The triceps rank among the body’s most underappreciated muscles. Bodybuilders tend to focus more on the higher-profile biceps, while sport-specific athletes gravitate toward the shoulders and core.

But here’s the thing: The three-headed triceps brachii muscle makes up roughly two-thirds of the mass of your upper arm. So even if you’re attacking the triceps for purely aesthetic reasons, you’ll get huge return on your gym-time investment.

The triceps also play a huge role in the extension of the elbow joint and thus the straightening of the arm, working in concert with the lats to bring the arm toward the body. That means many sports movements—swinging a bat, racket, or club, to name a few—rely on strong triceps. Tennis elbow results in part from weak triceps.

Swimmers have impressive triceps from extending their arms to pull water. Then there’s basketball—an effective jump shot is a product of elbow extension and follow-through, which doesn’t happen effectively without strong and stable triceps. Triceps also support the elbow in everyday movements such as signing your name.

So if you’re, say, LeBron James, those massive horseshoe triceps enable you to shoot deadly jumpers, crush dunks, sign autographs, and look intimidating while doing it all. Form, function, and aesthetics: the triceps provide it all. Whatever your primary goal, this ultimate workout will produce results.

How It Works

By alternating between a push and a pull, we can move continuously between movements with no rest, though a one-minute water break between circuits is permitted.


  • Do 10 reps of each of the following six exercises performed in a circuit. Do not rest between exercises.
  • Do three circuits total. You may take a one-minute break between circuits.

Pete Williams is a N.A.S.M.-certified personal trainer and the author or co-author of a number of books on performance and training.