A Huge Variety of Exercises for Your Triceps

The following exercises show examples of exercises that target the triceps, those crucial muscles on the backs of the arms that help you do everything from push open a door to pushing your body off the floor (hopefully because you're doing a pushup and not because you fell down).

The most common triceps exercises involve straightening the arms to engage the triceps as in kickbacks, extensions and dips. There are also some exercises that are more effective than others which can help you in choosing your exercises.

Below is a variety of triceps exercises that hit the muscle from every direction you can think of.

Create Your Own Triceps Workout

  • Beginners:  Choose 1-2 exercises and do 1-2 sets of 12-16 reps.  Try different types of exercises, like a kickback followed by an extension.
  • Inter/Adv:  Choose 1-2 exercises from each group, kickbacks, extensions and pushups for 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps, resting between sets
  • Use enough weight that you can ONLY complete the desired number of reps
  • Make sure you warm up with light cardio before you start lifting weights

One Arm Triceps Kickbacks

The kickback is probably one of most classic triceps exercise, working all three heads of the triceps muscles.  You bend over and extend the arm out behind you.  The key to this move is to keep the elbow stable with each rep. 


Triceps Kickbacks

This is a more intense version of the kickback because you have no support for the upper back and you're doing both arms at the same time. Keep the knees slightly bent to avoid hurting your lower back.  If you feel it in your back, I would go back to one arm triceps kickbacks.


Kickbacks on One Leg

If you want a balance challenge while working your triceps and, really, who doesn't, you can try them on one leg.  Crazy?  Maybe, but not only do you work your triceps, you work your core and your lower body as well.  I love working multiple muscles at the same time.


Core Kickbacks

Core kickbacks create even more of a core challenge because you're doing the exercise from a plank position.  Obviously this is an advanced exercise and you should know what you're doing before you try it.  You can modify by putting one or both knees down.


Triceps Extensions

Here's another classic and a take on the kickback, although now you're sitting or standing so that gravity works against you. With this one, you hold a heavy weight overhead and lower the weight behind the head.  You should lower until your arms are at about 90 degree angles.  This starts easy and gets hard fast.


Lying Triceps Extensions

This is probably one of my favorite moves for beginners because your entire body is supported and you can really focus on those triceps.  The key here is to go a little lighter and take the weights next to the ears.  Try not to clock yourself in the face.


One Arm Triceps Extensions

This is a great variation of the extension.  Adding an exercise ball makes the move harder and engages the core.  Plus, you're at an angle which makes gravity that much more noticeable.


Triceps Extensions with a Med Ball

This is a great version of the extension because a med ball is usually wide, letter your elbows bend at their natural angle.  You could also add a throw here to make things fun.  Just make sure someone's there to catch it.


Triceps Extensions with Bands

Another extension, and yes there are many, is using a resistance band.  The key here is to keep the non-working arm stable and bring the hands close enough together that you get good tension on the band.


Front Raise with Triceps Extensions

If you want to work multiple muscle groups, you can add a little front raise here to hit the shoulders.  You'll probably want to go a bit lighter here and make sure you hit each exercise with slow and controlled moves - Lift up, pause, then lift overhead and bend the elbows.  When you straighten, pause and then lower.


Close Grip Bench Press

The close grip bench press is another great triceps exercise and one that also targets the chest as well. I like to put this move together with chest exercises for that extra bang.  Yes, I need a life.  The key here is to keep the hands close together in a narrow grip...hence the name 'close grip.'


Skull Crushers

I love skull crushers and not just because of the name.  This is basically an extension, but you do it with a barbell and your palms face out.  So, when the bar comes down the backs of your hands should be over your forehead.  Don't crush your skull.


Band Pushdowns

I love pushdowns because they really target the triceps and it doesn't take long to feel this exercise.  The key here is to start with the elbows at about 90 degrees and then push down.  Try not to bend more as that may cause the elbows to drift forward and then you're just using momentum.



Dips. Who doesn't love dips? Maybe people with shoulder problems. The key to dips is to keep your hips close to the bench or chair. If you go too far out, you'll strain the shoulders. Make it easier by keeping the feet in. Make it harder by taking the feet out or doing them on one foot.


Triceps Triangle Pushups

Wow, these are really hard and you probably won't be able to do very many, especially if you do them on your toes.  If they're too hard, try them on your knees.


One Arm Triceps Pushups

These pushups are much harder than they look and you may have a very short range of motion as you build strength in your triceps.  I would start at the top and just lower a little until you figure out how far you can go.


Triceps Pushups on the Ball

To make these work, your hands should be close together and your body is like a seesaw as you bend the elbows into a pushup.  Try not to face plant, people.

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