Every gym freak (probably including you) wants arms that are just burst out of the sleeves as you flex. There is no single way or routine to get the perfect arms; everyone must approach it differently. Some might indulge in all the triceps exercises in a single gym workout while others might start and end with cables to perform all types of pushdown exercises. In the end, the results don’t match expectations. Why is that? Accept it or not, certain exercises based on varying movement are better than others when it comes to muscle building.
The triceps make up for almost 2/3rd of the arm mass. Sadly, curl after curl with the best intentions and concentration might only turn out to be counterproductive. Your choice of exercise must be based on the difficulty of the movement, overload possibility, uniqueness, etc. Ensure that you don’t ignore biceps either or it can all go wrong easily. Don’t worry if you don’t find your favourite exercises, our list is exhaustive and includes the best variations of the various exercises.
- Bench Press
Bench press is predominantly an exercise for the chest but it works the triceps quite well in fact. The movement of the elbows as the barbell presses your arms is a great workout. Electromyography (EMG) studies suggest that close-grip bench press activates the triceps better than an inclined bench press. Keep your hands at least 8-10 inches apart when doing close-grip to work your triceps. While it won’t strain your elbows, you might feel some stress on your wrists. Tuck in your arms to decrease the strain on the shoulders and pecs, thereby putting more stress on your triceps. 3-4 sets of 6-10 repetitions depending on your body type are enough.
- Dumbbell Overhead Triceps Press
A triceps workout is incomplete without an overhead exercise. This is probably one of the easiest exercises to do while sitting. It would be ideal if someone hands you the weight and you can even try assisted repetitions. Make sure that your elbows aren’t flaring outwards for the best results. Remember to go for seated extensions after warming up with multi-joint exercises. Ensure a good stretch past 90 degrees angle and you let the weight lower your arms.
- Lying Triceps Extension
Also known as the French press or the skullcrusher, it doesn’t isolate the long head (part of the triceps) or the lateral muscles any more than other exercises. The arm position is perpendicular to the body, which combines the activity of two heads to assist the movement.
You may choose to do 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions with a small barbell, dumbbells, or an EZ-bar. It is ideal to take the help of a spotter or a friend to get the weight in position.
- Single-Arm Cable Kickback
Single dumbbell kickback is one of the most common triceps exercises but there are many alternatives to it. Single-arm cable kickback offers a better angle of resistance than a dumbbell; the possibility of going wrong with it is less when the angle of the pull comes from the side rather than straight down.
Use a bench inclined at about 60 degrees with your chest on the bench facing the weight stack. Perform the exercise with the upper arms parallel to the floor. Don’t drop your elbow (a common mistake) as that shifts the focus of the movement from a single to multi-joint. Don’t use a handle; just use the rubber ball at the end of the cable. 3 sets of 10-12 repetitions are ideal.
- Cable Pushdown
This exercise activates the lateral head of the triceps better than kickbacks, skullcrusher, and several other exercises. Don’t let your arms drift to your sides while doing this exercise; a good one for single-joint lateral-head movement. 3 sets of 10-12 repetitions of this exercise are perfect at the end of your workout. You can perform drop sets with this exercise. It is advisable to let your elbows drift a little from your sides for a greater stretch when you have been doing it for a while.
- Parallel Bar Dip
The parallel bar dip is one of the exercises to build mass by using weight and it uses multiple joints. You can either use heavy chains around your neck or attach a belt with weights to increase resistance. Don’t lean forward as that would work your chest instead of arms; keep your body as vertically straight as possible. Keep your elbows to your sides and don’t let them spread outwards. Bar dips are best when performed at a later stage of your workout. If you start your triceps workout with heavy weights, perform it in the middle to flush the blood out of the rams. Do 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps.
- Bench Dips
Bench dips activate the triceps quite well. You can add weight (as much as you can handle) to increase the effect of the exercise. It requires a partner or a helper to put the weight on your thighs while you position your hands on one bench and your feet on the floor or on another bench placed parallel to the first. Drop sets are perfect to continue the exercise. It is perfect in the middle of the workout or at the end. 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions should be enough.
- Cable Overhead Extension
This exercise works on the underdeveloped long head muscles of the triceps. It should be done with a rope; attach it to an upper pulley, assume a split stance, lean forward and lock your arms on the sides of your head. Avoid flaring your arms and do 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions.
- Lying Dumbbell Pullover
The lying dumbbell pullover is a great exercise for your chest, back, and triceps. You can choose to do this exercise on your chest day as that is usually paired with triceps. Don’t go too fast and never perform it with a single arm. 3 sets of 8-10 repetitions should be enough if you choose the weight wisely.
- Close Grip Push-ups
A bodyweight exercise, close grip push-ups are a full-body fat burner. Traditional pushups are done with hands outside of the shoulder width in which the chest muscles work the most. Bring the hands in and tuck-in the elbows; it leads to higher muscle activity in the triceps area. If it becomes too easy for you, have someone place a plate on your back. Do 3-4 sets of maximum reps you can achieve. This is the perfect exercise to end your triceps workout.
Always consult your trainer for stance, positioning, balance or before going for heavier weights. Don’t perform certain exercises without a helper or it might lead to an injury.
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