We can’t stress enough the importance of great triceps in your quest for overall arm development. Making up an enormous percentage of your upper arms, thick triceps separate the men from the boys. More times than not, when we marvel at someone’s arms it’s 75% because of how dedicated he has been to his tri’s. Have you balanced your triceps and biceps training? If not, let’s turn that trend around. Here’s a workout that’s certain to get your triceps truckin’ and up to speed with your bis.


Target: Triceps
(emphasis on lateral head)

An excellent move to begin your triceps workout, the pressdown begins filling your arms with a good pump to warm up the joints and prepare the triceps for battle. Even though this is the first exercise, by your last set, select a weight that allows for failure at the designated rep range. On your last two sets, flip your grip to involve more of the triceps’ medial head. For variety, try different grips or use a rope attachment; don’t get stuck in a rut using the same attachment every time.

Start: Stand in front of a high-pulley cable and grasp a straight bar with an overhand (pronated) grip. With your knees slightly bent, lean forward at the waist and position your elbows close to your sides, holding your forearms parallel to the floor. Look forward, keeping your back flat and your abs tight.

Action: Flex your triceps and press the bar toward the floor until your arms are fully extended. Squeeze your tri’s and hold for a brief count before returning to the start position.


Target: Triceps

This is a great move, but typically you need a partner to place weight across your lap. If you don’t have a partner, sit on one bench and set the weight across your lap, then put your hands in position. Next, place one foot at a time on the opposite bench before you press upward onto your hands and move your glutes off the bench. At the end of the set, sit back up on the bench and remove one foot at a time from the opposite bench.

Start: Position two benches a few feet apart and parallel to each other. Sit on the middle edge of one bench facing the other. Place your hands just outside your hips on the bench, cupping it with your fingers. Place your heels on the opposite bench and press yourself upward so your body forms an “L” in the top position.

Action: After a partner places a weight plate across your lap, slowly lower your glutes toward the floor until your arms form 90-degree angles. Pause, then forcefully press yourself back up to the start position.


Target: Triceps

In another compound move for the triceps, the shoulder-width grip allows for more stress to be placed on the tri’s than during a standard bench press. Be careful not to go too narrow with your grip to avoid undue stress on the wrists without putting any additional force on the triceps. The key is to keep your elbows in close without allowing them to flare out. The beauty of the Smith machine is that it provides a defined path of motion, so once you find the plane that hits your triceps best, you can stick to that path through-out the set.

Start: Lie faceup on a flat bench placed inside a Smith machine with your feet flat on the floor. Grasp the bar with a narrow (about shoulder-width) overhand grip. Rotate and press the bar up slightly to unrack it, then hold it above your chest with your arms extended.

Action: Lower the bar to your lower chest, keeping your elbows close to your body. Don’t bounce the bar off your chest; rather, when it approaches an inch or so away from your chest, pause and press it back up to the start position. Squeeze your triceps and chest at the top.


Target: Triceps
(emphasis on long head)

The overhead extension is awesome for building size and thickness in your triceps. By raising your arms overhead, you stretch the triceps’ long head, meaning it can contract more strongly than when your arms are fixed by your sides. While you can do this movement one arm at a time, here you use both hands and go heavier with only one dumbbell. Start with the weight on one knee, then kick it up to your shoulder before pressing it overhead to begin the set. At the end of the set, reverse the sequence, coming down to your shoulder and then to your knee.

Start: Sit erect on a low-back bench, feet flat on the floor or on the footpads. Grasp the inner plate of a dumbbell with both hands and hold it overhead at full arm extension, keeping your elbows alongside your ears. Wrap your thumbs around the bar. Keep your head straight and your lower back pressed into the backpad.

Action: Bending only at your elbows, lower the weight behind your head until your arms form 90-degree angles. Hold for a brief count, then press back up to full arm extension and squeeze your triceps hard at the top.


Target: Triceps

Now, let’s add some detail to those arms and provide a great finishing pump to boot. Don’t worry about going heavy during this move; trying to do so could put undue stress on your shoulder joints. Instead, select a weight that you can easily manage as well as hold and squeeze at the top of each rep. For variety, also try the cable kickback.

Start: Grasp a light dumbbell with one hand and place your other hand on a stable surface. Lean forward until your torso is almost parallel to the floor and stagger your feet. Raise your upper arm to parallel to your torso and keep it pressed into your side. Keep your back flat.

Action: Holding your upper arm in place, raise your forearm straight back to full extension. Don’t allow your elbow to drop as you return to the start position.

Triceps Expert Workout

Exercise Sets Reps
Triceps Pressdown 3 20
Weighted Bench Dip 4 8
Smith Machine Close-Grip Bench Press 4 10
Overhead Dumbbell Extension 4 12
Dumbbell Kickback 3 20