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Fact checked by Tyler DiGiovanni, BSBMFACT CHECKED
May 08, 2022
A major muscle of the upper arm, the triceps brachii extends your elbow, knows when to relax so the biceps can contract, and stabilizes the shoulder joint. And since it is the only muscle on the back of the upper arm, investing the time and energy into strengthening it is important. Fortunately, you don’t need fancy equipment or expensive dumbbells to get muscular arms. You can achieve defined triceps by following these bodyweight tricep exercises.
After reading this article, you’ll have a strong understanding of:
A large, thick muscle on the back of the upper arm, triceps brachii refers to the muscle’s three heads, or points of origin: the medial head, lateral head, and long head. The three muscle parts end at one insertion point, which is the posterior surface of the olecranon process of the ulna, the elbow joint capsule, and the antebrachial fascia.
The lateral head is the strongest and most active during extension at the elbow joint, and its origin is the posterior aspect of the humerus superior to the radial groove. The long head origin is the infraglenoid tubercle of the scapula, and the medial head attaches at the posterior aspect of the humerus inferior to the radial groove.
Achieving defined and muscular triceps does not require spending hours in the gym lifting weights. The secret to building this muscle is using exercises that target all three heads. Effective bodyweight triceps exercises can improve the muscle’s power, strength, and tone - no equipment required. And because at home tricep exercises are so convenient, it's easier to stick to your routine. Consistency is key to muscle building.
Creating an effective routine of at home triceps exercises involves targeting all three muscle heads. Simple movements such as bringing your hands closer together or lowering your forearms to the ground can change the angle enough to target a different tricep part.
These simple strategies create the defined horseshoe look we strive for with the tricep muscle and prevent imbalances between the three parts. Including all 15 of these bodyweight exercises in your workout is overkill, but make sure to include a few so each muscle head gets worked.
Selecting exercises that require different hand positions is an easy way to target the different tricep parts. There are also harder variations of triceps exercises no weights involved, so as your triceps get stronger, you can swap out beginner moves for some of the more challenging options.
These 15 tricep exercises require no equipment and will effectively strengthen and build the backs of your upper arms. We are confident that these are the best bodyweight exercises for your triceps muscles.
Kneeling bodyweight tricep extensions are one of the best beginner bodyweight triceps exercises. Keep your elbows tucked into your side, and pay attention to whether you feel this move in the chest or triceps. If you feel it in your chest, adjust your arm width until you feel it in the back of the upper arms.
A variation of the classic push-up, this version emphasizes the triceps brachii while also working the chest and shoulders. Use this exercise as a burnout move by placing it at the end of your triceps strength training routine.
Your top arm will feel the burn in this bodyweight exercise, although your chest, upper back, shoulders, and core will also benefit.
Focus on only lowering yourself to the point where the upper arms are parallel to the floor. Hold it here for a moment before pushing back up, and your triceps will be on fire by the end of your set.
This tricep push-up is challenging, and if you can’t complete more than a few, ease into this move by performing the exercise against a wall. Once you can do 3 sets of 8-12 reps against the wall, progress to this version.
The close-grip push-up is a challenging exercise, and if you find that you can't do at least 6, start on your knees. The only difference in form is that instead of starting in plank, both knees begin on the ground. Your upper body should stay in line with your thighs and upper legs.
This bodyweight exercise emphasizes the triceps and engages the biceps, chest, anterior deltoids, back, and abs, making it a great upper-body move. It’s also easier on the joints and enhances upper-body flexibility.
Challenge yourself by contracting your triceps at the top of this movement before lowering down. To create a larger range of motion, raise your butt higher off the ground.
For beginners, bringing your feet closer to the body, placing them entirely on the floor, and bending the knees will provide more stability. To increase the difficulty, straighten your legs with only the heels on the floor.
The "parallel" dip easily one of the best bodyweight triceps exercises there is. For this tricep dip progression, use stable chairs that allow for good grips on the backrest. You may want to place dumbbells or heavy books on the seat areas to keep them stationary during the movement. If your chairs don't seem stable, get creative at home and look for a pair of objects or piece of furniture that is parallel, horizontal, and sturdy. Whatever you choose needs to withstand your weight, have a flat surface top or bar-like grips for your hands, and provide room underneath for you to dip. Finally, keep your body as upright as possible to target the triceps. If you start to lean forward, the exercise will work the chest muscles instead.
This is really a great exercise for nearly the entire body, as most planks are. Get the most out of this exercise by doing it slowly. Keeping the core engaged will also give your abdominals a solid workout.
This challenging exercise is a progression of the tricep floor dip exercise as it requires a lot of upper body strength to complete. In addition to burning out the triceps brachii, it also works the gluteus maximus and quadriceps.
You do not need gym equipment to replicate this move. You can use a kitchen countertop, kitchen table, or the back of your couch as substitutes for a bar in this exercise. Just look for something that is stable and at the correct height. There should be room for the body to extend and the head to lower.
After mastering the incline push-up, progress to this exercise. Position yourself the same way, but only place your fingers on the bench. A different hand placement allows you to bring your head down further and work the triceps even more.
Proper hand placement in the diamond push up ensures the triceps work. This version is more challenging than a standard push-up or wall push-up, so you may have to work up to your normal reps range.
When putting together a routine for bodyweight triceps exercises, select 3 to 4 movements, and swap them out for more challenging versions as you progress. Perform 3-4 sets of each move, including 8-12 reps per set.
For a more challenging triceps exercise, such as tricep dips with two chairs or diamond push ups, aim for 6-10 sets per rep. Aim to work the triceps 2-3 times a week.
After working these bodyweight exercises into your fitness rotation, you may be ready to elevate your routine by adding resistance bands or suspension trainers. These are inexpensive equipment options that can lead to further tricep gains. Equipment is not necessary for triceps exercises, but it can be a great way to continue gaining strength and varying your routine.
Other Bodyweight Exercises:
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