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If you’re aiming for beefy arms, you’re probably spending a lot of time working your biceps. But if you’re not also exercising your triceps, you won’t see the big results you’re hoping for. While it’s true that the biceps are what you see in the mirror while flexing, the triceps are a much larger muscle and need equal attention to create the complete package of chiseled arms.

best tricep exercises

To help you achieve your fitness goals, we’ve put together this list of the best tricep workouts. We’ve tried plenty of moves, but we think these offer the biggest bang for your buck. Incorporate them into your routine today to start seeing better gains for more muscle mass.

The Best Tricep Exercises

We thought hard about which moves to include on this list of the best tricep workouts. There are lots out there, but we think each of these is a great tricep exercise because they’re easy to execute, they effectively work the muscle, and they don’t require specialized equipment that’s hard to find.

8 Best Tricep Exercises

1. Close Grip Bench Press

The close grip bench press is a variation of the standard bench press that targets the triceps muscle

How to do close grip bench presses

  • Lie back on an workout bench with your feet flat on the ground.
  • Wrap your hands around the barbell with your hands just slightly wider than shoulder-width.
  • Make sure your core is tight, and then lift the barbell straight up.
  • Lower the barbell until your arms are at 90-degree angles.
  • Hold the press for a beat, and then raise the barbell until your arms are straight. Hold again, and then restart.

close Grip Bench Press

2. Overhead Triceps Extension

Low-impact exercise that helps you build upper arm mass

How to do overhead triceps extensions

  • Grasp a dumbbell, and stand straight or sit at the edge of an exercise bench or chair.
  • Transfer your grip so that you’re holding the dumbbell by one end using both hands.
  • Raise your arms to hold the dumbbell directly over your head.
  • Without moving your upper arm, slowly lower the dumbbell behind your head, and hold for a beat.
  • Forcefully raise the dumbbell back up until it’s back over your head. Hold for two seconds, and then restart the move.

Overhead Triceps Extension

3. Lying Triceps Extension

Powerful tricep exercise that produces fast results

How to do lying triceps extensions

  • Grab two dumbbells, and lie back on a workout bench with your feet flat on the ground.
  • Firmly grasp each dumbbell, and extend your arms until they’re straight, with your palms facing one another.
  • Keeping your upper arms in place, bend your elbows and lower the dumbbells until they touch the top of your shoulders.
  • Raise the dumbbells with arms completely straight to return to the starting position and hold before restarting.

4. Overhead Cable Triceps Extension

One of the most effective triceps exercises you can do at the gym

How to do overhead cable triceps extensions

  • For this exercise, you’ll need a rope handle and cable machine. Attach the rope to a high pulley point on the machine.
  • Grab the rope, lift it above your head with an overhand grip, and turn away from the machine.
  • Lean forward, bracing yourself by staggering your feet one slightly in front of the other.
  • Position the rope handle behind your head, and without moving your upper arms, pull it forward over your head and extend your arms straight. Hold for two seconds.
  • Bend your elbows to return to your original position.

5. Dumbbell Chest Press

Excellent beginner exercise to start your triceps workouts

How to do dumbbell chest presses

  • Grab two dumbbells, and lie back on an exercise bench with your feet flat on the ground.
  • Dig your shoulders into the bench and arch your back slightly.
  • Bring the dumbbells up over your chest; make sure they’re positioned below your shoulders to avoid unnecessary in this area.
  • Push the dumbbells up over our body with arms fully extended.
  • Slowly lower the dumbbells, with your arms bending away from your body, until your arms are at 90-degree angles.
  • Hold with elbows bent for one beat, and then return to the starting position.

6. Tricep Dip

Tricep dips are an easy exercise that you can do almost anywhere using your own body weight

How to do tricep dips

  • Sit at the edge of an exercise bench or sturdy, non-rolling chair.
  • Grip the bottom of the bench directly below your shoulders.
  • Extend your legs to pull your torso up and away from the bench until you’re supporting your body weight on your hands and feet. You can exercise with legs slightly bent if you’re a beginner or with legs straight for greater intensity.
  • Keeping your shoulders and neck straight, lower yourself towards to ground by bending your elbow.
  • Stop when your arms are at 90-degree angles, and hold for a beat.
  • Exhale and extend your arms straight to lift yourself back up. Hold for another beat before restarting.

7. Elbow Extension

Simple but effective routine for stronger triceps

How to do elbow extensions

  • Grab a dumbbell with your left hand in an underhand grip, and stand straight.
  • Bring the dumbbell up until it touches your shoulder. This is the starting position.
  • Slowly extend your left arm downward until the dumbbell touches the top of your thigh. Hold the position for a beat, and then bring the dumbbell back up to your shoulder.
  • Repeat the exercise for a set before switching to your right arm.

8. Cable Rope Tricep Pushdown

Great beginner exercise that you can do at home or at the gym

How to do cable rope tricep pushdowns

  • For this exercise, you’ll need a rope handle and cable machine. Attach the rope to a high pulley point on the machine.
  • Grasp the rope with an overhand grip and palms facing each other.
  • Keeping your torso and shoulders straight, lean forward at the hips slightly with elbows tucked to your sides.
  • Not moving your upper arms, pull the rope down until your arms are fully extended and your hands are on either side of your thighs.
  • Hold the position for two seconds, and then bring your arms up until they form 45-degree angles.

Tips for an Effective Triceps Workout

triceps workout exercises

Before you dive into your tricep workout, consider these tips. They’ll help ensure you stay safe and see the best results from your hard work.

Always Warm Up

Jumping into a strenuous tricep workout without first warming up is a quick way to end up sore and possibly injured. Many of the best tricep exercises also involve the ligaments and joints of your elbows and shoulders — areas that are easily strained if you don’t first loosen them up.

The best way to warm up for tricep exercise is to do plenty of stretching. From there, start with low-impact moves before moving to extensions and free weights.

Focus on Form

It can be easy to get carried away when trying to sculpt perfect tricep muscles. However, be sure to focus on quality rather than quantity when going through reps. When performing presses and extensions, move slowly and only with your lower arms to keep from injuring delicate joints and straining supporting muscles.

Don’t Forget to Lock

You’ll notice that many of the best triceps exercises call for you to hold a position for a beat before moving on. This isn’t to give you a chance to catch your breath. Instead, it’s to ensure that you completely contract your triceps, squeezing them hard to gain the full benefit of the exercise.

FAQs

Where are the triceps?

Even though they’re a bit difficult to see because of their location, the triceps make up about two-thirds of your arm. You’ll find them on the back side of your arms, right above your elbows.

The triceps consist of three distinct parts: the lateral head, the long head, and the medial head. Because of the position of the muscle, with two portions running down the arm, bodybuilders train hard for coveted “horseshoe triceps”.

How often should I work out my triceps?

Allowing about 48 hours of recovery between tricep workouts is usually enough time to promote muscle growth and ensure you don’t overexert. This means you can safely work out your triceps 2 to 3 times per week.

Of course, many people exercise their arms more frequently than this. You can do so, too, just shorten your routines to make up for the increased frequency.

How do I relieve sore triceps?

Sore muscles often come along with weightlifting and strength training, especially if you’re a beginner. However, it’s important that you listen to your body and keep from overexerting yourself. Doing so could lead to injury.

If you’re suffering from typical post-workout tenderness, give yourself a break. Skip the tricep workouts for a day or two, but be sure to continue stretching to help with recovery and maintain your range of motion.

If you’re in pain, you should practice the R.I.C.E protocol: rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Resting will give your muscles time to heal, while ice, compression, and elevation will help minimize swelling. If you’re still in pain after a couple of days or otherwise believe you’re suffering from an injury, consult your doctor.

rest, ice, compression, and elevation

Wrapping Up

Our list of the best triceps exercises can help you achieve those horseshoe triceps you’ve been dreaming of. Whether you’re a beginner or working hard for bigger gains, these workouts are sure to transform your upper arms.

Want to take your strength training out of the gym and into your home? Check out our buying guides for help finding the best tricep bars and best tricep ropes to outfit your exercise space.

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