30 Best Tricep Exercises | Review The Best Triceps Exercises

30 Best Tricep Exercises | Review The Best Triceps Exercises

Nov 21, 2023

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The 30 Best Tricep Exercises for Building Muscle

Want to know the best tricep exercises to build bigger, stronger arms? You came to the right place.

In this epic guide, you’ll discover the top 30 triceps exercises to add size and strength fast. From beginner moves to advanced variations, these are the most effective triceps exercises and techniques confirmed by science and used by pro bodybuilders to train their triceps.

Whether your goal is muscle definition, arm development, or explosive power for bench press and shoulder presses, strengthening your triceps is essential. After all, the triceps make up nearly 70% of your upper arm!

This comprehensive list walks you through proper form, tips, and benefits for isolation exercises, compound moves, machine workouts, bodyweight training, and more to build up all three heads of your triceps.

Follow this complete guide to programming the ultimate triceps workout routine for maximal hypertrophy and strength.

Why Train Your Triceps?

Before diving into the top exercises, let’s quickly discuss why you need to train your triceps directly with challenging exercises and optimal programming techniques:

  • The triceps make up the majority of mass in the upper arms. Strengthening your triceps will lead to impressive arm development.

  • Tricep exercises improve pushing strength. Your triceps are heavily involved in presses for chest and shoulders, so stronger triceps boost your bench press, shoulder press/overhead press performance.

  • Defined, toned triceps muscles enhance your physique. Well-developed triceps give your upper body an impressive look from front bicep poses to back shots.

  • Workouts must target all three triceps heads. The lateral, medial and long heads of the triceps each play important, specific roles that should be stimulated.

This list encompasses the full spectrum of movements, angles and intensities to train all three heads of your triceps for complete muscle building.

Now let’s jump in starting with great beginner tricep exercises before progressing into challenging intermediate moves and the top advanced bodybuilding techniques.

Beginner Tricep Exercises

Starting out or returning after a long layoff? Here are the best beginner triceps exercises and stretches to reap rapid rewards that will have your triceps burning, begging for mercy!

1. Cable Overhead Tricep Extension

Instructions: Stand facing a high pulley cable machine. Grip the straight bar attached above your head. Keeping upper arms stationary near your head, extend your elbows to push the bar downwards then slowly return to starting position.

Tips and Benefits: Cables provide constant tension through the triceps movement to isolate the muscle group. The overhead cable extension helps get your form right with lighter resistance before progressing to tougher variations.

Here is our complete guide for the 17 Best Tricep Extensions Exercises

2. Bench Dips

Instructions: Sit at the edge of a workout bench or sturdy chair. Straighten arms placing hands behind you on the bench shoulder width apart. Bend elbows lowering body down in a dip motion. Once you feel a stretch in the triceps, press back to the start position by straightening arms.

Tips and Benefits: Bodyweight bench dips effectively work the triceps using just your weight for resistance. Dips are easy for beginners to learn while emphasizing proper elbow alignment.

3. Close Grip Push-Ups From Knees

Instructions: In standard push-up position drop down so knees are on the floor. Place hands closer together so the thumbs and index fingers are almost touching to activate the triceps more. Bend elbows lowering chest to floor then press back up to starting position while keeping body straight.

Tips and Benefits: Narrowing hand placement shifts more tension onto the triceps muscles compared to regular push-ups. Close grip push-ups teach triceps recruitment that carries over to pressing exercises.

4. Single Arm Dumbbell Tricep Kickbacks

Instructions: Stand holding a single dumbbell at your side. Lift the dumbbell behind you with palm facing back keeping upper arm fixed near torso. Focusing on moving the forearm only, extend elbow straight back then slowly lower to start position.

Tips and Benefits: Light kickback motions teach proper joint movement and triceps contraction. Isolates the muscle group.

5. Seated Overhead Dumbbell Extension

Instructions: Sit upright holding one dumbbell overhead with both hands. Keep arms extended throughout motion. Bend elbows to lower dumbbell behind head until you feel a stretch. Press back overhead slowly.

Tips and Benefits: Performs well seated or standing for beginners to isolate triceps. Helps develop movement competency.

6. Resistance Band Pushdowns

Instructions: Grip both ends of a resistance band and raise arms to chest height. Bend elbows to pull hands towards chest then slowly straighten arms back down.

Tips and Benefits:

Band pushdowns introduce proper form on triceps extensions using elastic resistance to train muscles. Bands accommodate various strength levels.

7. Lying Dumbbell Tricep Extensions


Lie on a bench holding a single dumbbell with both hands over upper chest with arms extended. Bend elbows lowering dumbbell down towards head then press back up slowly. Also called skull crushers.

Tips and Benefits: Start with light weight to safely learn motion. Lying down reduces stress on the lower back while isolating arm movement.

8. Single Arm Dumbbell Extensions


Stand holding one end of a dumbbell overhead. Same motion but only using single arm. Lower dumbbell in arc behind head then press arm back straight overhead. Repeat on both sides.

Tips and Benefits: Enables concentrating on properly contracting one tricep at a time by isolating each arm. Reduces tendency to use momentum by training unilaterally.

9. Rope Triceps Pushdowns

Instructions: Attach rope handle to a cable machine's pulley. Grip rope overhand in middle of the cables. Push rope attachment down by extending elbows then slowly release back.

Tips and Benefits:

Rope is comfortable beginner option on cable machines to start training triceps. Rope handle places less stress on joints than single handle.

10. Assisted Triceps Stretch


Reach one arm overhead and gently pull elbow behind head with opposite arm until stretch is felt. Hold for 30 seconds then repeat on other arm. Remember to breathe deeply while stretching.

Tips and Benefits:

Stretching increases flexibility and blood flow aiding recovery to help prevent injury. Always stretch triceps after training them.

tricep stretch

Intermediate Tricep Exercises

You mastered beginner exercises and are ready for greater strength challenges? Move to intermediate triceps exercises using added resistance and varied angles to blast your arms to new levels!

1. Diamond Push-Ups

Instructions: Get into a standard push-up position. Bring your hands together to form a diamond shape under your chest. Keeping your core engaged and body in a straight line, bend arms to lower chest down towards the floor. Press back to the starting position by fully straightening arms while maintaining proper push-up form. Do not allow hips to sag.

Tips and Benefits: Diamond hand positioning challenges the triceps through greater range of motion. This exercise helps strengthen tendons in elbows to enable pressing heavier loads.

2. Close-Grip Bench Press


Lie back on a bench holding a barbell with a narrow overhand grip, about shoulder width apart. Lower bar slowly to middle of chest then press back up by extending arms while keeping elbows tucked in near lats.

Tips and Benefits:

Close grip shifts more tension onto the triceps vs wider grip bench pressing. Stimulates all three heads.

3. EZ Bar Skull Crushers


Lie back on a flat bench holding EZ curl bar over chest with arms extended. Palms facing inwards. Without moving upper arms, bend only at elbows to lower forearms down towards head for a stretch. Press forearms back up extending elbows to return bar over chest. Squeeze triceps at the contracted top position.

Tips and Benefits: Perform controlled repetitions to isolate the triceps through fullest range of motion. Great for medial head.

4. Narrow Dumbbell Chest Press


Lie on your back on a bench holding two dumbbells up over chest with arms extended in neutral position. Keeping dumbbells shoulder width, slowly lower dumbbels down towards ribs. Press dumbbells straight back up by extending elbows while keeping arms shoulder width.

Tips and Benefits:

Provides shoulder stability while directly targeting the triceps muscles through full range of motion pattern to overload the muscle group.

5. Parallel Bar Dips


Grip parallel dip bars with hands around shoulder width. Lift body up by fully extending arms. Slowly lower body down between the dip bars as far as flexibility allows. Keep elbows tucked. Press body back up to starting position by squeezing and straightening arms through full range of motion.

Tips and Benefits: Dips require strength and stability, making them an intermediate progression from bench dips. Challenges triceps eccentrically and concentrically.

6. Single-Arm Cable Kickbacks

Instructions: Attach a handle to the uppe pulley of a cable station. Stand facing the machine gripping handle in one hand. Keeping upper arm fixed near your side, pull handle down bending elbow. Extend until elbow is straight. Slowly bring arm back squeezing triceps to bring arm back to start position.

Tips and Benefits: Offers focused isolation of one triceps at a time on the cable machine. Forces each tricep to work independently strengthening arms for unilateral exercises.

7. Laying Dumbbell Kickbacks

Instructions: Lay face down on a bench holding dumbbell in each hand. Bend elbow lifting dumbbell behind you while keeping upper arm stationary and parallel to bench. Extend elbow straight back squeezing triceps then slowly lower back down with control.

Tips and Benefits: Laying flat changes exercise angle to intensify contraction. Enhances development of lateral triceps head.

8. Decline EZ Bar Tricep Extension


Lie back on a decline bench holding EZ curl bar over face with arms extended. Keeping upper arms stationary, bend elbows lowering forearms down towards head for a stretch. Press forearms straight back up fully extending elbows to return bar over face.

Tips and Benefits:

Decline angle increases stretch and contraction intensity on triceps for advanced stimulation. Safely allows greater range of motion while keeping shoulders stabilized on the bench.

9. Kettlebell Tricep Extension

Instructions: Stand or sit on bench holding kettlebell by horns or bell with both hands, arms extended overhead. Bend elbows, lower kettlebell behind head stretching triceps then press back up squeezing triceps.

Tips and Benefits:

Kettlebell handle challenges grip strength while directly targeting all three triceps heads. Forces extra stabilization increasing triceps recruitment.

10. Cable Rope Overhead Extension


Attach rope to high pulley cable. Stand facing away from machine gripping rope ends overhead. Pull rope ends forward and back by extending elbows. Stop when you feel deep stretch. Slowly return to start position by squeezing triceps and straightening arms overhead.

Tips and Benefits:

Hits long head well. Keep shoulders down and maintain upright posture through motion. The rope handle provides greater comfort on this popular triceps exercise.

Advanced Tricep Exercises

You’ve built an impressive strength base. Now it’s time to graduate to hardcore lifting techniques that will explode your triceps to new levels!

Here are the top 10 most advanced triceps exercises to challenge the seasoned gym veteran or competitive bodybuilder. The following movements are brutal. They can catalyze massive gains...or if done incorrectly, lead to injury. So carefully master form and safety before adding heavy weight.

1. Weighted Dips


You can either add weight to bench dips or set up dip station handles with weighted belt or dumbbell between ankles. Add some extra resistance to the already tough combo of tricep exercises.

Tips and Benefits:

Resistance exponentially intensifies dip difficulty, forcing greater triceps recruitment. Use controlled form – no jerky reps.

2. Body Tricep Press


The body triceps press uses your bodyweight and gravity to isolate the triceps through a large range of motion.

Stand facing a power rack bar set at chest height, take an overhand grip, then lean forward supporting yourself with extended arms and control your body weight up and down by bending and straightening your elbows.

For added resistance you can hold weight plates against your chest or hang chains loaded with plates over your shoulders.

Tips and Benefits:

  • Keeps constant tension on the triceps due to bodyweight load
  • Hits all three heads through fullest activation range
  • Added weight increments challenge strength as you progress

3. Reverse Grip Bench Press


Grip barbell with underhand grip slightly outside shoulder width. Lower to mid chest. Press bar back up focusing on squeezing triceps to lock out elbows through greater internal rotation.

Tips and Benefits:

Challenges muscle recruitment and technical proficiency due to altered pressing angle. Uses new motor patterns to spur further triceps development.

4. Tate Press


Sit on edge of bench holding dumbbells upright at shoulder width. Bend elbow so dumbells angle towards chest not allowing elbows to move from position. Tap chest then extend elbows to lift weight back to starting position.

Tips and Benefits:

Stresses triceps medially due to constant internal tension from resistance wanting to cave arms inwards. Burns the inner triceps head with peak contraction.

5. JM Press


Lower barbell down to collarbone just like a close grip bench press. Bend elbows, tucking upper arms down to sides to press bar back up in an arc motion.

Tips and Benefits:

Hybrid exercise combines heavy pressing strength with isolation extension. Great for advanced lifters to spark new triceps muscle fibers due to novel movement pattern.

6. Seated Cable Overhead Tricep Extensions


Sit upright on a bench facing away from the pulley machine with a straight bar attached to the high cable. Grip bar with palms down, arms extended overhead. Keeping elbows fixed near your head, bend elbows lowering forearms behind your head. Extend forearms back up by straightening elbows squeezing triceps.

Tips and Benefits:

The seated cable overhead tricep extension directly targets the triceps with constant tension from cable resistance throughout the movement. The upright seated position isolates the arms and reduces strain on the lower back compared to lying extensions. This exercise stimulates the triceps through a full stretch and contraction throughout the elbow's range of motion.

7. Narrow Grip Barbell Tricep Press


Hold barbell slightly more narrow than shoulder width apart. Lower the barbell aiming for just under your chin while flaring elbows how to the side. Extend elbows to press barbell back to position.

Tips and Benefits: Similar to the Tate Press but with a barbell. Activates both medial and lateral head of the triceps exceptionally well.

8. Laying Svend Press

Instructions: Hold two plates or one heavier plate with both hands in front of your chest. Press the plates together as hard as possible to create tension throughout the movement. Slowly extend your arms forward until they are fully extended, squeezing your chest and triceps. Return to the starting position with controlled motion.

Tips and Benefits: Although primarily a chest exercise, the triceps are heavily involved in the pressing motion. Generates tremendous tension with maximal contractions.

9. Strap Tricep Extensions (Using Rings or TRX)


Set up gymnastic rings or a TRX at about waist height. Grasp the handles and lean forward with your arms extended and body in a straight line. Bend your elbows, lowering your body until your hands are near your forehead. Push back up to the starting position, focusing on extending through the triceps.

Tips and Benefits:

This exercise requires significant core engagement and stability. Rings and TRX builds extraordinary arm and shoulder strength via free flowing movement.

10. Dumbbell Rolling Tricep Extension


Lie on a flat bench with dumbbells in each hand, arms extended straight up. Lower the dumbbells towards your shoulders by bending your elbows, allowing your arms to "roll back" slightly. Extend your arms back to the starting position, focusing on using your triceps.

Tips and Benefits:

Very similar to the dumbell skullcrushers exercise. This movement allows for a greater stretch in the triceps at the bottom and a powerful contraction at the top. Hits all three triceps heads through full range of motion.

Programming Triceps Workouts

Now that you know the best exercises, let’s quickly go over some tips to program effective triceps workouts for maximum results:

  • Train triceps 2-3 times per week for optimal volume while allowing recovery between sessions
  • Include multi-joint and single joint exercises in each workout to stimulate all three heads
  • Structure your triceps routine around compound movements (dips, close grip presses) before isolation exercises (extensions, kickbacks)
  • Use progressive overload principles to continually increase intensity weekly via added weight, reps or sets
  • Switch up exercises, resistance and angles regularly to target muscles from new directions
  • Allow at least 48 hours of rest between directly training the same muscle group
  • Stretch and foam roll triceps after each session to accelerate recovery
  • Pay attention to form quality over weight - no cheating or momentum should be used
  • Use a spotter for risky exercises like heavy overhead extensions

Follow those tips and you’re sure to develop bigger, stronger triceps in a safe, strategic manner.

Sample Triceps Workout Routines

Here are two sample triceps routines to demonstrate how to structure an effective workout hitting all three heads of the triceps for maximum muscle activation and hypertrophy.

Workout A

  1. Close Grip Bench Press: 3 sets x 8-10 reps
  2. Rope Pushdowns: 3 sets x 10-12 reps
  3. Dumbbell Overhead Extension: 3 sets x 10-12 reps
  4. Diamond Pushups: 3 sets x Max reps

Workout B

  1. Weighted Dips: 4 sets x 6-8 reps