Unlock Your Arm Potential: Top 8 Tricep Exercises

The biceps often steal the spotlight, and while training them for bigger and stronger arms is crucial, the triceps shouldn’t be overlooked. Focusing on your triceps – the three-headed, horseshoe-shaped muscle at the back of your arm – will significantly benefit your overall strength.

Comprising two-thirds of your upper arm mass and spanning the entire backside of your arm, the triceps occupy significant real estate. They’re not just for show, either. Your triceps are vital in moving the weight whenever you engage in bench presses, overhead presses, or dips.

When powerlifters struggle to lock out a heavy bench press, they focus on the triceps. This article highlights eight top-notch triceps exercises and offers insights on effectively training this muscle group. By doing so, you’ll not only enhance your bench press strength but also develop a more robust and impressive set of arms.

The top 10 tricep exercises

1. Parallel Bar Dip

Incorporating regular dips using parallel bars rather than angled bars or rings will engage your triceps more effectively as your arms remain tucked in instead of flared out. This positioning also promotes better shoulder health, as they maintain a more neutral position during the exercise. Additionally, parallel bars offer increased stability, as they are closer together compared to angled dipping bars or rings. One of the key advantages of dips is their effectiveness with just your body weight, making them a versatile workout option.

Benefits of the parallel bar dip

Utilizing only your body weight, you can effectively work your triceps. You can enhance tricep activation during exercises by positioning your arms closer together.

How to perform the parallel bar dip

Grasp the parallel bars, maintaining an upright torso with a slight forward lean while suspended. Your elbows should be nearly fully extended to support this position. Keep your chest lifted and shoulder blades squeezed together. Then, bend your elbows; this is for lowering yourself down until they reach a 90-degree angle. Push yourself upwards until your elbows are fully extended, and repeat the process.

2. Tricep pushdown

The pushdown effectively targets your triceps by isolating them during the exercise. To execute a pushdown, grasp a resistance band or cable pulley, step backwards to create tension in the band or cable, and then push it down by engaging your triceps. This focused movement allows for a more precise triceps workout, making it a favoured exercise among bodybuilders. The isolation lets the lifter experience intense muscle contraction, resulting in impressive pumps and enhanced activation.

Benefits of the tricep pushdown

By fully isolating the triceps, you can enhance muscle engagement, improve strength, growth, and an impressive pump during your workout.

How to perform the tricep pushdown

Position the cables or resistance band at a high anchor point. Stand facing the band with feet together and elbows tucked by your ribs. Maintain an upright chest, a flat back, and a slight forward tilt of the hips. Grasp the handles or band and extend your elbows to press downward, ensuring the elbows remain slightly ahead of the shoulders throughout the movement.

3. Floor press

This bench press variation is favoured by powerlifters seeking to enhance the upper segment of the lift. Pressing a barbell from the ground restricts the range of motion of your arms, allowing you to lift heavier weights usually. This results in a more powerful bench press and more strong triceps.

Benefits of the floor press

This variation’s restricted range of motion enables you to handle greater weights. By overloading your triceps, you can boost your strength and achieve a more powerful bench press performance.

How to perform the floor press

Position yourself on the ground before a power rack and stretch your arms out. Observe where they stop and modify the hooks accordingly, ensuring the barbell aligns with your hand placement. Lie beneath the loaded barbell again, planting your feet firmly on the floor. Grasp the bar using your standard bench press grip. Remove the bar from the rack and lower it to your sternum, maintaining your elbows at a 45-degree angle. Finally, press upwards to complete the motion.

4. Overhead tricep extension

Triceps extensions can be executed using different equipment and positions. In the case of overhead extensions with a resistance band, the initial stretch of the band offers significant tension, which increases as you straighten your elbows. This exercise is excellent for promoting muscle growth and enhancing lockout power.

Benefits of the overhead tricep extension

The exercise generates heightened tension across an extended range of motion, contributing to the development of overhead lockout strength. This aspect is crucial for improving performance in overhead pressing movements. By incorporating this exercise, you can effectively target the triceps and experience enhanced strength and stability in your upper body, making it a valuable addition to your fitness routine.

How to perform the overhead tricep extension

Place the band beneath the centre of both feet, then step forward with one foot while lifting the band’s handles behind your ears. Maintain an upright posture and keep your elbows close to your body. Straighten your elbows until fully extended, pausing briefly at the top. Gradually return to the starting position before repeating the exercise for the number of repetitions you want.

5. Diamond push-up

Like the close-grip bench press, the diamond push-up’s hand positioning focuses more on the triceps. With a reduced support base, this exercise enhances core stability while targeting the chest, shoulders, and triceps. This may result in being unable to perform as many repetitions as in a standard push-up. Still, your triceps will undoubtedly benefit from this variation.

Benefits of the diamond push-up

This exercise emphasizes the triceps to a greater extent while effectively engaging the shoulders and chest muscles. The reduced support base not only challenges your balance and coordination but also contributes to the improvement of your core strength.

How to perform the diamond push-up

Creating an ideal diamond shape with your hands isn’t essential. Still, the key is to maintain a close hand placement to emphasize the triceps. Experiment with your hand position to find what suits you best. Execute the push-up in a controlled manner, engaging your core and glutes to maintain a neutral spine. Keep your elbows adjacent to your ribcage throughout the movement without allowing them to flare out.

6. Standing landmine press

In cases where triceps training causes discomfort, the standing landmine press can be a valuable alternative. The equipment used in this exercise promotes scapular stability and control. The upper arm’s grip and positioning can help you work around any elbow or shoulder issues, ensuring an effective and pain-free workout session.

Benefits of the standing landmine press

The neutral grip and curvature of the press engage the triceps while minimizing potential shoulder or elbow discomfort. During this exercise, enhanced scapular stability and control result from the pressing angle and weight distribution of the barbell

How to perform the standing landmine press

Begin by positioning your feet at a hip-width distance from each other. Hold the end of the barbell and position it in front of your shoulder, and ensure that you grip it tightly while engaging your core and lats. From this starting position, extend your elbow and reach forward to lockout the movement. Then, lower the barbell back down in a controlled manner and repeat the exercise.

7. Skull crusher

In this modified triceps workout, you will bring a barbell, dumbbells, cable pulley, or kettlebells down towards your forehead, stretching the triceps muscle. The skull crusher effectively targets the triceps while enabling you to lift heavier weights than a pushdown. Consequently, this exercise is excellent for enhancing triceps strength.

Benefits of the skull crusher

This adaptable triceps workout can be performed using various equipment, such as barbells, kettlebells, or dumbbells. You’ll experience increased strength in this position compared to many other triceps exercises, leading to improved triceps power.

How to perform the skull crusher

Begin by lying on a bench, holding a weight (such as a barbell, dumbbell, or cable attachment) in the same position as the top of a bench press. Ensure your back and hips are positioned similarly to a bench press. Gently retract your elbows to point slightly behind you instead of vertically aligned. Then, bend your elbows, lowering the bar or weights towards your head until they nearly touch your forehead. You must feel a stretch in your triceps and, to some extent, your lats. Push the bar or weights back up to complete the movement.

8. JM press

While at Westside Barbell, Renowned lifter JM Blakey set bench press records and incorporated a unique exercise into his accessory routine, which caught his training partners’ attention. The JM press combines the close-grip bench press and skull crusher. As it involves the chest muscles, it allows for heavier weights compared to a typical triceps isolation exercise. The specific elbow positioning makes the JM press highly effective at targeting the triceps.

Benefits of the JM press

The JM Press effectively enhances lockout strength for both the bench and overhead press. This is due to the reduced range of motion, which enables a heavier load to be used.

How to perform the JM press

Position yourself as you would for a narrow-grip bench press, ensuring the bar is aligned above your upper chest. Gently lower the barbell as you gradually angle your elbows outward at 45 degrees. While descending, let the bar shift slightly toward your face. When you reach the lowest point of the repetition, your forearms should be roughly parallel to the ground. Ensure your elbows are directed forward (rather than downward) before reversing the movement and pushing back upwards.

How to train your triceps

The triceps are larger than the biceps but remain a relatively small muscle group. Aim for approximately 10 to 14 sets per week for triceps training. You can combine triceps exercises with biceps workouts or incorporate them into your bench press or push day. Since the triceps contribute to other pushing movements, pairing them with similar pressing exercises is advisable.

Choose three or four exercises from a given list and perform three sets each. For more advanced strength athletes, increased volume may be beneficial. In such cases, train your triceps on your push day and then schedule a less intense arms day later in the week, totalling 16 to 18 sets of work.

Conclusion

Incorporating these top 10 tricep exercises into your routine will significantly enhance arm development, strength, and overall performance. By unlocking your arm potential, you’ll achieve a more balanced and impressive physique and improve your ability to perform various pushing movements. Dedicate time and effort to mastering these exercises and witness the transformation in your arms and overall fitness.