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The triceps makes up approximately 2/3 of the arm mass. It thus plays a more crucial role in the volume of the upper limbs than the biceps. However, many people give much more attention to the biceps during their training. Many of them forget about engaging the triceps sufficiently. This way, they deprive themselves of better results in the muscle development of this body part. In this article, we will focus on effective exercises that will help you firm up, strengthen, and develop your arm muscles.
The same rules apply to triceps training as for other body parts. Before the actual workout, don’t forget to warm up your muscles. This will help prepare them for the load. It will also protect you from injury. After all, coming to the gym and trying to make your personal record on a narrow bench press or French press is not the healthiest approach. Equally, the exercise itself has its sequence of progress. Therefore, first, learn the correct technique and only then increase the load. That is the only way to get the best results.
You can easily create triceps training in the gym from the exercises below. To start, choose about 2–3 exercises, which you will perform in 3 sets, ranging from 8 to 12 reps per set. In this case, the load should fall to about 60–75 % 1 RM (maximum power per 1 repetition). You will then include triceps training either alone or in combination with another muscle group, ideally 2–3 times a week. But keep in mind that general muscle regeneration after strength training will, on average, take place 24–72 hours. Due to the time needed for regeneration, plan your workout and the number of units per week for a specific muscle part. [1–3]
10 Most Effective Triceps Exercises
The triceps (triceps brachii) consists of a long head (caput longum), a lateral head (caput laterale) and a medial head (caput mediale). It is necessary to include various exercises in the training that will help with the complex development of the triceps to engage all these parts. You will only need standard gym equipment, such as an adjustable bench, shorter or EZ bar, dumbbells, pulleys, and parallel bars. Then it is up to you which of them you decide to add to the training and how much load you choose. You can select the basic variation or try the modification in some exercises. 
1. Cable Rope Triceps Pushdown
- Starting position: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, facing the upper pulley. Slightly bend your knees and lean forward and keep your back straight. Grab both sides of the rope attached to a pulley (overhand grip). Keep the upper arm alongside the body and bend the elbows 90 degrees.
- Performance: Pull the pulley down until the arms are straight (full range of motion) by contracting the triceps while exhaling. Spread your hands in the lower position. Then carefully return to the starting position while inhaling and move on to the next rep. The elbows remain in the same place throughout the whole exercise.
- Common mistakes: Excessive movement in the upper arms, elbows pointing away from the body, bent back, excessive involvement of the shoulders and pectoral muscles, uncontrolled movement, a small range of motion, inappropriately chosen weight.
Other exercise variations:
1. Cable Triceps Pushdown with Straight Bar or EZ bar
If you do not have a rope, you can similarly attach a straight or EZ bar to the pulley. Then exercise in the same way as with a rope.
2. Cable One Arm Triceps Pushdown
You can also connect a single handle (D adapter) to the pulley, which allows you to perform exercise on each arm separately. This way you’ll to focus more on the correct technique and muscle engagement.
3. Cable Underhand Triceps Pushdown
When grabbing a straight or EZ bar with an underhand grip, you will engage the inside of the triceps more. Otherwise, exercise in the same way as stated above.
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2. One Arm Dumbbell Triceps Kickback
- Starting position: Place with your right knee on the horizontal bench, lean forward and lean with your left hand. Grab the dumbbell with your right hand. Hold your upper arms alongside your body, bend your elbows about 90 degrees and turn your palm in. Keep your back straight.
- Performance: Straighten the right arm until it is parallel to the ground by contracting the triceps while exhaling. Then carefully return to the starting position while inhaling and move on to the next rep. Try to keep your upper arms in the same place throughout the whole exercise. First do one set one with one arm, then with the other.
- Common mistakes: Excessive movement in the upper arm, bent back, uncontrolled movement, a small range of motion, improperly selected weight.
3. Dumbbell Lying Triceps Extension
- Starting position: Place your back on a horizontal exercise bench. Keep your knees bent and your feet on the ground. Grab the dumbbells with both hands and raise your arms forward. The elbows are outstretched.
- Performance: Bend your elbows and carefully bring the dumbbells closer to the ears while inhaling up to the position where you almost touch the biceps with your forearms. Then straighten the arms again by activating the triceps while exhaling and move on to the next rep. The upper arm remains in a stable position throughout the whole exercise.
- Common mistakes: Excessive movement in the upper arm, uncontrolled movement, a small range of motion, improperly selected load.
4. Lying Barbell French Press
- Starting position: Grab the shorter or EZ bar with an overhand grip with your arms shoulder-width apart. Lie on your back on a horizontal exercise bench. Bend your legs and touch the floor with your whole feet. The arms are outstretched.
- Performance: Carefully bend your elbows and bring the bar closer to the forehead while inhaling. Then push the bar back to the starting position by contracting your triceps while exhaling and move on to the next rep. The upper arm remains in the same place throughout the whole exercise.
- Common mistakes: Excessive movement in the upper arm, elbows pointing to the sides (away from the body), uncontrolled movement, a small range of motion, improperly chosen load.
5. Seated Dumbbell Triceps Extension
- Starting position: Sit on the edge of a horizontal bench, bend your knees and leave your feet on the floor. Grab the dumbbell by the inside of the upper disc with both hands, straighten your body and raise your arms forward. Activate your core.
- Performance: Bend your elbows and carefully bring the dumbbell closer to the shoulder blades while inhaling up to the position where you almost touch the biceps with your forearms. Then straighten the arms again by activating the triceps while inhaling and move on to the next rep. The upper arm remains in the same place throughout the whole exercise.
- Common mistakes: Elbows pointing to the sides, bent lower back, uncontrolled movement, a small range of motion, improperly chosen weight.
Other exercise variations:
1. Seated Kettlebell Triceps Extension
You can also replace a dumbbell with a kettlebell in this exercise. Grab the handle on the sides and exercise the same way as with a barbell.
2. Seated Plate Triceps Extension
Instead of a dumbbell, you can also use a plate. Grab it by the sides and continue to exercise the same way as stated above.
6. Triceps Bench Dips
- Starting position: Sit on the ground with your back to the horizontal bench. Place your hands behind you on the edge of the bench, and bend your elbows 90 degrees. Use the bench as support and lift the pelvis off the ground. Keep your legs outstretched, your knees slightly bent, and your heels rested on the mat. Pull your shoulders back and down and engage your core.
- Performance: Straighten your elbows by contracting the triceps while exhaling. Then carefully return to the starting position while inhaling and repeat the exercise. Make sure that the movement comes from the arms and the elbows point backwards and not to the sides.
- Common mistakes: Pulling shoulders to the ears, bent back, uncontrolled movement, a small range of motion.
Other exercise variations:
1. Weighted Triceps Bench Dips
If you want this exercise to be more demanding, bend your knees and place a load on your thighs. You can use a plate, kettlebell or dumbbell and exercise the same way as without weights.
2. Triceps Bench Dip with Raised Legs
You can also make triceps dips more demanding by raising your legs to a higher position. You can place them on the second (lower) bench or a plyobox. In this position, it is more difficult to lift your body weight. If you put a load on your thighs, the exercise will become even more challenging.
7. Parallel Bars Triceps Dips
- Starting position: Do a plank on the parallel bars, stretch the elbows. You can bend your legs slightly. Keep your elbows point outwards and the back straight.
- Performance: Bend your elbows and carefully lower yourself until your shoulders reach are below your elbows while inhaling. Return to the starting position by activating the pectoral and arm muscles while exhaling. Then move on to the next rep.
- Common mistakes: Pushing elbows to the body, uncontrolled movement, bent back, a small range of motion.
Other exercise variations:
1. Dips with Resistance Bands
If the dips on the parallel bars are too demanding for you, you can make the exercise easier with a long resistance band. Attach one end of the band to the bar and insert the other under your arm. Grab a handle with each hand and place one knee (or both knees) on the band. Start making dips by engaging your pectoral muscles. The bigger the resistance of the band, the easier the exercise will be.
2. Weighted Parallel Bar Dips
If bodyweight dips are too easy for you, add load. Use a belt on which you can hang a plate or a kettlebell.
3. Ring Dips
If you do not have parallel bars available or want to diversify your training, you can try dips on rings. This exercise is a bit more demanding, especially regarding stability. You can make it easier again by using a resistance band.
8. Standing One Arm Overhead Dumbbell Triceps Extensions
- Starting position: Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Grab the dumbbell with one hand, raise your arm, and rotate the palm forward. Keep your other arm alongside your body. Engage your core.
- Performance: Bend the elbow while inhaling and carefully lower the dumbbell to the lowest position possible (the forearm may touch the biceps). Then straighten the arm by contracting the triceps while exhaling and move on to the next rep. The upper arm remains in a stable position throughout the whole exercise. Do one set on one arm first and then on the other.
- Common mistakes: Excessive movement in the upper arm, uncontrolled movement, bent lower back, a small range of motion, improperly selected load.
Other exercises variations:
1. Seated One Arm Overhead Dumbbell Triceps Extensions
Sitting on a bench makes this exercise a little easier. You won’t have to focus so much on posture and stability. Sit on the bench with the backrest raised vertically, lean back and then exercise the same way as when standing.
2. Kettlebell Overhead Extensions
You can replace the dumbbell with a kettlebell. Grab it by the top of the handle and then exercise the same way as with a dumbbell.
9. Close-Grip Bench Press
- Starting position: Lie on your back on a horizontal bench. Keep the shoulder blades together and grab the bar. Keep your wrists and elbows straight below the bar. The grip width is less than your shoulder width. The feet rest on the ground, and the knees are bent 90 degrees. You can slightly bend your back during the exercise. The shoulders and butt remain on the mat. The core and the glutes are active during the exercise.
- Performance: Raise the barbell to the starting position above the chest. Then slowly lower it to your chest. The bar lightly touches the chest in the lower position (about in the middle of the sternum). Then push the barbell upwards until your elbows are almost straight by contracting pectoral muscles while exhaling. The path of the bar on the way up should create a slight arc. After returning to the starting position, move on to the next rep.
- Common mistakes: Uncontrolled movement, improperly chosen weight, excessively bent back, poor core and glute activation, a small range of motion.
10. Seated Overhead Triceps Extension with EZ Bar
- Starting position: Sit on the exercise bench with the backrest raised to a vertical position. Bend your legs and keep your feet on the floor. Grab the EZ bar with both your hands closer to each other and lift it. Rest your back against the backrest.
- Performance: Bend your elbows and carefully lower the bar behind the head while inhaling. Then straighten the arms by contracting the triceps while exhaling and move on to the next rep. The upper arm remains in the same position throughout the whole exercise.
- Common mistakes: Elbows pointing away from the body, uncontrolled movement, a small range of motion, improperly chosen weight.
Are you looking for some other tips?
- If you are also looking for effective chest muscle development exercises, you will find them in the article 7 Best Chest Exercises.
- Are you interested in how to plan your training correctly? Then you should not miss our article How to Design a Quality Workout Plan – Tips, Trainings, Most Common Mistakes.
- To learn more about the ideal number of exercise reps according to your goal, read our article How Many Reps Should You Do to Lose Weight or Gain Muscle?
- If your goal is to grow muscle mass, be sure to check our article What to Eat and How to Exercise to Finally Gain Muscle?
- Are you trying to gain muscle and still can’t? Then read our article 10 Tips for Healthy Weight Gain.
- Do you want to calculate your calorie and macronutrient intake according to your goal? Then our Online Energy Intake and Macronutrient Calculator will come in handy.
What should you remember?
Whether your goal is to achieve the largest possible arm circumference or you want to strengthen your arms, you should not underestimate the triceps exercises. Among the most effective are the French press, parallel bars dips, dumbbell kickbacks and others mentioned above. They will help you with the complex strengthening and growth of all three parts of the triceps. For best results, however, do not forget to pay attention to the correct technique and increase the load gradually. Try to include triceps training 2–3 times a week. Plan it to give your body enough time to recover.
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 Krzysztofik, M., Wil k, M., Wojdała, G., & Gołaś, A. Maximizing Muscle Hypertrophy: A Systematic Review of Advanced Resistance Training Techniques and Methods.– https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16244897
 Schoenfeld, B. J., Grgic, J., Van Every, D. W., & Plotkin, D. L. Loading Recommendations for Muscle Strength, Hypertrophy, and Local Endurance: A Re-Examination of the Repetition Continuum.– https://doi.org/10.3390/sports9020032
 Kenhub. Triceps brachii muscle. – https://www.kenhub.com/en/library/anatomy/triceps-brachii-muscle