The Definitive Guide to Triceps Exercise
The triceps are the muscles on the back of your arm, and as such they can sometimes be left behind when training your arms. If you want to give your arms that 3D look, you’ll need to be sure to put focus on these muscles as well, which is why we’ve put together this guide to triceps exercises—to make sure you don’t neglect this often-overlooked muscle group! Here are all the major triceps exercise in one convenient place, with tips and suggestions on how to do them and where to find more information about them.
Push Up Variations
One of my favorite triceps exercises is incline skull crushers. Here’s how they work: Start by setting up in a pushup position with your hands shoulder-width apart and palms slightly turned out, keeping your back straight. Then, bend at your elbows until you feel them come close to touching your head, then extend back to starting position. Do six sets of 10 reps, rest 60 seconds between sets. Or try adding an incline into decline decline skullcrushers.
Behind the Back Push Up
Keep your body straight and slowly lower yourself to the ground, bending your elbows at 90 degrees until you’re hovering over it. Push yourself back up into a straight-arm plank position, then bend your elbows behind you and lower yourself down again. This exercise targets all three heads of your triceps for serious definition. Perform 3 sets of 10 repetitions.
Wall Push Up
A wall push up is performed by putting both hands flat on a wall and doing push ups. This exercise will target your triceps more than regular push ups because it reduces your base of support, making you feel as if you are working harder. To do a wall push up, place both hands against a flat surface such as a wall or a set of stairs with your arms shoulder width apart and then slowly bend at your elbows until your chest touches the wall or floor. Push yourself back up until you are at full extension of your arms again. Each repetition should be done slowly with control to ensure that you work out each muscle fiber in your triceps.
One Arm Push Up
It’s not called a one-arm push up for nothing. This variation of standard push ups is so difficult because you’re basically performing two at once—with one arm. To do it, raise your other arm above your head and then bend both elbows 90 degrees so that you’re in a modified plank position with just one hand on the ground. Do a normal push up by flexing your elbow and lowering yourself down. Then straighten both arms again, bring your other hand back above your head and repeat until failure. Be sure to keep moving as quickly as possible throughout these reps so that there’s no break between movements.
The dumbbell skullcrusher targets your triceps brachii muscles. It can be perform at a flat or incline bench, depending on which variation you choose. The overhead triceps extension is a great exercise for targeting each of your tricep heads separately and building mass. You’ll feel it mainly in your outer tricep muscle, but it’s good for training all three heads of your triceps muscles. Your shoulders should be stabilize with dumbbells or a barbell in front of you, while keeping your arms straight throughout their range of motion (just like with skullcrushers). Make sure to go all the way down until you feel an intense stretch in your bicep as well as in your tricep before flexing back up again.
Incline Skull Crushers
This exercise helps you build your triceps. You’ll want to use a low-incline bench, one with only a 5–10° decline. Position yourself at arm’s length from an incline bench and grab a pair of medium-weight dumbbells. Lean back against an incline bench and let your arms hang at your sides, palms facing in front of you as you lower them behind your head, until they reach 90° with respect to your upper body. Then curl them up so that they cross above your ears and extend back over your head until they reach full extension—your elbows should remain close to your ears throughout the movement.
One Arm Overhead Extension
An incline skull crusher is an isolation exercise that involves placing a dumbbell on your upper chest, and then using one arm at a time to extend your elbow as you lower your forearm towards your head. This is also known as an over head extension. It targets and isolates what’s commonly refer to as the long head of your triceps muscle. The long head makes up approximately one-third of total muscle mass in your triceps and extends down from behind your shoulder joint nearly all the way down to mid-bicep.
Cable Triceps Extension
This triceps exercise is great for isolating and targeting your triceps, and it helps develop a very full look in your upper arms. It’s best performe with light dumbbells, though you can also use cables or bands. Keep in mind that if you’re using free weights, you’ll have more control over how much weight you’re lifting than with cable movements. To perform cable triceps extensions, kneel down on one knee while holding a handle attached to a low-pulley machine at shoulder height with both hands.