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Best Exercises for Bigger Triceps: Top 10 Effective Workouts



Well-known member
Aug 7, 2023
People often overshadow the triceps brachii on the backside of the upper arm. Strong, well-defined triceps enhance the appearance of your arms and contribute to overall upper-body strength. Incorporating specific exercises into your workout routine is vital to building sculpted triceps.

This comprehensive guide unveils the secrets to achieving maximum tricep definition through a curated selection of the best exercises.


The Triceps Anatomy​

The tricep comprises three distinct heads, a powerhouse extending and straightening the elbow. It allows for essential movements in activities ranging from weightlifting to everyday tasks.

The long head of the triceps originates from the scapula's infraglenoid tubercle, running down the back of the arm. As the primary extensor of the elbow, the long head engages during movements that require pushing or straightening of the arm.

The lateral head is the strongest of the three. It originates from the humerus's lateral and posterior surfaces, contributing to the overall mass and definition of the muscle. The lateral head stabilizes the elbow during various upper-body exercises.

The medial head, arising from the humerus's posterior surface, completes the triad of triceps heads. While it may be smaller than the long and lateral heads, the medial head contributes to the muscle's overall strength and stability.


Types of Tricep Exercises​

Isolation exercises specifically target the triceps, isolating them from surrounding muscle groups. These movements are ideal for sculpting and defining the triceps with precision. They're perfect for refining muscle definition and targeting specific weaknesses.

Compound exercises engage multiple muscle groups, providing strength and functional benefits. While the triceps are involved, these movements often recruit other muscles. They're ideal for building strength and size in your triceps and whole arm.
Bodyweight exercises are effective for individuals at any fitness level. It provides a foundation for tricep development without the need for specialized equipment. These exercises utilize the individual's body mass as resistance. They are fundamental movements you can perform anywhere, making them an excellent option for those seeking simplicity and versatility.

Functional exercises mirror everyday movements, promoting strength and stability in activities of daily living. While engaging multiple muscle groups, these movements incorporate the triceps in ways that mimic real-world functionalities. It enhances the muscle's capacity to support daily movements involving arm extension.

10 Best Exercises for Triceps​


Skullcrushers, or lying tricep extensions, are foundational for tricep strength. By lowering the weight toward the forehead and extending it back up, you engage the long head of the triceps, promoting both power and definition. Some of its variations include EZ-bar skull crushers and single-arm skull crushers with dumbbells or cable.

To do this exercise:
  1. Lie on your back with the weight held overhead.
  2. Lower the weight towards your forehead, keeping elbows close together.
  3. Extend arms back up to the starting position.

Tricep Dips​

Tricep dips are a classic yet potent exercise. It targets all three tricep heads with emphasis on the medial head. They are a potent compound movement contributing to overall upper body strength and definition.

To do this, lower your body until your elbows reach 90 degrees, keeping your torso upright. Push back up to the starting position.


Dumbbell Chest Press​

While primarily a chest exercise, the dumbbell chest press activates the triceps, contributing to comprehensive upper-body strength and stability. For variations, you can try the dumbbell press or the decline dumbbell press.

Start with lying on your back with dumbbells held at shoulder height. Lower dumbbells towards your chest, keeping elbows tucked close to your body. Then, press the dumbbell back up to the starting position.

Overhead Tricep Extensions​

This exercise targets the long head of the triceps, promoting strength and flexibility in the muscles. It's effective for achieving a well-rounded tricep development.

Stand or sit with the weight held directly overhead. Lower the weight behind your head until your elbows reach 90 degrees, keeping your upper arms stationary. Extend your arms back up to the starting position, feeling the stretch and contraction in your triceps.


Diamond Push-Ups​

Diamond push-ups intensify tricep engagement, contributing to muscle definition. This bodyweight exercise is efficient for those seeking precision in tricep training.

Start in a push-up position with your hands close together, forming a diamond shape with your thumbs and forefingers. Lower your chest towards the ground, keeping your elbows close to your body and core engaged. Push back up to the starting position, feeling the intense tricep activation and your inner chest muscles.


Close-Grip Bench Press​

This barbell exercise isolates the medial head of your triceps, with some secondary activation of the other heads. By narrowing the grip, the close-grip bench press emphasizes the lateral head of the triceps.

Lie on your back with a narrow grip on the barbell, placing your hands closer together than shoulder-width. Lower the barbell towards your chest, keeping your elbows close to your body. Press the barbell back up to the starting position, feeling the squeeze in your medial triceps.


Tricep Pushdowns​

This versatile exercise reigns supreme in cable machines, weight stack machines, or even resistance bands. Tricep pushdowns isolate the triceps, fostering strength and endurance. The cable or resistance bands provide constant tension, ensuring effective muscle engagement.

Stand or sit with your arms extended overhead, holding the handle. Push the handle down against the resistance, keeping your upper arms stationary and triceps engaged. Extend your arms fully, then slowly return to the starting position, feeling the controlled burn in your triceps.


Cable Tricep Kickback​

Unlike Triceps Pushdowns, which focus on elbow extension, cable tricep kickbacks involve elbow extension combined with shoulder extension. This exercise engages your triceps throughout the entire movement, leading to a more intense contraction and the potential for more significant muscle growth.

Stand facing the machine with a shoulder-width stance and grip the handle with one hand. Position your arm extended behind you, keeping your elbow slightly bent and close to your torso. Engage your triceps to pull the handle back and up in a diagonal arc until your forearm reaches roughly parallel to your torso. Squeeze your triceps at the top, then slowly return to the starting position with controlled tension.


JM Press​

The JM press is a nuanced approach to tricep training, providing a unique stimulus for strength and development across multiple muscle groups. It challenges your triceps with a unique overhead arc movement, primarily targeting the long head with secondary activation of the other heads.

This hybrid exercise involves a combination of bench press and skull crushers. Sit on an incline bench with dumbbells held overhead. Lower both dumbbells simultaneously behind your head in a controlled arc until your elbows reach 90 degrees. Press both dumbbells back up to the starting position in a controlled arc, feeling your triceps' intense stretch and contraction.


Parallel Bar Dip​

Parallel bar dips engage the triceps, chest, and shoulders. The adaptable exercise enables you to target specific muscle groups based on your body position.

Use parallel bars for this bodyweight exercise. Adjusting body position lets you emphasize the triceps, making it versatile for upper body strength.


Common Equipment Used​

Free weights such as dumbbells, barbells, and kettlebells allow for progressive loading, enabling you to increase resistance gradually. Barbells engage multiple muscle groups, fostering overall upper-body strength. Dumbbells offer unilateral training, ensuring balanced development. Kettlebells add an element of instability and core engagement to your tricep training.

Parallel bars are essential for bodyweight exercises. They provide a stable surface for effective tricep engagement. Parallel bars are ideal for home workouts, offering a simple yet potent means of targeting the triceps.

You may use cable machines for tricep pushdowns, pressdowns, and cable-based exercises. They provide constant tension throughout the movement, promoting effective muscle engagement. Cable machines allow for controlled resistance, enhancing the isolation of the triceps.

Importance of Technique and Forms​

Proper technique ensures that the targeted muscles, particularly the triceps, are engaged optimally, maximizing the benefits of each repetition. Straying from proper technique dissipates the tension, potentially engaging secondary muscles and hindering your tricep development.

Precision in execution, especially during compound movements like close-grip bench presses or skull crushers, guarantees that the triceps are the primary focus of the exercise. It also enhances the mind-muscle connection, allowing individuals to feel better and control the contraction of the triceps.

Maintaining proper form throughout the exercise protects your joints and connective tissues from excessive strain and potential injury. Uncontrolled movements, on the other hand, introduce instability and vulnerability, jeopardizing your training continuity.

Frequency and Volume of Training for Triceps​

Determining the frequency and volume of training for triceps is a nuanced balance that depends on individual fitness goals, recovery capacity, and overall workout routine. Beginners may include tricep exercises 1 to 2 times per week to focus on building a solid foundation with proper form and technique before increasing frequency.

More advanced individuals may include 2 to 4 times per week, which allows for more routines without overtraining. Though experienced lifters can tolerate higher frequencies, prioritizing progressive overload through increased weights or intensity is vital.

As for volume, the general recommendation is 10-14 sets of direct tricep work per week. You may distribute the sets across your chosen frequency. However, it would help if you considered your training experience, overall workout volume, and recovery capacity in choosing the volume of your tricep exercises.

Nutrition, Recovery, and Rest​

Triceps are primarily protein-based, so adequate intake is crucial for rebuilding and strengthening them after intense workouts. Lean meats, fish, eggs, plant-based protein sources like tofu and lentils, and protein shakes contribute to muscle repair and growth. Additionally, post-workout nutrition becomes imperative, with protein-rich meals or supplements aiding muscle recovery.

After challenging your triceps, dedicate 10-15 minutes to static stretches focusing on your arms, shoulders, and chest. Stretching improves flexibility, prevents muscle soreness, and enhances range of motion for future workouts. It can boost recovery and improve your next workout.

Incorporating rest days into the workout routine allows the triceps and the entire body to recuperate and prevent overtraining. Ignoring fatigue or persistent soreness can lead to overtraining and potential injury.


Achieving well-defined and powerful triceps involves a multifaceted approach encompassing exercise, equipment, technique, nutrition, and recovery. The exercises presented, ranging from compound movements to isolation exercises, provide a diverse choice for individuals to tailor their workouts to specific goals and preferences. Understanding the tricep anatomy, exercise execution, and equipment's role enhances each training session's effectiveness.

By embracing a holistic perspective that combines precision in exercise techniques, thoughtful equipment selection, and a commitment to overall health and recovery, you can unlock the full potential of your tricep workouts, fostering strength, definition, and upper body functionality.

Frequently Asked Questions​

Are there any specific warm-up exercises recommended for tricep workouts?

Dynamic stretches and light cardio, such as arm circles and jumping jacks, can increase blood flow and flexibility in the triceps. Additionally, incorporating specific warm-up exercises like tricep pushdowns with light resistance or overhead tricep extensions with a manageable weight helps activate the muscle fibers and joints.

How long does it typically take to see tricep size and strength results?

The timeline to see noticeable tricep size and strength results varies among individuals based on genetics, training intensity, and consistency. Generally, beginners may observe initial changes in a few weeks due to neural adaptations. More substantial muscle growth often takes several months of consistent and progressive resistance training.

Is it better to train the triceps with the biceps or on a separate day?

Whether to train triceps with biceps or on a separate day depends on individual preferences, workout goals, and overall training program structure. However, others opt for separate training days to focus more intensely on each muscle group.