The triceps are arguably one of the most important muscles on the arm for strength training.
Without the triceps the arm would lack the ability to lockout and would be inefficient at eccentrically loading during pressing movements.
The triceps make up about two thirds of the upper arm and have three muscular heads: the long, lateral, and medial head.
When lifters think “big arms” their minds often go straight to the biceps, which is great, but the triceps deserve more attention than typically given. Since the triceps make up about two thirds of the upper arm, increasing their size will in fact provide one with “bigger arms” while simultaneously improving most of their lifts.
If you compete in strength sports, lift recreationally, or just want bigger arms, then we recommend investing a fair amount of time in your triceps and regularly performing some of the movements below. These movements have been hand picked to provide you with tricep isolation-focused training, along with larger compound movements. These are our favorite triceps exercises.
1. Skull Crushers
Skull crushers are an all-around great tricep movement. This movement isolates the triceps and trains all three heads, which makes them a dynamic pick for anyone looking to improve the size, aesthetics, and strength of their arms. On top of being great for multiple training purposes, skull crushers can be progressed and utilized with multiple variations.
You can perform skull crushers with a barbell, dumbbells, or things like kettlebells. To make them harder you can add a decline surface, which will slightly increase the range of motion.
Want to learn more about skull crushers? Check out our in-depth skull crushers guide!
Dips are a tricep staple across every strength sport. They require ample strength to perform and can be loaded with external weight once bodyweight isn’t enough to produce a training adaptation. On top of this aspect, dips train parts of the pec as well, so higher rep sets with less weight, and lower rep sets with heavy weight can both help build the upper body as a whole.
For this reason, dips make it as number two on our favorite tricep list because of their multi-purpose nature and plethora of benefits.
Read more about dips and how to perform them!
3. Floor Press
Oh yeah, we couldn’t have a tricep list without mentioning at least one press variation. The triceps are used throughout the whole bench press, but kick in a bit more at lockout when a strong arm extension is needed to complete the movement. For this reason, floor presses are making it as number three on our list. The floor press requires an athlete to perform a partial range of motion bench press and uses the floor to stop the arm from going past a neutral level with the body.
Floor presses are great for the triceps because they often can be loaded with more weight than a normal bench. Plus, they only utilize the portion of the press that requires the triceps to be the prime movers, so it’s a good movement to isolate them with.
Read why the floor press is an excellent tricep exercise!
4. Tricep Pushdowns
The final movement on our top tricep list is the tricep pushdown. For many, the tricep pushdown is seen as a smaller isolation movement that gets thrown in at the end of workouts. This movement, while yes, not the most demanding in nature can be extremely beneficial for building the triceps. It can be performed both bilaterally and unilaterally with different variations, which makes it slightly more dynamic than other tricep isolation exercises like kickbacks and dumbbell extensions.
Potentially the biggest pro that comes with this movement is how easy it is to perform and how useful it can be when working on your mind muscle connection with the tricep (the contraction is easy to feel). If your goal is size, then tricep pushdowns are a great accessory movement to add to your push days.
Read your goal is tricep hypertrophy, then check out this tricep training list!