Are Triceps Push or Pull? Push-Pull Workout Ripl Fitness

Are Triceps Push or Pull? Push-Pull Workout Ripl Fitness

Feb 28, 2024

are triceps push or pull? ripl fitness

Are Triceps Push or Pull Muscles? Everything You Need to Know About Push-Pull Workouts

If you're looking to build muscle and strength in your arms, targeting the triceps is key. But before creating an effective triceps workout, it's important to understand whether triceps are push or pull muscles.

So are triceps utilized more during pushing or pulling movements? As one of the main muscles involved in extending the elbow joint, the triceps brachii are most definitely push muscles. Exercises like triceps pushdowns, skull crushers, and pressing movements heavily involve the triceps to straighten the arms against resistance.

In this complete guide, we will dig into all the nitty-gritty details around the triceps such as:

  • What makes the triceps a push muscle group
  • The best triceps push exercises
  • How to incorporate triceps work into push days in your program
  • Triceps anatomy 101
  • Expert tips for maximizing triceps muscle and strength gains

Let's get started!

tricep exercise push ripl fitness

What Makes the Triceps a Push Muscle Group?

The triceps brachii muscle group makes up approximately two-thirds of your upper arm mass. Situated at the back of your arm, the three-headed triceps muscles straighten your elbow joint and extend your arm.

Pushing exercises involve contraction of the triceps to press weight away from your body. Think pushups, bench pressing, shoulder pressing, and triceps extensions - all moves that straighten the elbow joint against resistance utilizing the triceps.

Pulling exercises on the flip side involve bending the elbows to draw weight in towards the body. Bicep curls, pullups, rows, and pulldowns all rely more on the opposing biceps muscles located in front of the arm.

So when it comes to determining triceps as push or pull muscles, the extension function of the triceps clearly places it in the push muscles category. Just about any vertical or overhead pressing movement will heavily recruit those horseshoe-shaped triceps muscles at the back of your arm!

Best Triceps Push Exercises

Ready to start blasting your triceps? Here are the top triceps push exercises to incorporate into your next arm day workout:

Close-Grip Bench Press

Performing bench press with a narrower overhand grip puts more tension on the triceps muscles. Lie back on a flat bench holding a barbell with hands placed about shoulder-width apart. Lower to your mid-chest then press back up to the start.

Lying Triceps Extensions (Skull crushers)

Lying on a bench holding a barbell or dumbbells, extend your arms back behind your head. Keeping elbows tight, lower the weight towards your forehead then press back. One of the top triceps mass builders!

Triceps Pushdowns

A triceps workout staple. Grip a straight or rope cable attachment at shoulder height using an overhand grip. With elbows tucked at your sides, push the handle down until arms are straight.

Dumbbell Kickbacks

Support yourself bent over with one arm as the other hand holds a dumbbell. Keeping your upper arm fixed in place parallel to the ground, straighten your working elbow to kick the dumbbell back.

Overhead Triceps Extensions

Seated or standing overhead extensions are perfect for isolating the hard-to-reach long head of your triceps. Hold a dumbbell or barbell overhead with straight arms. Bend elbows to lower weight behind head then straighten arms back to top.

Incorporating Triceps Training into Push Days

The most efficient way to carve out those horseshoe triceps is to focus your training on designated push days. Structure your weekly split to train the triceps and other push muscle groups like chest and shoulders together 2-3 times per week.

You also want to prioritize heavy compound pushing exercises (close-grip bench press, overhead press) before isolation moves. This allows you to lift the heaviest weights possible when your muscles are fresh. Follow up compounds with targeted extensions and pushdowns.

Not sure how to optimally structure your push/pull split? Aim to stick to these guidelines:

  • Train pushing body parts (chest, shoulders, triceps) at least 2x per week
  • Include a dedicated pull day (back, biceps) at least once weekly
  • Space out push and pull days with a legs/glutes session
  • Ensure you take at least 1 full rest day each week
  • Structure your split into a 3, 4, 5, or 6-day weekly schedule

Using a thoughtfully designed push-pull-legs split will lead to better triceps and overall upper body muscle gains compared to just randomly selecting exercises.

woman doing triceps ripl fitness

Triceps 101: Anatomy and Function

Before wrapping up, let’s briefly break down triceps anatomy 101:

Three Triceps Heads

As the name “tri-ceps” indicates, the triceps muscle comprises three distinct heads that converge to form one thick tendon:

  • Lateral Head - Outer triceps muscle located on the side of your arm
  • Long Head - Largest section sitting underneath the lateral and medial heads
  • Medial Head – Inner triceps head facing your body

Triceps Function

The key function of all three triceps heads is extending your elbow joint. Any exercise that straightens the arms such as presses or extensions will contract the triceps through its full range of motion.

Heavy pushing movements that build serious triceps mass tend to maximally shorten those muscles when the elbows lock out. So be sure to perform repetitions through full elbow extension!

How to Target Each Triceps Head

While it’s difficult to fully isolate each triceps section, certain exercises emphasize one head:

  • Overhead extensions target the long head
  • Pushdowns hit more of the lateral head
  • Narrow grip presses recruit additional medial head activation

Expert Tips for Triceps Muscle Growth

If your goal is to maximize triceps muscle and strength development, be sure to apply these training tips:

  • Use good form - No half-repping! Perform slow, controlled reps with full elbow extension
  • Go heavy to spur growth - Use challenging weights in the 6-10 rep range
  • Focus on eccentric tempo - Emphasize 2-3 sec negative/lowering phases
  • Mix up hand positions - Use closer and wider grips to hit all heads
  • Prioritize compounds first - Big presses and dips before isolation exercises
  • Allow for adequate recovery - Give triceps 48-72 hrs rest between sessions

So in summary - the triceps brachii is most definitely categorized as a push muscle group based on its function extending the elbow joint. Pushing exercises let you lift the heaviest loads to place maximal mechanical tension on the triceps for greater muscle and strength gains.

Be sure to use this guide to optimally train your triceps 1-2 weekly either on dedicated arm days or as part of push-focused workouts. Incorporating heavy presses along with isolations like extensions and pushdowns will give you an efficient route to building bigger, stronger triceps!

Fitness instructor exercising with his client triceps ripl fitness


Are triceps push or pull muscles?

The triceps are push muscles. As the primary muscles involved in straightening and extending the elbow joint, triceps exercises involve pushing motion like presses, pushups, and pushdowns.

What's an effective triceps workout routine?

Train triceps 2 times per week focusing on heavy compounds like close-grip bench press paired with isolation moves like pushdowns and extensions. Include 8-10 total sets per session in the 6-12 rep range.

Are pushdowns a good triceps exercise?

Yes, cable triceps pushdowns allow you to isolate the triceps through its fullest range of motion. Use a straight or rope handle to press down from shoulder height all the way until arms lock out straight.

What are good triceps pull exercises?

There aren't truly any pull exercises that target the triceps since pulling uses the opposing biceps arm flexors. For triceps focus on push exercises.

Should I do tricep extensions?

Definitely incorporate lying, seated or standing triceps extensions into your routine. Extensions isolate the long head for complete triceps development.

What muscles do tricep pushdowns work?

Triceps pushdowns primarily target the lateral and medial triceps heads. Use different grip widths to shift tension between all three heads.

Should I train triceps on push or pull day?

Always train triceps on dedicated push days along with chest and shoulders for maximum muscle gains.

What are benefits of push vs pull workouts?

A push/pull training split allows you to go heavier on large compound movements for each muscle group. It also balances out opposing muscle groups.

How much rest between triceps workouts?

Allow 48-72 hours of rest between directly training triceps again to help muscles adequately recover.

What are good 5 day workout splits?

A good five day routine covers push pull legs then includes specific muscle focus days: Day 1: Push Day 2: Pull Day 3: Legs Day 4: Shoulders Day 5: Arms

Exercises that involve pushing?

Bench & shoulder presses, pushups, triceps extensions, chest flyes, lateral raises.

The key is choosing moves that extend the arms under load like presses, pushups, and triceps extensions.

Sporty woman doing triceps dips using a jump box ripl fitness

Crafting the Ultimate Push-Pull Workout Split

As a personal trainer, I'm constantly strategizing the optimal way to help clients build strength and muscle. One of my go-to training templates is structuring programs using a push-pull workout split.

What does this mean exactly? Well, it involves grouping exercises that either involve "pushing" motions versus those that "pull" weight towards the body.

This technique offers a super straightforward way to hammer both the front and back sides of the body while allowing proper recovery. Let's break it down!

Why Push vs Pull Training Works

Most pushing exercises like presses, raises, and pushdowns utilize the triceps, chest, and shoulders (delts). Pulling moves instead train back muscles and biceps through rows, chinups and curls.

By dedicating specific training days to either push OR pull, you can strategically fatigue certain muscle groups while others rest. This optimizes intensity AND recovery.

What happens if you just combined back squats, shoulder press, deadlifts and curls randomly into each session? Total body chaos! Muscles never get a chance to recover and you'll burn out fast.

Trust me, a structured push-pull setup is the ticket to making consistent strength and mass gains long term. Now let's dive into crafting an ideal split...

Mapping Out Your Weekly Push Pull Split

When designing push-pull programs for myself or clients, I generally recommend 5-6 training days per week broken down like this:

Day 1: Push Day 1 (chest focus)

Day 2: Pull Day 1 (back focus) Day 3: Legs

Day 4: Push Day 2 (shoulders focus) Day 5: Pull Day 2 (arms focus)

I'll also incorporate a full rest day if following a 6 day schedule to allow an extended 36 hour muscle recovery period at some point. This helps avoid overtraining and injury risk.

As you can see, push and pull days alternate allowing at least 48 hours before directly training the same muscle again. Legs serve as a nice buffer between upper sessions.

Let's now dive into crafting EFFECTIVE push and pull workouts...

Muscular man doing push-up with dumbbells ripl fitness

Components of Optimizing Push Days

My goal with push sessions is attacking chest, shoulders and triceps from multiple angles for complete development:

Push Workout A Must-Haves:

  • Multi-joint press (bench variation to blast overall chest and front delts)
  • Lateral raise dropset (absolutely fries shoulders!)
  • Pushdown circuit (high reps to finish off triceps)

I'll start off heavy with compound presses then switch to higher volume isolation towards the end when muscles are fried. This depletion technique forces MAX muscle breakdown.

With some thoughtful programming, push days result in some supreme chest, shoulder and triceps pumps! Now onto the pulling side of things...

How to Structure Pull Sessions

On pull days, it's all about carving out a rugged back and thick biceps which are critical for that coveted inverted triangle look:

My Pull Workout Template Includes:

  • Pulldown/Chinup Combo (grease the lats!)
  • Unilateral Dumbbell Row (focuses on contraction)
  • 21's Bicep Curls (nothing builds bicep peaks like high rep 21's!)

I'm always prioritizing a vertical pull, row variation and biceps blast sequence to check all the boxes.

And don't even get me started on all the advanced dropsets, supersets and other techniques in my back pocket!

The main takeaway is that a properly implemented push-pull allows you to stimulate ALL upper body muscles more frequently. This directly correlates to faster aesthetic and performance improvements.

So give this push/pull workout structure a shot and let me know your results! Time to start growing...

For More Training Advice + Diet and Lifestyle visit us RIPL Fitness

PS: Make sure you check out the rest of our Tricep Training Guides:

12 Best Long Head Tricep Exercises

The Best Tricep Workouts

Top 17 Tricep Extension Exercises

Perfecting the Triceps Pushdown

10 Best Medial Head Tricep Exercises

10 Best Lateral Head Tricep Exercises

The Best Triceps Stretches to Loosen and Improve Flexibility

Triceps Tendonitis: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Tricep Dips Exercise Guide