Some people refer to these as back arm exercises. Your triceps are the muscles that run down the back of the arm from shoulder to elbow. The triceps muscles are 75% of the mass of the arm. So, if you want bigger and stronger arms you have to train the triceps hard.
In this article I will be covering the Top 5 Best Triceps Exercises. There are many ways to train the triceps, but what I will be sharing is the most efficient and effective ways to target the triceps that will provide results in size and strength. If you are looking to improve your triceps for aesthetics and strength then keep reading because this is the blueprint to better triceps.
1. Close Grip Bench Press
The close grip bench press is a staple compound movement that should be in every upper-body training program if you’re trying to build the triceps. This movement targets the triceps because of its specific joint angle and extended range of motion. Typically done with the pointer fingers on the edge of the knurling and smooth part of the bar. Although, anything closer than your standard grip can be called a closer grip and work as well.
There are many variations that can be done to overload the triceps:
- Bands/ Chains
- Pin Press
With this exercise the recommended reps should be in the 1-6 range to build strength while increasing muscle fiber density. By consistently changing the exercise you will avoid accommodation and progress faster without interruption. Doing the same exercise for more than 3-weeks at 90% or above can cause you to regress in strength gained. So, change things up; reps, intensity, and variation.
2. JM Press
This exercise is named after JM Blakely; a strong elite powerlifter that is well-known for creating this exercise while training at Westside Barbell. It is a combination of a close grip bench press and scullcrusher. Using a close grip, bring the bar down behind the elbows to the neck/ chin area and press it back up. This exercise will transfer greatly to the bench press and provide an increase in strength and size of the triceps.
You can do this exercise many different ways:
- Straight Bar
- EZ Bar
- SS Bar
- Multigrip Bar
The benefit of this exercise is that it targets the muscles around the elbow(medial triceps) which are the ones that will help to increase your pressing strength. It is recommended to start extremely light with these if you have never done them before and work your way up to heavier loads as you gain more strength. These should be done in the 3-8 rep range among the many variations to avoid accommodation.
Dips are said to be the squat of the upper-body. They work many muscles, but when done on the parallel bars try to keep the body more vertical to get more triceps recruitment. If done on a bench you can have your feet down or up and add weight to make it more challenging. Either way you do these, they will help to build some great triceps. It should be said that if you have shoulder or sternum issues be cautious with these. This is a great exercise, but if it doesn’t work for you, move on.
Many of the greatest bodybuilders and powerlifters swear by dips to build strong and massive triceps. Dips are best done in the 5-10 rep range with added weight if possible. This is not to say you can’t do these in a lower rep range with maximum load, but they seem to be more beneficial as a builder versus a tester of strength.
4. Triceps Extensions
This is a very general term for a triceps exercise and can be done in many different ways:
- Elbows in/ out
- To behind head, forehead, nose, chin, and throat
- Straight Bar
- EZ Bar
- Multigrip Bar
- Chains/ Bands
Triceps extensions are a great way to put mass on and help to build your pressing strength. Do these in the 8-12 rep range to promote hypertrophy in the triceps muscles. These are all great accessory exercises that can consistently be rotated to build some great back arms.
All the exercises mentioned have advantages and technical differences, but depending on your ability and condition, some may work better than others. It’s great to have options that reduce limitations.
5. Triceps Pressdowns
Every training program from the beginning of time has had the triceps pressdown in it. This is the most basic and easy to do triceps builder there is. The triceps pressdown is an isolation exercise and mass builder. This exercise alone will not provide the best results, but as an accessory to the above will compliment quite well.
Triceps pressdowns are done on a cable machine or with bands. A very simple and straight-forward exercise that is a great way to finish your triceps workout by adding in a bunch of volume and getting a great pump in the muscle. These can be done in the 10-20 rep range or more.
You can use many different attachments to change the angle and comfortability of the exercise.
- Straight Bar Attachment
- Rope Attachment
- VBar Attachment
- EZ Bar Attachment
- Fat Bar/ Fat Gripz
- Single Arm Handle
You can get creative and find what works best for you. There are a bunch of cable machine attachments that can give you variety for this exercise.
Build Your Triceps Bigger to Gain Strength!
When it comes to building the triceps, you need to have a combination of strength building exercises and muscle mass building exercises. In this article I have laid out the structure of how to go about doing that from exercise 1-5; in that order among the many variations you will build bigger and stronger triceps.
Another factor to be aware of is your total volume for each exercise and frequency of training. This can be the difference between results and wasted time. You need to have a training plan laid out in a way that it aligns with your goals. Knowing when and how often to train a certain muscle group is key to maximizing your progress.
Nutrition plays a major role in the success of your training plan. Making sure you are getting enough quality calories consistently on a daily basis is highly important if you want to gain size and strength. Understanding these key factors and applying them will ensure you meet your goals most efficiently.
Let me know what you think about my choices for the Top 5 Best Exercises for the Triceps in the comments below. Also, if you need help putting together a solid fitness and nutrition plan feel free to email me anytime.
If you liked this article, check out The Best Biceps Exercises article that will help you take your arms to a new level.
Remember – If you want to beat the man, you’ve gotta out-eat the man!-JM Blakely