Fitness Goal 4U

Fitness Goal 4U

The Best Tricep Exercises and Workouts for Building Bigger Arms

Last updated on June 29th, 2022 by Fitness Goal 4U

They might feel good when you’re repping them out, but crushing curl after curl after curl just isn’t enough if you’re serious about building sleeve-busting arms. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but if you want to develop super-sized arms then you're going to need tricep exercises and tricep workouts.

Think about it. They might be tucked away around the back (where you can't see them), but your triceps make up more than two-thirds of your upper-arm mass. That's a lot of muscle to neglect. Building thick, developed triceps means building thick, developed arms.

But if you were thinking that you could build serious arm size by just tacking on some tricep exercises to the end of your workout then think again. A study published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport found that if you want to increase the size of small muscle groups like your shoulders, biceps, and triceps then you should be working them at the beginning of your session before you move on bigger muscles like your chest and back.

Below, we've collected the 16 best tricep exercises and some of the best tricep workouts. Start your training sessions with these and you'll be the proud owner of a pair of well-rounded guns in no time. Pew, pew.

What Are Your Tricep Muscles?

We know you want to get onto the best tricep exercises (that's why you're here right?), so we'll keep this short. Put simply, your triceps are the muscles located on the back of the upper arm and are made up of three heads: the lateral, medial, and long heads. If you want to hit all three heads then you're going to need a range of different exercises and a plethora of different tricep workouts, which is where the next section of this article comes in.

The 16 Best Tricep Exercises

Without further adieu, here are the 16 best tricep exercises that will hit your triceps from every angle. Oh, and if you're working from home, then numbers 9 to 16 have been selected with you in mind.

1. Close-grip Bench Press

The bench press is a great tricep exercise to work your chest and core. 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.

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.

3. Tricep 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.

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.

4. Isolated 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.

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.

5. Skullcrushers (Lying Triceps Extensions)

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 an incline bench will work your triceps long head while doing the movement on a decline bench places more emphasis on the lateral triceps head.

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.

6. JM Press

"This isn't a lift that you're likely to see in a commercial gym," explains Strength and Conditioning coach Chris McCann. "Step inside any serious powerlifting gym and this is one of the key exercises for building super-strong triceps."

How to do it:

  • Using a narrow grip, set up the same way you would for a close-grip bench press, with elbows set at a 45-degree angle from the body
  • Grasp the barbell and unrack it, with your arms fully extended.
  • Tuck your elbows about 45-degrees from your sides and point them toward your feet.
  • Bend your elbows and lower the bar to meet somewhere between your upper chest and your chin, your forearms and biceps touching.
  • Extend your elbows to press the bar straight up. That's one rep.

7. Underhand Cable Pushdowns

"Use two handle straps, rather than a straight bar, for a much more elbow-friendly exercise which will allow you to get a greater squeeze at end range," says McCann."

How to do it:

  • Grasp two handle straps on a cable machine.
  • Extend both arms down, pausing with tension and returning until the forearm is close to the upper arm.

8. Dumbbell Tricep Extensions

"Save these for the end of your session, doing high rep sets of 15+," says McCann.

How to do it:

  • Grab a dumbbell and sit on a bench with back support.
  • Extend your arm over your head until it is perpendicular to the floor and next to your head.
  • Rotate your wrist so that the dumbbell is pointing to the floor.
  • Slowly lower the dumbbell behind your head. Return to the starting position by flexing your triceps and breathing out.
  • After completing the prescribed reps, swap arms and repeat. That's one set.

9. The Diamond Press-up

It doesn't get any more basic than this tricep exercise. The standard press-up is great for your chest and arms, but moving your hands closer together puts the emphasis squarely on your triceps. You're still going to get some work for your pecs with this variation, but your tri's should feel the burn by the time you're through.

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.

10. Bench Dip (Basic)

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

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 the forearm creates a 90-degree angle.
  • Using your triceps, lift yourself back to the starting position.

11. Dumbbell Floor Press

This variation of a classic bench press favors 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 stabilizing 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.

12. The Classic Press-up

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

How to do it:

  • Set up with your weight supported on your toes and hands beneath your shoulders, body straight. Take care to keep your 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.

13. One-Arm Kettlebell Floor Press

Using one arm at a time isolates the chest and triceps, ensuring the muscles are worked hard.

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.

14. Elbow Extensions

"Aim for a really slow and controlled eccentric phase for this one," says McCann.

How to do it:

  • From a press-up position, move onto your forearms and place your hands palm-down onto the floor.
  • Press through your arms, extending your elbows until your arms are almost straight.
  • Return to the starting position slowly and under control.

15. Deficit Press-Ups

"You'll get a longer range of motion, which means more time under tension and more muscle growth," explains McCann.

How to do it:

  • Start with your feet together, hands at shoulder width and elbows extended.
  • Place hands on an elevated object, such as palettes, weights, books, or blocks.
  • Lower your body down, until it passes the elevated objects.
  • Pause for a beat and drive back up.

16. Banded Pushdowns

"Save these for the end of your session, doing ultra-high rep sets of 30+," says McCann.

  • Loop a resistance band around the pull-up bar above your head.
  • Hold with a neutral grip, elbows bent, hands in front of your chest.
  • Focus on your triceps and pull down, bringing your hands apart as you do so, to engage your target muscles fully.

The Ultimate 5-Move Tricep Workout

Any combination of those 16 exercises will give your triceps a good tricep workout, but here's how we build our tri's.

Resistance Bands Rope Pushdown

  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: 10
  • Rest: 60 seconds

Attach a resistance band to a horizontal surface above your head. Keeping your elbows tucked in at your sides grab the band, tense your core, and bring your hands down until your arms are fully extended, then return to the starting position. Only your forearms should move.

Dumbbell Chest Press

Perform the dumbbell chest press and skull crusher as a superset

  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: 10-12
  • Rest: Superset

Lie back on a bench set to a 45-degree angle and lift the weights up to shoulder height, palms facing away from you. Breathe out as you press up with both arms. Lock out your arms and squeeze your chest before returning slowly to the start position.

Dumbbell Skull Crusher

  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: 10-12
  • Rest: Superset

Gripping the dumbbells, 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. Slowly extend your arms back to the starting position without locking your elbows.

Bench Dips

  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: 10-12
  • Rest: 60 seconds

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 the forearm creates a 90-degree angle. Using your triceps, lift yourself back to the starting position.

Diamond Press-Up

  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: 15-20
  • Rest: 60 seconds

Get in a press-up position and place your hands together so your index fingers and thumbs form a diamond. Keep your back straight as you lower until your chest almost touches the floor then push back up to the start position.

The Best Tricep Exercises and Workouts for Building Bigger Arms