How to Get Big Triceps Fast … Plus 30 Triceps Exercises
When you compare arms to legs it’s kind of strange that for legs, most growth/size on legs are the quads; whereas on arms most people focus on biceps over triceps.
Yet, the tricep is the similar muscle to arms as quads are to legs.
My point or points are two-fold:
- We tend to want to build bigger muscles that are on our front-side.
- Ignoring triceps is a big mistake because big triceps can make for huge arms.
Why should you work on building big triceps?
If you build big triceps, you’ll have bigger arms.
If you only focus on your biceps, your arms won’t appear balanced (chicken leg syndrome for the arms).
Strong triceps help with many exercises such as bench press.
How do you get big triceps?
In addition to training progressively, using proper lifting form and eating right, the key is to use a comprehensive tricep workout that hits all parts of the tricep.
Although the tricep is not as big as your back muscle, there are different parts to it; each part should be well-developed.
The way you build a well-developed and well-balanced tricep is by incorporating a variety of exercises that hit all parts of your tricep.
The Main Parts of Your Triceps Muscles
As the name implies (“tri”cep), there are 3 main parts of your tricep muscle. They are:
- Lateral Head: Outside part of the tricep.
- Medial Head: Lower inside part of the tricep.
- Long Head: Inside part of the tricep.
What’s a well-developed tricep muscle?
To put it in layman’s terms, it’s growing that awesome horseshoe on the back of the arm. This requires training all 3 parts of the triceps.
30 Triceps Exercises
The starting point is getting an idea about all the possible triceps exercises you can do. The following is a list of triceps exercises broken up by type of weightlifting tool (the next section breaks up the exercises according to which part of the triceps it targets).
- Close-grip bench press with elbows close to body
- Close-grip bench press with elbows extended outward
- Lying down extensions (a.k.a. skull crushers) – can also do with EZ bar
- Standing BB triceps extension (behind the head)
- Behind-the-head triceps DB 2-arm extension – standing
- Behind-the-head triceps DB 2-arm extension – seated
- Behind-the-head triceps DB 1-arm extension – standing
- Behind-the-head triceps DB 1-arm extension – seated
- Cross-face DB extensions (seated or standing)
- Bent-over DB triceps extension (a.k.a. kickbacks).
- Triceps Push downs with angled bar (inverted V-bar)
- Triceps Push downs with straight bar (wide grip).
- Triceps Push downs with straight bar (shoulder-width grip).
- Triceps Push downs with straight bar (narrow grip).
- Triceps Push downs with straight bar (reverse wide grip).
- Triceps Push downs with straight bar (reverse shoulder-width grip).
- Triceps Push downs with straight bar (reverse narrow grip).
- Triceps Push downs with rope.
- Triceps over-head extension from low cable position with straight bar.
- Triceps over-head cable extension from high cable position with straight bar.
- Triceps over-head extension from low cable position with rope.
- Triceps over-head cable extension from high cable position with rope.
- 1-arm cable push downs
- 1-arm cable push downs with reverse grip
- Dips with or without added weight
- Triceps extension machine (not all gyms have this – it simulates skull crushers … I like this machine because tension is fairly even throughout the entire movement). You can do 1 or 2 arm extensions.
- Dip simulation machine: Again not all gyms have this machine. It’s excellent if you can’t do regular dips yet.
Bodyweight Triceps Exercises
- Close-grip pushups with elbows close to side of body
- Close-grip pushups with elbows extended outward
- Face-down triceps extension with bar: Find a bar that’s fixed about 2 to 3 feet off the ground. Grip the bar with your body perpendicular to it. Stand 3 to 5 feet away (the further away, the harder it is. Also the lower the bar, the harder it is). Ben arms so your head lowers under the bar. Push back to arms extended using triceps.
Targeting different parts of the triceps
The rules of thumb for targeting different parts of the triceps are as follows:
Target the long head by using grips that are narrower than your elbow.
Use shoulder-width and wider grip.
Many of the above exercises can be adapted to target different parts of the tricep simply by adjusting the grip width. Like targeting different parts of the biceps, you largely do so with triceps by adjusting grip-width. That said, some triceps exercsies with fixed grips (i.e. hammer grip) will focus on a particular part of the triceps muscle.
Close-grip bench press with elbows extended outward targets both long and lateral heads.
Rope cable push downs if you start narrow and flare out will also hit both the long and lateral heads.
How many triceps exercises should you do in a triceps workout?
I usually do 3, each with varying grips. I also include a heavier style of lift such as a close-grip press, skull crusher or dip.
How many sets per triceps workout?
I do 9 to 12 sets in total. I like ending the workout with a drop set.
If your triceps are under-developed compared to other muscles, consider adding a second triceps workout in your split cycle so you work out your triceps more within the cycle. In fact, I use blasts often, which are simply a slightly lighter second workout on a particular muscle within my split cycle.
Ignore your triceps at your peril
We all want bulging biceps because it looks cool. Triceps are an less gloried muscle, but failing to develop great triceps while you build up the rest of your body will hurt your arm appearance big time. They’re a less recognized muscle, but shouldn’t and deserve as much attention as your biceps.
For more information checkout Old School Arm Building Secrets.