Tricep Exercises

I’m a big fan of tricep workouts for the same reason I’m a fan of bicep workouts!

Below are some of the basic workouts I do when I work triceps, which I will normally work in conjunction with biceps, rotating back and forth between the two.

Like I mention in my Getting Started with Fitness page, I recommend finding a weight that allows you to do 3 sets of 6-10 reps. Just find what you’re comfortable with so that you do not feel like you’re injuring yourself, and also something that challenges you.

Remember: to build “toned” arms, you must challenge your muscles so they can grow!

Tricep Muscles

(image source:

All underlined exercises hyperlink to the exercise as it appears in the Exercise Database

Triceps Bench Dip

  1. For this exercise, you will need to place a bench behind your back. With the bench perpendicular to your body, and while looking away from it, hold on to the bench on its edge with the hands fully extended, separated at shoulder width. The legs will be extended forward, feet on the ground.
  2. Slowly lower your body as you inhale by bending at the elbows until you lower yourself far enough to where there is an angle slightly smaller than 90 degrees between the upper arm and the forearm. Tip: Keep the elbows as close as possible throughout the movement. Forearms should always be pointing down.
  3. Using your triceps to bring your torso up again, lift yourself back to the starting position. (1)

Note: If it feels too easy, add a 10 lb. plate onto your lap to make it harder! Or, hold the dip for 1 second once you are at the bottom of the movement and your arms are at 90 degrees.

Lying Close-Grip Barbell Triceps Extension

  1. While holding a straight barbell or curl barbell with a pronated grip (palms facing forward), lie on your back on a flat bench with your head close to the end of the bench. Tip: If you are holding a straight barbell grab it using a shoulder-width grip and if you are using an curl barbell grab it on the inner handles.
  2. Extend your arms in front of you and slowly bring the bar back in a semicircular motion (while keeping the arms extended) to a position over your head. At the end of this step your arms should be overhead and perpendicular to the floor. This will be your starting position. Tip: Keep your elbows in at all times.
  3. As you inhale, lower the bar by bending at the elbows and while keeping the upper arm stationary. Keep lowering the bar until your forearms are perpendicular to the floor.
  4. As you exhale bring the bar back up to the starting position by pushing the bar up in a semi-circular motion until the lower arms are also parallel to the floor. Contract the triceps hard at the top of the movement for a second. Tip: Again, only the forearms should move. The upper arms should remain stationary at all times. (2)

Triceps Pushdown

  1. Attach a straight bar to a high pulley and grab with an overhand grip (palms facing down) at shoulder width.
  2. Standing upright with the torso straight and a very small inclination forward, bring the upper arms close to your body and perpendicular to the floor. The forearms should be pointing up towards the pulley as they hold the bar. This is your starting position.
  3. Using the triceps, bring the bar down until it touches the front of your thighs and the arms are fully extended perpendicular to the floor. The upper arms should always remain stationary next to your torso and only the forearms should move. Exhale as you perform this movement.
  4. After a second hold at the contracted position, bring the bar slowly up to the starting point. Breathe in as you perform this step.

Standing Dumbbell Triceps Extension

  1. To begin, stand up with a dumbbell held by both hands. Your feet should be about shoulder width apart from each other. Slowly use both hands to grab the dumbbell and lift it over your head until both arms are fully extended.
  2. The resistance should be resting in the palms of your hands with your thumbs around it. The palm of the hands should be facing up towards the ceiling. This will be your starting position.
  3. Keeping your upper arms close to your head with elbows in and perpendicular to the floor, lower the resistance in a semicircular motion behind your head until your forearms touch your biceps. Tip: The upper arms should remain stationary and only the forearms should move. Breathe in as you perform this step.
  4. Go back to the starting position by using the triceps to raise the dumbbell. Breathe out as you perform this step. (3)

Close Grip Barbell Bench Press

  1. Lie back on a flat bench. Using a close grip (around shoulder width), lift the barbell and hold it straight over you with your arms locked. This will be your starting position.
  2. As you breathe in, come down slowly until you feel the bar on your middle chest. Tip: Make sure that – as opposed to a regular bench press – you keep the elbows close to the torso at all times in order to maximize triceps involvement.
  3. After a second pause, bring the bar back to the starting position as you breathe out and push the bar using your triceps muscles. Lock your arms in the contracted position, hold for a second and then start coming down slowly again. Tip: It should take at least twice as long to go down than to come up. (4)


< Back to Arm Exercises