Exercises to build big triceps
by Tobias •6 minutes read
Last updated: 24 Feb, 2023
When most people aim to increase the size of their arm the bicep is normally the first muscle mentioned. The often overlooked tricep muscle is the unsung hero for those that want to stretch their shirt sleeves. We've put together a detailed article on building bigger triceps using specific isolating exercises so you can feel the burn and see the growth!
What is the Tricep?
The tricep muscle, located on the back of the upper arm, is often overlooked when it comes to upper body training. However, it is an important muscle group that plays a crucial role in many upper body exercises such as push-ups and bench press. The tricep muscle is made up of three heads: the lateral head, medial head, and long head. Each head has its own unique function and activation points. The lateral head, located on the outer side of the upper arm, is responsible for shoulder extension and is activated when the arm is in an extended position. The medial head, located on the inner side of the upper arm, is responsible for elbow extension and is activated when the arm is in a flexed position. The long head, located on the inner side of the upper arm and runs along the back of the arm, is responsible for shoulder extension and is activated when the arm is in an extended position.
To achieve optimal muscle growth and development in the triceps, it's important to target all three heads of the muscle through a variety of exercises. In this article, we will be discussing some of the best exercises to target the tricep muscle, including the close-grip bench press, skull crushers, tricep pushdowns, tricep dips, cable overhead tricep extensions, and diamond push-ups. Each exercise targets the tricep muscle in different ways and by including a variety of exercises in your training program, you will be able to build a well-rounded tricep muscle.
The close-grip bench press, for example, targets all three heads of the tricep muscle and is a great exercise for building overall tricep mass. To perform the close-grip bench press, lie on a flat bench and grip the barbell with your hands placed closer than shoulder-width apart. Lower the barbell to your chest and then press it back up to the starting position. The close-grip bench press is a compound exercise that also works the chest, shoulders and core. This exercise is a great way to target the triceps while also building overall upper body strength. It is important to note that the closer your grip is, the more the triceps will be activated. To increase the intensity, you can add weight to the barbell or perform the exercise with dumbbells.
The skull crushers, also known as the lying tricep extension, is an exercise that specifically targets the long head of the tricep muscle. To perform skull crushers, lie on a flat bench with a barbell or dumbbells in your hands. Lower the weight towards your forehead and then press it back up to the starting position. This exercise is great for isolating the triceps and increasing the intensity can be achieved by increasing the weight or by using an EZ bar instead of a straight barbell.
The tricep pushdown is another exercise that targets the tricep muscle, specifically the lateral and medial heads. To perform the tricep pushdown, stand in front of a cable machine and attach a rope or bar to the cable. Grasp the rope or bar with an overhand grip and press it down towards the ground. This exercise can also be performed using a band and is a great way to isolate the triceps and increase muscle activation in the lateral and medial heads.
The dip station or parallel bars are great for performing tricep dips, which target all three heads of the tricep muscle, but particularly the long head. To perform tricep dips, place your hands on the parallel bars or dip station and lower your body towards the ground by bending your elbows. Then, press back up to the starting position. This exercise can also be modified by adding weight to your body or by elevating your feet to increase the intensity.
The cable overhead tricep extension targets the long head of the tricep muscle. To perform this exercise, stand in front of a cable machine and attach a rope or handle to the cable. Grasp the rope or handle with both hands and press it overhead. Lower the weight behind your head and then press it back up to the starting position. This exercise is great for isolating the long head of the tricep and can also be done with a single arm to increase the intensity.
Lastly, diamond push-ups, which are similar to regular push-ups but with the hands placed close together under the chest, targets all three heads of the tricep muscle. This exercise is great for targeting the triceps while also working the chest, shoulders, and core. It can also be modified by elevating the feet or by wearing a weighted vest to increase body weight and exercise intensity.
We have created three workout routines depending on your overall goals. Triceps can be isolated for an entire workout but more frequently they are mixed with exercises aimed at the chest muscles or included with exercises aimed at the biceps. We have given examples of all three below:
- Close grip bench press: 3 sets of 8-12 reps
- Tricep pushdown: 3 sets of 12-15 reps
- Standing dumbbell tricep extension: 3 sets of 12-15 reps
- Lying tricep extension: 3 sets of 12-15 reps
- Cable overhead tricep extension: 3 sets of 12-15 reps
Chest and Tricep Workout
- Barbell bench press: 3 sets of 8-12 reps
- Incline bench press: 3 sets of 8-12 reps
- Dips (chest version): 3 sets of 12-15 reps
- Cable fly: 3 sets of 12-15 reps
- Close grip push-ups: 3 sets of max reps
Arm Workout (biceps and triceps)
- Barbell curl: 3 sets of 8-12 reps
- Dumbbell hammer curl: 3 sets of 12-15 reps
- Standing dumbbell tricep extension: 3 sets of 12-15 reps
- Cable rope pushdown: 3 sets of 12-15 reps
- Diamond push-ups: 3 sets of max reps
This is just an example and can be adjusted to fit your individual goals and fitness level. Training frequency should be 2-3 times a week, with at least one day of rest between tricep workout days. It's also important to remember to progressively increase the weight, reps, or sets to continue challenging the muscle and promoting growth.
It's a good idea to mix up the exercises and the order of exercises every 4-6 weeks to prevent muscle adaptation, which can be beneficial when training multiple muscle groups in one workout. It's also a good idea to include exercises that work multiple muscle groups in one movement like dips, or close grip push-ups to work both chest and triceps in the same exercise.
It's important to keep in mind that muscle growth takes time and consistency is key. Stick to a consistent workout schedule, eat a diet that supports muscle growth, and make sure to get enough rest and recovery time. With dedication and hard work, you'll be on your way to bigger, stronger triceps in no time.
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