How many people here like to play horseshoes? Ok, well, not that many… How many people would rather have a huge horseshoe on the back of their arms? Now we’re talking!
The triceps are a muscle which can sometimes be relatively forgotten when looking to build up some massive arms. Too many people want bulging biceps, but in reality, the biceps are a smaller muscle group compared to the triceps. There are many things you can use to build your triceps including dumbbells, cables, barbells, and even your own bodyweight.
The best thing you can do is try out as many exercises as you can and see what specifically works for you. Let’s first learn a little bit about the triceps, however, before we get into the tips and workouts.
ANATOMY OF THE TRICEPS
The Triceps Brachii has three heads which connect the humerus and scapula bones to the forearm bone called the ulna. These three heads are known as the Lateral, Medial, and Long heads.
- The lateral head is located on the outward facing side of the humerus. This head is most responsible for the horseshoe shape of the triceps.
- The medial head is located towards the midline of the body.
- The long head along the bottom side of the humerus and is that largest of the three heads.
The primary function of the triceps is to extend the elbow (straightening the arm). The secondary function of the triceps is fulfilled only by the long head of the muscle, which brings the arm down towards the body (adduction).
Here are my top 4 favorite triceps exercises that I compiled from other various Bodybuilding.com articles:
This basic movement stresses the entire triceps muscle complex, particularly the outer and medial heads. Grip the bar overhand with your index fingers no more than 3-5 inches apart in the middle of the handle. Your feet should be shoulder width apart, about 10-12 inches back from the handle.
Fully bend your arms, pressing your upper arms against your torso, where they should stay through the duration of the set. Leaning slightly forward, move your forearms down, slowly straightening your arms. Hold the straight-arm position momentarily, while flexing your triceps intensely. Slowly return to the starting point.
A good variation is the rope handle. You can also do this exercise with an undergrip on the bar and with different width grips.
LYING BARBELL TRICEPS EXTENSIONS
These fundamental favorites isolate intense stress on the triceps, particularly the medial and outer heads. Taking a narrow overgrip in the middle of a moderately weighted barbell, lie on your back on an exercise bench. Keep your feet on the sides of the bench to provide balance.
Extend your arms straight up above your head. With your upper arms remaining motionless throughout the set, bend your elbows allowing the barbell to travel downward in a semicircular arc until it slightly touches your forehead. Reverse the direction of the movement of the bar using only triceps strength to slowly straighten your arms.
There are many effective variations, such as using different grip widths, doing them seated, using an undergrip, or using a decline or incline bench.
ONE-DUMBBELL TRICEPS EXTENSIONS
This movement stresses the entire triceps muscle complex, particularly the inner and medial heads. Take the dumbbell and grip it so that your palms are facing the inner-top plate and the dumbbell is hanging straight down (perpendicular to the gym floor). To keep the weight from slipping, encircle your thumbs around the dumbbell handle.
Lift the dumbbell straight up above your head. This is the start position. Lower the weight slowly behind your head until your arms are full bent. Without bouncing in the bottom position, slowly raise the dumbbell back to the start position.
You can increase the strictness of this movement by sitting at the end of a flat exercise bench, or on the floor with your back braced against the bench.
STANDING BARBELL TRICEPS EXTENSIONS
This is a fundamental triceps exercise, stressing the inner and medial heads of the triceps muscle complex. Take a narrow overgrip in the middle of a moderately-weighted barbell. With feet about shoulder width apart, stand erect, and extend your arms straight up from your shoulders.
Keep your upper arms in the same position, while you lower the weight slowly behind your head until your arms are completely bent. Without bouncing in the bottom position, slowly raise the bar back to the start position.
You can vary the width of your grip on the bar or use an undergrip to isolate different parts of the muscle. You can also do these seated to isolate your legs from movement, making the exercise somewhat stricter.
MORE GREAT TRICEPS EXERCISES
Here’s a list of other effective triceps exercises that you should check out:
- Reverse-Grip Bench Presses
- Dips Between Benches
- One-Arm Dumbbell Triceps Extensions
- One-Arm Pulley Pushdowns
- Kneeling High-Pulley, Long-Cable Triceps Extensions
- One-Arm, High-Pulley, Long-Cable Triceps Extensions
- Dumbbell Triceps Kickbacks
- One-Arm Cable Triceps Kickbacks
TOP 3 TRICEPS WORKOUT PLANS
Here are the best of the best triceps workout plans, gathered from other Bodybuilding.com articles:
BARBELL INCLINE BENCH PRESS MEDIUM-GRIP
3 sets of 2-6 reps
2 sets of 8-12 reps
PARALLEL BAR DIP
3-4 sets of 2-6 reps
INCLINE BARBELL TRICEPS EXTENSION
2-3 sets of 8-12 reps