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All about triceps and how to work them effectively


To get an efficient triceps workout, you needn’t use any fancy equipment, simply your bodyweight or a barbell can help you to build strength, tone, and definition in this area. Read on for tips on working your triceps by David Wiener, Training and Nutrition Specialist for Freeletics.

đź“‘ Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Bodyweight Triceps Exercises
  3. Diamond Pushups
  4. Straight Bar Dips
  5. Side Dips
  6. Triceps Exercises with Weights
  7. Bench Press
  8. Push Presses
  9. Triceps Extension


You may not be aware, but the triceps muscle makes up 60% of your upper arm, making it a crucial part of the body to exercise regularly, and one that you really ought to pay attention to if you’re looking to tone, define, and strengthen your upper body.

The triceps muscle lies along the back of your upper arm and is twice the size of your bicep muscles, with more muscle fibers per square inch.

The triceps start at the top of the shoulder blade and the arm bone, running down the back of the arm bone, crossing the elbow and inserting into the back of one of our forearm bones.

These muscles help stabilize your shoulder joint, and they act as an extensor of the elbow and shoulder.

As your triceps become stronger, the strength and stability of your shoulders and elbows also increases. This in turn will increase the functionality, flexibility and range of motion of your arm, improving your performance in everyday tasks, as well as sports which require arm movements and upper-body strength like tennis, swimming, and basketball.

Most, if not all upper-body exercises will recruit the triceps in some way, and you can effectively work your triceps with or without weights, and from the comfort of your own home if you don’t have access to a gym.

Bodyweight Triceps Exercises

Some of the best triceps exercises without weights or equipment include:

Diamond Pushups

Male athlete performing Diamond Pushups

Pushups are a fantastic exercise to gain power, strength and muscle tone. In addition, doing Pushups and similar pressing movements have been shown to activate the triceps even more than isolation exercises.

To execute a Diamond Pushup correctly, begin in the high plank hold position with your hands placed close enough so that your thumbs and index fingers are touching, forming a diamond shape.

Then, lower your body to your hands slowly while keeping your elbows tight to the body and explode up, lifting your body off the ground and returning to the Diamond Pushup position.

This move requires maximum effort, and to ensure you’re doing it correctly, make sure you keep your elbows tight to your sides. If you’re a beginner, you may want to start with a traditional pushup and adopt a slightly wider stance.

Straight Bar Dips

Straight Bar Dips target the triceps, chest, and shoulders and can be performed on any bar, railing, or playground equipment that can safely hold your body weight.

To begin, start by holding your body above the bar with your arms fully extended and a grip that is slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Engage your core throughout this exercise to help you keep your balance.

Male athlete performing dips

Lower your body down at a controlled pace, until your lower chest touches the bar and then press up with your arms to the starting position to complete one repetition. Your feet should not touch the ground at any point during the exercise.

Side Dips

Side Dips are an effective way to isolate the tricep muscles. This exercise requires no equipment and can be performed by athletes of varying fitness levels.

Start by laying down in a straight line on your right side. Place your left hand on the ground in front of you, and push your upper body up off the ground. Your hips and feet should remain touching the ground at all times.

Lower your body at a controlled pace until your right shoulder touches the ground to complete one repetition. Change sides and complete the same amount of repetitions for your opposite arm.

Triceps Exercises with Weights

If you’re looking to incorporate weights or a barbell into your workout, some of the best triceps exercises include:

Bench Press

A main lifting exercise in gyms across the world, the Bench Press targets the chest, triceps, and front of the shoulders when performed properly.

male athlete performing Bench Press

Start by laying on the bench with your arms straight and your hand should be slightly wider than shoulder width apart. A good way to know if you have a proper grip on the bar is that your forearms should be vertical when the bar is in the lowest position.

Next, keep your shoulder blades squeezed together to make sure the chest, triceps, and front of the shoulders are targeted and always keep your feet on the ground.

Slowly bend your arms and lower them to your sides until the bar touches the bottom of your chest. Your elbows should form a 45-degree angle with your body. Push the bar up to the starting position to complete one repetition.

Push Presses

Normally thought of as a shoulder-focused exercise, the Push Press also requires the recruitment of the triceps during this compound lift.

This exercise uses the momentum from your legs to initially press the bar away from your body, your triceps then play a major role in getting the bar up and fully extending your elbows in the second part of the movement.

A unique advantage of the Push Press is that using the legs allows you to lift heavier weights, thus challenging the triceps even more during the second part of the lift.

Begin by standing straight and resting the bar on your shoulders while gripping the bar slightly wider than shoulder width.

Initiate the movement by slightly bending the knees and pushing the weight with your legs to help power the weight up and away from your shoulders, as vertically as possible. Continue the rest of the press until your bar is in the overhead position and your arms and legs are fully straightened.

Control the descent of the weight back to the start position in order to complete the repetition.

Triceps Extension

To execute the Triceps Extension, start by laying on the bench and holding the barbell with your arms straight above your chest.

Make sure to keep your head, shoulders, and glutes on the bench, your feet should always be in contact with the ground and maintain a tight core throughout the exercise.

Keep your upper arms stationary and bend your arms at the elbow, lowering the bar towards your head at a controlled pace. Once your hands are below the level of your elbows, push the weight back to the starting position.

So, there you have it, a selection of simple yet super effective triceps exercises which could help you to sculpt the upper body you’ve always dreamt of!