How to Build Triceps
The biceps have always been a popular area to focus on in the gym. But did you know the triceps make up almost two-thirds of the upper arm?
If you’re looking to build lean muscle and max out your workout efforts, targeting your triceps is important.
If you’re looking to tone or build your arms, we’ve put together a list of the best tricep-building exercises, including how to build triceps at home and how to build triceps at the gym.
What Are Triceps?
Your triceps are responsible for working with the biceps to extend the elbow joint, allowing the forearm to straighten. This large muscle is located on the back of the arm and consists of three parts, the lateral, medial, and long head.
The triceps also play a role in stabilizing the shoulder joints. Whether your goal is looking sleeker and stronger or preventing injury during a sport, it is important to keep the triceps strong.
The Best Tricep Building Exercises
Ready to focus on your triceps? Here’s a look at six of the best tricep-building exercises, starting with building triceps at the gym.
1. Tricep Dips
Dips are a proven exercise for building triceps. When performing tricep dips, aim to keep your body vertical, avoid leaning forward, and keep your elbows right up against your sides.
Try to do 8 to 12 reps. If this is too hard, use a band or the assisted dip. If you can easily crank out 12 reps, consider adding weight.
2. Overhead Triceps Extension With Dumbbell
Overhead exercises are key for targeting the tricep’s long head.
You can perform this move standing or seated and use one or both arms. Aim for 8 to 10 reps and 3 sets. As you progress with this move, increase the amount of weight you use rather than increasing reps.
3. Triceps Cable or Rope Pushdowns
Triceps cable pushdowns are an easy move that is extremely effective. Be careful not to let your arms come away from your sides. Aim for 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps. Opt for heavier weights and consider placing this exercise toward the end of your workout.
4. Single Arm Cable Kickbacks
Single-arm cable kickbacks are excellent at targeting the triceps. However, a sloppy form can greatly reduce the effectiveness of this move.
Here are some tips to perform single-arm cable kickbacks properly:
- Avoid dropping your elbow
- Make sure your upper arm stays parallel to the floor as you squeeze and extend your elbow
- Use a resistance band or grab the ball at the cable’s end
5. 45-Degree Incline Dumbbell Chest Press
Chest presses completed on an incline are a great way to target the triceps. To do incline dumbbell chest presses, follow these steps:
- Align your bench at a 45-degree angle
- Lie on your back with dumbbells at shoulder height
- Press up with both arms until they are locked out
- Slowly return the weights to the starting position
Aim for 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps.
6. Close-Grip Bench Press
The Close-Grip Bench Press effectively targets the triceps due to the change in hand placement.
To do close-grip bench presses, follow these steps:
- Using an overhand grip, grab a barbell
- Make sure to keep your index fingers on the knurling’s inside edge (this is the textured, rough portion of the bar) to achieve a ‘closed grip’ position
- Create a subtle space between the bench and your lower back by slightly arching your back
- Lift the bar and carefully hold the bar above your sternum, keeping your elbows tucked at a 45-degree angle on each side
- Press the bar overhead, make sure your arms are straight
- Lower the bar in a controlled motion until it just barely grazes your body
- After a slight pause, press the bar back up
Aim for at least 3 sets of 6 to 8 reps.
How to Build Triceps at Home
Want to work on building triceps at home? Several tricep exercises can be completed without any equipment. Work on doing a few sets at night when you’re watching tv or sneak in a few reps on your lunch hour.
Here are the best workouts for building triceps at home.
1. Bench Dips for Triceps
Bench dips are a proven exercise for building triceps and a great way to work up to traditional tricep dips in the gym. Bench dips are perfect to complete right from your couch while you watch your favorite show.
How to do tricep bench dips:
- Sit on a bench, chair, or your couch with hands placed at your sides and feet flat on the floor in front of you (make sure you are sitting toward the front edge of your couch or chair)
- Press through your hands to raise your bottom off your chair or couch and lower your body slowly toward the floor
- As your arms bend to lower yourself down, keep them at a 90-degree angle
- Push through your arms to raise yourself back up to the starting position in a controlled motion and repeat the move
If you want to make this move harder, extend your legs straight in front of you. Balance on your heels and keep your toes pointed toward the ceiling.
2. Diamond Pushups
Classic pushups are a proven way to build serious muscle in your back, shoulders, chest, and arms.
For traditional push-ups, the hands are placed under the shoulders, forcing the pectoral muscles to handle the majority of the work.
Bringing your hands closer together calls for more strength from the triceps to complete the move.
How to do diamond push-ups:
- Get in the standard pushup position but place your hands directly under your chest with your index fingers and thumbs touching each other to form a diamond shape
- Keep your core engaged and back straight
- Slowly lower your chest toward the floor in a controlled motion
- Hover just above the floor before pushing back up to the starting position
Note: If diamond pushups feel too hard, start from your knees rather than up on your toes. Too easy? Use a bench or your couch to raise your feet in the air.
3. Pike Push-ups
Pike push-ups target the triceps and deltoid muscles. This exercise relies completely on your body weight and requires zero equipment.
- Start in a plank position and slowly walk your feet a bit closer to your hands while pushing your hips high in the air (similar to downward dog in yoga)
- Aim to keep your arms and knees straight (if your hamstrings feel too tight, it is ok to bend your knees slightly) and your chin tucked
- Bend your elbows to slowly lower your head closer to the floor in the middle of your hands
- Repeat for 8 to 10 reps
- Push through your arms to return to the downward dog position
4. Tricep Extensions
For tricep extensions, you can use household items for the weight (i.e. a can of soup, a jug of water, or a dumbbell). Be careful not to drop anything on your foot.
Tricep extensions can be performed from a standing or seated position.
How to do Overhead Triceps Extensions:
- Sit on an exercise ball, bench, or chair
- Hold a weight in each hand (or use one weight and hold it with both hands to make this move easier) and extend the weights overhead
- Keep your back straight, engage your abs, and keep your biceps next to your ears
- Bend your elbows to slowly allow the weights to come behind your head
- Pause and then straighten your arms as you press the weights back to the starting position
Aim for 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps.
How To Stretch Triceps
As with any exercise, the right stretches can help prevent injury, reduce muscle tension, boost circulation and aid in recovery.
Here are four of the best triceps stretches you can do at home or the gym.
1. Triceps Warmup
This is a great move to perform before you work your triceps. This motion will prime your muscles and help loosen them up before your workout.
To do this stretch:
- Extend your arms out to each side with palms facing down
- Keep arms parallel to the floor
- Make small rotating motions with your arms in a backward circle
- Complete the same motion but move your arms forward this time
- Face your palms upward and do tiny pulses.
- Face your palms downward and do tiny pulses
- Complete anywhere from 1 to 3 sets, spending 30 seconds on each movement
2. Horizontal Triceps Stretch
The horizontal triceps stretch can be done sitting or standing and is a great way to improve triceps flexibility.
To do a horizontal triceps stretch:
- Bring your left arm across the front of your body
- Take your right palm and place it on the back of your left arm, slightly above the elbow
- Use your right hand to gently press your left arm into your chest
- Hold for 30 seconds and repeat for a total of 3 to 4 times on each side
3. Overhead Triceps Stretch
This stretch can be completed sitting or standing and feels great after a tough workout or long day at the office.
To do the overhead triceps stretch:
- Extend your left arm straight up toward the ceiling
- Bend at your elbow to drop your left hand toward the center of your back
- Reach up with your right hand to gently press down on the left elbow, helping to ease your left palm slightly further down your back
- Hold for a total of 30 seconds and be sure to complete this stretch on each side at least three times
4. Triceps Stretch With a Towel
For a deeper variation of the overhead triceps stretch, grab a towel, strap, or bar.
To do the triceps stretch with a towel:
- Mimic the starting position of the overhead triceps stretch while holding a towel in your left hand (Extend your left arm to the ceiling and bend at the elbow to lower the palm behind the back)
- Reach up behind your back with your right hand to grab the towel, making a point to keep your abs engaged and your chest open
- Pull in opposite directions for a deep stretch
- Repeat as many times as desired, being careful not to overstretch or strain your muscles
The Best Workout Supplements
If you want to further maximize your efforts in the gym, the right supplements can help enhance stamina, fuel the growth of lean muscle, and support optimal results. Isagenix created its AMPED line to do just that.
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With a blend of slow, medium, and fast-release amino acids, AMPED Tri-Release promotes the development of lean muscle and enhanced strength.
For building triceps that are defined and strong, the potent blend of branched-chain amino acids — valine, leucine, and isoleucine — in AMPED BCAA Plus makes an effective intra-workout supplement.
If you’re looking to push the limits as you work on building your triceps, the clinical levels of active ingredients in AMPED Nitro can help support you on your fitness journey.
- Naturally sourced caffeine
- No artificial flavors, colors, or sweeteners
Want to Learn More?
Trying to decide which AMPED products are ideal for your fitness level or goals? Our team is always happy to answer your questions or provide personalized product recommendations. Contact our knowledgeable team today and we’ll help you get closer to your health and wellness goals.
As always, check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program or adding new supplements to your diet.