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Triceps Workout - 7 Building Triceps
Brachii Exercises
By Jean Lam

The triceps is an arm muscle found below the biceps and as its name says, it consists of three parts notably the long head, the lateral head and the medial head. Also known as triceps brachii, this muscle group is among the most amazing when fully developed because it resembles a horse shoe. This is why you can hear body builders mention horseshoe triceps sometimes.

The triceps is not as popular as the biceps and some people training in the gym don't even know this muscle exists since it's not visible practically because to get them appear in your arms, you really need to train them hard. And getting that horseshoe shape takes more time than your biceps to become visible. Due to the popularity of the biceps, the triceps is often neglected. You'll see more people doing bicep curls than triceps extensions thinking that's the only muscle in the arms. When I refer to biceps popularity, I also mean usually, when you ask someone to show their muscles, most will contract their biceps automatically.

Well, if you're looking to build muscle mass in your arms, neglecting the triceps is a very bad idea. The truth is the triceps takes about 60% in your arms with the remaining going to the biceps. So if you visualize your arms with just bicep development, you're missing out a lot on real arm growth. A well-developed triceps will pack thickness in your arms and will complete your arm muscles. One other reason why the triceps is important is because it helps you lift heavier bench press, military press and it helps in other exercises as well where the triceps muscles are solicited. So pay proper attention to the triceps brachii. I find that when a muscle group is hard to develop, that's an added motivation to work it out and gain results.

So now, let's take a look at a sample triceps workout. The following triceps exercises are one of the best for building and blasting your triceps for optimum growth. Note that the triceps is a small muscle group and 6-9 sets in total is recommended. But it depends on the individual. Some can do a bit more.

(1) Overhead Extension

This exercise can be done either standing or seated using a barbell or one dumbell. Grab a barbell and lift it over your head with your arms about shoulder width and hands palms facing away from you. Slowly bend your elbows and forearms backwards in a 90 degree angle such that the barbell moves behind your head. Your upper arms should remain static at all time. Then slowly return the barbell to its initial position. Repeat. Go for 3 sets of 8-10 repetitions. Usually it's more easier to use a dumbell with two hands holding it under the weight plate on one side above your head.

(2) Skull Crushers / Lying Triceps Extension

Lie on a bench while holding a barbell or one dumbell above you. Same arm position as with overhead extension. Slowly bend your elbows and forearms backwards behind your head. Then slowly return the barbell to its initial position. Repeat. Go for 3 sets of 8-10 repetitions. There is some similarity with the overhead extension but the movement is not exactly the same since your upper arms are less static.

(3) Weighted Dips

Weighted dips is a powerful triceps builder and can be performed between two parallel bars with a weight belt containing a weight plate around your waist. While grabbing the two bars, feet off the ground with knees bent and legs crossed, slowly lower your body until your elbows are bent no lower than 90 degrees. Then raise your body up. Repeat. It's important to keep your upper body inclined more backwards than forward to target the triceps more. The inclined forward position will target more your chest muscles also known as your pectorals.

Dips is a very difficult exercise at first but once you master it, it's a very enjoyable one. You can also perform weighted dips between two benches positioned against each other horizontally and using one of the bench to support your arms and the other to support your feet. Same movement as with the parallel bars. To add weight, it's preferable to ask someone to place the weight plate directly on your body like on your legs. The weight belt won't be too convenient. Apart bench, you can also use simple sturdy square chairs. Dips can be done without weights as well but the weights are used to build stronger and bigger triceps. This exercise can easily be done at home and mostly anywhere if you have just a few basic equipment. Not necessarily done in the gym. You can do 3 sets of 8-10 repeats.

(4) Cable Push Down

Like the name says, you use a cable and you exercise your triceps by grabbing two cable handles in each hand, a bit like a semicircle. Your hands can either be palms up or palms down and will be in a 90 degree position before starting. To proceed with the exercise, extend your arms while pulling the cable down. The rectangular weight bars attached to the cable will move up. Your upper arms should remain static during the movement. Then return to the initial position. Repeat for a total of 3 sets of 10 repetitions.

(5) Triceps Kickback

Hold a dumbell in one hand and bend your knees slightly while maintaining your upper body straight. While holding the dumbell, keep your elbows bent 90 degrees close to your hips. Extend your forearm backwards so that you can feel your triceps squeezing. Keep your upper arms static. Then return to the initial position. Repeat and do 3 sets of 8-10 repeats.

(6) Close Grip Bench Press

Bench press is a great chest mass builder but close grip bench press is a great triceps mass builder. Reducing the grip width will lay more emphasis on the triceps in a bench press. While lying on a bench, grasp a barbell about shoulder width. Lower the barbell slightly above your chest. You will feel more strain on your triceps than your chest. Then push the barbell up. 3 sets of 6-10 repeats should do. Close grip bench press can also be done with two dumbells. This exercise makes me think about push ups which we're going to discuss in the seventh exercise.

(7) Diamond Push Ups

During push ups, when your arms are wider, you target your pectorals more and when your arms are closer to each other, the triceps is more solicited. Some people refer to the close push ups targeting primarily the triceps as diamond push ups. Your thumb and index finger of both hands are close and point to each other while making a diamond shape. The diamond push ups will also add great mass in your triceps. The only inconvenience is that you use your body weight primarily, so when you've mastered the diamond push ups, it's difficult to make it harder. Some alternatives to making the exercise harder is to perform it in a declined position for eg, elevating your feet on a chair or bench or by doing it horizontally but asking someone to add a weight plate on your back. These will definitely make the diamond push ups more difficult. You can consider adding it in your triceps workout.


These 7 triceps exercises are not intended to be done all in your triceps workout. Choose about 3-4. By having a variety of exercises, you can vary your workout. Now it's time for you to start blasting those triceps. With proper nutrition and rest, your triceps will really grow and your dream in getting those horseshoe triceps will become a reality at last.

About the author

Jean Lam is the webmaster of Body Building Resource which provides articles on weight training, nutrition and fitness, body building book and DVDs.


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