Updated: Jan 21, 2022
The triceps are one of the most important muscle groups for a man to train if he wants to have a well rounded, strong looking physique. And it's especially important if he wants to have thick, strong arms that fill out sleeves.
The tricep makes up over over half the meat of the arm, and should definitely not be neglected if you want to look and be strong. However, it's often difficult for people to determine the best exercises for the triceps. With so many options out there, it can quickly become confusing for beginners and less experienced lifters to pick their exercises.
That's why in this post, we'll be going over the top 7 tricep exercises that you can do in the gym, with exercise guides and demonstration videos attached.
The Top 7 Tricep Exercises
Close Grip Bench Press
We had to start off this list with the close grip bench press. It's a great heavy compound exercise that places a lot of the load onto the triceps, with assistance from the pecs and the delts. This is a great exercise that you can use to build both strength and muscle in the triceps.
Plus, the gains you get from this exercise will have direct roll over into your regular bench pressing and other tricep movements as well. Now the close grip bench press will work all three heads of the tricep to a large degree, but does target the long and medial head to a slightly larger degree.
Overall a great movement to build towards your goal of having thick, strong arms.
To do the close grip bench press:
Have a spotter with you if you can.
Grab onto the barbell with a double overhand grip.
Take a shoulder width grip and keep your elbows tucked into your side as close as possible.
Arch your back slightly to create a gap between your lower back and the bench
Lift the bar off the rack and bring it above your collarbone.
Keeping your elbows tucked in the whole way through, lower the bar down with control until it reaches your sternum.
Briefly touch your sternum with the bar.
Press it back up with force.
Check out the video below by Scott Herman to see what this looks like!
Next up, we have the weighted dip. This is another great tricep compound exercise that works all of the upper body pushing muscles, with an emphasis on the triceps. Well, it can be modified to emphasize the triceps.
It'll help you build great amounts of overall upper body pushing strength, and engage the core heavily as well for more total body muscle engagement.
To do the weighted dip:
Add some plates onto your dip belt if you're using one, or clench a dumbbell between your legs if you don't have a belt. Or just do them bodyweight.
Get yourself up onto the parallel bars, either by jumping or using a footpad if your dip station has one.
Keep an upright torso, as this will shift the emphasis onto the triceps and away from the chest.
Lower yourself down with control, and try to make the downward portion of the movement span 2-3 seconds.
Do not go below 90 degree flexion of the elbows, as going too low will place unnecessary stress on the shoulders and can lead to injury over time.
Pause at the bottom for one second, and then explode back up by driving your hands into the bars downwards.
Squeeze hard at the top of the movement.
Check out Bodybuilding.com's video below to see what this looks like!
Diamond Push Ups
The diamond push up is actually incredibly similar to the close grip bench press. It's pretty much the same movement, except you're using your bodyweight instead, and a slightly closer grip width.
The diamond push up is extremely versatile, and can be done absolutely anywhere. That's why we included it on this list. You can do them at home, in a park, in the gym, literally anywhere.
It's definitely one of the best tricep exercises.
And it's great for building both foundational strength and muscle in the chest, shoulders and triceps, with zero equipment needed.
To do the diamond push up:
Assume a regular push up stance.
Bring your hands closer together until they are touching and form a diamond shape with your fingers.
Tighten your core and ensure that your body is in a straight line.
Lower yourself down with control until your chest meets the top of your hands.
Press yourself back up with force.
Squeeze the triceps hard at the top of the movement.
Check out Reebok Training Center's video below to see a demonstration of this!
This is the first isolation movement of the list. The cable pushdown is a great tricep exercise that you can do to isolate the muscle group, and really focus on burning them out towards the end of a workout session. The cable pushdown will primarily work the medial head, but like all tricep exercises, every head will be activated. It just emphasizes the medial head.
This exercise allows you to load pretty heavily, and achieve a great contraction, with constant tension throughout the exercise and range of motion.
To do the cable pushdown:
Set the cable high up on the pole.
Grab a straight bar.
Bring the bar down in front of you.
Tighten your core and lean forwards over the bar.
Keeping your elbow in the same spot throughout, push the bar down by simply thinking about straightening the elbow.
Squeeze the triceps hard at the bottom of the movement.
Allow the weight to come back up, but resist it with your triceps. Don't let gravity do all of the work.
Go up until you feel a stretch in the triceps.
Check out ActiveID Training Systems' video below to see what this looks like!
Lying EZ Bar Skullcrushers
Next up we've got the lying EZ bar skullcrusher. This is another great tricep isolation movement for the arms that you can load pretty heavily on. It primarily works the long head of the tricep, which is responsible for the most overall size and beefiness of the triceps.
Some people will feel wrist pain or discomfort when doing this with any kind of a barbell, and if that's you, you can use dumbbells instead. It will still be a great movement for the triceps. The skullcrusher is definitely a staple exercise in our routines.
Here's how to do it:
Grab an EZ bar and lie on a bench.
Press the EZ bar up like you would during a bench press.
Bring the bar back over your forehead. Your arms should still be straight.
Lower the bar by allowing your elbows to bend. Resist this weight with control.
Allow the bar to travel past your forehead, and down below the bench level. Your elbows should remain in the same spot throughout the range of motion.
Go down until you feel a stretch in the triceps.
Bring the weight back up by extending at the elbow forcefully.
Lock out the elbows and squeeze the triceps hard.
See the video below by MyTraining App for a demonstration!
Contrary to popular belief, the dumbbell kickback is not a very good tricep exercise. Its resistance profile has you taking maximal loads against gravity when your tricep is at its weakest position. You can read more about it in our article here, but basically you should avoid it if you want to build strength and muscle in the triceps.
Instead, you can use a cable machine to perform the tricep kickback, and receive constant tension all throughout the range of motion. This is going to allow you to actually work the muscles of the triceps and progressively overload the movement.
You'll have to use a pretty light weight on this exercise, but muscle activation is great and your triceps are doing absolutely all of the work. Plus, you'll get a great contraction on the triceps that you can't with many other movements like this.
To perform the cable kickback:
Set the cable low on the pole.
Grab onto the pole or machine with one arm and grab the cable handle with the other.
Face the cable machine and hinge down at the waist until your back reaches almost parallel with the ground.
Grab the cable and bring it close to your chest on one side.
Bend your arm so that your elbows ar bent at 90 degrees.
Keeping your elbows fixed in position, extend at the elbow and bring the cable back behind you.
Squeeze the tricep hard at the top of the movement.
Lower the weight back down with control.
Check out the video below by Live Lean TV Daily Exercises to see what this looks like!
Bodyweight Tricep Extensions
Last but not least, we've got another bodyweight movement for you to try. This time, it's an isolation movement. The bodyweight tricep extension is actually pretty difficult to perform, and will require a degree of tricep strength and stability. However, like the diamond push up, it can be done absolutely anywhere and requires zero equipment whatsoever.
It's a great exercise that you can use to finish off your home 'push' workouts, and will deliver you a great burn in the triceps, whilst torching your abs and shoulders at the same time!
To do the bodyweight tricep extension:
Get into a regular push up position.
Bring your hands slightly further out in front of you.
Keep your core tight. Your body should be in a straight line.
Lower yourself, but by bending at the elbows and landing on your forearms on the ground instead of lowering yourself down like you would in a regular push up.
Basically you allow your elbows to drop, instead of bringing them back behind your torso.
Press yourself back up with force by straightening the elbows.
Check out the video below by Global Bodyweight Training to see what this looks like!
Wrapping It Up
Overall, there are heaps of great options that you can choose from when you want to build muscle in your triceps. You don't have to stick to these 7, there are plenty of other great options out there, but these 7 will give you great bang for your buck and ensure that you're not wasting your time in the gym doing ineffective exercises.
Like we said earlier, the triceps are an incredibly important muscle group to train if you want to have big and beefy looking arms. They should definitely not be neglected.
We hope you've enjoyed reading through this post and have found it helpful! If you did, remember to share it with your friends so that we can reach more people and help more achieve their fitness goals!
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