Do you want to build massive arms? From compound lifts like the bench press to isolation exercises like cable pushdowns, there’s no shortage of exercises that – if combined with the right diet – can build massive, powerful triceps.
In this blog post, we’ll share the four best tricep exercises for mass. Whether you’re bulking up over winter or trying to retain as much muscle as possible during a cut, these five exercises will help you develop a pair of seriously impressive triceps.
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When (and how) should you train your triceps for mass gains?
Search online for mass-building workouts and you’ll find hundreds of different gym routines to follow. Should you use a six-day bodybuilding split? How about a three-day powerlifting routine? Why not try to twice-weekly full body workout?
Knowing which workout routine to choose is tough. Most of the time, the best gym routine depends on your free time and your current progress. The more developed your body is, the more you’ll benefit from a split-type bodybuilding routine.
If you’re just getting started, stick with a routine that works your full body in each gym session. Alternatively, you can follow an upper/lower split routine, or a three-day workout routine divided into push, pull and lower body training days.
Don’t know where to start? Discover a simple but effective three-day routine split into push, pull and lower body in our blog post on easy workout routines for men.
Building serious muscle using low rep, high weight workouts
Think 12-15 reps is ideal for muscular hypertrophy? Think again. Although most fitness magazines recommend at least 12 reps per set for muscular growth, you’re almost always better off performing your exercises in sets of five to eight reps.
Most bodybuilders follow routines with at least twelve reps per set, especially for upper body isolation exercises. But remember that they have several advantages that you don’t have – they’re already very muscular, and they’re often on steroids.
As a natural athletes with less than two years of lifting experience, it’s best to stick with lower-than-average rep ranges while you train. The heavier your weights get, the more progressive overload applies and the bigger your muscles will grow.
Once you start making serious progress, you can consider switching to a high-rep split routine. For now, perform each of the four exercises listed below for between two and four sets of five to eight reps each.
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The four best tricep exercises for mass
Ready to start building your triceps? The four exercises listed below will leave your triceps feeling fatigued at the end of your workout. Pick two to three exercises and add them to the end of your upper body push-based workout or arms training routine to give your triceps a boost.
Close Grip Bench Press
Do you start your upper body pushing day with bench press? Once you’ve finished your flat bench press workout, try a couple of sets of close-gripped bench pressing to warm up your triceps.
A normal bench press grip – with your index fingers positioned on the inner edge of the bar’s grip – spreads the load evenly across your triceps and pectorals. The closer your grip gets, the more weight is transferred from your chest to your triceps.
Keep the weight as heavy as you can handle and focus on keeping your elbows close to your upper body. This exercise targets all three of your tricep heads, making it an excellent warm-up before you start performing triceps isolation exercises.
Does your gym have a cable pushdown machine? If so, make your way here as your upper body pushing routine comes to an end. Pushdowns isolate your triceps, with no strain places on your chest, making them a good choice for after bench press.
Use a straight bar extension or – for a more challenging workout – attach the rope extension. Keep your elbows close to your body while you’re pushing the bar down and let it up in a slow, controlled manner.
Although it’s best to stick with low reps and high weights for hypertrophy, the cable pushdown is one exercise where you can lower the weight slightly. Perform sets of eight to twelve reps while focusing on form for a nice pump in your upper arms.
Bench dips (and their more challenging alternative, bar dips) are great exercises for targeting your triceps without working your shoulders. They’re also one of the best bodyweight exercises for building mass and increasing your upper body strength.
Place your hands on the side of a flat bench and raise your feet using a step platform, Swiss ball or extra weights bench. Lower yourself until your triceps are parallel with the floor, then push up and raise your body using your arms.
Start with sets of five to eight reps, performing your dips against a bench. Once you can perform eight reps with ease, switch to parallel bar dips. If they’re not enough of a challenge, try adding some weight and performing sets of weighted bar dips.
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Change your stance slightly and the good old push-up becomes an excellent exercise for building big triceps. Instead of keeping your hands at shoulder width, bring them closer together so that your index fingers touch for a special triceps push-up.
Close grip push-ups force your triceps to press your entire bodyweight up from the ground. Although they’re not the hardest triceps exercise, they’re a great choice for pumping blood into your triceps after a heavy bench press or dips routine.
Start with sets of ten push-ups, then increase reps and sets as your triceps become stronger. Leave push-ups until the end of your workout, as you’ll get better results from focusing on pressing exercises at the start of your training routine.
Recovering from your triceps workout
A good upper body workout should leave your triceps feeling seriously fatigued the next day. If you’re not used to heavy training, you could develop DOMS – a form of muscular pain that occurs one or two days after a heavy weight training workout.
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Learn more mass-building triceps exercises
Did you know that your triceps are twice as big as your biceps? These powerful yet frequently neglected muscles make up two thirds of the mass of your arm, making them a vital part of any well built physique.
Discover seven exercises that will help you target your triceps and build huge arms in our blog post on the best exercises for triceps. If you’re just getting started, make sure you also read our blog post on upper body workouts for beginners.