9 Workouts That Will Build Your Triceps

If you’re like most guys, you’ve probably wanted bigger arms at some point. Most likely, the first thing you did was look for bicep workouts. While biceps are good too, triceps are even more important.

The best tricep workouts are ones that directly target them, also called isolation exercises. This means that they go after your triceps specifically, without many other muscles. Examples of these are:

  1. Bench Press
  2. Dip Machine
  3. V-Bar Pushdown
  4. Tricep Pushdown (Rope)
  5. Tricep Kickback
  6. Skull Crushers
  7. Overhead Tricep Extensions
  8. Diamond Pushups
  9. Bench Dips

Your triceps cover most of your arms, so if you want them to look big, you’ll need bigger triceps. While your arms are at your sides, your triceps are most of what’s visible.

While there are nine workouts on this list, keep in mind that there are many more out there, some of which might work better for you than what’s on here.

At the same time, remember that you should split up your routines, and not do a whole day of just tricep workouts. You don’t need to do all of the exercises on this list, but try some out and pick the ones that work best for you.

Leave a comment at the end of this post and let me know which tricep workout is your favorite. I’d love to hear what you think!

Close Grip Bench Press

Man doing a close grip bench press in the gym.

As you probably know, the bench press is one of the most iconic workouts that you can do. While it focuses mostly on the chest, your triceps are also a big part of the exercise.

Earlier, I said that the best tricep workouts are ones that isolate the tricep. Well, the bench press is a compound exercise. Call me a hypocrite, but it’s still one of the best exercises.

While it doesn’t isolate the tricep it still works it out. Compound exercises are good too, because they increase your overall strength, in your shoulders, chest, and arms.

To get the most out of the bench press, for triceps, place your hands closer to the middle of the bar. Doing this might feel odd, but it will activate your triceps more than the traditional grip.

Holding your hands closer to the middle is going to be more difficult than the usual bench press. This is because keeping your hands far apart means that your arms have less distance to travel with every rep that you do.

Doing this will be harder like I said, and you might not be able to lift as much weight as you usually do. This being said, you’ll get more results in your triceps, as well as your chest.

Dip Machine

Man using a dip machine, which targets the triceps.

Dips are a little harder to do for beginners, but your triceps will definitely hurt the next day. Dips work out your triceps as well as your chest muscles and deltoids, which are your shoulders.

In fact, I even included dips on my list of the best powerlifting chest workoutsOpens in a new tab., because of how well they target your arms and chest together. Once again this one isn’t an isolation exercise, but it’s still one of the best on the list.

While dips are great, not all gyms have the right machines. If your gym doesn’t have one keep reading because there’s a great alternative later on in the list.

Dips can be pretty challenging if you’re a beginner weightlifter. On some of the dip machines, the lowest amount of weight you can do is your bodyweight. If you’re new to lifting, this might be an issue for you.

If you’re lucky, your gym has a machine that can get past this problem. Some gyms’ machines have weights that counteract your bodyweight, assisting you through the workout.

Say you weigh 200 pounds, if you put 50 pounds onto the machine, you’ll only be lifting 150 pounds. It works backward from most machines, so you just subtract the weight on the machine from your bodyweight to find out how much you’re lifting.

If you aren’t a beginner, you also have the option to add more weight and lift more than your bodyweight, and you don’t even need a specific machine to do this.

Most gyms with a dip machine will have a belt for you to use to tie weights to your hips, making the workout more intense.

V-Bar Pushdown

Man using a machine to do v-bar pushdowns.

The v-bar pushdown is actually an isolation exercise, which means that it directly targets your triceps.

For this one, you’ll need a specific machine at your gym. These machines, like the one above, have the ability to switch out the handles, which means you can use v-bars, rope, straight bars, or whatever other attachment you can find.

The v-bar pushdown is pretty simple. Hold onto the bar, and have your forearms parallel to the ground. Then push the bar down until your forearms are perpendicular to the ground. All you have to do after this is repeat this movement.

If you’re looking for more info on how to do this, check out this article from bodybuilding.com.Opens in a new tab.

As I mentioned, this exercise targets your triceps specifically. This means that you aren’t wasting energy working muscles other than triceps, and you can do the exercise for longer.

Isolation exercises aren’t all good. You can’t do very many of them that target the same muscle in one period of time. While compound exercises don’t target anything specifically, they’re great for building overall strength.

The best routines have a mix of both and have exercises that are versatile. You can also do v-bar pulldowns with rope instead of a v-bar, which I’ll explain below.

Tricep Pushdown (Rope)

Tricep pushups with rope are very similar to the v-bar pushdown, except with a few key differences.

Using rope gives you a more free range of motion throughout the exercise. This gives you the freedom to move your arms in a way that works best for you, instead of being confined to one movement.

Most people I’ve heard from feel more burn when they use rope for pushdowns. This is because of the different angles you push down at, which target different areas of your triceps.

Doing the tricep pushdown with rope is almost exactly the same as doing it with a v-bar. For an in-depth explanation of the right technique, here’s a great video I found.

The benefits of tricep pushdowns with rope and the v-bar are probably about equal. In the end, it comes down to what works best for you, and what gets you the best results.

The same actually goes for most workouts. As cliche as it sounds, everybody’s bodies are different and respond differently to all exercises. To find the best ones for you, you need to try multiple exercises out.

That’s exactly why I put nine different workouts on this list, to help you find ones that work for your body and muscles.

Tricep Kickback

Man using a bench to do tricep kickbacks.

Tricep kickbacks are another one of my favorites.

It’s pretty easy to do, even if you haven’t heard of it or seen it done before. To do a tricep kickback, you’ll need yourself, a bench, and a dumbbell.

First, grab your dumbbell, with your right hand for example. Take your left leg, and lay it on the bench like in the picture above.

Crouch over the bench, and hold your upper arm parallel to your body. Your forearm should be at a right angle with your upper arm, perpendicular to the ground.

To actually do the exercise, straighten out your arm so that your whole arm is parallel to the ground. It’s hard to display with words, so check out the photo above or this video.Opens in a new tab.

After this, slowly bring your arm back down to the original position. Then all you have to do is repeat it.

Tricep Kickbacks are great, like some other workouts, because they directly target your triceps.

If your goal is building overall strength, like a lot of powerlifters, tricep kickbacks probably aren’t for you.

On the other hand, if you’re looking to build your physique, kickbacks are amazing. They offer isolation to target your triceps if that’s a part of your body that you want to work on.

Skull Crushers

Man doing skull crushers on a bench.

Skull crushers are notorious for being incredibly difficult to do, but also incredibly rewarding.

Just like kickbacks, skull crushers are another exercise that’ll directly target your triceps.

You can do skull crushers with just about any weight that you can find, whether it’s dumbbells, barbells, single plates, or any other thing that you can pick up.

To do them, lay down on a bench, holding the weights in your hands, with your arms perpendicular to the ground just like the picture above.

Next, slowly bring your hands towards your face, bending at your elbow. While you’re doing this, keep your upper arm perpendicular to the ground, and only move your forearm.

Too confusing? Check out this video for more detailed instructionsOpens in a new tab..

Doing skull crushers isn’t hard, but it won’t be easy. You’ll understand what I mean once you try them. They’re relatively simple to do technique wise, but you might not be able to feel your arms after.

Skull crushers are pretty versatile, but you can’t do them with bodyweight. Unlike other exercises where you need a specific type of weight, you can do them with anything you can hold with your hands.

You can also switch things up by using an incline bench instead of a flat bench, but in the end, anything will work. Find what works best for you and do it.

Overhead Tricep Extensions

Man on a bench doing tricep extensions.

Overhead tricep extensions are just like skull crushers, only you’re doing them behind your head.

They also work your triceps, and an added advantage is that they tend to work your lats better than skull crushers.

However, this is just an added bonus. After all, this list is about tricep workouts, not lat workouts.

Overhead tricep extensions work the best when you’re holding a plate for a barbell, rather than dumbbells. This is because of the awkward angle that you have to hold the weight at, putting it behind your back.

To do this exercise, stand up, and hold your weight behind your head, with your arms at a right angle like in the picture above.

Next, slowly raise the weight above your head. When you’re done, your arms should be straight up and down, perpendicular to the ground.

After this, just lower the weight back down to the original position. All you have to do next is repeat until you’ve finished all of your sets and reps.

Overhead tricep extensions can be dangerous if you’re a beginner, so make sure you have a bit of strength built up before you start.

If you really want to do them now, at the very least make sure that you have someone with you to spot your workout.

Diamond Pushups

Man laying on the ground doing diamond pushups.

When you’re doing regular pushups, with wide hand placement, your chest muscles are the main muscles that are worked, with your triceps and shoulders as the secondary muscles. This is because when you make your hands wide, it causes the pectoral muscles to be activated.

However, doing diamond pushups puts more emphasis on your triceps and shoulders. Because you’re putting your hands closer together when you do them, it activates your triceps and works them harder.

To do diamond pushups, start by getting in the position of a normal pushup. Then, move your hands together and make the shape of a diamond, like in the photo above.

Diamond pushups are great, and they’re just as versatile as regular pushups. You can do them anywhere that you have the space to lay down, and they work your arms, shoulders, and chest.

Pushups are also easy for beginners, which is great if you’re just starting out. You don’t even need any weights to do them, but you can add weights on top of your back if you need an extra challenge.

If pushups aren’t your thing, I put 8 other workouts on this list for exactly that reason. Not every workout will be for you, so find the exercises that do work.

Bench Dips

Man showing how to do bench dips in the gym.

Bench dips are another exercise that directly targets your triceps. This is good if you want to get bigger triceps, but it won’t do much for your overall strength.

To do bench dips, you need to first grab a bench for the bench press, and move it to an open area. Next face away from the bench, and use your hands to grab onto the bench.

Move your feet out, and have your body at about a 45-degree angle, just like in the picture above. Then, use your arms to “dip” your body down almost all the way to the ground. Keep your torso perpendicular to the ground as you do this, making your lower body more parallel to the ground.

Next, use your arms again to push your body back up to the original position. That’s as easy as it is, and you can repeat it as long as you want.

As I mentioned, bench dips are great because they directly activate your triceps. They’re also good for beginners, provided you have something like a bench to use. They can be done even without a gym membership, and they don’t require any extra weight.

They might be good for beginners, but they’re good for anyone, no matter your weightlifting experience level. Give them a try if you haven’t!

Triceps are More Important Than Biceps

I mentioned this before, but I want to go a bit more in depth. Lots of guys who get into weightlifting want to get bigger arms, so they go straight to bicep curls.

They do this for many different reasons, whether it’s for girls, or just looking bigger. While there’s nothing wrong with it, going right for the biceps is a mistake.

Your triceps make up a bigger portion of your arm as a whole, especially when they’re at your sides. Focusing on them, rather than your biceps, will do wonders for getting bigger arms.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with bicep curls, and I’m not saying you shouldn’t do them. This being said, try to work in triceps too and have a balance between them. If you want bigger arms, try more tricep workouts, and you won’t regret it.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that there are dozens of great tricep workouts out there, especially if you want to have bigger arms. Increasing your tricep strength is also great if you’re an athlete, or just want more overall, functional strength.

A good tricep workout isolates your tricep muscles. This means that your triceps are the only muscles that are being worked, which helps build them even stronger.

This being said, you shouldn’t only do isolation exercises. You can grow other muscles at the same time, like with the bench press where you work your arms as well as your chest.

Doing this helps build your overall strength, and making you look proportional. If you only did tricep workouts, you can imagine that you might look a little ridiculous.

Pete Schenkel

My name is Pete Schenkel, and I've been into weightlifting since I was a teenager. Now, my main focus is growing Powerful Lifting and putting more information out there. In fact, I'm also currently working on becoming a certified personal trainer.

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