tricep workouts

Ultimate Tricep Workouts – 4 Exercises for Serious Size!

If you are looking for workouts to build bigger and stronger triceps then this is the article for you.

Most guys start training at the gym chasing bigger arms, and that usually means doing all sorts of bicep curl variations.

What most people don’t realise is that the bulk of the arms isn’t actually made up by the biceps.

In fact it’s the triceps that makes up much more of the size of your arms.

So if you are looking for bigger arms, it’s the triceps that you want to develop.

This image highlights my point pretty clearly.

tricep exercises


In this article we are going to break down exactly how you can build big, horseshoe triceps.

Before we jump into the workouts it is helpful to have an understanding of the tricep muscles so we can get the best results when training them.


A Breakdown of the Tricep Muscles

triceps workouts for mass


The Triceps Brachii or triceps is a three headed muscle group that forms a horseshoe shape and makes up the entire back side of your upper arm.

triceps muscle breakdown

Looking at this picture you can see that when each of the three heads are developed they create a horseshoe shape on the back of your arm.

Sadly, the biceps are usually given the focus in most people’s workouts.

The triceps play an important role in stabilising the shoulder. Therefore underdeveloped triceps can lead to muscle imbalances and overcompensation of other muscles.

The lateral head is the largest of the three heads which means it develops the fastest and has the greatest overall impact to the look of your triceps.

However a good tricep workout will develop all 3 heads to give you the full horseshoe shape that makes your arms look big from all angles.


Tricep Training Principles

When you ask someone “what’s the best way to train your triceps” you can get a lot of answers.

Some advise you to focus on high reps to get a pump and really feel the burn.

Others say you need to hit your triceps multiple times a week to get real growth.

Then there are the people that say simply doing a lot of heavy compound pressing movements will grow your triceps and you don’t need to train them directly.

With all of this confusion out there it can be difficult to really understand what you should be doing in your tricep workouts.

What I’ve found works best is a combination of the above. The best way to grow your arms is through heavy compound lifting and directly training them with both high and low rep training. Like all muscle groups heavy weightlifting is key to maximising muscle growth.

When it comes to building lean muscle there are two key factors:

1. Performing the right exercises.

Performing the right exercises in your tricep workouts is very important. Simply because some exercises are better at progressively overloading your triceps than others.

For most people it will be necessary to directly train your triceps to get the size and definition you are after. Heavy pressing will help to build the triceps and is a good foundation however it works best when accompanied by some direct training of the triceps too.

Heavy compound exercises are the key to adding strength and size to your triceps. As a general rule of thumb barbell exercises are going to be more effective than machine exercises.

2. Achieving progressive overload on your muscles.

Achieving progressive overload in your training is the only way that you are going to see results on your triceps.

In order to keep getting bigger and stronger we need to continue to subject our muscles to more and more tension over time.

So put simply:

If you don’t keep getting stronger you won’t get bigger.

You can accomplish this by adding volume (reps) but eventually you will need to add weight to the bar. That’s why the biggest guys in the gym are usually the strongest.



best tricep workout routine

When it comes to training the triceps (or any muscle group for that matter) getting the right volume is key. This becomes even more important when you are focusing on heavy weightlifting.

As a general rule of thumb the heavier the reps you’re doing the fewer you can perform each week.

Makes sense right!

Heavier weights mean you need to give your muscles more time to recover or you can risk overtraining.

Usually when training with heavy weights the optimal volume is 60 to 70 reps every 5 to 7 days.

This rule isn’t just for the triceps but every other muscle group as well.

When it comes to triceps you need to take into account the amount of work they do in your other pushing workouts. Your triceps are heavily involved in benching and overhead, shoulder pressing.

If you are doing a heavy chest workout and additional heavy overhead pressing each week, then performing an additional 60 reps of heavy tricep training is going to be too much.

If you fit the criteria above around 30 to 40 heavy reps of tricep training per week along with the right diet should be enough to stimulate growth without pushing yourself into the danger area of overtraining.


Best Tricep Exercises

tricep exercises

As we talked about earlier in this article, the triceps make up the bulk of the arms mass. So if it’s bigger arms you’re wanting you need to be hitting your triceps hard.

When it comes to exercises that build serious mass in your triceps you need to forget what the bodybuilding magazines have told you.

You don’t need to do twenty different isolation exercises mixed with supersets, drop sets and other tactics to “keep your muscles guessing.”

There are a few tricep exercises that bring in the bulk of the results when training your triceps.

Here are the best exercises to build bigger triceps:


Close Grip Bench

Don’t mistake the bench press for just a chest exercise. The close grip variation activates your triceps heavily as well.

The close grip bench allows you to safely push heavy amounts of weights and will help your chest a bit too. Remember if you want to build muscle you need to lift heavy.

Quick tip: When performing the close grip bench grab the bar with a slightly narrower than shoulder width grip.



There are two main dip variations that you can do to target the triceps. Both are good exercises and can be interchanged depending on the equipment you have available to you.

The first variation of dip requires a dip station like the one in the video below.

This exercise can be altered to target either the chest or the triceps.

To keep the focus on your triceps make sure you keep your elbows tucked in to your sides and keep your body relatively upright.

The further you lean forward the more emphasis is put on your chest and shoulders in the movement. We don’t want to do this for our tricep workout.

This is how you do it:

The second variation of triceps dips is on a bench like this:



Scull crushers are a great exercise for activating the triceps and emphasises the medial head.

You can perform the movement with the bar coming down to your forehead or down behind your head for a different angle on the arms.

This has been a staple in many tricep workouts because it gets results.


Overhead triceps press (french press)

Another great exercise to really hit the long head of the triceps hard. The overhead triceps press allows you to safely press heavy weight and progressively overload your triceps.


Tricep Pushdown

You’ve probably seen this done a lot by people at the gym. It’s by far one of the most popular triceps exercises out there and it is pretty good for isolating the triceps.

I like to save this exercise for the end of my workouts after I have done some other heavier lifts first.

The Best Tricep Workout Routine

The keys to a good tricep workout are:

  • It hits each of the heads of the tricep.
  • It’s made up of heavy lifts, focusing on progressive overload.

The lateral head of the tricep is going to be where you get the most mass out of the triceps. Exercises like dips, close grip bench and tricep pushdown are all good exercises to target the lateral head.

With that said you don’t want to overlook the other two heads either.

Skullcrushers and overhead pressing are good exercises to target the long and medial heads.

If your workout hit all three heads of the triceps the second thing you need to do is focus on lifting heavy and achieving progressive overload in your workouts.

Achieving progressive overload in your workouts is the best way to see results on your triceps.

In order to keep getting bigger and stronger we need to continue to subject our muscles to more and more tension over time.

So put simply:

If you don’t keep getting stronger your triceps won’t keep getting bigger.

You can accomplish this by adding volume (reps) but eventually you will need to add weight to the bar. That’s why the biggest guys in the gym are usually the strongest.

Do this tricep workout ever 5 to 7 days along with a correct diet and you will see results on your triceps.

Close Grip Bench Press

3 sets of 4-6 reps

Weighted Dips

3 sets of 4-6 reps

Overhead Triceps Press

3 sets 4-6 reps

The aim is to start with a weight that you can do 4-6 reps with. Once you hit 6 reps, the next set you up the weight and aim to get 4+ reps with the heavier weight.

This way you are always progressing in your workouts.


Final Word On Tricep Workouts

Training triceps is the same as training any other body part. If you want to get results and see that horseshoe shape on the back of your arms you need to:

  • Do the Right Exercises
  • Achieve Progressive overload through heavy weightlifting
  • Do enough volume without overtraining
  • Eat right

Consistency is key. Stick with this workout for 2 months and you will see results on the back of your arms.

Like This Workout? You’ll Love These:

The Best Leg Workout

The Ultimate Chest Workout

The Ultimate Back Workout

Ultimate Arms Workout

The Best Forearm Workout

The Push Pull Legs Bible

What do you think of this tricep workout? Are there any other tricep exercises that you like? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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