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The 10 Best Tricep Exercises

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The Best Tricep Exercises

What are the best tricep exercises?

These tricep exercises are sure to get your upper arms burning and feeling ready for anything.

The triceps are notoriously challenging muscles to target, but the triceps workout exercises on this list will help you achieve the upper arm strength and aesthetics you’re looking for. 

The best tricep workout is one that leaves your arms feeling heavy, and the exercises on this list are no exception. 

Keep reading for the best triceps exercises in the game.

 

The Best Tricep Exercises

Our exercise lists are created by determining the best exercises for muscle growth, core strength, and overall health and well-being. 

Here’s our list of the 10 best tricep exercises:

 

10. Floor Presses

Best Tricep Exercises - Floor Presses

Great for:

Improving strength in the triceps, chest, shoulders, and delts while burning fat and preventing injury.

How to do it:

  1. Settle underneath a racked barbell 
  2. Your feet, hips, and back should be flat on the floor
  3. Gripping the floor with your back, grab the barbell and slowly lower it, lowering your elbows to your torso 
  4. When the backs of your arms touch the floor, raise the barbell back to the starting position, keeping your arms tense and your back engaged
  5. Repeat as desired

Why:

To increase overall pressing strength and as one of the best tricep exercises for mass, you should not be sleeping on the floor press in the gym. 

The shorter range of motion required in the floor press demands more work from the triceps, and, with consistency, lifters will see a great increase in muscle mass in time.

When:

There are many floor press variations, like the classic bench press, that can be done to ensure you have the correct form and are comfortable holding a barbell in this position. 

Once you’re ready, perform five to ten reps per set with controlled movement to improve your technique and then scale up for muscle and strength gains.

 

9. Diamond Push-Ups

Best Tricep Exercises - Diamond Push-Ups

Great for: 

A challenging tricep exercise that calls for upper body strength and activates all three heads of the tricep muscle.

How to do it:

  1. Position your hands directly below your chest on a mat, making a diamond shape with your hands
  2. Get your legs straight out behind you in plank position (or on the knees for a modified version)
  3. Engage your core, bend your elbows and lower your body until your chest touches the mat, or as low as you can go
  4. Keep your elbows close by your sides
  5. Raise your body back to the starting position
  6. Repeat as desired

Why:

During a diamond push-up, your base is less stable, forcing the triceps to do all the heavy lifting in this move. In traditional push-ups, your chest takes on much of the burden. 

This is a great move to measure where your tricep strength is at; if you struggle to lower and raise your body, then you need to keep working on those tri’s!

When:

Keep the burn lasting longer if you warm up or cool down with diamond push-ups.

If you’re just getting started with this move, try to finish 3 to 5 full reps and wait a few days before trying them again. 

They’ll work your triceps harder than you think at the time, so you’ll want to give those muscles a break to recover.

 

8. Single Arm Kickbacks

Best Tricep Exercises - Single Arm Kickbacks

Great for: 

Targeting the triceps, forearms, shoulder, and core while focusing on stability and balance. 

How to do it:

  1. Hold a dumbbell in your right hand, with your left foot forward and your right foot back into a high lunge
  2. Lean your torso forward and keep your back straight 
  3. Lift your right elbow back, making your upper arm parallel to the floor, and kick your arm back, so it’s fully extended behind you
  4. Lower the dumbbell back slowly to starting position
  5. Repeat as desired, then switch to the left hand and right leg

Why:

Single-arm kickbacks are low maintenance and low impact workout that you can do anywhere with a bit of space and weight. 

Kickbacks also improve stability and balance in the shoulders as you build strength and improve your range of motion.

Kickbacks help the triceps prepare for everyday motions and movements like lifting and pushing. 

When:

Start with two or three sets of anywhere from 12 to 20 reps per set.

If you’re looking for a complete tricep burner, kickbacks pair well with tricep dips, diamond push-ups, and overhead extensions.

 

7. Reverse Grip-Pushdowns

Best Tricep Exercises - Reverse Grip-Pushdowns

Great for:

Targeting the triceps through an isolated, single-joint movement without the assistance of any other muscle groups. 

How to do it:

  1. Face a pulley machine with the handles at chest height
  2. Hold the bar or handle with your palms facing up
  3. Tuck your elbows into your sides and flex your triceps, bringing the handle down till your arms are fully extended
  4. Pause and squeeze your triceps at the bottom
  5. Slowly go back to the starting position and repeat

Why:

The reverse pushdown works the medial head of the tricep muscle more than any other, so it’s a great isolation exercise.

If you are new to the underhand grip, it may take some getting used to.

Start with a lower weight and add as you gain strength. This will prevent muscle strain or injury. 

When:

Incorporate reverse grip-pushdowns into every arm routine to ensure you’re working the three tricep muscles evenly.

 

6. Overhead Triceps Extensions

Best Tricep Exercises - Overhead Tricep Extensions

Great for: 

Building and shaping the posterior arm muscles and activating all three heads of the triceps.

How to do it:

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart 
  2. Grab two dumbbells and extend them up over your head
  3. Point your elbows forward and lower the weight behind your head
  4. At the lowest point, elbows should be at 90 degrees
  5. Straighten your arms and repeat

Why:

During extensions, the triceps is an isolated muscle, so it allows you to hone in and focus on building strength in one particular area. 

Based on your fitness level, there are some effective variations of the tricep extension that can be intensified or modified as you see fit. 

When:

Tricep extensions are a relatively low-impact exercise, so they’re a fantastic addition to any arm workout you’re doing at home or in the gym. 

We recommend starting with two or three sets of 12 to 16 reps as you get started with the exercise.

 

5. Bench Dips

Best Tricep Exercises - Bench Dips

Great for: 

A vigorous exercise that works the triceps, deltoids, and chest muscles. Dips can be modified or made more challenging depending on your skill level. 

How to do it:

  1. Sit on a bench with your arms extended on either side of your hips and your knees bent 
  2. Lift your body with your hands, keeping your hips and butt close to the bench 
  3. Lower your body by bending your elbows till they’re at 90 degrees
  4. Push back up to the starting position
  5. Repeat as desired

Why:

Gain strength and sculpt some impressive triceps by consistently doing bench dips during your upper body workout. 

You can make this move more challenging by extending your legs out in front of you. 

When:

The convenience of tricep dips makes them a no-brainer to add to your arm workout routine.

You can do them almost anywhere from the gym, at home, at a local park, or anywhere with a sturdy bench to lean on. 

Try performing tricep dips one to two times a week, starting with 10 to 12 reps. 

 

4. Tricep Dips

Best Tricep Exercises - Tricep Dips

Great for: 

A bodyweight exercise that thickens arms without any equipment. Tricep dips are versatile and can be done anywhere by any fitness or skill level. 

How to do it:

  1. Grab the bars with your palms facing each other and your arms straight 
  2. Lower your body down until your elbows are at 90 degrees, tucked at your sides
  3. Power back up using your activated triceps and repeat 

Why:

Dips light up all three muscles within the tricep, leaving you shaking after just a few reps. They’re also a highly effective movement for your chest, shoulders, and core strength. 

If bar dips are too intense for your skill level, no sweat. Bench dips are the next best thing and will give you just as good of a workout.

Your triceps will be feeling it for a few days, regardless of which variation you do! 

When:

Don’t get down on yourself if you can’t complete a full set of tricep dips on your first go.

They’re a pretty spicy move, and you can work up to them. Try the variations we have listed on this post, and come back when you’re feeling stronger. 

If you’re ready to rock tricep dips now, we suggest three to four reps of eight to 10 dips per set.

This will get your muscles burning and working effectively. Exercises for the triceps can often be optimized through low sets, at least at first.

 

3. Pushdowns

Best Tricep Exercises - Pushdowns

Great for: 

Isolating two of the three tricep muscles and adding to any arm or chest workout. 

How to do it:

  1. Stand in front of a cable machine with your elbows bent at 90 degrees
  2. Push the handle of the cable down and squeeze the triceps as you extend your arms
  3. With control, raise the bar to chest level 
  4. Repeat as desired 

Why:

Pushdowns isolate the medial and lateral heads of the tricep muscle, forcing them to activate and work without the support of the long head.

Strong triceps can help stabilize the shoulder joint and elbows, which can help prevent injury or strain on the muscles in the arms. 

When:

Tricep pushdowns can be incorporated into any arm workout. You can adjust the intensity of the exercise by selecting the weight of your choice on the cable machine.

 

2. Skullcrushers

Best Tricep Exercises - Skull Crushers

Great for: 

Building tricep strength and achieving hypertrophy while increasing injury resistance in the elbows.

How to do it:

  1. Lie on a bench or the floor with a dumbbell in each hand
  2. Extend the weight up over your head
  3. Bend your elbows as you lower the weight, ending with your elbows at 90-degree angles
  4. Squeeze your triceps as you raise the weight back up, then repeat 

Why:

Also known as lying tricep extensions, skull crushers are challenging tricep exercises that can be paired with other tricep exercises to target all three muscles.  

Skull crushes are gentle on the elbows and shoulders, which explains why many weightlifters implement them for muscle gains and strength in their shoulder and arm workouts.

When:

If you’re trying to build strength with skull crushers, it’s best to lift heavier with fewer reps.

If it’s muscle mass you’re after, find a weight you feel comfortable with that allows you to complete ten reps. 

Otherwise, stick with a moderate weight and perform skull crushers twice a week within your standard arm strength training workouts.

 

1. Close-Grip Bench Press

Best Tricep Exercises - Close-Grip Bench Press

Great for: 

A compound exercise targeting the triceps, chest, and core for an upper-body burn. 

How to do it:

  1. Hold a barbell with an overhand grip, with your index finger on the rough part of the bar
  2. Lift the bar off the rack and hold it above your chest with straight arms 
  3. Elbows should be bent at 45-degree angles 
  4. Slowly and purposefully lower the bar until it touches your chest, then raise it back up 
  5. Repeat as desired 

Why:

Compound exercises, or exercises that work multiple muscle groups simultaneously, are effective in strength and circuit training workouts because of their versatility. 

Targeting multiple muscle groups means more of your upper body is working, resulting in a better burn and more mass. 

It’s no surprise that this exercise got our #1 pick! The best tricep exercise is, without a doubt, the close-grip bench press. 

If you’re looking for tricep workouts for mass, add this to your arm and chest day ASAP.

When:

If you’re working both the chest and triceps in the same workout, this exercise can be a great addition.

Try one set of 10 to 12 reps and add weight or reps as you gain strength and confidence.

 

FAQs About Tricep Exercises

Ready to tackle the best tricep exercises in the game? 

Before you do, here is some additional information that you may find helpful as you design the best tricep workout plan.

Triceps exercises, here you come! 

 

Q: What does the triceps muscle do?

The triceps brachii is a major muscle group in the upper arm. 

Made up of three muscles, the triceps’ primary responsibility is enabling the extension and retraction of the forearm.

When the triceps are contracted, the forearm extends and straightens the elbow.

When the triceps are relaxed, the biceps are flexed, the forearm retracts, and the elbow bends.

The triceps also help with stabilizing the shoulder joint.

 

Q: How many exercises should I do for triceps?

It’s important when training the triceps to target all three muscles. Focus on movements that isolate the triceps muscle and burn out its three muscles. 

The lateral head can best be targeted through dips. The long head is best worked through overhead extensions. The medial head activates during pushdowns.

 

Q: What is the best tricep exercise for mass?

The best tricep exercise for mass is skullcrushers.

Also known as lying tricep extensions, skull crushers are easy on the shoulder joints but allow you to lift heavy and isolate the triceps for a powerful lift.

 

Q: Can you train your triceps every day?

It’s best to train the triceps two times a week, especially if you are new to exercising this muscle group.

As you gain strength, you can add another training day or increase the weight of your workouts.

This will help your tricep exercises be even more effective.

 

Q: What tricep exercise is most effective?

The best tricep exercise for mass is the close-grip bench press, which you can perform either in your home gym or your local commercial gym. 

This move isolates the triceps and forces them to work without the support of any other muscle groups.

 

Summary 

Exercises for the triceps are an effective way to get a workout at home or in the gym. 

You’ll find as you train consistently and gain muscle mass, these exercises are easily stacked with other arm workouts that target different muscles but need the triceps for strength and support. 

Working the triceps takes commitment and patience. But we have no doubt that once you start seeing results, you’ll be itching to get back to the gym for more exercises for your triceps.

Here’s a quick recap of the 10 best tricep exercises:

  1. Close-Grip Bench Press
  2. Skullcrushers
  3. Pushdowns
  4. Tricep Dips
  5. Bench Dips
  6. Overhead Triceps Extensions
  7. Reverse Grip-Pushdowns
  8. Single Arm Kickbacks
  9. Diamond Push-Ups
  10. Floor Presses

What’s your favorite tricep exercise? Leave a comment below. 

With almost two decades of lifting experience under his belt, Matt shares his knowledge and expertise with us around bodybuilding and supplementation. Deadlifts and barbell curls are his go-to exercises, and, when he's not writing about health and fitness, you'll find him in the gym busting out some arms! Follow Jacked Gorilla on Instagram: @jackedgorillanews

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