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 push-up 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 push-ups for 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps, resting between sets.

Tips: Use enough weight so that you can only complete the desired number of reps. In addition, be sure to warm up with light cardio before you start lifting weights.


One Arm Triceps Kickbacks

The triceps kickback is probably one of most classic triceps exercise, working all three heads of the triceps muscles using a dumbbell. You simply 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 engaging both arms at the same time. Keep the knees slightly bent to protect your lower back. If you feel discomfort in your back, return to one arm triceps kickbacks.


Kickbacks on One Leg

If you want a balance challenge while working your triceps, you can try them on one leg. Simply lean forward and extend and lift one leg behind you, keeping it straight. Not only will you work your triceps, but you'll also work your core and lower body as well for a compound exercise.


Core Kickbacks

Core kickbacks create even more of a core challenge because you're performing the triceps kickback exercise from a plank position. This is an advanced exercise that requires substantial core and upper body strength. You can modify by lowering to your knees.


Triceps Extensions

The triceps extension is another classic exercise and a take on the kickback, although now you're sitting or standing so that gravity works against you. For this exercise, you will hold a heavier weight overhead and lower it behind your head. You should lower until your arms are at about 90 degree angles. This starts out easy and gets hard fast.


Skull Crusher

The skull crusher—or lying triceps extension, is a great move for beginners because your entire body is supported as you lie on your back, which allows you to really focus on your triceps. The key here is to go a little lighter with weights. Start with the weights next to your ears with your elbows bent at 90 degrees and then extend your arms straight toward the ceiling.


One Arm Triceps Extensions

This is a great variation of the triceps extension. You can sit on a stable surface like a chair or workout bench, or balance on an exercise ball to work your abdominal muscles. 


Triceps Extensions with a Medicine Ball

Performing a triceps extension while holding a medicine ball ball with both hands is an effective exercise since a med ball is usually wide enough to allow your elbows bend at their natural angle. You could also add a throw to make things a little more fun—just make sure someone's there to catch it.


Triceps Extensions with Bands

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


Front Raise with Triceps Extensions

To work multiple muscle groups, add a front raise to your extension to target the shoulders. You'll probably want to go a bit lighter with weights and make sure you hit each exercise with slow and controlled movements. Simply 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. You could incorporate this move together with other chest exercises to ramp up the intensity. The key is to keep the hands close together in a narrow grip—hence the name, 'close grip.'


Skull Crushers

Skull crushers are similar to extensions, except that you do it with a barbell with your palms face up. As the bar comes down the backs of your hands it should be over your forehead so as to not 'crush' your skull.


Band Pushdowns

To do the triceps pushdown, simply hook a resistance band over your head and grab hold of it with both hands. Pull the band down to just below your chest, keeping the elbows hugged in at your sides. You can also start with the elbows at about 90 degrees and then push all the way down. Use slow, controlled movements so that you're using strength rather than momentum.



Who doesn't love dips? The key to dips is to keep your hips close to the bench or chair to avoid straining your shoulders. You can make the exercise easier by placing the feet in close. Or you can make it harder by taking the feet out in front of you.

Avoid this exercise if you have shoulder issues, or ask your doctor whether it's safe for you to try.


Triceps Triangle Push-ups

Triceps triangle push-ups can be quite difficult, especially if you do them on your toes. Try them on your knees as a modification as you build up strength. From your hands and knees, place the tips of your index fingers and thumbs together to form a triangle. As you lower down, allow your elbows to bend out to the sides.


One Arm Triceps Push-ups

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


Triceps Push-ups on an Exercise Ball

The key to this move is to use your body like a seesaw as you bend the elbows into a push-up and lower down. Place your hands close together on the floor and the tops of your feet on an exercise ball. Engage your core to hold you steady as you lower and then push back up.

3 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Kovar, E. American Council on Exercise. 6 Triceps Brachii Exercises for Stronger Triceps. September 30, 2016.

  2. Anders, M. American Council on Exercise. ACE-sponsored Research: Best Triceps Exercises.

  3. McGowan CJ, Pyne DB, Thompson KG, Rattray B. Warm-up strategies for sport and exercise: mechanisms and applicationsSports Med. 2015;45(11):1523-1546. doi:10.1007/s40279-015-0376-x

By Paige Waehner, CPT
Paige Waehner is a certified personal trainer, author of the "Guide to Become a Personal Trainer," and co-author of "The Buzz on Exercise & Fitness."