Complete Triceps Workout

Shoaib Siddiq Apr 04 2016
tricep workout

Triceps Brachii muscles, located in an upper posterior compartment of arms, are band of muscles that extend the arm at the elbow joint. It makes up 2/3 of the arm muscles and consists of 3 bands of muscles or 3 heads:

  1. The Long Head is the largest of the three heads. It is located at the inner side when your arms are straight by your sides and palms facing forward. This head is responsible for the lower curvature of your arms when biceps are flexed. Exercise that emphasis on long head are those that allow the triceps to flex fully. Such exercises are mostly overhead movements.
  2. The Medial Head is running in the midline of the back of the arm. It is hidden under the two other heads, but its growth can provide with impressive size to your arms. No exercise puts direct emphasis on medial head; it gets stimulated in all triceps exercises.
  3. The Lateral Head is the outer most head of the triceps, which looks like a curved shaped muscle, that makes the triceps stand out. Exercises that focus more on lateral head are the ones where arms are by your side.

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Exercises

While it is impossible to completely isolate and specifically train one head of the triceps, it is possible to exert one head more than the other. Here are major exercises to target the triceps from all three angles:

1. Weighted Dips

Primary Target Muscle: Lateral and Medial heads of triceps.

How to do it:

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This can be performed on parallel bar or parallel bench.

For Parallel Bar:.

  1. Start by standing in between the two bars and grab the bar with an overhead grip.
  2. Next, lift yourself up so that your triceps are fully flexed.
  3. This is your starting position. Inhale and slowly let yourself go down, when the arms make a 90⁰ angle at the elbow joint, push yourself up to the starting position while exhaling.
  4. Knees should be flexed, legs crossed and chest should be held high throughout the movement.
  5. If it gets too easy, ask someone to place a dumbbell between your feet.

For Parallel Bench:

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  1. Start by sitting on the edge of one bench and grip the bench tightly with palms facing down and located right next to your hips.
  2. Place your feet on another bench such that your body should make an L shape.
  3. This is your starting position. Start by inhaling and going down by bending at the elbow joint.
  4. As soon as the arms make a 90⁰ angle at the elbow joint, push yourself up to the starting position while exhaling.
  5. Keep the core tight, back straight and chest held high throughout the set.
  6. If it gets too easy, ask someone to put weights in your lap.

2. Triceps Kickbacks

Primary Target Muscle: Lateral head of triceps.

How to do it:

  1. Grab a dumbbell in one hand and place the other hand on a bench.
  2. Lock your elbow by the side and bend over so the upper body and upper arm is as parallel to the floor.
  3. Make a 90⁰ angle at the elbow joint. This is the start position.
  4. While exhaling, kick the triceps back and fully stretch your arm so you feel your triceps flexed.
  5. Hold for a second before returning to the starting position.
  6. Repeat for the recommended number of reps.
  7. Remember not to rotate the shoulders.

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Variation:

  • Use cable instead of dumbbell

3. Close Grip Pushups (Diamond Pushups)

Target Muscle: Lateral head and medial head of triceps.

How to do it:

  1. Lie on the floor with palms closer than shoulder width.
  2. Preferably close enough to make a triangle (or diamond) shape with the hands.
  3. Place feet shoulder width apart and extend the arms to support your body. This is the start position.
  4. Slowly lower yourself to the ground, keeping elbows close to the torso and not flaring out, till your chest touches the floor.
  5. Exhaling out, push your body back to the start position.

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Variation:

  • Put your feet on an elevated surface to make it more challenging.
  • Weighted pushups.

4. Close Grip Bench Press

Target Muscle: Long head of triceps.

How to do it:

  1. Grab the bar with a close grip (inside shoulder grip) and bring it above your chest with arms fully extended and perpendicular to the floor. This is your starting position.
  2. While inhaling, bring the bar down till mid chest as in normal bench press, but keep the elbows close to the torso, pause and return back to the start position.

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Variation:

  • Close grip decline bench press. It focuses more on lateral head.
  • Close grip dumbbell bench press.

5. Skull Crusher

 

Target Muscle: Long head of triceps.

How to do it:

  1. Grab an E-Z bar with a close grip. Lie on the bench with arms straight and extended so that they are perpendicular to the floor. This is the starting position.
  2. Slowly lower the bar by bending at elbow joint only. Upper arm should remain stationary.
  3. Bring it close to your skull before pushing the bar to the starting position.
  4. Repeat for the recommended number of reps.

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Variation:

  • Perform on a declined bench for more emphasis on lateral head.
  • Perform with a dumbbell held in both hands.

6. One Arm Triceps Extension

Target Muscle: Long and medial head of triceps.

How to do it:

  1. Grab a dumbbell and bring the arm over your head so it is perpendicular to the floor.
  2. Rotate the wrist so your palms face forward.
  3. Bend the elbow joint so the dumbbell comes to rest on your opposite shoulder. This is your starting position.
  4. Without moving your upper arm and bending at elbow joint only, stretch the arm up so that the entire arm is fully extended and perpendicular to the whole.
  5. Then slowly go back to the starting position.
  6. You can also use the other hand to support upper arm.

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Variation:

  • Perform on an inclined bench.

7. Triceps Press

Primary Target Muscle: Long and Medial heads of triceps.

How to do it:

  1. Grab a dumbbell in both hands, with the weight plate resting on your palm and thumbs around it.
  2. Extend arms overhead, with upper arm close to the ears.
  3. Bend your arms at elbow joint so that there is a 90⁰ angle at the elbow joint. This is the start position.
  4. While exhaling, push the triceps up and fully stretch your arm so you feel your triceps flexed, while your arms are perpendicular to the floor.
  5. Hold for a second before returning to the starting position.
  6. Repeat for the recommended number of reps.
  7. Remember to keep the upper arm lock by the ears throughout the set.

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Variation:

  • Use E-Z bar with a pronated grip
  • In sitting position to put less strain on the back.

8. Triceps Pushdown

Primary Target Muscle: Long and Medial heads of triceps.

How to do it:

  1. Attach a bar on a high pulley.
  2. Stand shoulder width apart and grab the bar with a supinated grip (palms facing down) at shoulder width.
  3. Use a false grip (thumbs pointing towards each other).
  4. Lock the elbows by your side and moving the forearms only, push the bar down until your triceps are fully flexed.
  5. Hold for a second before slowly returning to the starting position.

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Variation:

  • Reverse grip pushdown.
  • Perform with one arm at a time.

The Regime:

Sr. no Exercise Reps. Sets
1 Triceps Press 9 3
2 One Arm Triceps extension 9 3
3 Skull Crusher 12 2
4 Triceps Kickback 9 3
5 Weighted Parallel Bench Dips 10 3
6 Triceps pushdown/Diamond Pushups AMRAP* 1

*AMRAP: As many reps as possible

Note:

  • Make sure to warm up thoroughly before starting the first exercise.
  • Choose a weight at which you can pull only the recommended number of reps with proper form. If you are able to do more than that, increase the weight.
  • If you reach a plateau with this regime, switch to a variation of each exercise or practice other methods to overcome plateau.
Shoaib Siddiq

Shoaib Siddiq:

Shoaib is currently a 3rd year MBBS student. Apart from studying, you can often find him in gym either resistance training or practising mixed martial arts. With his love for fitness training and knowledge that comes along with it, he writes various fitness related articles for HTV.