Many people don’t realize this but if you want to actually have big and muscular arms you need to really work your triceps just as much as you do your biceps simply because they are the ones that give you the illusion of fullness that you see on every social media platform nowadays.
Biceps are great for showing your peaks, but if you want to actually have arms that can rival Arnold’s or Ronnie Coleman’s from back in the day you will really need to make sure that you train your triceps just as much if not more than them.
With that being said though, what are some of the absolute best triceps’ exercises that you can try out the next time you’re lifting heavy at the gym? This is what we’re here to find out together as we will soon bring you our very own list of the top 20 best exercises that should definitely be in your workout plan right now.
But before we delve into these hidden secrets that even Jay Cutler would beg for back in the day, let’s give you a brief rundown of what the triceps even are and more specifically, which part of them you should focus on the most.
- The Three Heads of the Triceps
- 20. Single Arm Kickback
- 19. Standing Overhead Tricep Extension
- 18. Seated Tricep Extension
- 17. Close Grip Dumbbell Press
- 16. Close Grip Dumbbell Pushup
- 15. Skull Crusher
- 14. Shoveling
- 13. Kneeling Extension
- 12. Crush Grip Dumbbell Push-Up
- 11. Dumbbell Tate Press
- 10. Gravity Press
- 9. Single-Arm Dumbbell Floor Press
- 8. Dumbbell Tricep Dip
- 7. Angled Single-Arm Overhead Extension
- 6. Bent Over Row
- 5. Prone Double-Arm Tricep Kickbacks
- 4. Plank Tricep Kickback
- 3. Two Point Dumbbell Row
- 2. Diamond Pushup
- 1. Eccentric Skull Crusher to Double Press
The Three Heads of the Triceps
Similar to how people believe that the back is one big muscle or that the biceps are just a singular muscle that you can hit by doing curls in the squat rack, there is more to the triceps than meets the eye, specifically there are three heads that you need to cover while at the gym to get the best muscle growth possible:
- The Long Head – This is the part of the tricep that you can see starting from the scapula all the way to the elbow. Its main purpose on our body is to assist with the extension and adduction from the shoulder joint
- The Medial Head – This is the part of the tricep that starts from the back of your humerus inferior bone and it actually goes all the way down to the radial groove, eventually reaching all the way to your elbow joint
- The Lateral Head – This is the part of the tricep that starts around the proximal point of the humerus superior bone and it actually does go all the way down to the lower upper part of your elbow
As mentioned previously, while working out it is important to take full advantage of every single one of these heads if you want to actually make the most out of your workout.
If you only hit one of them you will end up with asymmetrical triceps which are never fun to look at and it can take you years to get the rest of the heads to catch up to it without the use of any under the counter supplements.
But hey, now that we’re all accustomed with what you need to hit at the gym how about we actually cover the top 20 best exercises to do so, starting off with:
20. Single Arm Kickback
This is a great exercise for newbies because you can really get a good workout in without actually using a lot of weight to begin with.
Just put your non-working arm and knee on a nearby bench or any sort of elevated surface and then make sure to keep the rest of your body in a flat-table-top position to make sure that you are not using your back or chest while lifting here.
Now that you have your dumbbell in your hand just make sure to lower it down to the floor and then slowly yet surely start extending your forearm back until it is straight. We recommend that you keep this position for about a second while up there to get the most out of it too.
19. Standing Overhead Tricep Extension
This is yet another great exercise that you can use to increase your strength and mass while also adding to your shoulder’s stability too. The best part about it is the fact that you can either do it with one arm alone or you can use both arms to keep the form in mint condition.
Just make sure that your feet are shoulder-width apart and as you lift up the dumbbell make sure that your back is straight the whole time.
Hold the dumbbell in a pronated grip next and slowly lower your weight down behind the back of your head until you feel resistance stopping you. When this happens just start lifting your dumbbell back up.
18. Seated Tricep Extension
While this exercise may seem like a carbon copy of the one before it, do keep in mind that it is slightly more challenging due to the fact that you are essentially utilizing all three heads of your tricep to keep the motion going.
Form wise it is the same as the standing overhead tricep extension, just make sure to lean back a bit so that you can get your elbows pointing directly upwards as you do every rep.
17. Close Grip Dumbbell Press
This is a great compound exercise that you can add to your routine due to the fact that it works your triceps, your chest and your shoulders all at the same time.
If you want to do it just lay on your back on a flat bench and extend both of your arms up while holding the dumbbells. Hold the dumbbells just close enough to one another so they can touch and then lower them slowly only to go back up explosively.
16. Close Grip Dumbbell Pushup
Most any close grip variants of exercises will put the pressure on your triceps and close grip dumbbell pushups are no different.
The reason as to why the dumbbells are here is so that you can increase your range of motion and in doing so you can essentially make it so that the lower you go, the harder you have to work to get back up.
15. Skull Crusher
Despite having one of the most violent names on this list, the skull crusher exercise is actually very good and safe to do especially so if you try to limit the weight up a bit and only do about 12 or so reps to failure.
In order to do them just go on your back on the flat bench and lower the dumbbells behind your head, only to extend your arms afterwards and fully straighten them.
This may seem like a bit of a strange exercise to add to your workout but trust us when we tell you that you will definitely feel it the day after.
Just hold the dumbbell properly with both of your hands and go down into a squat position. Don’t go all the way down though, just make sure to engage your glutes while you get a better footing.
Now, as you have your dumbbell right next to your hips, raise it to around your chest level then lower it back down in a swift motion.
13. Kneeling Extension
While this may also seem like a copy of some of the other exercises on this list, what sets it apart is the fact that it has you use your abdominals a lot more to stabilize yourself while kneeling.
This added balance will make the movement a bit more awkward but the more you do it the better you will get at practically every other movement on this list.
12. Crush Grip Dumbbell Push-Up
While this is pretty much the same as any other pushup on our list, there are some major differences here that we need to get into so we can explain why it is ranked higher than the rest.
First and foremost, since it is an elevated pushup, it is more accessible to gym newbies that have just now gotten started on their journey. This is a movement that you will find to be a lot easier than normal pushups for example.
Second of all, the close grip does work your tricep a lot more than the typical pushup and on top of that you also get to workout your chest, your core and your front deltoid as well. Just keep in mind that you should also have a decent level of stabilization to balance yourself on the dumbbell.
11. Dumbbell Tate Press
Also commonly referred to as an elbow-out tricep extension, this is an exercise that almost completely isolates your triceps while also heavily hitting both the long and the lateral heads at the same time.
This is a great exercise that you can also use to improve your barbell bench press, just hold a pair of dumbbells and lie down on a flat bench.
Next up just lower the dumbbells inward and downward, until they almost touch your chest. As soon as you feel like you’re about to touch though just extend your arms back up and push as hard as you can to get those 12 reps in.
10. Gravity Press
This exercise is great if you want to become stronger because it constantly keeps you under tension as you do more and more reps.
You never lock out doing this either, instead just increasing your endurance the whole time. Just lay down on a flat bench and hold out both of the dumbbells over your shoulders.
It is important that you keep your elbows parallel to the ground here as you go down and also make sure to keep your core tight the whole time.
Keep moving your arms as much as possible here extending them and then bringing them back for a maximum stretch.
9. Single-Arm Dumbbell Floor Press
This is the perfect exercise for anyone that’s just now getting into the fitness lifestyle as it can greatly improve your stability while also giving you all of the benefits of working out your tricep with any weight whatsoever.
Just stand back on the floor and hold out a dumbbell while also keeping your other arm on the floor for maximum stability. Lower the arm with the dumbbell and lift it back up. Keep yourself stable using your core and the other arm.
8. Dumbbell Tricep Dip
For this exercise just put the dumbbell behind you and lift yourself up using it. Afterwards you just need to lower your body and then lift yourself back up from that position.
It will feel a bit awkward at first since you’ll be forced to balance yourself the whole time but it’ll be worth it, trust us, because the added stability factor will work your core a lot more which is definitely something you want to focus on regardless of your current fitness level.
7. Angled Single-Arm Overhead Extension
Now this exercise is definitely a lot more difficult to do simply because no matter what weight you pick up, it’ll feel like ten times that when you get into position.
Regardless, in order to get started with it just set your bench to a 45-degree angle and then lie back down on your side, with your arm right next to the bench.
Next up just hammer grip the dumbbell and slowly bend your forearm until you reach that 90-degree angle. Keep that position up for around a second and then extend the arm back to your starting position.
6. Bent Over Row
Now, this exercise would have definitely been on the number one spot if we were talking about how useful it really is, but the problem here is that it’s not an actual tricep exercise to begin with.
Instead, you’re looking at a back oriented exercise, with the added benefit of also working out your triceps and core.
If you like the sound of that then just place your knee on a bench or any elevated surface, hinge at the hips and let the dumbbell hit go as low as possible while also not moving your back from that position. Place the other hand on the bench to increase your stability and then just start rowing.
5. Prone Double-Arm Tricep Kickbacks
Use this exercise to really maximize your tricep growth. Just simply put place your arms in line with your torse and make sure that you still have room for your forearms to bend at a 90-degree angle.
While you do this, keep hat closed grip going and then just extend your arms until you’ve straightened them up for good. Just keep in mind that you will need to hold that dumbbell there for at least a second to maximize your muscle growth.
4. Plank Tricep Kickback
This exercise makes its way near the top of our list by simply being a very challenging workout on its own both for newcomers and experienced lifters all the same.
In order to actually do it, just go in a plank position and pick up a dumbbell with one hand. Make sure that the dumbbell is light enough so that you don’t fall on the side while lifting it and as you get yourself ready bend your elbow at a 90-degree angle to get started.
The exercise starts here as you extend your forearm back and you then release it back to its original position.
3. Two Point Dumbbell Row
This exercise is truly a classic on its own to say the least, but just because it’s been used by millions that doesn’t make it any less amazing.
Just keep your arm lowered up on the ground and pick up the dumbbell slightly only to hold it there at a 90-degree angle for about a second or so before you go back down.
2. Diamond Pushup
For this exercise, instead of holding the dumbbells in your hands as you would with the close grip dumbbell pushup, we will recommend that you just put your hands together to form a diamond and then just go down, only to push yourself back up.
You can use the dumbbell to add weight to your pushup by placing it on your back too, making this a very easy exercise to progressively overload with that is also very accessible to newcomers.
1. Eccentric Skull Crusher to Double Press
This exercise makes it on the top of our list simply due to how easy it is to do while also being very good at maximizing your muscle growth as a whole.
It is a much better alternative to doing normal skull crushers also simply due to the fact that you won’t be putting yourself in anywhere near as dangerous of a position.
So, just to reiterate, if you want to get big arms you will need to have equally large biceps and triceps just to give off the illusion of fullness alongside the peak of the biceps that will make everyone stare at you the next time you go to the beach.
The triceps are often times overlooked because they are outshined by the bicep exercises. Don’t be one of those people, train your whole body properly and don’t forget that looking aesthetic will always be better than looking big.
Keep training for now and just remember, if the weight is getting too heavy just scream out loud “Lightweight baby” and the weight will magically get easier to lift in no time.