Looking for some of the best triceps exercises to add into your weekly routine? Look no further.
While performing various biceps workouts will bring you those muscular peaks you crave, it’s imperative you train the triceps muscles if you want to start seeing some serious size.
It’s unlikely you’ll spend an entire gym session working just the triceps muscles – they’d become way too fatigued – but add some triceps exercises into your upper body or arm day workout and you’ll be checking yourself out in the mirror at any given notice.
So, want to know some of the best triceps workouts you can do? Read on to find out. But first, a little biology lesson.
Looking for further workout inspiration? Check out our complete guide to workouts for men here.
In this story…
- What Are The Triceps Muscles?
- Best Triceps Exercises
- Best Tricep Exercises With Dumbbells
- Best Tricep Exercises At Home
- Other Tricep Exercises
What Are The Triceps Muscles?
The triceps – or triceps brachii – is a three-headed muscle (tri meaning three, of course) that is found on the back of the upper arm. It’s comprised of three parts, or heads: medial head; lateral head; and long head, which go some way to explaining why training them is a surefire way to gaining huge arms: more muscles equals more size.
The primary function of the triceps is to flex the elbow joint and straighten the arm, and it’s this movement that you should be making sure you fully complete with performing tricep workouts. You want to work the muscle group through the full range of contraction so that you work every single part of it.
Best Triceps Exercises
Close Grip Bench Press
Yep, the bench press, an exercise most commonly associated with building the chest muscles, can also be used to increase the size of your triceps, simply by changing where you place your hands on the bar. While a regular bench press grip – hands extended beyond shoulder width – will work your triceps to some extent, bringing your hands in closer together, to the point where they’re almost touching, will put far greater tension on them.
How to perform this triceps exercise: Performing a close grip bench press is relatively simple, if you already know how to do a regular bench press. Lie down on a weights bench, bring your feet close to the bench and plant your feet on the ground. Lockdown your shoulder blades to ensure you are in a braced position. You don’t want to have your back arching when you lift.
Bring your hands in to around shoulder-width apart and use an overhand grip. Raise the bar as you would with a bench press: pushing yourself back into the bench. You’ll find, however, that because of the close hand grip you’re using, more effort will naturally be applied to the arms, which is want you want.
It’s because of this that you’re almost definitely not going to be able to lift the same amount of weight as you would with a chest press, so make sure to keep things light to start off with.
Keep the movement slow and controlled throughout and make sure to fully extend the arms so that you lock out the elbows. Return the bar slowly to your chest and repeat for 8-12 reps.
The skull crusher exercise doesn’t literally crush your skull, thankfully, but they are another one of the best triceps exercises you can perform to guarantee you super-huge arms. They’re also a great exercise to perform to increase the strength of your triceps, which will help you further down the line with other movements such as the bench press and overhead press.
How to perform this triceps exercise: The skull crusher can be a bit of an awkward movement to get right if you’re new to them, but the steps are relatively easy to follow. Start lying down on a weight bench with a barbell or pre-weighted bar.
Raise it above you as if you were performing a bench press: hands set shoulder-width with apart and with an overhand grip. From here, lower the barbell back towards your head (the part of the movement that gives it its name) making sure to keep your elbows kept as closed in as possible, before going on to lower it down and behind your head.
Your shoulders will naturally want to roll a bit here, and your elbows will flare our a little. This is perfectly fine and perfectly normal, but the more you lose the desired form, the less tension you’ll be putting on your triceps.
Slowly return the bar to the starting position, bringing it back over your head and bending at the elbow joint, using the triceps to force the forearms to lift the bar up.
Triceps Push Down
Call it a push down, pull down or press down, whatever it’s name might be, this triceps exercise is one that features in pretty much any well-rounded triceps and arm workout. It does require the use of a cable machine, so unless you’re lucky enough to have a full gym set up at home, you’ll need to arm yourself with a gym membership.
How to perform this triceps exercise: There are a few variations of the triceps push down, in that you can use a number of different hand attachments for the cable machine. The two most common are to use either a bar or a rope attachment. For the purposes of this example, we’ll be using the rope attachment.
Step up to the cable machine and set the pulley to a couple of notches above head height. Grab either side of the rope with palms facing inwards, and start with it close to your chest. With your feet together, knees bent and torso upright, pull the rope down, keeping your upper arms static and close to your body.
Once your arms at straight down in front of you, you can create extra tension on your triceps by moving your wrists so that your palms are facing down, again, still keeping your upper arms close to your body. Hold in this position for a second and really feel the squeeze in your triceps, before returning the rope to the starting position.
Sets: 3 to 4 sets with 10 to 12 reps per set
Tempo: 3 seconds down, 1 second up
Best Tricep Exercises With Dumbbells
Overhead Triceps Extension
Overhead triceps extensions are essential exercises for targeting and torching your triceps muscles. What makes them even greater, is that they can performed in a multitude of ways, so finding the method that feels best for you should be pretty easy. A word of caution, however, is to not got too heavy with the weight, especially if you’re new to them.
The key to performing effective triceps extension movements is to make sure your elbow goes through its full range of motion so that the entire muscle can be developed. Going too heavy with the weights will inhibit this range of motion, and you’ll get barely any benefit at all.
So, you need to choose which method of overhead triceps extension you want to perform. You can do them standing up, with two dumbbells; standing with one hand grasping a dumbbell and focusing on one arm at a time; using a cable machine to pull a rope of bar attachment from behind you and over your head; or you can even perform them lying down.
How to perform this triceps exercise: If you go down the standing route, the steps to follow are the same for all. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and raise the dumbbell, or dumbbells, above your head and extend your arms. Them, bend your elbows and lower your forearm behind your head keeping your triceps as straight as possible.
You only need to bend your elbows to around 90-degrees, or when your forearms are parallel to the floor. From here, extend your arms straight up to their starting position before repeating the movement.
If you perform these triceps extensions with one arm, you want to start from the same starting position, but when you lower your forearm, you want to keep the dumbbell closer to your back, so your elbow – and the back of your arms to an extent – is pointing up to the sky.
The triceps kickback movement is an isolating movement that is one of best triceps exercises out there, and fortunately, they’re incredibly simple to perform. You can perform them in a couple of ways: either using a weight bench to kneel on, using one dumbbell at a time, or standing and holding two dumbbells.
The kneeling method is easier and will likely see you carrying out a more effective technique, so it’s the method we’d recommend for people new to this triceps exercise. Kneel on a weights bench, so that your knee, shin and even foot is on it. Slightly bend the knee of the standing leg, and bend your upper body so that is it parallel with the floor.
How to perform this triceps exercise: Hold the dumbbell in the hand on the same side as the standing leg, making sure to not use a weight that is too heavy. You want to go high with the reps here. For the starting position, you want to be holding the dumbbell with your elbow bent at 90-degrees.
Then, straighten your arm so it is parallel with the floor, bending at the elbow joint. Contract, or squeeze, your triceps muscle at this point, before returning back to the starting position.
Best Tricep Exercises At Home
The classic push-up is already a good movement for working the triceps, although it’s far more effective at targeting the chest muscles. If you want to torch your triceps, only the diamond push-up will do. A more advanced version of the classic push-up diamond push-ups see you bringing your hands in closer together, and angling them so that they form a diamond shape.
How to perform this triceps exercise: Get yourself into a classic push-up position and then bring your hands in closer together so your thumbs are touching each other, and your index fingers are touching each other. As with other push-up movements, you want to tuck your pelvis in, engaging your core and keeping your spine straight.
Lower your body down towards the floor, pushing your elbows out. You’ll immediately feel the burn in your triceps as you do so, but the real test comes in pushing yourself back up. Force your hands into the ground to raise yourself back to the starting position, before lowering yourself down again.
They literally have the name of the muscle group in the title. Triceps dips are one of the best triceps exercises you can perform, as they’re dedicated to giving you seriously big arms. Plus, you don’t necessarily even need a gym to perform them. If you have two surfaces at the same height and close enough together – two kitchen countertops, for example – you can carry out some dips.
Tricep dips are great because they require you to lift your entire bodyweight, putting incredible tension on the desired muscle group (they also work your shoulders and chest and the same time, especially if you lean forward slightly, so bonus).
How to perform this triceps exercise: To perform tricep dips, you’ll need a set of bars just over hip-width apart. The best height for you will be determined by how tall you are. Grasp the bars and lift yourself up. Bend your knees slightly and cross your feet behind you, and then slowly lower your body down.
Be sure to bring your elbows to around a 90-degree angle behind you when you lower your body, or until your shoulders dip lower than your elbows. Push yourself back up to the starting position, although be sure to not fully lock out your elbows. Get to a point where you’re close to locking out, hold for a second or two, before you lower your body again.
Other Tricep Exercises
Professional lifters are the best examples when it comes to great triceps exercises. JM Blakey, the legendary lifter, used to perform the JM press, something that many of his training partners noticed during his workout routine. This exercise takes advantage of the chest, which means that you’re able to load up more weight at the same time.
How to Perform This Triceps Exercise: Position yourself just like you would for a close-grip bench press, then put the bar above your upper chest and make sure it’s fixed. Then, while you flare your elbows out to an angle of 45 degrees, lower your barbell downwards.
Let the bar drift back towards your face as your lower. You should have your forearms almost parallel to the floor at the bottom of the repetition. When your elbows point forward, you just reverse the movement and press back up.
Sets: 4-5 sets of 8-12 reps
Tempo: 3 seconds per rep
A great way to target your triceps is by doing push-up exercises. These workouts give your triceps the tension they need to become stronger and develop, and if you do them right, you’ll notice the results very fast.
What makes this exercise so special is the fact that you can do it anywhere, so you don’t have to head to the gym to maintain your current physical condition.
How to Perform This Triceps Exercise: Set your body into a pushup position while keeping your hands inside shoulder-width. Then, brace your abs and lower your body until the chest is close to the floor. Push up when it’s right above it.
You can make the workout a bit more intense too if you add a resistance band into the mix. All you have to do is wrap the band around your back and hold one end in each hand.
Sets: 5-6 sets of 10-15 reps
Tempo: 3-4 seconds per rep
Unilateral Dumbbell Floor Press
You can do a floor press with dumbbells instead of a barbell if you want, which will make the exercise easier if you have shoulder problems. Because the barbells keep your shoulders and wrists in one position, this can be a bit disadvantageous for some lifters. This is why using dumbbells may feel easier.
With dumbbells, you spend more time under tension, which can be more beneficial for your triceps.
How to Perform This Triceps Exercise: Get your dumbbells ready. Roll to one side and take one dumbbell, grabbing it with both hands. Then, press it up to extension. Put your other hand out to the side on the floor. You should bend your knees while your legs stay on the floor.
Next, lower the weight until the upper arm manages to graze the ground. Lastly, press back up to lockout.
Sets: 2-3 sets of 10 reps
Tempo: 2-3 seconds per rep
Suspension Trainer Triceps Extension
Using any suspension trainers in your triceps workouts will make the routine more effective and fun. This is a great strength-building exercise for your arms.
Just a little warning before you begin, though – this workout can be a bit challenging, so make sure you are fully prepared when you eventually add it to your routine.
How to Perform This Triceps Exercise: Get some suspension trainers ready. Then, lengthen the straps and stand right under the trainer’s anchor point. While bending your elbows, lean your weight forward. This should allow you to feel a triceps stretch.
While doing this exercise, your palms should face each other when they’re behind your head. Make sure to brace your abs and keep your body straight. Then, extend your elbows and rotate your palms. After the rotation, when you are in an extended position, your palms should face down.
Sets: 2-3 sets of about 15 reps
Tempo: 3 seconds per rep
Kettlebell Floor Press
Did you know that you can do some great press exercises with a pair of kettlebells? This is a great alternative to the bench press, and it can target your triceps to a great extent. During this workout, the lift’s lockout portion gets the focus, so you will be able to build your muscle and strength in no time.
Besides, your muscles will have to put in more work because the load is not distributed with a barbell, but with a kettlebell.
How to Perform This Triceps Exercise: Take a kettlebell in each hand while lying on the ground with your back straight. The kettlebells should be held overhead, with each bell hanging on the outside of your wrists. In order to lower the kettlebells, bend your arm, and when your elbows touch the ground, pause. Then, press them back up and repeat the same movement.
Sets: 3-5 sets of 10 reps
Tempo: 3-4 seconds per rep
Bench Triceps Triple Dorset
If you’ve only used the bench for sitting or lying down for exercises, perhaps you’re not aware of how the bench itself can be used to target your triceps. You don’t need weights – this is a simple workout that can activate your triceps for better development. So, whether you have a bench at home or want to do something easier at the gym between sets, you can go with the bench triceps triple dorset.
How to Perform This Triceps Exercise: Put both hands on the bench while ensuring that the arms are sitting 90 degrees relative to your torso. Do 6 paused bodyweight bench skull crushers, then you can do 6 standard reps.
Moving on, get your feet closer, and do 6 paused close-grip pushup reps. Keep doing these last reps until you can’t go on anymore.
Sets: 3 sets of 24 reps
Tempo: Around 3 seconds for each rep
There are many methods to use barbells, and you don’t always have to lift them the traditional way. To target your triceps, you can do something a bit different when you lie on the floor. This workout will be a bit difficult, but you will not regret doing it. Your triceps will feel the burn and they will grow into strong muscles.
How to Perform This Triceps Exercise: Take a barbell with the desired weights and lie on the floor. Hold the bar while gripping it overhand and at shoulder-width. Then, press it over your head and reach back over your head. During this time, you should slightly bend your elbows.
Keep going until your lats stretch and pull the bar back over your chest. Flex your triceps while doing this.
Sets: 4-5 sets of 8-15 reps
Tempo: 3-4 seconds per rep
Plank Hold Triceps Finisher
For better results, you can sometimes mix a difficult exercise with another difficult exercise. The plank hold triceps finisher is a great example. Not only will you have to maintain the plank position throughout the exercise, but you will also have to pull a band back to target your triceps.
How to Perform This Triceps Exercise: Find a resistant structure and latch a light resistance band to it in front of you. Take a plank position in front of this structure. Make sure your core is tight.
Then, grab the band using your left or right hand, and keep the other arm on the floor. You have to maintain the plank with the opposite hand while squeezing your glutes and abs and keeping your shoulders and hips square.
Pull the band back while straightening your right arm. Then, return to the initial position.
Sets: 3 sets of 10-15 reps
Tempo: 3 seconds for each rep
Band Triceps Pushdown
Let’s take a look at another great band exercise. This workout requires a resistance band attached to a sturdy structure. Then, the more you do the pushdown, the more you will be able to grow your triceps and thus the closer you will get to your arm goals.
And here’s a little secret – it’s more effective when combined with other challenging triceps exercises.
How to Perform This Triceps Exercise: Get a resistance band and attach it to an overhead object. Make sure the overhead structure is sturdy enough. Then, grasp each side of the loop while your palms face each other.
Extend your arms down to target your triceps. All this time, your elbows should be tight against your sides.
Sets: 5-6 sets of 10-12 reps
Tempo: 2-3 seconds for each rep
TRX Triceps Extension
Using your own body weight is a great method to build some muscle and strength, and one of the best ways to do this for your triceps is by performing suspension training. This is perfect if you’re in a smaller room where you cannot store a lot of weight. You just need a set of straps and a sturdy structure that can resist the pressure applied by your body weight.
How to Perform This Triceps Exercise: Grip the handles of the straps with each hand. Your palms should be facing out. Then, while leaning onto your toes slightly forward, extend your arms straight. Make sure the lines are taut.
Now, bend your arms while hinging at the elbows. Keep leaning forward until the head comes between your hands and squeeze your glutes and core for a better posture. Press forward while squeezing your triceps, thus pushing yourself back up into the initial position. Straighten your arms at the end.
Sets: 5 sets of 10-15 reps
Tempo: 4 seconds per rep