10 Best Exercises To Build Triceps

10 Best Exercises To Build Triceps

Mar 05, 2024

Triceps, small but mighty muscles, are crucial for strong arms - the key to achieving fitness. They are vital for arm and shoulder stabilisation and also help support the chest, back, and shoulders. You’ll need strong triceps if you aim to build mass, improve your strength, or be healthy. Tricep exercises are one of the most commonly practised exercises that target these muscles located on the back sides of your upper arms.

The triceps are a short limb muscle group located on the posterior (back) side of the upper arm. It comprises three kinds of muscles - long head, medial head, and lateral head. The main function of the triceps is to extend the forearm from the elbow joint and stabilise the shoulder and elbow joint. Tricep exercises are performed to strengthen those three heads of the tricep muscle. Tricep exercises can be done either in the form of compound or isolated exercises or a combination of both. The long head of the tricep covers the major portion of the muscle - tricep exercises such as close grip barbell press and cable pushdown mainly target the long head. Tricep exercises such as dumbbell overhead extension are a great way to target the medial head, while for the lateral head, skull crusher is considered the best. In addition to these, tricep exercises at home include diamond push-ups and parallel bar dips. Tricep workouts with dumbbells include overhead extensions and kickbacks. Cable exercises for triceps are extension, tricep pull down, kickbacks, and single-arm press downs. The best tricep routine should target every muscle group.

Best Tricep Routine To Follow

The triceps comprise three groups of muscles, mainly long head, medial head, and lateral head. Tricep exercises should focus on training those three heads. Keep the following factors in mind for the best tricep routine and effective tricep workouts.

Target the Long Head:

When you want to work on your triceps, it's important to focus on the biggest part of the muscle, called the long head. Exercises like cable pushdowns and tricep extensions are great for this. You can do these workouts at home too, like tricep dips or diamond push-ups. Using movements that involve extending your arm, like overhead extensions or kickbacks, is also effective for targeting the triceps.

Work Multiple Joints & Muscles:

Start your workout with exercises that work multiple joints and muscles at once, like close grip presses or diamond push-ups. These are called compound exercises and they help build strength and improve blood flow to your muscles, which can help prevent injuries.

Do Isolation Exercises:

After doing a couple of compound exercises, you can move on to isolation exercises that specifically target the triceps, like skull crushers, single-arm dumbbell extensions, dumbbell kickbacks, and tricep pull-downs. These help focus on individual muscle groups.

Increase Weights Gradually:

To make your triceps stronger and bigger, it's important to gradually increase the weight you're lifting over time. This is called progressive overload. It's best to do this with compound movements to minimise the risk of injury to your muscles.

Tricep Exercises -  All You Need To Know

Following are the facts that a person should know before starting a tricep workout:

  • The Triceps muscle is shaped like a horseshoe when viewed from the backside.
  • The triceps muscle is also known as tricep brachia. Its primary function is to extend the elbow joint and to stabilise the shoulder and elbow joint.
  • The triceps muscle is divided into three parts - the long head, medial head, and lateral head. Tricep exercises routine should be evenly distributed to cover all three heads.
  • Triceps work as an antagonist of the biceps muscle.
  • The long head is used when there is need for prolonged force, whereas the medial head is more used during low-force movements.
  • The long head of the triceps muscle originates from the scapula of the shoulder which helps in the fixation of the arm during the movement of the shoulder joint.
  • The triceps muscle needs to be trained from every angle possible to achieve the defined shape. It's best to include both compound and isolate tricep exercises in tricep workouts so that all three heads of the triceps can be targeted either individually or simultaneously.
  • Tricep exercises are performed to increase the strength and overall muscle mass of the arms.

Benefits of Tricep Exercises

The best tricep routine can offer numerous benefits such as:

1. Toned arm muscles  

Performing tricep exercises once or twice a week will help shred the excess fat that gets stored in the arms.

2. Increased muscle mass

One needs to do tricep exercises regularly to increase muscle mass and size.

3. Increased strength

Tricep exercises help increase strength in the arms. Training triceps helps in lifting weights and performing daily tasks involving lifting objects with ease.

4. Improved range of motion (ROM)

Tricep exercises increase the ROM of the arm muscle, reducing the chances of getting injured.

5. Stable elbow joint 

The major function of the tricep is to extend the arm from the elbow joint and help stabilise the shoulder and elbow joint.

6. Add definition to arm

For the overall definition of arms both in terms of muscle mass and chiselled look, sportspersons, especially bodybuilders, should incorporate tricep exercises in their daily routine.

7. Enhance sports performance  

Tricep exercises help in sports activities such as basketball, volleyball, and tennis.

8. Stabilise the shoulder joint

Tricep exercises help stabilise the shoulder joint while performing movement.

9. Improved posture

Tricep exercises help in alignment of the spine and shoulder, which leads to improved posture.

10. Decrease risk of injury

Having strong tricep muscles is important for completing exercises, especially explosive ones like the bench press, where you need to lock out your arms. If your triceps are weak, it can increase the risk of injury during this phase.

Ways to Perform Tricep Exercises

Triceps can be trained in following ways:

Isolate and compound tricep exercises:

Triceps should be trained both in the form of compound as well as isolated tricep exercises. Compound exercises include close-grip barbell presses, tricep dips, and push-ups. Isolate exercises include skull crushers, overhead extension, kickback, and tricep pull-downs. Tricep workouts with dumbbells can be included in tricep exercises.

Training from different angles:

To make the best tricep routine, it is best to train tricep muscles from every possible angle to achieve a well-defined shape.

Training every muscle group:

Tricep workouts should focus on covering the three heads of the tricep. To train the long head, perform the cable pushdown exercise. For training the lateral head, do the skull crusher exercise, while for the medial head, cable crossover, single arm dumbbell extension is one of the best exercises.

Increased strength and mass:

The goal of training the triceps is to increase the strength and mass of the triceps muscle. Tricep exercises such as tricep dips exercise, and close grip barbell press help increase the strength of the arm muscles.

Training weak parts at the beginning of the workout:

Triceps muscles are short but require as much training as other muscles. If the tricep muscle is undertrained or lacks strength , then it’s best to train them at the beginning of a workout. In addition to this, compound exercises should be done at the beginning and then progressing towards isolated exercises.

10 Best Tricep Exercises to Build Muscles

1. Cable pushdown triceps

It is an isolated exercise which mainly focuses on the long head of the triceps. Cable pushdown triceps can be performed using three variations such as V-bar, straight bar, and rope. 

2. Kickbacks

The two variations of kickbacks are dumbbell and cable. Kickbacks are a great way to train the lateral head of the triceps.

3. Close grip barbell press

It is a compound exercise that is focused more on targeting the overall triceps muscle. In this exercise, one can progressively increase the weight, which helps build the overall strength of the chest and arm muscles

4. Tricep dips exercises  

Tricep dip exercise involves using one’s body weight as a tool to increase strength and conditioning. It is performed using only a parallel bar. It is a compound exercise and covers the major upper muscles. To do tricep dips exercises, one needs to grab the parallel bars with two arms and then lower oneself until the elbows are perpendicular to the bar.

5. Overhead tricep extension 

It is an isolated exercise focusing more on the medial head of the tricep. Overhead tricep extension has two variations - it can be performed using single arm or with both arms.

6. One arm cable press down 

This exercise is performed using a cable machine. This is also an isolated exercise.

7. Skull crusher

This exercise mainly targets the lateral (side) head of the tricep muscle. It can be performed using an EZ bar, dumbbell, or with a resistance band. Skull crusher needs to be performed very cautiously otherwise it may cause injury. So it’s best to start this exercise with light weights and a high number of repetitions and then gradually process towards heavy weights. 

8. Diamond pushups

This is a calisthenic exercise performed using only body weight. Diamond push ups are an alternative to gym-based equipments and can be performed anywhere. It is performed similarly to a push-up, but with a close grip hand placement. 

9. Bench dips 

It is a bodyweight exercise and doesn’t involve any special equipment to perform it. Dips are a great exercise to build upper body strength.

10. Cable overhead rope extension  

This exercise is performed using a cable machine to target the long head of the tricep muscle. This is an isolation exercise, and moderate to high repetitions can be performed. The mechanism of this exercise is the same as that of the dumbbell overhead extension.

A sample best tricep routine can be as follows:

1. Diamond push-ups - 3 sets
2. Close grip barbell press - 3 sets
3. Cable pushdown triceps - 3 sets
4. Skull crusher - 3 sets
5. Single arm dumbbell overhead extension - 3 sets
6. Tricep dips - 3 sets

    The triceps are a short upper arm group of muscles and need as much training as required by other muscles. The size of the triceps is larger than the biceps. People tend to focus more on training biceps muscle but to increase overall size and muscle mass, triceps workouts should be incorporated into one’s workout routine. One can train triceps at the gym  which includes cable pushdown triceps, skull crusher, and dumbbell extension. Individuals who want to do triceps workouts at home can use bodyweight exercises like bench dips, parallel bar dips, and diamond push- ups.