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10 Best Tricep Exercises for Thicker Arms

Thick, well-defined arms aren’t just for show; they’re a symbol of strength, dedication, and a well-crafted fitness regime.

I’ve spent over 15 years honing the best tricep exercises that not only boost arm strength but create that enviable, muscular appearance. 

Through trial and error, observation, and pure sweat in the gym, I’ve narrowed down the top 10 tricep exercises that really make a difference.

Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned lifter, these techniques are bound to push your boundaries and deliver results. 

In this article, we’re going to dive deep into the exercises that have become a staple in my routine, ones that I’ve witnessed transforming arms from ordinary to extraordinary.

Join me on this journey and prepare to take your triceps to the next level. 

Before I go into detail, here’s a brief rundown of my top Tricep Execercises:

  • Close-Grip Bench Press
  • Tricep Dips
  • Skull Crushers
  • Tricep Pushdowns
  • Overhead Tricep Extension
  • Diamond Push-Ups
  • Kickbacks
  • French Press
  • Cable Overhead Extension
  • Decline EZ-Bar Tricep Extension

Let’s flex those muscles and get started!

Read our Medical Disclaimer before starting any exercises.

What Are The Triceps?

Illustration of where the tricep muscles are.

The triceps, or triceps brachii, are a group of muscles found at the back of the upper arm. 

They’re a vital part of our daily function, playing a crucial role in extending the elbow and straightening the arm.

In my 15 years as a fitness expert, I’ve come across many misconceptions about the triceps. 

People often overlook them in favour of the more popular biceps, but the triceps actually make up about two-thirds of the upper arm’s muscle mass.

Anatomy

The triceps brachii has three heads, hence the name “tri-ceps”:

Long Head: This part starts at the shoulder blade and adds stability to the shoulder joint.

Medial Head: More towards the inside of the arm, this head plays a crucial role in fine movements.

Lateral Head: Found on the outer part of the arm, this is what gives the triceps their prominent appearance.

In my time training others, I’ve found that understanding the anatomy of the triceps helps design more effective and targeted workouts.

These three heads work in harmony to allow us to push, pull, and extend our arms in various motions.

Top 10 Tricep Exercises

Below are 10 of the best triceps exercises you can add to your workout routine for thicker-looking arms.

Add several of them to your workout routine and watch your arms grow. 

1. Close-Grip Bench Press

Close grip bench press illustration

The close-grip bench press is a versatile exercise that targets the triceps, chest, and shoulders. It’s great for both beginners and advanced lifters looking to build strength and mass in the triceps.

This exercise puts the focus on the triceps by narrowing the grip, allowing for a deeper stretch and more robust contraction of the muscles.

It’s suitable for all levels but particularly good for those looking to increase overall upper-body strength.

I love the close-grip bench press because it not only hits the triceps hard but also engages other essential upper-body muscles.

Muscles Targeted:

  • Triceps
  • Shoulders
  • Chest

How to do it:

  1. Lie on a bench with a barbell positioned above you.
  2. Grab the bar with a grip slightly narrower than shoulder-width.
  3. Lower the bar to your mid-chest, keeping elbows close to your body.
  4. Press the bar back up, focusing on squeezing the triceps.

2. Tricep Dips

Tricep dips illustration.

Tricep dips are a classic exercise that requires minimal equipment, and they’re perfect for isolating the triceps.

Dips provide a complete range of motion for the triceps, helping in building both mass and strength.

It’s best suited for Intermediate to advanced lifters or those who have developed a foundational level of strength.

I find dips to be a superb addition to any routine. They’re challenging, effective, and offer several variations to suit different skill levels.

Muscles Targeted:

  • Triceps

How to do it:

  1. Position your hands on parallel bars or the edge of a bench.
  2. Lower your body, keeping elbows close to your sides.
  3. Press yourself back up, concentrating on the triceps.

3. Skull Crushers

Skullcrushers illustration

Skull crushers are an isolation exercise targeting the triceps, providing a unique stretch and contraction.

They effectively target the long head of the triceps, leading to significant muscle hypertrophy.

It’s best suited for anyone looking for an isolation exercise to focus on the triceps, from beginners to advanced lifters.

Skull crushers have always been a favourite of mine. The movement might feel odd initially, but the results are well worth it.

Muscles Targeted:

  • Triceps

How to do it:

  1. Lie on a bench with a barbell or dumbbells.
  2. Extend arms above your head.
  3. Lower the weights towards your forehead, bending at the elbows.
  4. Extend the arms back to the starting position.

4. Tricep Pushdowns

Tricep pushdowns illustration.

Tricep pushdowns are a popular cable exercise, allowing for constant tension on the triceps throughout the movement.

The continuous tension from the cable ensures that the triceps are fully engaged, promoting growth and strength.

This movement is suitable for all levels as the weight can be easily adjusted.

Tricep pushdowns are a staple in my arm routine. They’re great for warming up the triceps or finishing off a workout with a good pump. And who doesn’t love a good pump, right?

Muscles Targeted:

  • Triceps

How to do it:

  1. Stand in front of a cable machine with a rope or bar attachment.
  2. Grasp the attachment with both hands, elbows close to the body.
  3. Push down, fully extending your arms, and return to the starting position.

5. Overhead Tricep Extension

Overhead tricep extension.

The overhead tricep extension is an excellent exercise for targeting the long head of the triceps, helping to shape the upper arm.

I appreciate the overhead extension for its focus on the long head. It’s a perfect addition for more balanced tricep development.

This exercise provides a deep stretch, especially targeting the long head, promoting growth in an often-neglected area.

Those looking to focus on the long head of the triceps or add variety to their routine.

I find doing one arm at a time builds well rounded arms, but you can do them with two arms as in the illustration above.

Muscles Targeted:

  • Triceps

How to do it:

  1. Stand or sit with a dumbbell in both hands, arms extended above the head.
  2. Lower the weight behind your head, keeping elbows close together.
  3. Extend arms to return to the starting position.

6. Diamond Push-Ups

Diamond push ups illustration.

Diamond push-ups are a bodyweight exercise that puts more emphasis on the triceps than traditional push-ups. By placing hands close together, the triceps become the primary movers, offering a challenging bodyweight exercise.

I find diamond push-ups to be a fantastic home exercise, but they can be tough, especially for beginners.

If you’re looking for an equipment-free tricep exercise, this is the one for you. 

Muscles Targeted:

  • Triceps
  • Chest
  • Shoulders

How to do it:

  1. Begin in a push-up position with hands forming a diamond shape under the chest.
  2. Lower yourself down, keeping elbows close to your body.
  3. Press back to the starting position.

7. Kickbacks

Tricep kickbacks illustration.

Tricep kickbacks are an isolation exercise that can be performed with dumbbells or cables, focusing on the contraction phase. Kickbacks focus on the contraction of the triceps, helping with muscle definition.

It’s suited for anyone looking to tone the triceps, particularly suitable for beginners or as a finishing move.

I’ve found kickbacks to be effective for that final squeeze in the triceps. They’re not my main tricep exercise, but a great supplementary movement.

Muscles Targeted:

  • Triceps

How to do it:

  1. Hold a dumbbell in one hand, lean over a bench with a flat back.
  2. Bend the elbow to 90 degrees, keeping it close to the body.
  3. Extend the arm fully, squeezing the tricep, and return to the start.

8. French Press

French press illustration.

The French press is a versatile tricep exercise that can be performed with various equipment, focusing on the medial and lateral heads.

This exercise is effective in targeting specific heads of the triceps, allowing for focused training.

If you’re an intermediate to advanced lifter, this exercise is for you. If you’re a beginner, I’d steer clear from the French Press, as it can be a bit challenging to perform correctly.

The French Press is an excellent addition to a tricep routine. It’s one of those exercises that feel just right when performed with proper technique.

Muscles Targeted:

  • Triceps

How to do it:

  1. Sit or lie on a bench holding a barbell or dumbbell overhead.
  2. Lower the weight behind your head by bending at the elbows.
  3. Extend the arms to return to the starting position.

9. Cable Overhead Extension

Cable overhead extension illustration.

Cable overhead extension is a machine-based exercise that offers constant tension, particularly targeting the long head of the triceps. The constant tension and focus on the long head provide a unique stimulus for growth and definition.

I find cable overhead extensions to be a valuable addition when looking to focus on the long head or add some variety to the routine.

This movement is suitable for all ability levels, especially if you’re looking for a controlled, machine-based exercise.

Muscles Targeted:

  • Triceps

How to do it:

  1. Stand facing away from a cable machine, holding the rope attachment overhead.
  2. Bend at the elbows, lowering the weight behind the head.
  3. Extend the arms to the starting position.

10. Decline EZ-Bar Tricep Extension

The decline EZ-Bar tricep extension allows for a greater stretch in the triceps, particularly focusing on the long head. The decline angle and the use of the EZ-Bar provide a unique stretch, promoting growth in the triceps.

This exercise is challenging but highly rewarding. It adds a different dimension to tricep training, and I often include it in my routines.

Muscles Targeted:

  • Triceps

How to do it:

  1. Lie on a decline bench holding an EZ-Bar above the chest.
  2. Lower the bar towards the forehead, bending at the elbows.
  3. Extend the arms back to the starting position.

These ten tricep exercises offer a diverse and comprehensive approach to training this vital muscle group.

From bodyweight to free weights and machine-based movements, these exercises can suit a wide range of fitness levels and goals.

In my many years of fitness training, I’ve used all these exercises to great effect, and I believe they can form the core of a fantastic tricep routine.

Best Tricep Exercises FAQ

What’s the best tricep exercise for beginners? 

For beginners, tricep pushdowns and kickbacks are usually the best choices.

They allow for control over the movement and can be performed with lighter weights, making them accessible and effective for those new to strength training.

How often should I train my triceps? 

The triceps can be trained 2-3 times a week, depending on your overall workout routine.

If you’re focusing on a full-body workout, you might include tricep exercises in those sessions. If you’re splitting your routine, you may have a dedicated arm day where triceps are heavily targeted.

Check out our best bicep exercises for more arm-based routines.

Can I train triceps on the same day as biceps?

Yes, training triceps and biceps on the same day is a common and effective approach. This pairing allows for a balanced arm workout, and since these muscles are antagonists, working them together can lead to more balanced development.

Do I need special equipment to work on my triceps? 

While some tricep exercises require gym equipment like dumbbells, barbells, or cable machines, there are also bodyweight exercises like dips and diamond push-ups that don’t require any special equipment.

You can create an effective tricep workout with minimal or even no equipment.

How do I avoid elbow pain while training triceps? 

Elbow pain during tricep exercises can often be a sign of improper technique or overtraining.

Ensuring correct form, gradually increasing weight, and incorporating rest days can help prevent this issue.

If the pain persists, it may be wise to consult with a fitness professional or healthcare provider to rule out underlying issues. In my experience, paying attention to form and listening to your body are key to avoiding such discomfort.

Summary: My Final Thoughts

Building thicker arms requires a focus on the triceps, and the 10 exercises detailed in this article offer an effective path toward that goal. 

From beginner-friendly movements like tricep pushdowns to advanced techniques like decline EZ-Bar extensions, there’s something for everyone.

Proper technique, varied targeting of the tricep muscles, and the right balance between volume and intensity are essential. 

Incorporating these exercises into your routine with patience and consistency will help you achieve stronger, more robust arms. 

Whether you’re just starting or seeking to add mass, these exercises are key to unlocking your arm potential.

I would love to hear what your favourite tricep exercise is, so why not drop me a comment below?

Medical Disclaimer

Medical Disclaimer: The content on this fitness website is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended as, nor should it be considered a substitute for, professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult with a qualified healthcare professional before starting or changing any exercise, diet, or wellness program, particularly if you are pregnant, nursing, have any pre-existing medical conditions, or are taking medications.

Illustrations (c) Lioputrahard | Dreamstime.com

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