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Ready to build an exceptional pair of arms? While the biceps usually get all the attention, a bulging set of triceps can take your BB guns to full-blown bazookas. These muscles aren't just about brute strength; they're key for that balanced, defined look that complements every flex. So, let's turn those often underappreciated horseshoes into something that would fit a Clydesdale! We've gathered seven of the best triceps exercises recommended by IFBB pros you should be adding to your workouts immediately. In this article we will cover:
A favorite of Arnold Schwarzenegger and probably one of the best-known triceps exercises, cable pushdowns are a staple of almost every gym-goer's arm day. Often done at the start of an arm workout, cable pushdowns are a great way to get the elbows warmed up and ready for some serious work. 6x Mr. Olympia Dorian Yates liked to perform these on the lat cable machine because he liked the motion better. But before you try to emulate Dorian, you'll need a 45lb plate hung around your waist to keep you grounded.
Pro Tip: The key to effective triceps cable pushdowns is to keep your upper arms still, focusing the movement solely on your forearms and ensuring a full contraction of the triceps at the end of each extension. Avoid using momentum or swinging; control is crucial for maximizing the benefits of this exercise.
EZ-bar skull crushers are a stellar addition to any triceps workout, particularly for those targeting specific muscle development. This exercise hones in on the long head of the triceps, which is crucial for that standout arm definition.
Bodybuilding legend Arnold Schwarzenegger once emphasized the importance of targeting each muscle from various angles to achieve comprehensive development, a principle that skull crushers embody perfectly. By altering the angle of your arms and the bar path, you can engage different parts of the triceps, ensuring well-rounded growth.
The EZ-bar's design also allows for a more ergonomic grip, reducing wrist strain and enabling you to focus on isolating the triceps. Incorporating EZ-bar skull crushers in your routine can lead to significant gains in both strength and aesthetics on the back of your arm.
Pro Tip: The key with skull crushers is control, especially during the lowering phase. It's not about the weight you lift but how you lift it. Proper form and controlled movements will engage your triceps effectively and help prevent injury.
One-Arm Reverse Cable Pushdowns are a stellar choice for those looking to enhance their triceps workouts, focusing specifically on the lateral and medial heads of the triceps. This exercise provides a unique angle of resistance that traditional pushdowns don't, leading to more comprehensive muscle development. This exercise allows for focused, controlled movements that effectively stimulate the muscle fibers without excessive strain.
The reverse grip employed in this variant not only intensifies the engagement of the triceps but also recruits the forearms, contributing to overall arm strength and stability. By isolating each arm, you also ensure balanced muscle development, correcting any asymmetries. For those aiming for well-defined, strong triceps, incorporating One-Arm Reverse Cable Pushdowns can be a game-changer in achieving those sculpted arms, as recommended by bodybuilding greats like Lee Haney and Dorian Yates.
Pro Tip: Avoid using momentum or swinging the body; let your triceps do the work. This focused approach ensures maximum engagement of the muscle for optimal results.
Check out the video below to see Dorian Yates demonstrate all three of the above exercises during a grueling workout session.
One-Arm Overhead Triceps Extensions are a vital exercise for anyone aiming to build strong, well-defined triceps. This focused movement primarily targets the long head of the triceps, which is crucial for achieving a full-looking back of the arm. Legendary bodybuilder Jay Cutler once highlighted the importance of isolating muscle groups for maximum growth, a principle perfectly exemplified by this exercise.
By working one arm at a time, you ensure each tricep receives concentrated attention, leading to more balanced muscle development. The overhead nature of the exercise also provides a thorough stretch in the triceps, particularly in the long head, enhancing both strength and aesthetic appeal. This targeted approach not only aids in building muscle size but also improves the overall shape and symmetry of your arms.
Pro Tip: The key to effective One-Arm Overhead Triceps Extensions is keeping your shoulders down, which will help you keep your upper arms in one spot. This isolation ensures your triceps are effectively engaged during the exercise.
You can check out Roelly Winklaar doing One-Arm Overhead Triceps extensions in the video below.
Dips, Machine Dips, and Bench Dips can be the center point of an effective triceps workout, known for their impact on the whole triceps. Dips are particularly effective at engaging the lateral head, which is key for that pronounced 'horseshoe' shape on the back of the arm.
Machine Dips provide a more stable and controlled way to isolate the triceps, making them great for beginners or for those focusing on specific muscle engagement. Bench Dips, a favorite of Roelly Winklaar, who is known for some of the best arms in the history of bodybuilding, are a more accessible variation and can be performed almost anywhere, still effectively targeting the entire tricep area. By incorporating these exercises into your routine, you can expect not just an increase in muscle size, but also a boost in overall arm strength and definition, ensuring a balanced development of all three tricep heads.
Here's a video of Jay Cutler preparing for the 2011 Mr. Olympia with some dips.
Pro Tip: Avoid going too low, as this can strain the shoulders. Control is more important than speed or number of repetitions. These exercises are great for building triceps strength and can be modified to suit different fitness levels.
Check out the video below to see Larry Wheels and Roelly Winklaar push their triceps to the limit with weight bench dips.
The Close Grip Bench Press is a key exercise for triceps development, highly recommended by top bodybuilders for its effectiveness in enhancing arm strength and mass. This variation shifts the emphasis from the chest to the triceps, intensifying the workout for these muscles. Renowned figures like Ronnie Coleman have highlighted the value of compound movements, and the close grip bench press exemplifies this, effectively targeting the triceps for significant growth. It's not just about size; this exercise also boosts overall upper body strength, a crucial aspect in bodybuilding. By integrating the close grip bench press into your routine, you can expect notable improvements in both the look and functionality of your arms, echoing the practices of professional bodybuilders.
Pro Tip: The key to the Close Grip Bench Press is keeping your elbows close to your body to ensure that the triceps are doing most of the work. It's important to select a weight that allows you to maintain good form and complete your sets without compromising technique.
You can see one of the best bodybuilders in history that never won a Sandow perform Close Grip Bench in the video below.
The Cross-Body Cable Tricep Extension is an excellent exercise for those looking to carve out strong, defined triceps. This movement is often praised by bodybuilding experts, including the likes of Phil Heath, for its ability to isolate and target the triceps with precision. Unlike many other tricep exercises, the cross-body motion allows for a unique angle of resistance, engaging each part of the triceps muscle, particularly the lateral and medial heads.
This isolation is key to achieving the detailed, cut look that many bodybuilders strive for. By including this exercise in your triceps routine, you're following in the footsteps of some of the greatest in the sport, working towards not just size, but also the shape and definition that define a champion's physique.
Pro Tip: Don't use momentum! The effectiveness of the Cross-Body Cable Tricep Extension lies in the isolation of the triceps and maintaining proper form throughout the exercise. It's important to control the movement both while extending and returning to ensure maximum engagement of the tricep muscle.
While he may not be an IFBB pro, Sam Sulek has been on a lot of people's minds in the fitness industry. Here he is working Cross-Body Tricep Extensions into his workout.
There you have it. Seven of the absolute best triceps exercises you should be working into your arm day immediately. If you haven't tried any of these out before, let us know what you thought of them after doing them in the comments. Feel like we missed something? You can let us know below as well!
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