How To Build Your Triceps – Our Top 5 Exercises

Want to know the best and most effective exercises for building big, horseshoe triceps? Thats exactly what we’ll explore in this article.

When it comes to building big arms, the triceps may not have the same cultural cache as their cousins on the other side of the humerus. But in the strength world, they’re just as important—if not more so!

In fact, the tricep makes up for 2/3 of your arm, in terms of muscle mass.

This is why building big triceps is one of the little-known “secrets” to building big arms.

 

Your Triceps

The triceps, or more technically, the triceps brachii, is a three-headed muscle on the back of your arm.

Here’s how it looks:

triceps muscle anatomy

When each of the three heads become pronounced, they form the distinctive “horseshoe” shape.

You can also see that the lateral head is the largest of the three and thus is the one that both develops the fastest and most determines the overall look of your triceps.

In short, when people think of “big triceps,” they’re thinking of big lateral heads.

That said, if you want the full, “3-D” look, you want to make sure all three heads are well developed.

By using getting started with our recommended exercises, you’ll get on your way to do so.

 

 

 

 

 

Triceps Exercises

We will go through our top 5 exercises to include in your tricep program. A heavy tricep workout once per week, is generally enough to obtain size and definition. You could also incorporate with a chest or shoulder workout, however the result will not be the same.

A crucial part of your triceps training that you have to get right is volume, or the total amount of reps you do each week. This is especially important when you’re doing a lot of heavy weightlifting in general because the overarching rule is this:

The heavier your reps are, the fewer you can do each week without risking overtraining.

 

Close Grip Barbell Benchpress

  1. Lie back on a flat bench. Using a close grip (around shoulder width), lift the bar from the rack and hold it straight over you with your arms locked. This will be your starting position.
  2. As you breathe in, come down slowly until you feel the bar on your middle chest.
  3. After a second pause, bring the bar back to the starting position as you breathe out and push the bar using your triceps muscles. Lock your arms in the contracted position, hold for a second and then start coming down slowly again.
  4. Repeat the movement for the prescribed amount of repetitions.

Variations: This exercise can also be performed with an e-z bar using the inner handle as well as dumbbells, in which case the palms of the hands will be facing each other.

 

Parallel Bar Dip

  1. Stand between a set of parallel bars. Place a hand on each bar, and then take a small jump to help you get into the starting position with your arms locked out.
  2. Begin by flexing the elbow, lowering your body until your arms break 90 degrees. Avoid swinging, and maintain good posture throughout the descent.
  3. Reverse the motion by extending the elbow, pushing yourself back up into the starting position.
  4. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Variations: If you don’t have a parallel bar available, you can use a bench for “bench dips”. The principle remains the same, and you can balance a weighted plate on your thighs for increased intensity.

 

Lying Overhead Tricep Extension (French Press)

The lying triceps extension is a movement that emphasizes the medial head. It has been a bodybuilding staple for decades now because it’s simple and effective.

  1. Using a close grip, lift an EZ bar and hold it with your elbows in as you lie on the bench. Your arms should be perpendicular to the floor. This will be your starting position.
  2. Keeping the upper arms stationary, lower the bar by bending your elbows. Inhale as you perform this portion of the movement. Pause once the bar is directly above the forehead.
  3. Lift the bar back to the starting position by extending the elbow and exhaling.
  4. Repeat.



 

Tricep Rope Pushdown

This is the most common triceps exercise that people do and, surprisingly, it’s quite good. That said, I like to save it for later in my workouts after I’ve done heavier work on the compound movements given in this list.

  1. Attach a rope to a high pulley and grab with an overhand grip (palms facing down) at shoulder width.
  2. Standing upright with the torso straight and a very small inclination forward, bring the upper arms close to your body and perpendicular to the floor. The forearms should be pointing up towards the pulley as they hold the bar. The thumbs should be higher than the small finger.
  3. Using the triceps, bring the rope down until it touches the front of your thighs and the arms are fully extended perpendicular to the floor. The upper arms should always remain stationary next to your torso and only the forearms should move. Exhale as you perform this movement.
  4. After a second hold at the contracted position, bring the rope slowly up to the starting point. Breathe in as you perform this step.
  5. Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.

Variations: Use a V-Bar instead of rope. The exercise is performed the exact same way, but with slight more isolation towards the centre of your triceps.

 

Tricep Dumbbell Kickback

  1. Start with a dumbbell in each hand and your palms facing your torso. Keep your back straight with a slight bend in the knees and bend forward at the waist. Your torso should be almost parallel to the floor. Make sure to keep your head up. Your upper arms should be close to your torso and parallel to the floor. Your forearms should be pointed towards the floor as you hold the weights. There should be a 90-degree angle formed between your forearm and upper arm. This is your starting position.
  2. Now, while keeping your upper arms stationary, exhale and use your triceps to lift the weights until the arm is fully extended. Focus on moving the forearm.
  3. After a brief pause at the top contraction, inhale and slowly lower the dumbbells back down to the starting position.
  4. Repeat the movement for the prescribed amount of repetitions.

Variations: This exercise can be executed also one arm at a time much like the one arm rows are performed.

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