If you want big arms, then training your triceps is essential. Increasing your tricep strength will also help to increase the amount of weight you lift on other pressing movements like bench and shoulder press. We take a look at the best tricep exercises for mass and strength.
Essential Tricep Exercises for Building Mass
These compound exercises hit all three heads of your triceps which is essential for increasing your tricep strength and size. Do 1-2 of these exercises at the start of your tricep workout before moving onto isolation exercises later.
Close Grip Bench Press
This exercise is renowned as one of the most effective exercises for adding size and strength to your triceps. Set yourself on the bench as if you were going to be doing a normal bench press, however your hands should only be 8-12 inches apart. Keeping your elbows tucked into your torso, slowly lower the bar until it touches your chest. Pause for a second then contract your triceps and push the bar back up.
- Top Tip: Keeping your triceps tucked into your torso is essential, the more your elbows flair out, the more stress is put onto your deltoids and chest.
These rank pretty much alongside close grip bench press in terms of building tricep strength and mass, the main difference being that with your palms facing towards your body, more of the stress is put onto the ‘long’ head of your triceps. At a dip station, grab the bars with your arms fully extended. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and slowly lower yourself and inhale. Once your upper arm is parallel to the floor, contract your triceps and push yourself back up whilst exhaling.
- Top Tip: If you find the exercise becomes too easy, add a weight belt or hold a dumbbell between your legs.
This exercise is a cross between a compound and an isolation movement and is better for adding mass to your triceps rather than strength. Lie flat on your back on a bench with your feet firmly planted on the floor. Get someone to pass you a barbell and with your arms fully extended, place your hands 8-10 inches apart. Moving only your lower arms, slowly lower the bar towards your head. Once the bar is about an inch away from your head, contract your triceps and move the bar back to the start position.
- Top Tip: Once you reach failure on this movement, using the same weight, move straight onto close grip bench press to completely exhaust the muscle.
Rep Ranges and Number of Sets
The triceps are one of the most commonly overtrained muscle groups, especially if you split your shoulder and chest training into separate days, due to the fact that they’re activated during all pressing movements. Seeing as they’re a small muscle group, there’s no need to do more than 8-10 sets per workout if you train them directly once per week. If you want to train them twice a week then it’s a good idea to lower the number of sets. To build tricep strength, do the majority of your sets in the 4-8 rep range whilst doing 10-15 reps per set to focus on building mass.
Tricep Exercises for Women
There’s really no need for women to train their triceps any differently to men. Although it could be a good idea to start out by doing fewer sets to avoid overtraining. Stick to the guidelines above to build strength and size.