The Best Triceps Exercises to Strengthen Your Arms

Exercising the triceps is useful for toning your arms. Here are the best triceps exercises to incorporate into your routine.
The Best Triceps Exercises to Strengthen Your Arms
Eva María Rodríguez

Written and verified by Fitness and yoga instructor Eva María Rodríguez.

Last update: 27 July, 2023

Triceps exercises facilitate the efficient strengthening of the posterior arm musculature. This type of work is very important to do as a complement to biceps training. If you want to know how to exercise this area, don’t hesitate to read this article!

The triceps brachii is the muscle located at the back of the humerus. In fact, it’s the only one in the posterior compartment of the arm. It gets its name from having three heads (tri means ‘three’ and cep means ‘head’).

The main function of the triceps is to extend the forearm at the elbow joint and to act as an antagonist to the biceps brachii. It’s most active in pushing movements or when using the arms to support body weight. Read on to learn how to tone it.

Triceps exercises to strengthen muscles

Triceps exercises are fairly easy to do, but require some considerations. To begin with, extreme attention needs to be paid to posture. Good posture is vital for the exercise to focus where it should and thus avoid injury. Therefore, don’t use very heavy weights that prevent you from maintaining the proper position.

Also, as most of these exercises require some element with weight, you could replace the materials with bottles filled with water or sand. You could even use tin cans if you don’t have the necessary elements. Another option is to do some of them without weight by contracting the muscles with force.

Also, exercises that present similar patterns should be avoided in the same routine in order to achieve different muscular efforts. Therefore, it’s important to rest the muscles and not perform all the exercises mentioned here in the same session.

We recommend that you consult a professional about which exercises are right for you and the number of repetitions. Bearing this in mind, here are the best triceps exercises to strengthen and tone your triceps. Plus, we’ll give you some ways to stretch these muscles after your workout.

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Triceps extension with dumbbells

To do the two-arm triceps extension you need to stand or sit up and grab one or two dumbbells with both hands above your head. Then, you must lower your hands behind your head, keeping your elbows up. From this position you raise the dumbbell, extending the arm and pausing slightly.

It’s very important that the dumbbell remains perpendicular to the floor. This helps to avoid hyperextension of the elbow. Then, the elbows are bent again, returning to the initial position. The descent should be done slowly.

Triceps extension with one arm

The triceps extension with one arm is an exercise very similar to the previous one. The starting position is the same. However, to do it with one arm, the movement is more lateralized.

To stabilize the arm you can help with the opposite hand by pressing gently below the elbow. Otherwise, the dynamics are the same: extend the arm while taking care that the dumbbell is perpendicular to the ground, stop for a moment, and then slowly return to the starting position.

A press with dumbbells or barbell

This exercise for the triceps is similar to the triceps extension standing. The difference is that you must lie on your back on a horizontal or recumbent bench, leaving your arms out. Doing so helps you hold the posture more comfortably.

Then, grab dumbbells or a barbell with your palms facing up and elbows facing forward. The advantage of two dumbbells is that you work both arms equally, which can help prevent or compensate for a muscle imbalance. If you use a barbell, make sure its weight is appropriate for you, so you can manipulate it with control.

From that position, straighten your arms and bend them until they reach your head. Do not move your wrists, as you could hurt them. You can do many repetitions, but don’t complement it with the previous exercises, so as not to fatigue the same area.

Diamond push-ups with your hands together

To work the triceps with these push-ups, you must stand with your arms and legs extended face down, in the manner of a plank. Then, clasp your hands together in the middle as much as possible. In this way, you will work the triceps area, although you’ll continue to exercise the whole arm.

Go down with your arms as in a conventional push-up. You’ll notice that your elbows are facing outward. Remember not to move your hands and keep them together at chest level. You can perform 10 repetitions and several sets.

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Dumbbell push-ups

Dumbbell push-ups help exercise the entire triceps evenly. In addition, they involve the activation of pectorals and front deltoids. This exercise is performed on the floor, in the manner of traditional push-ups, from the plank position.

Instead of resting your hands, you should take some dumbbells in a closed grip, that is, just below the shoulders. In order for you to be able to do this, keep in mind that they should be large dumbbells, so that you don’t hurt your knuckles. Doing it with dumbbells helps to better focus the exercise on the triceps.

Dumbbell Plank

This is a variation of the previous triceps exercise. In the same position, instead of lowering your body onto the dumbbells, you must raise one of your arms, keeping your elbow at 90 degrees. First, raise one of your arms. Then, lower to the initial plank position and, finally, raise the other one.

Triceps kick

To perform this triceps exercise, you need support. In the case of a bench, you must rest one knee and one arm on it. If you have a chair, just rest your hand on it and lean your body forward while standing. It’s important to bend your knees a little.

With the opposite hand to the one supported, take a dumbbell and place the forearm parallel to the body, with the elbow bent at 90 degrees. The exercise consists of extending the arm backward, like a kick. It’s important to be careful not to hyperextend the elbow. Another way to do this is by sitting down and bringing the body forward.

Extension of arms with cable or elastic tensioner

To perform this triceps exercise, you must have a cable that reaches the bottom of the machine. Then, position yourself with your back to it. Grasp the cable with both hands behind your body. Point your elbows up and extend them until your fists are pointing to the ceiling.

Another option is to use an elastic tensioner. The exercise is the same, except that you will have to hold the tensioner with one of your feet. Be careful, as it can slip out of your feet and hit you.

Suspension Extensions

Suspension training involves using heavy resistance bands and performing movements using your own body weight. To perform this triceps exercise you need the specific straps for it or a cable that is on top of the pulley.

You must lean forward, letting your body weight make it difficult to return to the starting position. Your arms should be bent at 90 degrees and grip the straps or pulley above your head.

Bench press

You can perform this bench press with a bench or a sturdy chair. In both cases, you must hold the edge of the support with both hands, with your back to it. You can stretch your legs, resting only your heels on the floor, or bend them a little.

Then, lower your body towards the floor, bending your elbows without moving your hands. You could also bend your knees and rest your feet on the floor. If you want to make it more complex, you can lift your feet off the floor, placing them on a chair in front of you. In addition, you could add some weight on top of your legs.

Push-ups with a chair

Another way to perform push-ups to work your triceps is to face the bench or chair. What you should do is rest your hands shoulder-width apart on the support. Stretch your legs, like a plank.

Then, bend your elbows, bringing your chest and face towards the seat. Keep your back and legs in a straight line. Perform these push-ups until your arms form 90 degrees. You can repeat it several times, although it’s an exercise that can be tiring.

Parallel bar pull-ups

If you have some parallel bars, you can perform this exercise to strengthen your triceps. The way to do this is to take each bar with one arm and push yourself until your body is above them.

To do this, place your hands a little behind your body, to work more triceps. Then, slowly lower your body until your elbow forms a 90-degree angle. Then come back up and repeat the exercise.

Triceps exercise with pulley

Extensions with a pulley are one of the classic triceps exercises. You need the cable to be placed on top of the machine. You can add any accessory to it, either a rope or a ring.

Once you have it, stand in front of the machine and grab the accessory with both hands. Stretch the cable, up to your waist. Then, extend your elbows until your arms are straight. Finally, slowly return to the starting position, always keeping the upper arm fixed.

There is also a slightly more complex alternative. It consists of doing the same exercise but with only one arm. In this case, look for an accessory that is easy for you to take.

A benchpress with a barbell

Unlike the traditional bench press, what makes this press different is that you must take the bar with less separation between the hands. This way, you’ll be able to work your triceps more.

First, you should lie down on the bench and grab the bar with your arms straight. The grip should be narrower than shoulder-width apart. Then, bring the bar up to your chest, flexing your arms. Push the bar up implosively and extend your arms fully. Repeat.

Triceps exercise with kettlebells

Another way to exercise this muscle is to do it with a kettlebell. Although you could also replace it with a regular dumbbell. For these triceps exercises, you’ll want to stand with your legs a little wider than hip-width apart. Keep them slightly bent.

Then, grab the kettlebell off the floor with one hand and lift it backward. You should bend your elbow 90 degrees when performing this movement and bring it behind your body. Your torso should remain slightly bent forward. This will work the triceps well. Finally, come back to the starting position and repeat.

Dumbbell curls

This is another triceps exercise with which you can also work a large part of the upper muscles. It will be useful to tone your triceps, biceps, and chest.

To perform it, you must lie down on a bench and take two weights. Stretch your arms up and then lower them to your sides. You can do this with both at the same time or intersperse them while keeping one of them stretched. To work the triceps more, the ideal is to lower until the elbow is well bent.

Dumbbell extensions

Perhaps one of the simplest triceps exercises. You can perform it seated or standing and choose the weight that is most comfortable for you. Stop if your shoulders hurt.

Take two dumbbells above your shoulders and raise one of them toward the ceiling. Meanwhile, hold the other one in the starting position. Then, lower your arm back down and do the same with the other arm. You could also raise both arms at the same time.

Lateral raises

Another triceps exercise you can do is lateral arm raises. You can perform them standing or seated. The important thing is that your torso is slightly tilted forward. This way, you will be able to work your triceps more.

Once in that position, take some dumbbells or some tensors. In the second case, you can hold them with your feet. Then, stretch your arms and raise them to both sides, until they are parallel to the floor. Return to the starting position slowly.

Stretching after tricep exercises

It’s very important to stretch after any type of workout. Static stretching can help reduce muscle injuries and impact muscle power, strength, and flexibility. Some of the best options for stretching after triceps exercises are as follows.

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Horizontal arm stretch

This is one of the most popular exercises for stretching the triceps. It also works for the shoulder and upper back. To perform the horizontal arm stretch start by bringing the arm out to the opposite side, crossing in front of the body.

With the other hand placed above the elbow, help press the arm towards your body. The shoulder should be downward. This is very important, as many people tend to bring their shoulders up. Hold the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds and switch arms.

Overhead triceps stretch

The overhead triceps stretch is another popular stretch for this purpose. To perform it, move one arm up and bend your elbow so that your hand comes down toward your back and your forearm is just behind your head. With the opposite hand, press on the elbow to stabilize the posture.

Hold the pose for 20 to 30 seconds and switch arms. It’s very important to keep in mind that the elbow should face upward and the back should remain neutral. If you slouch, the shoulder will go forward. That will not allow you to raise it.

Overhead triceps stretch with a grip

To intensify the previous stretch, you can add a grip with the opposite hand behind your back. To do this, bring the opposite arm to the one you’re stretching back underneath you. Lean it against your back with the open hand facing outward.

One arm should be with the elbow up and the other with the elbow toward the floor. Try to interlace the fingers of both hands. This also helps to stretch the shoulders.

If you can’t perform the grip, another option is to take a towel with the top hand and grab it from behind with your bottom hand. Hold the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds and switch arms.

Try these exercises for your triceps

These triceps exercises are an effective way to get toned arms. If you’re looking to increase your muscle mass, you can consider intensifying the load gradually and focus on a protein-rich diet.

However, it’s very important to take care of the loads as well as your posture. Poor posture coupled with excess weight can lead to back and neck problems. If you have any doubts, the best thing to do is to consult a trainer or doctor specialized in sports.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.