There are thousands of articles about “the best tricep workouts” online, but most miss the mark.

Usually, they recommend ineffective triceps exercises that’ll never get the results you want. 

This article is different.

In it, you’ll learn eight triceps exercises proven to add mass to your upper arms. You’ll also get to grips with the triceps’ anatomy, learn how to optimize your triceps workouts, and more. 

Triceps Anatomy

The first step in creating an effective tricep workout is understanding triceps anatomy. 

The triceps brachii, or “triceps,” is the muscle group located on the back of the upper arm, between the shoulder and elbow.

It has three sections or “heads:”

  • Lateral head: The lateral head is the strongest head of the triceps. It’s on the outside of your upper arm, so it’s the most visible when your arms are at your sides. Its main function is elbow extension (straightening the elbows). 
  • Medial head: The medial head of the triceps is hidden deep in your arm and primarily straightens the elbow. 
  • Long head: The long head is the largest part of the triceps. It runs along the inside of your arm and has three functions: it straightens the elbow and plays smaller roles in shoulder extension (bringing your arms from overhead to your sides by moving in an arc in front of you) and shoulder adduction (bringing your arms toward your body’s midline).

Here’s how the triceps looks:

Triceps anatomy

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The Best Triceps Exercises for a Full Triceps Workout

Include these triceps exercises in your tricep workouts to add mass to your upper arms.

1. Close-Grip Bench Press

Why: The close-grip bench press is one of the best triceps exercises for size and strength because it allows you to lift heavy weights safely and progress regularly. 


  1. Lie on a flat bench, pull your shoulder blades together and down, and without lifting your butt or shoulders off the bench, slightly arch your back.
  2. Grip the barbell with a shoulder-width grip or slightly narrower, and unrack the barbell.
  3. Lower the barbell to your lower chest while keeping your elbows tucked at 30 degrees relative to your torso.
  4. Press the bar back to the starting position.

Sets and Reps: 3 sets of 4-to-6 reps

2. Dip

Why: Dips are an excellent triceps exercise when you perform them with an upright torso. When you start doing dips in your tricep workouts, you can make great progress with just your body weight, but as you get stronger, you’ll want to add weight using a dip belt.


  1. If you’re using a dip belt, wrap the chain around your waist, add the desired amount of weight to the chain, and fasten the carabiner.
  2. Grab both handles of a dip bar or dip station, then press yourself up by straightening your arms and gently jumping off the ground so that your arms are straight and support your entire body weight. 
  3. Keep your body upright to put the emphasis on your triceps, bend your knees to keep your feet from touching the ground, and lower your body by bending your elbows until your upper arms are roughly parallel to the floor.
  4. Press hard into the handles to drive your body back to the starting position.

Sets and Reps: 3 sets of 4-to-6 reps

3. Overhead Triceps Extension

Why: The overhead triceps extension is a top isolation exercise for the triceps because it fully stretches the triceps, which is vital for maximizing muscle growth.


  1. Sit up straight on a bench. 
  2. Grip one end of a dumbbell and lift it overhead.
  3. Lower the weight until it’s behind your head by bending at the elbow, then extend your elbows to return to the starting position.

Sets and Reps: 3 sets of 6-to-8 reps

4. JM Press

Why: The JM press trains your triceps through a full range of motion and allows you to train with heavy loads, making it ideal for building big, strong triceps.


  1. Lie on a flat bench, pull your shoulder blades together and down, and without lifting your butt or shoulders off the bench, slightly arch your back.
  2. Grip the barbell with a slightly narrower than shoulder-width grip, unrack it, and move it over your chest.
  3. Lower the barbell toward your neck, keeping your elbows up and in front of your torso, and slightly bend your wrists backward so that your palms face the ceiling.
  4. When your forearms and biceps touch, press the bar back to the starting position.

Sets and Reps: 3 sets of 6-to-8 reps

5. Skull Crusher

Why: The skullcrusher is a great exercise to include in your triceps workouts because it trains the slightly smaller medial and lateral heads of the triceps, ensuring you have defined, proportional upper arms.


  1. While lying on a flat bench, hold an EZ Bar above your chest with a shoulder-width grip. 
  2. Bring the bar down to your forehead by bending at the elbow.
  3. Extend your arms and return to the starting position.

Sets and Reps: 3 sets of 6-to-8 reps

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6. Triceps Pushdown

Why: The triceps pushdown should be a mainstay of your workouts for triceps because research using muscle activity data shows it trains all three heads of the triceps through a long range of motion, so it’s excellent for gaining muscle and strength.


  1. Set the pulley on a cable machine to slightly above head height and attach the rope attachment.
  2. Stand upright or lean slightly forward, grab one end of the rope in each hand, and push the rope downward by straightening your elbows. 
  3. Once your elbows are fully extended, reverse the motion to return to the starting position.

Sets and reps: 3 sets of 6-to-8 reps

7. Cable Triceps Kickback

Why: Performing the cable triceps kickback with your elbows slightly behind your body targets the long head of the triceps, which is important because the long head has the most significant impact on upper-arm size. If you don’t have access to a cable machine, you can also perform the triceps kickback with a dumbbell or a resistance band


  1. Set the pulley on a cable machine to the lowest setting and attach a single handle.
  2. While still facing the pulley, grab the handle in one hand and take a large step back so that there is tension in the cable.
  3. Bend at the hips so your upper body is almost parallel to the ground, and tuck your elbow into your side. Slightly bend your knees and stagger your stance if it feels more comfortable.
  4. Push the handle straight behind you by straightening your arm.
  5. Reverse the movement to return to the starting position.

Sets and reps: 3 sets of 8-to-10 reps

8. Diamond Push-up

To understand how to get bigger triceps at home, you need to know about the diamond push-up. Research shows that doing push-ups with your hands close together shifts the emphasis onto your triceps, which helps to build the entire tricep muscle group.

  1. Get on all fours with your hands together under your chest.
  2. Form a diamond with your index fingers and thumbs, then extend your legs behind you so you’re in a high plank position.
  3. Keeping your back straight, lower your chest to your hands, and then push your body up and return to the starting position.

Sets and reps: 3 sets of 10-to-20 reps

The Best Tricep Workouts

The following triceps workouts contain the best triceps exercises and the perfect amount of volume and intensity to build your upper arms without wearing you to a frazzle.

For best results, do Tricep Workout #1 once weekly for 8-to-10 weeks as part of a well-designed training program, take a deload, then replace Tricep Workout #1 with Tricep Workout #2 for the following 8-to-10 weeks.

After that, you can continue to follow the same pattern every 8-to-10 weeks of training or create your own tricep workouts using the exercises above.

Triceps Workout #1

Triceps Workout #1

Triceps Workout #2

Triceps Workout #2

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Tricep Workout Guide

1. End every set 1-to-2 reps shy of muscle failure.

To maximize muscle and strength gains in your workouts for triceps, you must take most of your sets within a rep or two of muscle failure.

Ask yourself at the end of each set, “If I had to, how many more reps could I have gotten with good form?” If the answer is more than two, increase the weight or reps to make your next set more challenging.

2. Once you hit the top of your rep range for one set, increase the weight.

If your triceps workout calls for 4-to-6 reps of the close-grip bench press and you get 6 reps for a set, add 10 pounds to your next set.

If you manage 3 or fewer reps with the new weight, reduce the weight by 5 pounds to ensure you stay in the 4-to-6 rep range. 

Follow this pattern of trying to add reps or weight to every exercise in every workout.

3. Take the right supplements.

The best supplements for optimizing your workouts for triceps are:

  • Protein powder: Protein powder provides your body with the nutrients needed to build muscle tissue and recover from workouts. For a clean and delicious protein powder, try Whey+or Casein+.
  • Creatine: Creatine boosts muscle and strength gain, improves anaerobic endurance, and reduces muscle damage and soreness from your workouts. For a natural source of creatine that also includes two other ingredients to enhance muscle growth and improve recovery, try Recharge.
  • Pre-workout: A high-quality pre-workout enhances energy, mood, and focus, increases strength and endurance, and reduces fatigue. For a top-tier pre-workout containing clinically effective doses of 6 science-backed ingredients, try Pulse with caffeine or without.

(If you’d like even more specific advice about which supplements you should take to reach your health and fitness goals, take the Legion Supplement Finder Quiz, and in less than a minute, you’ll know exactly what supplements are right for you. Click here to check it out.)

Tricep Workouts: FAQs

FAQ #1: How do you work all 3 triceps?

To effectively work all three heads of the triceps, use the exercises above to create tricep workouts that train your triceps at different angles and through various ranges of motion. Research shows doing so leads to more balanced and complete growth than doing just one or two triceps exercises. 

FAQ #2: Should I do 3 tricep exercises?

Yes, doing 3-to-4 tricep exercises in a tricep workout is effective. It allows you to train the triceps with enough volume (sets) to spur growth, and it means you can train your arms from various angles and through different ranges of motion, which is important for developing proportional triceps. 

FAQ #3: Are triceps easy to build?

Building your triceps can be straightforward if you follow a well-structured workout routine, such as Bigger Leaner Stronger or Thinner Leaner Stronger. Incorporating a variety of exercises that target all three heads of the triceps, maintaining consistency, and progressively overloading your triceps are crucial for optimal triceps development.

+ Scientific References