The tricep is a major muscle that is sometimes often ignored. Of course, you’ve heard of the overhead triceps extension and the cable machine, but what are some effective triceps workouts that are going to target this muscle? Can’t name any? This article is for you! We’re going over the best tricep workouts to help you build that impressive physique, talk about the muscle heads, and the benefits of training your triceps muscles.
- 1 Anatomy Of The Triceps
- 2 Benefits Of Triceps Workout
- 3 What Is The Best Way To Train Triceps?
Anatomy Of The Triceps
The triceps are made up of three muscles (Get it? Tri-ceps? Three?) and are often referred to as the three-headed muscle. These three muscles are the lateral head, the long head, and the medial head. All of these muscles attach to your elbows and are responsible for extending your arm.
Due to how the triceps attach to your scapula (the shoulder blade ), the long head of the triceps also assists with shoulder extension (the action of bringing your arm down and in line with your torso).
If you are still not sure how the triceps are so involved in the back and half of most pressing exercises, imagine how you bench press. Your pecs will be engaged to get the barbell off your chest, but once you break 90 degrees your triceps will flex to extend to fully straighten your arms. It works nearly the same for an overhead press as well.
Benefits Of Triceps Workout
There are many benefits to training triceps like how easy many of the exercises are, but some you might not consider include:
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Address Muscle Imbalances
Doesn’t matter if you have competitive aspirations or not, having well-developed arms makes a difference in your physique. Since your triceps make up most of the overall muscle in your upper arms, there’s plenty of untapped hypertrophic potential to reach into here and it would be irrational to not work them. Plus, who doesn’t want to look symmetrical and proportional?
Stability And Flexibility
Training the triceps can help with functional movements. This means that not only does it increase muscle growth but can help improve flexibility by increasing the range of motion and bringing stability to your shoulders and arms. This can also mean that you’re way less likely to get injured when using your upper body in daily activities such as lifting heavy boxes or pushing yourself off a surface. It’s also great for advanced athletes that do things like swimming and boxing.
Train Around Joint Discomfort
The great thing about working your triceps muscles is there isn’t typically a very big need to use heavier weights. In most cases you’ll want a light weight since in most tricep exercises you’ll have to be careful about your elbow joint. Another amazing thing about triceps training is that with a single pair of dumbbells, you can build muscle mass all while working around arm and shoulder issues. Sometimes it doesn’t even require any equipment (ex: the diamond push-up) to get stronger triceps without the elbow and shoulder joint discomfort.
What Is The Best Way To Train Triceps?
Push-ups, dips, bench presses, overhead extensions, and shoulder presses are going to be the number one way to activate those triceps. Basically, anything with the upper body performing a pushing motion and elbow extension will be a killer triceps exercise and activate that tricep brachii. Many upper-body dumbbell exercises are great for triceps strength as well.
We’ve also come up with a list of triceps exercises to add to your workout program and how to do them, starting with:
Close-Grip Bench Press
Build those strong triceps and try this dumbbell bench press variation by lying on a bench with your weights resting on your upper chest. While pressing the dumbbells inward as hard as you possibly can, tuck your upper arms into your sides. Then push up. Make sure to keep your dumbbells less than shoulder width apart to target the triceps and inner chest all the way. Once your arms are straight, maintain tension and lower back down to your chest and repeat.
Start your bench dips (or bodyweight dips) by sitting down on a flat bench (or elevated surface) with your hands next to your thighs. Walk your feet out and extend your legs so they’re straight out as you lift your bottom off the bench and hold your weight with your extended arms.
Hinging at the elbows, lower your body down as far as you can go or until your arms form a 90-degree angle. Push back up to the original position and call it a rep. Aim for 3 sets of 10-12 reps with this exercise for the best muscle activation, though if it’s too difficult, walk your feet closer and then try again.
Build that upper body strength and begin this exercise by positioning your hands on the ground under your chest in the shape of a diamond (your fingers spread with the thumbs and forefingers touching). Straighten the leg into a plank position or keep your knees on the floor if you’re not able to stay in the proper position the whole time.
Then, make your back as flat as possible with your abs engaged as you bend your elbows, bringing your chin and chest to the ground. If you can’t go that low then go as low as you can, slowly building the strength to go all the way down. Remember to keep your elbows close to your sides and repeat these actions on repeat for 1 to 3 sets of 8 to 16 reps.
There are quite a few skull crusher variations for tricep growth including with the help of an EZ-bar, the barbell, dumbbells, and resistance bands. For this example we’re going to do the dumbbell skull crusher, starting by lying on a bench and holding two dumbbells directly out in front of you at a 90-degree angle.
Your palms should be facing inward and your elbows tucked as you breathe in and lower the weight until the dumbbells are near your ears. While keeping your elbows in and your upper body stationary, use the tricep muscles to bring the weight back up to the starting position. Repeat this until you’re finished with your reps.
Reverse Grip Triceps Pushdown
Another effective triceps exercise is the reverse grip tricep pushdown. Set up for this exercise by attaching a bar attachment (bar or EZ) on a high pulley machine. Facing the bar, grab it with your palms facing up in a supinated grip at shoulder width. Lower the bar by using your lats until your arms are fully extended by your sides while remembering to keep your elbows at your sides and your feet shoulder-width apart.
Only move your forearms as you slowly elevate the bar while you inhale so it’s aligned at chest level. Then lower the bar back down to the original starting position while exhaling and contracting the triceps. Repeat the movement like this until you’re finished with your set.
Dumbbell Floor Press
Start the exercise by sitting on the floor with your legs straight and the dumbbells balanced vertically by your side. Pick them up and hold each moderate weight to your stomach as you lay back until your back is to the floor. From your chest, press the weights upwards to full extension as you inhale and brace your core. Slowly lower the dumbbells as you exhale until both elbows touch the floor. That’s a rep. Continue the movement of pressing your arms up and down until your set is finished.
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Decline Dumbbell Extension
For this one, you’re going to grab a dumbbell in each hand and lie on the decline bench with your feet firmly planted on the pads. Carefully extend your arms over your shoulders with your palms facing each other and then slowly lower the dumbbells behind your head by bending your elbows. Hold this position for a second and then with a controlled motion, raise your arms back up to the starting position. And then that’s a rep! Repeat actions for 8-10 reps until your set is completed.
Incline Dumbbell Kickback (Chest Supported)
Start with your stomach and chest on an incline bench, your chin positioned just above the top of the bench. Many people will do one motion while performing their incline dumbbell kickback when in reality it’s two. The first part is lifting the weight up so that your upper arm is parallel to your body and creating a 90-degree angle.
Once you’ve done that, you’ll move onto motion two and (while keeping your elbow in place) kick back your forearms so your arms are fully extended at your sides. Still with your elbow locked, let your arm go back to the 90-degree angle and then push back to the former position, continuing that action until you’re finished with your set.
Cobra Push Up Press
Begin this exercise by laying down on the floor with your chest and thighs flat to the ground while placing your palms against the ground outside your shoulders. Keep the lower half of your body against the floor as you push your upper body off the ground. Hold for five seconds before lowering yourself back down. Repeat the exercise until your desired set is complete.