Top 5 Best Tricep Exercises To Build Mass

Anatomy Of The Tricep:

The Tricep Brachii has three heads which connect the humerus and scapula bones to the forearm bone called the ulna.  These three heads are known as the lateral, medial, and long heads.

  • The lateral head is located on the outward facing side of the humerus.  This head is most responsible for the horseshoe shape of the tricep.
  • The medial head is located towards the midline of the body.
  • The long head along the bottom side of the humerus and is that largest of the three heads
Triceps Brachii

The primary function of the tricep is to extend the elbow (straightening the arm).  The secondary function of the tricep is fulfilled only by the long head of the muscle, which brings the arm down towards the body (adduction).

Tricep Exercise #1: Lying Barbell Tricep Extensions

tricepThese fundamental favorites isolate intense stress on the tricep, particularly the medial and outer heads. Taking a narrow overgrip in the middle of a moderately weighted barbell, lie on your back on an exercise bench.  Keep your feet on the sides of the bench to provide balance.

Extend your arms straight up above your head.  With your upper arms remaining motionless throughout the set, bend your elbows allowing the barbell to travel downward in a semicircular arc until it slightly touches your forehead.  Reverse the direction of the movement of the bar using only tricep strength to slowly straighten your arms.

There are many effective variations, such as using different grip widths, doing them seated, using an undergrip, or using a decline or incline bench.

Tricep Exercise #2:  Standing Barbell Tricep Extensions

This is a fundamental tricep exercise, stressing the inner and medial heads of the triceps muscle complex.  Take a narrow overgrip in the middle of a moderately-weighted barbell.  With feet about shoulder width apart, stand erect, and extend your arms straight up from your shoulders.

Keep your upper arms in the same position, while you lower the weight slowly behind your head until your arms are completely bent. Without bouncing in the bottom position, slowly raise the bar back to the start position.

You can vary the width of your grip on the bar or use an undergrip to isolate different parts of the tricep. You can also do these seated to isolate your legs from movement, making the exercise somewhat stricter.

Tricep Exercise #3:  Tricep Cable Push Downs

This exercise will target the outer head of the tricep.

Attach a bar to an overhead pulley.  Stand in front of the pulley with your feet shoulder width apart.  Grab the bar with a narrow tricepoverhand grip.  Bend your arms fully and tuck your elbows close to your sides at all times during the exercise.

Moving just your forearms push the bar down in an arc motion until your arms are straight.  Hold this position and squeeze your triceps for a second to maximize the peak contraction.  Then slowly lower to the starting position.

Tips – do not let the weight plates touch during the exercise, keep the tension on the tricep muscles.  For variety you can use different bars attached to the overhead pulley (i.e. rope, ez bar, V bar, etc.) to work the muscles at different angles.

Tricep Exercise #4:  Dips

This exercise will not only work each tricep to the max, but it is also a great chest and shoulder exercise as well.

tricepGrab a pair of parallel bars so the palms of your hands are facing each other.  Straighten your arms and support yourself between the bars.

Slowly bend your arms and lower your body between the bars until your elbows are at 90-degree angles.  Hold this stretched position for a second, then push yourself back up to the starting position and lock out your arms at the top.

Tip – this is an advanced exercise because you have to be able to lift your entire bodyweight.  But as you get stronger you can add extra weight to the exercise by hanging weights from your waist using a weight belt 🙂

Tricep Exercise #5:  Seated Half Presses

The seated half press is a great tricep exercise, particularly for building the lateral head of each tricep.  Set up a bench with an 80- to 90-degree incline inside a power rack.  The basic power rack design has four vertical posts, and two movable horizontal bar catchers on each side.  Adjust the bar catchers to position the bar level with the top of your head while seated on the bench.  Roll the bar above your chest, and grasp using an overhand grip with hands shoulder-width apart.  Press the bar up quickly as if performing a bench press, then lower the bar for two seconds until it stops completely against the pins.  Maintain a dead stop at the bottom of each repetition for two to four seconds, then push up again.

By placing a bit more specialization on your tricep muscles as you go about your workout you should be able to see great growth taking place and noticeable changes in how your arms look overall.

Thanks for Reading!!!



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Originally born and raised in Woburn Massachusetts (love my Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics and Bruins!) I made my trek northward to the beautiful state of Maine back in October 2003 after marrying my college sweetheart. We began a family in 2004 and I am happy to say that we have 4 happy, healthy, beautiful children that bring an amazing amount of joy to our lives! I am also a type 1 diabetic. Diagnosed back in 2006 (out of the blue), at a routine doctors visit. Diabetes has single handed-ly been the biggest obstacle that I have faced in my life. At the time I had no idea of what a roller coaster ride I would be in for, I mean really, what's a couple finger sticks a day and a couple shots of insulin for food...this will be easy, I got this! Well 2 ER visits later, I quickly found out that this was no joke, and if I wanted to see my little ones grow up, this was something that I needed to take seriously! Little by little as we began to digest all of the information that was being thrown at us...fast acting insulin, short acting insulin, lancets, test meters, test strips, ketone sticks, carb counting, food groups, glucagon emergency kits, insulin pumps, glucose monitors...OMG, my head was spinning like a top!! After a couple of crazy years, I can happily say that I am well controlled and feel absolutely amazing! Not to be lost in all of this either is the amazing support of my wife. She has been my rock! She has been with me every step of the way, from 2am finger sticks to helping me change out a failed pump in the middle of a crowded restaurant. She truly is an amazing wife and mom and I can't imaging my life without her love and support- love you babe!
  • Bodybuilder Mario

    In my experience the best way to isolate the long head of
    the triceps is to use a reverse grip with a strait bar on cable pushdowns
    (especially with the lat pulldown machine). Do 3 sets of 10 reps with a fairly
    moderate weight and you should feel a wicked burn right at the top of the long
    head. Also, any overhead extension should add some mass to the long head as
    well. A great exercise i found for the lateral head is using the rope
    attachment and squeezing out at the bottom of a cable pressdown. Hold peak
    contraction for a few seconds and you should feel a great stretch. I recently
    began using the close grip row attachment for press downs with a palms facing
    in grip and I felt immediate stimulation along the entire length of the lateral
    head. Any thoughts on these? http://www.muska-posla.com

    • http://www.facebook.com/Nofty Chris Noftall

      Thanks for the reply! Agreed, those are all great exercises! A personal favorite of mine is also the close grip bench press. Does a really nice job of isolating the tricep and you can add some additional weight, weight that you may not get on a cable machine doing press downs. Dips are also great…especially at the end of a killer tricep routine!

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