someone in the gym benching 250lbs with small triceps. Make sure you continue to master these exercises! During the bench press, the lateral and medial head of the triceps are worked during the extension of the elbow. Basically, from start to finish your triceps will be activated.
Moreover, they are deactivated as you descend the bar down back to your chest. In addition, if you decide to incorporate incline bench press, your triceps will be worked out as well. If you decide you want to use dumbbells instead of a barbell, your triceps will be worked out too. Even if you don’t have access to a gym or bench press, you can still include floor press into your routine.
The downside is lack of range of motion, but heavier weight, which isn’t a bad thing at all. Ultimately, whatever pushing exercise you decide to use, always remember that your triceps will be activated and helping you complete the exercise.It’s safe to say your triceps will definitely be in good hands while bench pressing, whether it’s with a barbell, dumbbell, incline, or on the floor.
An important note to add is compound exercises like the bench press fatigue the hell out of you.They’re tough, especially if you’re pressing heavy weight. Try to incorporate this routine in the beginning of your workouts and then lay the icing on the cake with additional triceps exercises mentioned in this list at the end of your workout.
COMMON MISTAKES TO AVOID WHEN TRAINING YOUR TRICEPS
Despite which exercise you choose, the same mistakes to avoid all apply. In order to really take advantage of this list of best triceps exercises, it’s important to learn about these mistakes, and create the muscle memory to avoid bad habits. Here is some of the most common triceps training mistakes:
1. Incorrect Form
In order to really gain tension that your triceps need to grow, you must keep your elbows close to your body and locked in place. It’s very common for people to move their elbows in all kinds of directions to help push heavier weight, get that extra rep in, or they’ve created the habit of not keeping their elbow in place. Once you start moving your elbows outward, forward, or backward, you are no longer targeting your triceps and majority of the stress is going to your shoulders.It’s hard not to make this mistake, but don’t worry, I will help you create the habit of not doing this ever again.
How to solve this problem:
During exercises, it can get difficult to count reps while focusing on proper form.You’re telling your mind to do a bunch of things all at once. Multitasking isn’t really beneficial at all. I know majority of job description seek candidates who have the ability to multitask, but really it just makes your progress ineffective and ineffective. To make this transferable across all triceps exercises, no matter which one you’re doing, imagine you’re pushing each elbow close to each other while doing the exercise. If you’re doing pushdowns, push your elbows against your sides, but in reality, if your sides weren’t there, your elbows are essentially trying to connect. Same applies for skull crushers, close grip bench press, two-handed triceps extensions, dips, etc. Act as if you’re trying to bring each elbow close to each other. You can get into this habit by just focusing on one thing: your elbows. If you’re focusing on reps as well, you will lose concentration. Therefore, hit all triceps exercises until failure. This will build the habit and muscle memory needed to make this second nature whenever your intentions are to train your triceps.
2. Not Emphasizing All Three Heads
As we discussed earlier, the triceps have three heads: long (upper inside), medial (lower inside), and lateral (outside). All three make a great team because they always cohesively work together, and you don’t have the capability to isolate one from the others. On the contrary, you can target specific heads based on the angles you perform during triceps exercises.
Unfortunately, many newbies and bodybuilders neglect training their long and medial heads because they are uneducated on how to use different exercises to hit their triceps, which leads to them overtraining their lateral heads.
How to Solve This Problem:
Medial Heads: keep arms straight by your sides with an underhand grip. This head is stuck being the middle man because it plays a huge role on all triceps exercises during the full extension of your arms. A great exercise to incorporate to really tackle the medial head is a reverse grip-pushdown or reverse-grip close grip bench press. Be mindful as this will be a challenging exercise. Make sure you always have a spotter during bench press exercises.
Lateral Heads: keep arms straight by your sides with an overhand or a parallel grip (palms facing each other, also known as a neutral grip). The lateral head can be targeted with exercises such as the triceps pushdown using the rope or V-bar. Also, lying triceps extensions with dumbbells allow for a parallel grip as well as bodyweight or weighted dips.
Long Head: elbows are moved in front of your body or overhead. Just a reminder, imagine your elbows are trying to touch each other to really target your triceps. Many exercises mentioned above have the opportunity to keep your elbows on your sides, while training the long head requires using your imagination. It will benefit you!
Exercises that place stress on the long head are overhead triceps extensions (one or two-handed), skull crushers (with barbell or prefixed weight), and cable overhead triceps extensions.
3. Starting with the wrong exercises
There is a saying “Eat the Frog,” which is an expression conveys to always start with your hardest tasks during the day, and the rest will be easier. I believe this holds true to fitness as well. Starting with exercise that train the triceps more effectively and efficiently will help you achieve your fitness goals a lot sooner.
For this reason, I highly suggest to begin with the exercises that challenges your triceps the most. Freshness is everything. When your energy is at its all-time high, that’s when you will pump out your fullest potential.
How to Solve this Problem:
Any compound lifts, exercises that workout multiple muscles, must be first on the list. Exercises such as weighted dips, close-grip bench presses, overhead press, or inclined press should be the “frog.” Of course, proper warm up is essential when starting these workouts first to avoid injury and joint deterioration. I suggest banging out some very light sets with 2-3 sets.
If you’re starting off with close-grip bench press, start off with just the bar and hit 8-10 reps, then take 50% of your 1st working set and use that as your second warm up set, 70% of your 1st working set and use that as your 3rd warm up set, and 85% of your 1st working set and use that as your 4th warm up set.
An example: Warm Up 1st Working Set: Close Grip Bench Press 160lbs, 5 reps
1st: Barbell 8-10 reps
2nd: 80lbs 5 reps
3rd: 110lbs for 3 reps
4th: 135lbs for 1 rep
4.You won’t find a person benching 250lbs with small triceps
With that being said, don’t focus too much on exercises that involve machines and cables. If you’re working to increase your bench press, your triceps will naturally get stronger and grow.
I’ve seen many people spending countless times on cables and machines working out their triceps for the majority of their workouts.
It’s a waste of energy and time.You should still include them in your exercise, but don’t hit 4 sets of 2-3 different cable/machine exercises that workout the same part of your triceps. That’s futile.
If you want more muscle and strength development, compound lifts are your best friend.In addition, one compound lifts are beyond conducive to your fitness training. No matter what your goals are: losing weight, not too skinny, not too big, or bodybuilding, compound lifts should not be ignored especially if you want gigantic triceps.
How to Solve this Problem:
Many compound exercises that focuses on your chest and shoulders will have a high possibility of working out your triceps as well. Close grip bench is a heavy triceps focus exercise, but it hits your chest and anterior deltoids (front shoulders) as well. Weighted dips focus on all three muscle groups as well. A routine that you can include is:
Incline Bench Press
Close Grip Bench Press
Triceps Rope Pushdowns
The combination of these three will build your triceps to the max! You can swap out triceps rope pushdowns with EZ-curl bar triceps extensions, one-arm or two-arm dumbbell overhead extensions, or reverse grip straight bar pushdown.
5. Training Too Much
People say “I gotta train heavy and hard, 5 days a week, 7 days a week. The more I train, the bigger and stronger I get.” If you haven’t heard of this yet then you need to know that the most progress you will make is outside of the gym. The amount of recovery and rest you allow yourself to have will make or break your performance and physique progress.
Don’t overtrain. Make sure you’re getting sufficient rest, and eating enough protein, carbs, and fats to help fuel your body so it can repair itself. This will allow you to get stronger and bigger in the gym. Moderation is key. Don’t train too much. Specifically for triceps, sufficient rest and recovery is important. Your triceps are secondary muscles that get worked out a lot in your day to day routine. If you’re training 5-7 days a week, make sure you take 4-5 days off before the next workout.
However, if you train 3 days a week, 48-72 hours is enough recovery if you want to hit those muscles again. I like working out 3 days a week because I don’t want to spend every day at the gym.I’m focused on hitting personal records, getting stronger on my lifts, and not making my life surrounded by fitness. Working out 3 days a week allows for me to go super hard with nothing but pure focus and intensity.
I mainly incorporate 2 compound movement and 1 isolation exercise for my triceps.With this, I still get enough recovery and add a great amount of strength and size. Eat and rest. You will see significant results with your triceps.
CRITERIA FOR WHAT MAKES A GOOD TRICEPS WORKOUT
1. Exercises that work All Three Heads
We spoke about the different positions that your elbows must be in to work out all three heads of the triceps. If you don’t implement exercises that pay attention to these three heads, you will find it difficult to gain size and strength.
Long head = most size.
Of course, you’re not going to JUST pay attention to the long head.The lateral and medial need some lovin’ too. Below you will see information I included in the mistakes to avoid when training triceps:
Medial Heads = reverse grip-pushdown or reverse-grip close grip bench press.
Lateral Heads = triceps pushdown using the rope or V-bar. Lying triceps extensions with dumbbells allow for a parallel grip as well as bodyweight or weighted dips.
Long Head = overhead triceps extensions (one or two-handed), skull crushers (with barbell or prefixed weight), and cable overhead triceps extensions. No matter what exercsies you decide to include, always keep your elbows by your side. Maintain a strict form throughout the entire exercise. For exercises like overhead triceps extension or lying triceps extensions, use your imagination and act as if the elbows are trying to touch.
2. Progressive Overload Get stronger. If there is one simple rule to achieve the body of your dreams is to get stronger. Progressive overload is when you either increase the weight or increase the amount of reps.
For example, if your goal was to hit 5 reps for incline bench press, and you achieve this, you will increase the weight by 5lbs the next workout. If you hit 4 reps, your goal should be to hit 5 reps. that one rep increase indicates strength gain as well as moving onto 150lbs to 155lbs on incline bench press.
2 COMPOUND EXERCISES, 1 ISOLATION EXERCISE FOR TRICEPS
I’ve built incredible size and strength by working out 3x a week with only one chest and shoulder exercise and 1 triceps exercise. Here’s the thing: fitness is not complicated so don’t make it complicated. You can easily achieve a great body with awesome proportions by sticking to a minimalistic training method, focusing on getting stronger, and eating the proper amount of calories.All you need is one chest, shoulder, and triceps exercise that you will train 2x a week out of the 3 days you’re lifting.
If you’re implementing RPT, you will be able to achieve bigger and stronger triceps.BONUS: a nice strong and massive chest and shoulders. We’re going to either focus on choosing flat bench press or incline bench press as your main chest focus exercise. In addition, our second compound movement will be the overhead press.Lastly, you can choose you triceps isolation workout from the list above.
Personally, I rotate my triceps exercises every 8 weeks between Rope Pushdowns, One Arm Overhead Extensions, Skull Crushers (barbell). In regards to flat/incline bench press, I stick with this exercise. If I reach a plateau, I simply switch to dumbbells for flat or incline.Same applies for overhead press.
If I plateau on overhead press, I switch to Dumbbell Shoulder Press. 2-3 days Rest is a MUST 3-Day Per Week Triceps Workout for Men, Monday and Friday or Tuesday and Saturday
Incline Bench Press
Decrease weight by 15-20lbs each set
1. 4-5 reps
2. 6 reps
3. 8 reps
Decrease weight by 15-20lbs each set
1. 4-5 reps
2. 6 reps
3. 8 reps
Any Triceps Exercise
3 sets Once you achieve 10 reps for all 3 sets, increase by 5lbs.