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Triceps exercises

Triceps exercises
Here is my list of triceps exercises. There are quite a few exercises for your triceps, but only a few that in reality are worth doing and are popular for a reason. Here I show you my three favourite tricep exercises that will put some good size onto your arms.

Introduction to your tricep muscles

Triceps anatomyThe triceps are the biggest muscle(s) of the arm, bigger than the biceps. They have three heads located at the back of the arm. They help both straighten the arm and keep it in a fixed position. It is also used for some shoulder assisted movements and chest exercises, especially those that require pressing away from the body.


My triceps exercise list:

Close Grip Bench Press

Type: Compound
Function: Works your triceps with some assistance from your chest muscles.
Form: Lying on a flat bench facing up, feet flat on the floor, take hold of a barbell using an overhand grip (palms facing away from you) set just inside shoulder width apart or less, whichever is more comfortable for your wrists. The bar should be positioned over your lower pec area or upper abs area. Keep your shoulders back and down. Take a deep breath and push the barbell up as you breathe out. Slowly lower the weight back down to your lower pec area as you breath in. Repeat for required reps and sets.
Tips: If you find using a barbell places too much stress on your wrists then consider using an EZ bar. Keep your elbows close to your body, don’t flare them out. Squeeze your triceps at the top of the exercise, unlike close grip bench press for your chest you can lock out and get a squeeze at the top of the exercise, but maintain that squeeze don’t relax it. Your feet should be set wide to create a stable base when lying on the bench. When gripping the bar, ensure you place your thumbs around the bar for a safer grip.
Key notes: Keeping your hand spacing close places more emphasis on your triceps and less on your chest muscles.
Variations: This exercise can also be done as a close hand press up. I would suggest that you do this with push up handle bars to keep the wrists straight or try pressing with your knuckles on the ground. Press ups with your hands flat on the floor place a lot of stress on your wrists.

Click on images below, the last one is a GIF animation:

Close grip bench press side view

Close grip bench press Close grip bench press Close grip bench press gif

Close grip bench press viewed from behind

Close grip bench press Close grip bench press Close grip bench press gif

Dumbbell / EZ Skullcrushers (lying triceps extension)

Type: Isolation
Function: Works your entire triceps.
Form: Lying on a bench or floor, feet set wide for a firm base, take hold of either a pair of dumbbells with a neutral hand position (palms facing each other) or a narrow grip on an EZ bar. With your arms straight, take a deep breath while slowly lowering the weight to just behind your head, bending at the elbow. Keeping your elbows pointed straight up or slightly leaning back, straighten your arms and contract the triceps, while breathing out. Repeat for required reps and sets.
Tips: Do not allow your head to push hard into the bench/floor when using heavy weight as this can cause neck strain or injuries. When gripping an EZ bar, ensure you place your thumbs around the bar for a safer grip and hold them in the most comfortable position for you. Lower the weight just beyond your head, not to your face or forehead. Keep your elbows in at shoulder width apart, don’t flare them out.
Key notes: Do not do this exercise if you suffer from any elbow issues.
Variations: You can also use a barbell for this exercise, however it will place a lot more stress on your wrists and I don’t recommend them. Another alternative is to use a triceps bar which will give you a nice and more comfortable neutral grip.

Click on images below, the last one is a GIF animation:

Skullcrushers side view

EZ Skullcrushers  EZ Skullcrushers EZ Skullcrushers gif

Skullcrushers viewed from behind

EZ Skullcrushers EZ Skullcrushers EZ Skullcrushers gif


Triceps pushdowns

Type: Compound
Function: Works your entire triceps.
Form: Standing under a cable pulley machine, take hold of a bar with an overhand grip just short of shoulder width apart. The bar should be around your mid to upper chest height. Using just your triceps muscles only and with your elbows close to the body, press the bar down by straightening the arms at the elbow and squeeze at the bottom position, breathe out while doing this. Slowly return the bar to the start position reversing the push down movement and breathing in at the same time. Repeat for required reps and sets.
Tips: Use a slight forward lean into the exercise and not a stand up straight position. Stand about a foot away from the cable, or at a distance that you can feel the most resistance on your triceps at or just after the midway point.
Key notes: Despite the varying ways to hit the triceps with this exercise, you cannot stimulate different parts of the triceps, the triceps simply extend the arm in the same way regardless.
Variations: You can also use a rope or various angled bars, which ever is more comfortable.

Click on images below, the last one is a GIF animation:

Tricep push downs   Tricep push downs Tricep push downs Tricep push downs gif


My final thoughts on triceps exercising

Although there are three heads to your triceps and many exercises you can do for them, it is near impossible to stimulate one tricep head over another. This is because the triceps only move in one plane and essentially act as a hinge. Changing the angle or position of your hand/grip will also have very little if any affect on what part of your triceps get worked.