TricepsFrequently Asked Questions
What's the anatomy of my triceps?
Take a look at the back of your upper arm, right between your elbow and shoulder. Those are your Triceps brachii, or triceps for short. They are made up of three heads: the medial, long, and lateral (and yes, you need to work on them all). When you’re extending your elbows or straightening your arms, your triceps are the stars of the show.
Don’t make the mistake of forgetting about your triceps just because your biceps are more noticeable. This will only cause a muscle imbalance that you have to fix later on. Even the great Arnold Schwarzenegger had to learn this the hard way when his muscle imbalance took years to fix.
How often should I train my triceps?
So how much do you need to train your triceps, you ask? I say, train them with the same amount of time and intensity as your biceps. For a high-intensity arm workout, your reps will range between 15 and 20. For a more moderate workout, 8 to 12 reps will do. If you’re aiming for a low-intensity workout or you’re just starting out, 4 to 6 reps is enough.
How important is form when training triceps?
Before we jump into the exercises that will kill all your three tricep heads, let’s talk about form for a second. In case you’ve forgotten this golden rule of workouts, let me remind you: good form is essential if you want to see results. Make sure you have perfected your form before you increase the weights you’re working with. If you exercise with poor form, you’re setting yourself up for a long and difficult journey that’s littered with injuries.
What are the best triceps exercises and workouts?
There are many ways to build your triceps, and many tools that can help you achieve your goal. For some of these tricep exercises, you need to use some heavy duty equipment that you can find at your local gym. For the others, you don’t need anything more than your own body weight.
1. The close-grip bench press
The close-grip bench press is a popular triceps (and chest) exercise. The closer your grip is (or the closer your left hand is to your right hand), the harder your triceps will work.
Fire up those triceps by lying down on a bench and holding a barbell with an overhand grip. Bring your arms closer together than the width of your shoulders, but not too close that you can no longer balance the bar. Hold the bar up with straight arms and then lower it down slowly, pause, and lift it up again to bring it back to the starting position.
2. The rope triceps pushdown
You need to do this right to feel the burn in your triceps. It can get tricky if you use too much weight, because then you’ll start using your shoulders and back muscles to do the job and this just won’t work. If you can’t keep your shoulders and back out of it, lighten that load and start again.
Start by attaching a tricep rope handle to the cable station’s high pulley. Use an overhand grip and grab onto the rope handle. Bend your arms. Make sure you keep your hands about shoulder-width apart and tuck those elbows in. This is your starting position.
Keep those upper arms in a fixed position beside your torso and pull the rope down until your elbows are locked and the rope reaches your thighs. Pause and return to the starting position.
3. The triceps dip
This is an exercise for seasoned trainers. You need to lift your whole body weight, so if your strength level is not quite there yet, don’t worry. Focus on getting stronger first and just do this exercise when you are strong enough.
Start by standing between parallel bars. Place your hands on each and hold yourself up. Cross your ankles, bend your knees and lower yourself until your shoulders are lower than your elbows. Your elbows should point backwards, not sideways. Keep your elbows close to your body and your torso upright. Lift yourself up again until your elbows are straight.
4. The overhead triceps extension
Sit down on a bench and hold one dumbbell using both hands. Make sure your hands are holding the end of the handle that’s close to the weight (not the centre of the handle). Lift your arms over your head so the dumbbell is almost in a horizontal position. Inhale then slowly lower the dumbbell onto your back by bending your elbows. Your arms should form a diamond shape. The dumbbell should end up in a vertical position once it is behind your head. Keep your core activated throughout the exercise and don’t even think about moving those shoulders.
Raise the weight again by extending your arms. Don’t forget to squeeze those arms before you lower the dumbbell again.
5. Lying triceps extensions
You can do this exercise in different ways, but one thing stays the same: your elbows need to be in a locked position. This will force your lateral head and long head to work harder and give you results.
So, let’s get down to business. Start off with an overhand grip on the EZ bar, lie down on a bench and extend your arms upwards. Move your arms closer to your head to form an acute angle (not perpendicular to your body). Keep your elbows tucked in and slowly lower the bar down until it is just above your head. Slowly extend the arms back to the starting position.
6. The diamond push-up
The diamond push-up is a great exercise because it’s a killer on the triceps and you don’t need any fancy equipment to do it! You can do this bodyweight exercise just about anywhere.
Begin in a standard plank position and bring your arms close to each other. Your hands should form a diamond or triangle shape, so your thumbs and forefingers should be touching each other. Keep your spine straight. Lower yourself down, pause and then push yourself back up into the starting position.
7. Dumbbell floor press
This is a variation of the bench press I mentioned above. The difference is in the angle you’ll be using to activate those triceps (and the fact that you’ll be doing this on the floor instead of the bench).
Start by holding a dumbbell in each hand and lying down on your back on the floor. Lift the dumbbells above you—the dumbbell handles should be horizontal— and then bend your arms to lower them. Your elbows and arms should go to your sides. When your elbows are about to touch the ground, pause for a moment and then push the weights back up.
8. The one-arm kettlebell floor press
This exercise will isolate your triceps and chest. Start by lying down on the floor. Hold a kettlebell in one hand with your palm facing down and the kettlebell weight resting on your forearm. Extend your arm upwards, pause and then lower it down. Keep your elbow close to your torso when you lower it to the floor. When you’ve done your reps, switch arms.
What's the best exercise equipment for my triceps?
Yes, you can use your own bodyweight to build nice triceps, but the right equipment can definitely make this job so much easier! If you’re serious about building your triceps, you need to get the right stuff, beginning with:
1. The dumbbell
There are very few workout equipment that’s as versatile as the classic dumbbell. They’re your training buddy for your overhead tricep extensions and floor presses, so they’re valuable for tricep work. You can choose from fixed weight dumbbells or the adjustable dumbbells that save you space and money in the long run. You can probably guess which one I’d advise you to get.
2. The barbell
You need a barbell for the close-grip bench press, but trust me when I say you’ll get a big return on your investment when you get a high-quality bar and weight plates that you can use for training your other muscles.
The barbell is another versatile piece of equipment that can help you make gains, but they can be costly. It’s a good idea to start out with a barbell and a few pairs of weight plates that you can manage to lift, and a little beyond that. This will push you to work extra harder.
Different barbells were designed to help you achieve different goals. If you’re not sure what to get, just spend some time at your local gym and test out your options.
3. The lat pulldown machine
Machines can really take your tricep training up a notch, and the lat pulldown machine is not an exception. It is best known for working your lats, but with a slight modification, you can bring your triceps into the equation. The trick is in the grip. Just bring your hands closer together in an overhand grip. Pull down the bar with your elbows tucked in at your sides and lift your arms to go back to the starting position. I gotta warn you, you will really feel the burn with this one.
4. The rowing machine
The rowing machine is not just for your shoulders and biceps. It works just about every part of your body, including your triceps. The “drive” and the “finish” focuses on the back of your arms while working on your biceps at the same time. Now that’s what I call a killer arm workout!
5. The cable machine
The cable machine is a popular machine because you can do so much with it! You’re basically working with weights attached to cables and you are in control of everything from the angle to the resistance. If this isn’t perfect for working your triceps, I don’t know what is. For anyone who says free weights are always better than machines, this machine might just prove them wrong. It offers all the benefits of free weights with the increased safety of a machine.
6. Assisted dip machines
Assisted dip machines let you do exactly what you need to do when you dip, except that it has movable knee pads that support your weight, rather than your arms having to support your entire body. To use this machine, hold on to the handles first, then place one knee on the knee pad, one after the other, and start dipping. Remember to flex those triceps. The biggest benefit of this machine is that it helps you get the form right, and we all know how important that is.
7. Tricep extension machine (Hammer strength)
The tricep extension machine sounds pretty powerful and when used right, it is. It is very similar to the preacher curl machine, but instead of a pulling-in movement, you’re pushing the bars away. As with any machine, if the specs aren’t right, it won’t be as effective, so make sure you adjust the seat first so it suits your height. Make sure your elbows don’t go past the pads. Once you’re in the right position, grab onto the handles, and push them down until your arms are straight. Don’t forget to flex those triceps while you’re at it!
Now that I’ve shared with you everything you need to get you started on your tricep workout, all that’s left is for you to do them! Remember, your triceps are just as important as your biceps, even if they’re not as flashy. Save yourself from muscle imbalance and pay attention to these guns on arm day, too! Once you have given your triceps the time and training they deserve, you’ll find these tricep exercises to be less taxing, and your arm muscles to be more amazing!
How to Stretch Triceps?
Tight triceps muscles can lead to a bunch of different problems ranging from reduced range of motion in other exercises, elbow pain, shoulder and neck tension and reduced athletic performance.
Tight triceps can restrict the range of motion in the elbow joint, which makes it difficult to fully extend your arm. It will also cause compensation in other areas of the body which will lead to increased tension in the neck and shoulders. These muscles must compensate for the tightness in the triceps.
There are a couple of different ways you can stretch your triceps muscle out:
1. Overhead triceps stretch – stand or sit up straight and raise one arm overhead. Bend your elbow down reaching towards the middle of your back. Use the free hand to gently push your elbow down. Hold this stretch for 15-30 seconds while not forgetting to breathe deeply. Repeat this stretch on both sides for 2-3 sets.
2. Wall supported triceps stretch – the execution of this exercise is very similar to overhead triceps stretch. But instead of pushing your elbow down with your hand you will use the wall. Simply raise your arm above your head and place the bent elbow on the wall. Gently lean in to apply pressure and hold this position for 15-30 seconds. Repeat the stretch each side for 2-3 sets.
It is important to remember that you can easily overstretch the triceps muscles which will lead to strain or injury. Your triceps didn’t get tight in one day, so you won’t be able to fix it quickly.
Are Triceps Pushdowns good?
Triceps pushdowns is one of the most popular triceps accessory exercises. If performed with correct form and technique it can do a great job isolating the triceps muscles and lead to muscle growth and endurance.
It primarily targets triceps brachii which is important for various pushing and pressing movement. You can perform this exercise with various cable attachments which offer different grip variations.
This can help you to put more strain on a specific area of your triceps as well as alleviate the strain and even strengthen your joints.
How to Build Triceps using Dumbbells?
There are a number of ways you can build up your triceps using a pair of dumbbells! Here are some effective triceps exercises using dumbbells:
1. Dumbbell Skull Crushers
2. Single Arm Dumbbell Skull Crushers – lay down on a bench or floor. Pick up a light dumbbell to begin with. Your elbow should be at 90 degree angle. Keep your elbow locked in the same position and start lowering the dumbbell until it reaches the opposing shoulder. Extend your arm fully for the peak triceps contraction.
3. Dumbbell Triceps Kick Backs
4. Single Arm Overhead Dumbbell Triceps Extensions
5. Dual Arm Overhead Dumbbell Triceps Extensions
6. Dumbbell Deficit Push Ups
7. Close Grip Dumbbell Press
8. Dumbbell Tate Press
9. Dumbbell Floor Press
10. Dumbbell JM Press
11. Incline Dumbbell Kickbacks
Can I train Triceps two days in a row?
Training any muscle group two days in a row is not recommended as it does not leave enough time for the muscle to recover. Triceps is also being used in any pushing and pressing movement such as bench press and shoulder press.
If you feel like your triceps is lacking, you can try adding a couple of additional triceps exercises to your workout routine.
During a 4-day training split, you could train triceps on the first and the third day of the split. If you have your diet and recovery dialled in, it would provide adequate rest for the muscle to recover.
What part of the Triceps do Overhead Extension work?
Overhead triceps extensions primarily target the long head of the triceps brachii. It is particularly effective when it comes to isolating and developing the long head of your triceps, which is the largest head of all three.
It is important to remember that you can never fully isolate a specific muscle head. Regardless of what triceps variation you are going to be performing, the other two heads will also be engaged just to a slightly lesser extent.
Are Diamond Push Ups good for Triceps?
Yes, diamond push ups are a great exercise for targeting your triceps. They are a variation of the traditional push ups that places more load on your triceps instead of chest.
In a diamond push up, you will place your hands close together in a diamond shape, directly under your chest. This increases the triceps activation during the movement. To increase the resistance, simply elevate your feet.
Before fancy tricep machines were designed, diamond push ups were one of the favoured ways of targeting triceps.
Does Incline Bench work Triceps?
Yes! Your triceps will be engaged in any pressing or pushing exercise. During the incline bench press you will place the most load on your upper chest and front deltoids. Your triceps will act as a synergistic muscle. Meaning that it will assist in the movement alongside the two primary muscle groups worked.
However, incline bench press alone will not build you a good triceps. To build a larger and more defined triceps muscle group you will need to incorporate a bunch of different accessory exercises for optimal triceps muscle development.