In this article, you will learn more about the ten best tricep exercises you can do and discover their pros and cons.

Contrary to popular opinion, the triceps brachii is the largest group of muscles in the upper arm. The triceps brachii has three heads, namely the lateral head, the medial head, and the long head.

The main function of this group of muscles is to extend the forearm at the elbow. When flexed fully, the triceps usually take on the shape of a horseshoe. Anyone looking to build bigger arms should focus on training their triceps rather than putting too much work on the biceps.

What We Reviewed


  • Close Hands Pushup
  • Close-Grip Bench Press
  • Tricep Dumbbell Kickback
  • Standing Dumbbell Overhead Tricep Extension
  • Reverse Grip Triceps Pushdown
  • Weighted Triceps Dip
  • Lying Triceps Extension
  • Incline Barbell Triceps Extension
  • Body-Up
  • Triceps Pressdown

10 Tricep Exercises We Reviewed


We spoke to several fitness experts and enthusiasts to come up with a list of the 10 best tricep exercises for building mass. Once the list was compiled, our team of reviewers set out to examine each exercise based on the movement required to execute it and its pros and cons.

Finally, our team compared the exercises with one another to arrive at an unbiased verdict.

Close Hands Pushup

How to Perform

The close hands pushup is a great compound bodyweight exercise to stimulate the growth of the triceps. 

  • 1
    To perform this exercise, start off by positioning yourself in a pushup position. Instead of the regular position, place your hands much closer than shoulder width. This will shift the focus from the chest to the triceps.
  • 2
    Hold this position for a second, and using your triceps, push yourself back up to the starting position. Make sure to exhale during this part of the movement. 
  • 3
    If you are a beginner and lack the strength to perform this exercise, you could bend your knees to decrease the resistance until you develop adequate strength.

PROS


  • Perfect for both beginners and advanced lifters
  • Can be performed almost anywhere
  • Doesn’t require any equipment

CONS


  • Not much can be done to increase the resistance

Close-Grip Bench Press

How to Perform

This is another great compound exercise that helps pack on muscle mass in your triceps as well as in your chest.

  • 1
    To perform this exercise, start off by lying on your back on a flat bench. Grab a loaded barbell using a grip that is slightly closer than the width of your shoulders. 
  • 2
    Lift the barbell up from the rack and hold it straight over your chest with your arms locked. Make sure to keep your elbows close to your torso throughout the movement as this will shift the focus to the triceps. 
  • 3
    Now, slowly lower the barbell down to the middle of your chest. Hold this position for a second and push the barbell back up while exhaling.

PROS


  • Targets all three heads of the triceps
  • Movement activates the muscles in your chest and shoulders
  • Helps you gain strength

CONS


  • Might need the assistance of a spotter when going heavy
  • Beginners may find it tough to perform

Tricep Dumbbell Kickback

How to Perform

The tricep dumbbell kickback is a great way to isolate your triceps and hit all three heads really hard. 

  • 1
     To perform this exercise, start off by grabbing a dumbbell in each hand. While positioning your palms facing your torso, bend down at the waist.
  • 2
    Make sure to keep your back straight, your head up, and your knees slightly bent. Now lift the dumbbells up to the point where your forearms form a 90-degree angle with the upper arms. This is the starting position.
  • 3
    Using your triceps, extend your forearms out fully until they form a straight line. Keep your upper arms stationary and exhale during this part of the movement. 
  • 4
    Hold this position for a second, and then slowly lower your forearms back down.

PROS


  • Great for beginners
  • Works all the three heads of the triceps
  • Helps stabilize the shoulders
  • Can be performed anywhere

CONS


  • Inconsistent tension throughout the range of motion

Standing Dumbbell Overhead Tricep Extension

How to Perform

  • 1
    Start off by positioning your feet shoulder width apart. 
  • 2
     Grab a dumbbell with both of your hands and lift it up over your head. Keep your arms fully extended.  
  • 3
    Make sure to rest the dumbbell evenly on the palms of your hands. The palms should be facing the ceiling. 
  • 4
    Now, keep your upper arms close to your head and your elbows tucked in. Slowly lower the dumbbell down behind your head until your forearms touch your biceps. Make sure to keep the upper arms stationary; the forearms should be doing all the work.
  • 5
    Hold this position for a second and then push the dumbbell back up to the starting position using your triceps.  

PROS


  • Exercise activates the stabilizer muscles
  • Focuses purely on the triceps
  • Exercise is convenient and requires only a dumbbell  

CONS


  • Not suitable for people with shoulder issues

Reverse Grip Triceps Pushdown

How to Perform

  • 1
    To perform this movement, attach a flat or an e-z bar onto a high pulley.
  • 2
    Stand in front of the pulley and grab it with a supinated grip that is shoulder width apart. Keep the elbows tucked in and position them by the sides of your torso. Lower the bar completely and keep your arms fully extended. 
  • 3
    Slowly release the bar up to your chest in a controlled manner while still maintaining constant tension in the triceps. Make sure to keep your upper arms stationary throughout, and let your forearms do all the work instead.
  • 4
    Then, lower the bar back down by pushing through your triceps and contract them at the end. You could also perform this exercise using just one arm at a time to better isolate the triceps.  

PROS


  • Perfect for beginners who lack strength
  • Helps focus on the medial head of the triceps

CONS


  • Going heavy with this variation is tough
  • May hurt the wrists if performed incorrectly

Weighted Triceps Dip

How to Perform

Again, this is one of the best compound tricep exercises that you can perform. In addition to hitting the triceps, the weighted triceps dip activates multiple muscle groups such as the deltoids, the chest, and the upper back.

  • 1
    To perform this exercise, stand in front of a parallel bar dip station and grab the bars with your hands. 
  • 2
    Push yourself up so that your arms are locked and fully extended. To add weight to this exercise, you can either hold a dumbbell in between your legs or strap on a weight belt with some weight plates. 
  • 3
    Keep your torso straight and slowly lower yourself down in between the bars until your upper arms create a 90-degree angle with your forearms. 
  • 4
    Hold this position for a second, and then push yourself back up using your triceps, contracting them at the end. Like most other tricep workouts, focus on keeping the elbows tucked in tight and close to the torso.     

PROS


  • Helps build upper body strength
  • Targets multiple muscle groups simultaneously
  • Puts your muscles through a greater range of motion

CONS


  • Not suitable for beginners and people who lack strength
  • Not suitable for people with shoulder issues

Lying Triceps Extension

How to Perform

Also known as skull crushers, the lying triceps extension is a great way to target the triceps muscle. 

  • 1
    To perform this exercise, start off by lying on your back on a flat bench. Grab a pair of dumbbells and hold them up in front of you with your arms fully extended. 
  • 2
    Ensure that your palms are facing your torso and that your elbows are tucked in and positioned close to your body. This will help keep the focus on the target muscle. 
  • 3
    Keep your upper arms stationary and slowly bring the weights down near your ears by bending your arm from your elbows. 
  • 4
    Hold this position for a second and push the weights back up using your triceps. Remember to exhale during this part of the movement. You can also perform this exercise with a weighted barbell or an e-z bar.

PROS


  • Helps work the long head of the triceps
  • Increases shoulder stability
  • Perfect for fixing muscular imbalances and rehabilitation from injury

CONS


  • Not suitable for people suffering from elbow issues
  • Risk of injury is pretty high  

Incline Barbell Triceps Extension

How to Perform

This exercise is basically a variation of the lying triceps extension. 

  • 1
    To perform this exercise, start off by lying on your back on an incline bench. 
  • 2
    Grab a loaded barbell (preferably an e-z bar) with a pronated grip that is slightly closer than the width of your shoulders.
  • 3
    Extend your arms fully upward and hold the bar above your head. As always, make sure to keep your elbows tucked in at all times. 
  • 4
    Now, slowly lower the bar behind your head till your forearms come in contact with your biceps. At this point, hold the position for a second and push the weight back up using your triceps.  

PROS


  • A suitable alternative for people with wrist issues
  • Works the long head of the triceps

CONS


  • Puts a lot of strain on the elbows
  • Cannot go heavy with this variation

Body-Up

How to Perform

The body-up is another great bodyweight exercise for building tricep strength and mass. 

  • 1
    To perform this exercise, start by putting yourself in a regular push up position. Keep your arms fully extended and shoulder width apart. 
  • 2
    Ensure that your torso is straight throughout the movement. Now, slowly bend your elbows and lower your body until your forearms are inches above the ground. 
  • 3
    Hold this position for a second and push yourself back up to the starting position by pressing down on your palms.  

PROS


  • Can be performed almost anywhere
  • Does not require any equipment

CONS


  • May not be suitable for people with shoulder or elbow issues
  • Increasing the resistance is not possible

Triceps Pressdown

How to Perform

Also known as the triceps pushdown, this exercise is very similar to the reverse grip triceps pushdown and is an effective way to build muscle mass.

  • 1
    To perform it, start by attaching either a flat bar, an e-z bar, or a rope attachment to a high cable pulley. 
  • 2
    Grab the bar with a pronated grip that is shoulder width apart. Stand tall with your torso upright and pull the bar down completely until your arms are fully extended. Ensure that your elbows are tucked in and are positioned close to your body. 
  • 3
    Now, slowly bend your elbows and let the bar move up to the point where your forearms make a 90-degree angle with your upper arms. Hold this position for a second and then push the bar down completely while contracting your triceps as hard as you can.    

PROS


  • Very easy to perform
  • Doesn’t put too much strain on the wrists, elbows, or shoulders
  • Great way to pack on muscle

CONS


  • Cannot be performed without equipment

Tricep Exercises FAQ


Here are the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about tricep exercises.

  • What Are Tricep Exercises?

Tricep exercises are workouts that activate the triceps either primarily or secondarily. Tricep exercises include both compound movements as well as isolation movements. They not only help develop the triceps but also help you achieve bigger and stronger arms.  

  • What Are the Benefits of Tricep Exercises?

Apart from the obvious benefit of making your arms look more aesthetically pleasing, tricep exercises have certain other benefits such as increasing the overall strength of the arms and preventing injury.​

Additionally, tricep exercises also help increase the strength and stability of the shoulders and the elbows.

  • What Are the Most Effective Tricep Exercises?

Performing compound exercises is the best way to build mass in your triceps. Some of the most effective tricep exercises are the close grip bench press, close grip pushups, bar or bench dips, and cable tricep pushdowns.  

  • How Can You Incorporate Tricep Exercises into Your Routine?

You can perform tricep exercises as part of a whole arm workout where you train your triceps along with your biceps. Alternatively, you could incorporate tricep exercises along with your chest workout as well.

The second option works best, as almost all of your chest workouts will inevitably activate your triceps, thereby increasing the potential for growth.

The Verdict


Based on our review of the 10 best tricep exercises, the close-grip bench press comes out on top as the best overall exercise for building triceps strength and muscle mass. 

Because it’s a compound exercise, it recruits multiple muscle groups and stabilizer muscles to perform the movement, thereby helping you develop total upper body strength. Also, the exercise lets you increase the resistance easily and allows you to go heavy. 

If you are a beginner and lack the strength to perform this exercise, then the close-hands pushup and the triceps press down are a couple of great alternatives that you can do to work your triceps and build some strength.

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