Welcome to the biggest directory of tricep exercises on the internet for growing huge horse-shoe triceps!
Below you will find 2 videos and form instructions of the 21 tricep exercises that hit all 3 heads of the triceps.
Are you ready to try out the best tricep exercises for growing bigger arms? Great, let’s begin!
The reason building your triceps will lead to a more impressive physique is because the triceps take up much more room on the body than the biceps do.
By focusing on them and getting them to grow, your arms will grow like a weed.
Take a look at this picture of me facing the front. As you can see the tricep is responsible for the mass and thickness of the upper arm.
This doesn’t mean you should leave your bicep training in the dust, but it does mean that you can’t neglect this important muscle.
The triceps are actually three muscles formed into ‘one’ – the long head, the lateral head, and the medial head1
Ready to learn your go-to exercises? Let’s get started.
If these aren’t in your plan on rotation, it’s time they got there.
If you are more visual and want to watch me going through the first 11 tricep exercises make sure you click below and watch the video and make sure to subscribe if you are new.
Exercise #1 – X-Press
The best tricep exercises will hit all 3 heads, and this one is perfect for nailing the lateral head.
You can go through the motion on this exercise and hit your reps but never really gain any benefit.
Use good form, a controlled pace and it’s a whole new ballgame.
- Stand in the middle of the two-sided cable machines
- Grab both cables by the ends, having no attachment at the end
- Stand up straight and keep the arms close to the body
- Push down and to the sides
- Contract the triceps, then go back up slowly
- Maintain tension throughout the entire range of motion and focus on peak contraction
What you need to do is limit your range of motion so you stop on the way up at around chest level.
Go higher than that and you’ll be taking stress off the triceps, lessening your results.
The harder the squeeze is, the better your tricep development will become.
Try doing a T30 set, meaning you are using 30 seconds under constant tension per set.
Exercise #2 – Unilateral Rope Push-Downs
This is another great tricep exercise because it’ll work all three heads at once and can give you a great tricep burn.
When doing this one, you’ll again want to stop when you reach the point of being at around 90 degrees with the elbow.
- Place a rope attachment on the upper cable
- Stand in front of it and grab the rope with an overhand grip
- Keep arm close to the torso
- Push down
- Contract the triceps at the bottom with an easy elbow lockout
- Go back up slowly, stopping when the arm is at a 90-degree angle
This bit is important as you want to keep the elbow locked into the sides of your body at all times.
The moment that elbow starts to move is the moment you’ll be taking much of the stress off the triceps.
Aim for 12-15 reps per set and work both sides equally.
Exercise #3 – Iso Tricep Push-Down
Now this exercise may appear to be nearly the same as the one above it, but there is an important difference: your hand position.
On this one, you want to use an underhand grip and use a handle-bar attachment.
- Place a handle bar attachment on the upper cable
- Stand with your side in front of it
- Grab the handle bar with an underhand grip
- Find a comfortable body position
- Push down
- Contract the triceps, then go back up slowly
Simply by changing the nature of the hand position, you are going to entirely change how this exercise feels and the stress-loading pattern on the tricep muscle.
Focus on that squeezing movement and aim for a T30 protocol, doing each exercise for 30 seconds per set.
Exercise #4 – Slow Negative Underhand Triceps
This exercise is ideal for focusing on the long head of the triceps and should be done facing away from the machine at a slight lean.
This will position the body at the correct angle to get maximum stress on that tricep muscle.
You want to pick tricep exercises that focus on the long head as this is the largest of the tricep anatomy.
- Attach a long bar to the upper cable
- Stand behind the bar and grab it with an underhand, shoulder-width grip
- Place your back on the backrest and keep the arms close to the torso, at a 90-degree angle
- Push the bar down, contracting the triceps
- Go back up, stretching the triceps and repeat the movement pattern
Your mission here is to stretch that long head to full extension by fully extending the elbow joint and then slowly and in a very controlled manner, moving back to the starting position.
This part is key. You’ll want to focus more on the eccentric portion of this exercise compared to the concentric portion in order to see optimal results.
Your hands should be in an underhand grip so you can hit the long head effectively.
Do 8-10 reps using a heavier weight and focus on adding some serious mass with this move.
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Exercise #5 – Floor Dumbbell Skull Crushers
This move can be done on the floor or bench depending on your preference, however the floor does offer some advantages.
First, it’s 100% stable and second it’ll stop you from going down too low.
You don’t need to bend the elbows too much in this movement, in fact, doing so can put you at a disadvantage, so having the floor there to block you can actually be of benefit.
- Take a loaded bar and hold it at shoulder width
- Lie down on the ground in a comfortable position and bring the heels closer to the butt
- Keep the barbell over your face and angle the arms back slightly, so that it is behind you
- Let the bar go down and behind your head
- Push the bar back up, contracting the triceps
As you do the exercise, push up and push out from the body.
This is a small mental hack that can help you achieve a much greater overall mind-muscle connection, ensuring that you are working the arms in the precise manner intended.
Exercise #6 – Pin Press
Don’t let yourself get confused between this one and the bench press.
There are a few unique points that will make all the difference in the world, but this is one of the best tricep exercises for building mass in your upper arm.
- Set up a bench in the middle of the smith machine
- Lie down on the bench and grab the bar closer than shoulder-width
- Un-rack the bar and keep it above the lower chest
- Let the bar go down slowly but not all the way down
- When it is a couple of inches above the chest, push back up
- Lockout the elbow slowly and contract the triceps
By only going down this low you keep a constant level of tension on the triceps at all times, giving them a much better workout.
Do this exercise in the smith machine so that you can go hard and heavy without worry.
You won’t need a spotter to catch the weight since you can just rotate the bar and put it in the rack. It’s a great mass builder for the medial and lateral head. Push yourself and keep trying to add more weight to the bar.
Exercise #7 –Wide Grip Tricep Press Down
To get better long and medial head activation, you’ll want to consider the wide grip tricep press down.
Here again, stop just past the 90-degree point so you are never letting that tension off the triceps.
- Place a wide bar on the upper cable
- Stand in front of it and grab it wider than shoulder width
- Keep torso balanced and arms relatively close to the body
- Push down, contracting the entire triceps musculature
- Go back up slowly, maintaining tension on the triceps
This exercise can also be used as a good mass builder, so load up the stack and aim for the 8-10 rep range.
Be sure to keep the elbows locked into position as much as possible to avoid any unwanted movement that will reduce the total tension load on the working muscles.
Exercise #8 – Iso-Lateral Underhand Grip Tricep Press
To hit the long as well as lateral head, the iso-lateral underhand grip tricep press can be a fantastic option.
This exercise is done with a handle cable attachment and done in a kneeling position to keep the body stabilized.
- Place a handlebar on the upper pulley
- Stand in front of the cable machine and grab the pulley with an underhand grip
- Kneel down on one knee and keep the arm close to the torso
- Press down, without moving the elbow to the front or back
- Contract the triceps powerfully at the bottom
- Go back up slowly
You’ll do one arm at a time, really focusing on strong muscle contractions and time under tension.
Keep the elbow locked into the side of the body and press straight down until the elbows are extended.
Exercise #9 – Dumbbell Tricep Kickback
The dumbbell tricep kickback is an exercise that’s very commonly performed in many workout routines and there are many ways to do it.
I recommend standing while doing it and incorporating in a mirror drop set.
- Grab a pair of dumbbells and keep them close to the body with palms facing each other
- Bend over slightly and lift the elbows up, keeping arms close to the torso
- Extend the arms at the elbows, locking them out and contracting the triceps up top
- Go back down slowly
With the mirror dropset, you’ll perform one set of 10-12 reps, then drop the weight down and perform a second set bringing you to a whole new level of fatigue.
Be sure to keep the elbows locked into the sides of the body on this one.
Exercise #10 – Dumbbell Overhead Tricep Press
This is a perfect mass builder for the long head so one that you won’t want to leave out of your workout routine.
The biggest mistake made when doing this exercise is flaring the elbows out to the side, which not only takes much of the stress off the triceps, but also increases your injury risk as well.
- Grab a dumbbell and lift it over your head with both arms
- Keep it over and slightly behind your head
- Do not flare the elbows
- Let the dumbbell go down slowly, stretching the triceps
- Push back up explosively
Keep your elbows tight and narrow and direct the entire movement pattern with just the triceps only.
Aim for 8-10 reps until failure, focusing on going heavier over time.
But wait… There’s More
If you want even more variety on your next tricep workout we have 10 more tricep exercises for you below:
What many guys seem to forget is the fact that the tricep muscles are the bigger of the two components of the arm (between the biceps and triceps) and therefore, if you actually want to gain significant arm size, the triceps should be your focus in your tricep exercises routine.
How many times have you walked into the gym only to find guys doing bicep curl after bicep curl and hoping to see great growth?
While this isn’t to say they can’t see growth in their arms if they do this, it isn’t going to be maximized.
Not to worry. I’m here with the best 10 tricep exercises you can add into your routine to get your arms to gain size.
You certainly do not need to do all ten every single workout, but it is a great idea to mix them up over time, rotating them as you go.
This will ensure that you continue to shock your muscles so they are always responding and seeing the strength gains you’re after.
Exercise #11 – Dumbbell Kickbacks Variation #2
To hit your medial and lateral tricep head, you’ll want to consider dumbbell incline kick-backs.
This exercise is an ideal move to really feel the triceps burning and to call each and every muscle fiber into play.
- Grab a pair of dumbbells and keep them by your sides
- Bend over slightly and lift up the elbows to match the angle of the torso
- Push the dumbbells back, locking out the elbow and contracting the triceps
- Go back down slowly and repeat the movement pattern
This tricep exercise can also be done on a bench that has a 45 degree angle for the best position to target the triceps and it’ll be very essential while doing it that you aim to keep the elbows as stationary as possible and locked into the body.
Exercise #12 – Dumbbell Lying Tricep Extensions
The dumbbell lying tricep extension is another one that’s going to hit your long and lateral head so is great for helping you gain size.
This exercise can take a bit of practice at first to get a good feel for the movement pattern and where your arms need to be in relation to the rest of your body, so be patient with yourself while you find your groove, so to speak.
- Grab a pair of dumbbells and lie down on a flat bench
- Keep the dumbbells over and slightly behind your head, positioning them with palms facing
- Let the dumbbells go down and behind your head
- Push up explosively, contracting the triceps up top
When it comes to tricep training, there’s no point in ever rushing through the movement pattern because doing so will just lead to unwanted elbow strain and it will also take away from the total amount of stress being placed on the tricep muscle, which is precisely what you need to see the growth you’re looking for.
Exercise #13 – Floor Crushers
Floor crushers are a challenging exercise that will put a good amount of stress on the tricep muscles and because you’re lying on the floor, are less likely to cheat with.
This tricep exercise is also an ideal option for targeting your long and medial head and are a good one to do in the beginning when your strength is up.
- Grab a pair of dumbbells and lie down on the floor
- Keep the dumbbells over and slightly behind the face like you did on the lying tricep extensions
- Let the dumbbells go down and behind the head slowly
- Push up explosively
- Contract the triceps up top, with a careful elbow lockout
- Go back down slowly and keep the tension flowing
You’ll want to lift heavier on this exercise, keeping your rep range lower and focusing on maximum strength development.
When doing the floor crusher, focus on taking 2-3 seconds to lower the weight so you have full control with the tricep muscle and are putting maximum tension on the muscles in question.
Do keep in mind this one can be more taxing on the elbow joint in general, so if you’re someone who does typically experience elbow pain, be sure that you are paying close attention to strict form and not overdoing the frequency of this exercise.
Exercise #14 – French Press
The French press is a tricep building exercise that will help target all three heads of the tricep muscle, so is an excellent option for ensuring that you’re bringing balance into your workout routine.
If you’re ever short in time while in the gym and are hoping to get in and out quickly, this one is very efficient because it ensures no muscle fiber in the triceps goes untouched.
- Grab an E-Z bar and lie down on the flat bench
- Hold the bar at shoulder width and keep it over and slightly behind the head
- Let the bar go down and behind the head slowly
- Push the bar up explosively, contracting the triceps carefully up top
When doing this one, you’ll want to angle your arms back slightly so that the beginning position is behind your head, not over your chest as many guys do.
This is key because starting in the wrong position will change the nature of the stress loading pattern and render this exercise far less effective.
This is one of those tricep exercises that you probably won’t use as much weight on, so avoid ego lifting and know your limits. Y
ou want to do it in a slow and controlled manner and feel each muscle working as you go through the movement.
Exercise #15 – Straight Bar Tricep Pressdown
Another of the most common exercises you see people doing in the gym and one that is certainly a classic exercise is the rope tricep pressdown.
This tricep exercise is going to hit your medial and lateral head and helps to develop that horseshoe shape that you want your triceps to take on.
- Attach a straight bar to the upper cable
- Stand in front and grab the bar at shoulder width
- Push down with a moderate pace, contracting the triceps at the bottom
- Go back up slowly, until the arms are parallel to the grund
- Repeat the movement pattern
When doing this exercise, think of keeping the elbows in a fixed position at all times.
If your elbows are moving up and down, there’s a very good chance that you’re also bringing your lat muscles into the equation, which would then mean less stress is being placed on the triceps.
It’ll help you develop greater mind-muscle connection in this exercise if you also think of squeezing your triceps at the bottom of each rep and holding it there for 1-2 seconds.
Exercise #16 – Close grip Triceps Pressdown
As you should know by now, a slight change in the grip position changes the specifics of each exercise and therefore, targets a slightly different zone.
This next exercise is the same as the previous one, but with a closer grip
- Place a straight bar on the upper cable and grab it closer than shoulder width
- Bend over very slightly to maintain balance
- Push down, contracting the triceps at the bottom
- Go back up until the arm is at a 90-degree angle
Try using a palms down position for some of your sets and a palms up position for others and you’ll immediately notice a difference in how this is stimulating your tricep muscle.
The key thing with this exercise, like the rope tricep pressdown is to keep the elbows pressed firmly into the sides at all times. You don’t want them moving around the body or you’ll be losing the stimulation being placed on the triceps.
Exercise #17 – Weighted Close Grip Push-Ups
Finally, the push-up is an exercise that should not be forgotten about because it too can place a good amount of stress on the tricep muscles when done in such a way to target them.
- Get down on the ground in a push-up position, where the arms are close to one another
- Have someone place a plate on your lower back
- Keep the hips up so that the torso is straight
- Go down slowly until the chest is a few inches off of the floor
- Push back up, locking out the elbows carefully and contracting the triceps
- Repeat the movement pattern
You may want to consider doing this tricep exercise after doing heavy chest training so that the chest is already fatigued and the triceps are called into play faster.
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Found these tricep exercises valuable? Check out our large collective of other muscle exercises.
I’m Troy and I’m the creator of SuperHuman You and Co-Founder of Alpha Lion.
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