TRICEP EXERCISES: 10 OF THE BEST TO BUILD MUSCLE

Curl after curl won’t build sleeve-busting arms. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but it’s true. If you truly want super-sized arms, you need to spend less time on your biceps, and dedicate a bit more time on your triceps.

(Related: Blow up your shoulders and triceps with this insane workout from one of the UK’s top trainers)

And here’s why…

man performing bodyweight dips

Why tricep exercises are so important

Your triceps comprise of more than two-thirds of your upper-arm mass. Building thicker, more developed tricep muscles makes your entire arm look gun-worthy rather than pistol-friendly. But horseshoe triceps aren’t just for show, they also play a significant role in some of the most effective and popular exercises, like the press-up and bench press.

(Related: 4 shortcuts to massive arms)

In fact, tricep strength (or a lack of), is usually the limiting factor in many pressing movements. Simply put, your benchpress-up and other presses will only go as far as your triceps can take them.

So, step away from the dumbbell rack, and start with these moves. Incorporate the following 10 exercises into your routine – you’re only moments away from gigantic arms and a bench press PB.

(Related: How to get veins to show on your arms)

man performing tricep exercises in gym

5 best tricep exercises to do at the gym

close-grip bench press

1. Close-grip bench press

The bench press is a great exercise to work your chest and core. But a change in grip can help expand your arms.

(Related: How to add 20kg to your bench press in one month) 

Placing your hands closer together makes it so your triceps have to work harder, which can lead to new growth and more strength.

How to do it: 

– Grasp a barbell with an overhand grip that’s shoulder-width apart, and hold it above your sternum with arms completely straight.

– Lower the bar straight down, pause, and then press the bar back up to the starting position.

rope tricep pull-down

2. Rope tricep pushdown

This move zones in on your triceps – but only if you do it right. If you use too much weight, you’ll involve your back and shoulder muscles, defeating the purpose. If you can’t keep your shoulders down, lighten the load.

How to do it:

– Attach a rope handle to the high pulley of a cable station. Bend your arms and grab the bar with an overhand grip, your hands shoulder-width apart. Tuck your upper arms next to your sides.

– Without moving your upper arms, push the bar down until your elbows are locked. Slowly return to the starting position.

dips

3. Dips (advanced)

Because you’re lifting your entire bodyweight, your triceps have to work against a much heavier load than they would in a triceps-isolating exercise.

(Related: These are the best bodyweight moves that you can do at home)

How to do it: 

– Hoist yourself up on parallel bars with your torso perpendicular to the floor; you’ll maintain this posture throughout the exercise. (Leaning forward will shift emphasis to your chest and shoulders.)

– Bend your knees and cross your ankles. Slowly lower your body until your shoulder joints are below your elbows. (Most guys stop short of this position.)

– Push back up until your elbows are nearly straight but not locked. If you have shoulder issues, skip this move.

overhead triceps extension

4. Overhead triceps extension

When you work your triceps, you might forget there are three parts to the muscle: the lateral head, the medial head, and the long head. The last part might not always get the attention it deserves – unless you’re regularly doing exercises like this one, with your arms over your head to isolate the long head.

(Related: The best dumbbell exercises for men)

How to do it: 

– Sit on a bench and grab one dumbbell. Form a diamond shape with both hands to grip the top end of the weight. Raise the dumbbell over your head, keeping your elbows up and your core tight.

– Lower the dumbbell down the top of your back by bending at the elbow, maintaining your strong chest and keeping your shoulders still.

– Raise the weight by fully extending your arms, pausing for a count to squeeze at the top of the movement.

skullcrusher

5. Skullcrushers

Whilst there are many variations of this move, they all have one thing in common: elbow extension. As the upper-arms are locked in position, the long and lateral tricep heads are called into play. Increasing the angle of the bench (inclined bench) will work your triceps long head. Doing the movement on a decline bench places more emphasis on the lateral triceps head.

(Related: Have you got what it takes to pass the EZ bar challenge?)

How to do it: 

– Grip the EZ bar on the inner grips using an overhand grip and extend your arms straight up.

– Keeping your elbows fixed and tucked in, slowly lower the bar until it is about an inch from your forehead. Always keep your upper arms perpendicular to the floor.

– Slowly extend your arms back to the starting position without locking your elbows.

man performing press ups

5 best tricep exercises to do at home

(Related: Build a six-pack at home with just a pair of dumbbells)

diamond press up

1. The diamond press-up

It doesn’t get any more basic than this. The standard press-up is great for your chest and arms, but moving the hand position in closer puts the attention squarely on the triceps. You’re still going to get some work for your pecs with this variation, but your tris should really feel the burn by the time you’re through.

(Related: How to fix common press-up mistakes)

How to do it: 

– Lower yourself down into a standard plank or press-up position. Bring your hands close to each other at chest level, with your thumbs touching one another and your forefingers touching. Your spine should be straight, and your core and glutes should be squeezed tight.

– Lower yourself down to the floor. Pause, maintaining the squeeze in your core and glutes, then push back up to the original position by straightening your arms.

bench dip

2. Bench dip (basic)

If you struggle with conventional dips, why not try the bench dip? Make sure you lower slowly, maximising your time under tension before explosively pushing back up. Once you’re through, your triceps will be burning.

(Related: This is how you can master the dip)

How to do it: 

– Stand facing away from a bench, grab it with both hands at shoulder-width.

– Extend your legs out in front of you. Slowly lower your body by flexing at the elbows until your arm at forearm create a 90-degree angle.

– Using your triceps lift yourself back to the starting position.

dumbbell floor press

3. Dumbbell floor press

This variation of a classic bench press favours the lockout portion of the lift, which recruits your triceps to an extreme degree. And since the load is distributed differently with a dumbbell than a barbell, your stabilising muscles have to work harder to keep the weight positioned correctly.

How to do it: 

– Grab a dumbbell with each hand and lie with your back on the ground.

– Hold the dumbbells overhead and bend your arm to lower the kettlebells.

– Touch your elbows to the ground, pause, then press them back up.

press up

4. The classic press-up

The old ones are the best ones. The traditional press-up works your chest, core and your triceps. The beauty with this move is that it can be performed anywhere. You can make it harder by wearing a weighted vest.

(Related: Take on our 7-minute bodyweight challenge)

How to do it: 

– Set up with your weight supported on your toes and hands beneath your shoulders, body straight. Take care to keep you core locked so a straight line forms between your head, glutes and heels.

– Lower your body until your chest is an inch from the ground then explosively drive up by fully extending your arms.

kettlebell floor press

5. One arm kettlebell floor press

Using only one arms isolates the chest and triceps, ensuring the muscles are worked hard.

(Related: The complete beginner’s guide to kettlebell training)

How to do it: 

– Lie on the floor and hold a kettlebell in one hand, with your upper arm being supported by the floor.

– Extend your arm and press the kettlebell straight up toward the ceiling. That’s one rep. Lower the kettlebell and repeat.

man working out

The best tricep workouts

You didn’t think we would give you the exercises without the workouts, right? Below are three of the best tricep workouts you can do either at home or in the gym.

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