Open the average fitness magazine and you’ll see workout after workout dedicated to building huge biceps. As great as a rock solid pair of guns might be, even the most impressive biceps are nothing without an equally developed set of triceps.
The triceps is a muscle group in the rear of your upper arm. Your triceps account for more than two thirds of your upper arm mass – twice as much as your biceps – and they’re one of the most important muscles in upper body pressing movements.
In this guide, you’ll learn five triceps exercises for adding mass, boosting your upper body strength and building a pair of triceps that make your arms catch attention in any short-sleeved shirt.
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Parallel Bar Dips
Your triceps play a supportive role in every pressing movement that involves the chest and shoulders. This makes it easy to work them by adapting exercises that usually target the chest – like bench press or dips – to focus on the triceps.
Parallel bar dips are an excellent upper body exercise that targets your pectorals and your triceps. The narrower your grip on the bars and the more upright your body, the more work your triceps account for in the up-and-down movement.
Performing the parallel bar dip is simple. Find the dip bars in your gym and start with the narrowest end. Lower yourself from a supported position until the upper half of your arm is parallel with the ground, then push yourself back up.
Avoid going past parallel, as lowering yourself too far puts unnecessary pressure on your shoulder joint, which can lead to injuries. Two to three sets of eight to ten dips, either on parallel bars or using a bench, is a great warm-up for your triceps.
Parallel bar dips target the triceps and the pectorals, making them a great exercise for warming up with. Pushdowns, on the other hand, are an isolation exercise that only target the triceps and not any other muscle groups.
To perform pushdowns, you’ll need to have access to a cable machine with a vertical pushdown/curl station. Raise the pulley to the top position and use either a straight bar – the small bar with rubber grips – or the rope extension.
Stand upright, with a slight learn towards the machine. Hold your elbows up against the sides of your body and start with your arms extended horizontally out from your body. Grip the bar or rope and push it down without moving your elbows outward.
Pushdowns are one of the best exercises for triceps development, but only if proper form is used. Keep your elbows in close to your upper body and make sure you don’t move. Two t three sets of eight to twelve reps will give your arms a serious pump.
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If your triceps aren’t feeling the burn by the end of your workout, try adding ez-curl skullcrushers to your routine. To perform this exercise, you’ll need a flat bench and an ez-curl bar, preferably with a pair of weight clips for safety.
Lie flat on the bench with your feet firmly on the ground, as if you were performing a set of dumbbell bench press. Lift the ez-curl bar from the ground and extend your arms at a 90 degree angle with your forearms parallel to the ground.
Now, gently lower the bar towards your head and stop right before it touches your forehead. Raise it back up and repeat, focusing on slow, controlled reps instead of speed and power.
Skullcrushers might look and sound scary, but they’re one of the best exercises for building seriously strong triceps. Perform three to four sets of eight to twelve reps with a light weight towards the end of your arm workout.
Close Grip Bench Press
By adjusting your grip and the angle of your upper body, bench press can be a chest, shoulder or triceps exercise. When you use a close grip, the pressure is transferred from your pectorals and deltoids over to your triceps.
Load a barbell with about 60 percent of your usual bench press weight. Lie down on the bench and grip that bar so that your hands are closer together than normal. The typical close grip should bring your elbows down right beside your upper body.
Perform slow, controlled reps, keeping as much pressure as possible on your triceps instead of your pectorals. Remember that most of the progress is made as you lower the bar – slow negatives are essential for developing a strong upper body.
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Close Grip Push-Ups
Who says triceps exercises need to be complicated? Give yourself a massive pump at the end of your workout by performing a set or two of close grip push-ups to fatigue your triceps as much as possible. The lower your bodyfat percentage, the more visible your triceps will be. Discover a proven way to burn fat in less than six weeks in the Under 20 Workout Fat Blaster Challenge.
Instead of the usual push-up stance, bring your hands together and form a diamond shape with your thumbs and index fingers. Make sure your elbows remain as close to your upper body as possible to isolate your triceps throughout the movement.
Since close grip push-ups require more flexibility than normal push-ups, you might need to reduce your range of motion slightly. Try one set of these killer push-ups to failure at the end of your workout to give your triceps the strain they need to grow.
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Discover more triceps exercises
Do you need help developing an upper body workout that works? Learn seven more exercises to help you build massive, powerful triceps with our blog post on the best triceps exercises.