Best Triceps Exercises for Men
The triceps bulk out the back of the upper arm, balancing the biceps. Several key exercises isolate the triceps, building strength and providing definition for truly muscular arms.
Keep reading to learn basic triceps anatomy, what you need to know about building your triceps, and of course, the best triceps exercises for men.
Basic Triceps Anatomy
The triceps brachii extend your arms. Extension is the act of straightening your arm, as opposed to flexion, which bends your arm.
The triceps brachii have 3 heads. This is why the muscle is called the triceps. Each head has a different origin and attachment. The origin is the part of the muscle which is closest to the center of your body.
In the case of the triceps, the origin of the lateral and medial head are both on the humerus (upper arm bone) while the origin of the long head is on the scapula (shoulder blade.) This has implications on exercise choice for the best triceps exercises.
What You Should Know About the Best Triceps Exercises
You need to balance your tricep work with bicep exercises. The best arm workouts contain elements of tricep, bicep, forearm, chest, and shoulder work. In fact, many common exercises target more than one of these areas at least secondarily.
That’s why it’s important to structure your workouts correctly in terms of sets, reps and splits. Read the AskTheTrainer “Sets and Reps” article for more information on how to best structure your workouts.
If you are looking to lose weight from this part of your body, these exercises alone WILL NOT WORK. The best triceps exercises will build muscle in the area, making it look more bulky than it already does. If you want to lose weight in this or any other area of the body, you must do so through cardiovascular exercise and dietary changes.
That being said, the more muscle you add to your body the better in terms of calories burned, which adds up to more energy expenditure and thus more weight loss. So regardless of your goals, whether they are more geared toward bulking or toward slimming, let’s get right into the best triceps exercises!
The Best Arms Exercise for the Triceps
The triceps are slightly more complex than the biceps in regards to the best triceps exercises. This is because the long head of the triceps originates from the scapula (shoulder blade) and the the medial head and lateral head originate from part of the humerus (upper arm bone).
Some pushing chest exercises and pulling back exercises also work the long head of the triceps. As you learn how to control certain muscles, you can focus and use your triceps more during certain chest and back exercises and make them the best arm exercises.
Here are some of my favorite exercises to blast your triceps muscles. Incorporating the following exercises into your workout routine will help you to achieve fantastic results. Alternately, check out the best triceps workout for men for two awesome triceps workouts designed by professional bodybuilder, Julian Brown.
Reverse Grip Bench Press
The reverse grip bench press is a multi-joint movement. Your triceps are one of many muscles lifting the weight.
The reverse grip bench press is natural and the weight which can be used is significant. This is an exercise which you must feel and control your triceps throughout the range of motion.
Some people use the close grip bench press as a multi-joint movement for the triceps, but it is a poor choice because it can be hard on the wrists and possibly cause injury.
Start: It is very helpful and recommended to have a spotter to rack and unrack the bar for this exercise. Position yourself on a bench press with your upper chest under the bar. Grab a shoulder width reverse grip on the bar. Your palms should be facing towards you. Let the weight rest comfortably on your wrists with your hands extended. Hold the barbell above your lower chest with your arms fully extended.
Begin the motion: Lower the weight slowly to a position slightly below your chest. Keep your elbows tightly squeezed to your side. When the bar reaches your chest, push it straight up to the starting position. The bar should never be above your chest for any part of this motion.
Modifications: You can perform the reverse grip triceps bench press on any angle bench. You can also perform a similar movement with dumbbells. As long as you keep your elbows close to your sides, a 90 degree angle with your arms and push the weight straight up.
You should control the weight down with your triceps. It may be difficult if you are a beginner but with practice you will be able to make this multi-joint exercise your best triceps exercise.
Lying French Press “21s”
The lying French press, a triceps isolation exercise, is a favorite triceps exercise for many people. Sometimes you will hear people refer to lying French presses as “skull crushers.”
There are many different ways to perform the lying French press, but “21s” are the most common. “21s” actually consist of three different motions.
Start: Get a straight or preferably an EZ curl bar and lie on a flat or low incline bench. Push the weight straight up to the ceiling. Try to keep your elbows in this position for the first 7 repetitions. It may feel more comfortable if you put your thumbs on the same side of the bar as your fingers as it will take strain off your wrists.
Begin the motion: For the first 7 reps lower the weight slowly to your eyebrows or forehead. Try to keep your elbows pointing straight up to the ceiling and raise the bar back up to the original position.
For the second 7 reps you can rock your elbows slightly backwards towards your head, and lower the bar behind your head. Try to fully flex your arms before you extend your arms to raise the bar to its original position.
The final 7 reps are close grip bench press. From the original position, lower the weight to your lower chest. Make sure to keep your elbows in towards your sides. Push the weight straight up and lower it straight down to make this one of the best triceps exercises, as proper form is key. You may be able to perform more than 7 reps of this motion and may do so, but try to squeeze your triceps so much to only do 7.
Modifications: You do not have to perform 21 reps. You can do whatever combination of reps you wish. You can also use dumbbells. To perform with dumbbells have the dumbbells to the side of your body. The first 7 reps you will lower the dumbbells to your ears. The second 7 reps you will lower behind your head. The final 7 reps you will lower straight down next to your ribs.
Cable Rope Triceps Extensions
The high cable triceps extension is one of the most common triceps exercises you see people do in the gym. It is common because it is one of the best triceps exercises for men. The problem is many people do not perform it properly, especially with the rope.
Start: Set a cable crossover or free motion machine to a level above your head. Stand up tall, keep your core tight, and retract your shoulder blades. Grab the rope tightly and pull it down with your arms fully bent. Your hands should be touching your chest while you grasp the rope. Do not lean forward or let your shoulders fall forward at all during this movement.
Begin the motion: Extend your arms downwards as close to your body as you can. Make sure your elbows are close to your side and spread the ropes apart when reach full extension of your arms. Slowly lower the weight stack and bring your arms all the way back to your chest with your elbows at your side.
Modifications: The different modifications you can do with the rope triceps extension is what may make it the best triceps exercise for men. You can also turn away from the cable and perform overhead triceps extensions. These work your long head of your triceps. One of the best modifications to this exercise is if you perform consecutive sets of overhead and regular rope cable triceps extensions with no rest. You can learn more triceps exercises and all about Toning Triceps Exercises
FURTHER READING for the Best Triceps Exercises:
Check out the following articles which will add to your knowledge of strength training the arms:
- Triceps Workout Videos
Audio and video library of triceps exercises. Organized by what equipment is required.
- Toning Triceps Exercises for Men and Women
Learn more on how to effectively tone the back of your arms, performing multi-angle, multi-joint compound exercises. In addition to women, these exercises are also useful for men looking to maintain their triceps.
- Best Biceps Exercises for Men
Learn challenging new exercises to isolate your biceps.
- Biceps Exercise Videos
Audio and video instructions for exercising your biceps. Organized by what equipment is required.
- Best Forearm Exercises
Discover the best exercises for bulking your forearms and improving your grip strength. Forearms exercises actually help your biceps look bigger!
- Best Chest Exercises for Men
Recall that upper body exercises of all kinds usually work more than one muscle group. The triceps synergize with the pectorals during chest exercises while the biceps acts as stabilizers.
- Best Back Exercises
The best back exercises enlist the help of the biceps. You must remember that the whole upper body is interconnected, and an understanding of how muscles interact is important when performing the best triceps exercises or doing any other weight training.