The 9 Best Triceps Exercises For Growth And Bigger Bench Press (With Workouts)

By Nader Qudimat ·
Updated Jan 8, 2021

Triceps make up most of the arms.

But the problem is…

They are at the back of the arms and are least focused on. 

Biceps and chest are usually overpowering the triceps, this can easily lead to imbalances, and a strange looking physique to say the least. 

Triceps are important for not only every pressing movement but it also plays a role when you’re rowing and doing back exercises.

Since the triceps are made out of 67% type 2 muscle fibers, they'll need to be stimulated with heavy weights, or they won't respond well. 

The problem with most workouts is that they use mostly high rep and volume for the triceps.

And the exercises are mostly isolation exercises. 

However with these exercises, you'll learn which one works best and what an ideal tricep workout should look like.  

What You Will Learn In This Post 

  • The best exercises for triceps
  • How to do each one and the benefits
  • Maximize tricep growth 
  • Example of a tricep workout 

Close Grip Bench Press

This exercise is fantastic for triceps, as well as chest and front deltoids.

While regular bench press will work your triceps, the closer grip will emphasize the triceps. However you don't want too narrow of a grip where you feel pain in wrists and arms. 

Since the triceps are made out of 67% type 2 muscle fibers, this is the perfect exercise to use. 

Benefits of Close Grip Bench Press

  • Works type 2 muscle fibers, something the triceps are mostly made out of 
  • Activates and overloads triceps easily 

How to do Close Grip Bench Press

  • Assume the bench press position as if you were going to do regular flat bench presses.
  • Position your hands closer than shoulder width apart, push your chest out, shoulder blades back and arch your lower back a little bit. 
  • Have your spotter, or yourself, lift the bar off the rack and pull the bar towards your chest while keeping your elbows tucked close to your sides. 
  • Contract your triceps while pressing the bar with your palms and lift it controllably back up. 

How to Place in Workout

If you know your triceps are underdeveloped, then place these as a warm up before your bench press.

Perform one working set after your warm up sets, then perform your main compound exercises as usual. 

After your compound exercises, say it’s a push day with chest and triceps, then you can do these after your bench press sets.

If it’s just an arms day, like biceps and triceps, then you can do these either on it’s own or supersetted with bicep exercises.

With any muscle, exercises that are the most beneficial like close grip bench press, they are going to be needed prioritized for some weeks at a time for maximum benefits.

Parallel Bar Dip

Performing dips on this style of bars are going to be better any other dip options like rings or angled bars because your triceps won’t be flared out and they’ll be closer to your sides. 

Your shoulders will feel better because of the position of your elbows. 

And since you’re using your bodyweight, you’ll be putting all your weight into your triceps, which will help them grow. 

To progress, you’ll either need a weight belt to carry plates, or a dumbbell between your feet. 

Benefits of Parallel Dips 

  • Easily overload triceps with your bodyweight
  • Elbows are tucked in making it healthier for your shoulders 

How To Do Parallel Dips 

  • Get on the parallel dip bar while keeping your torso perpendicular 
  • While maintaining your upright position, bend your knees, cross your ankles and drop to the lower position until your elbows are at shoulder height or lower if you’re able to do so without feeling pain.
  • Push back up until your arms are nearly straight, but don’t lock your elbows
  • Repeat 

How to Place in Workout

Despite only using your bodyweight, this exercise is demanding for your triceps and should be placed near the top of your tricep workout.

Bench Dip

If there was an isolation version of parallel dips, bench dips would be it. 

It uses less of your bodyweight and therefore is either good for beginners or further exhausting your triceps either before or after your main tricep exercises. 

This exercises focuses on your medial head of triceps, like diamond push ups. 

Benefits of Bench Dip

  • Can be used as a pre /post exhaust or warm up movement 
  • Can be easily progressed with additional plates

Benefits of Bench Dip

With your back turned away from the bench, grab it with both palms faced down

Stretch out your legs in front of you, either on the floor or on the bench for further difficulty. Lower your body until your arms are bent at 90 degrees and go as deep as you comfortably can without feeling any pain. 

Contract the triceps at the top and repeat the movement for reps.

How to Place in Workout

I recommend placing in bench dips early in your tricep workout to engage your triceps completely before, as an isolation exercise, or as a way to warm up your arms before bench pressing. 

Treat these like bicep curls, you can place this with two other triceps exercises at minimum. If you’re including these in push day, try doing them right before or after an exercise like the close grip bench press. 

Triceps Push Down

Push downs are another great triceps exercise that doesn’t require much weight to fully work the triceps. 

It’s also a great way to warm up the triceps before doing any pressing movements to help you maximize your strength. 

Benefits of Tricep Push Down

  • Maximizes triceps contraction with this exercise
  • Pumps and easy to execute while feeling the triceps being worked 

How to do Tricep Push Down

  • Grab a rope and attach it to the cable station’s pulley at the top position.
  • With an overhand grip, tighten your hands around the handle and keep your arms bent with your hands at shoulder width apart. 
  • While keeping your elbows tucked in at the sides, push the bar down until your elbows are locked and your triceps are completely contracted
  • Return to the top and repeat

How to Place in Workout

Push downs can be placed either early, middle or at the end of your workout. 

The reason why they can be placed in early or in the middle is because they can help fully engage your triceps and it can be used as a warm up exercise to engage your triceps or to pre exhaust them before the bigger exercises. 

Skull Crusher

Formally known as lying tricep extensions, skull krushers are another mass building exercise for advanced lifters.

It’s not made for beginners as there’s a risk involved with dropping the weight, well, over your head.

Benefits of Skull Crusher

  • Great compound exercise for the triceps
  • Can increase tricep size and strength 

How to do Skull Crusher

  • Start with a very light weight to get used to the form before trying this.
  • Grab a EZ bar or barbell, assume the bench press position on a flat bench
  • Place the bar over your head while placing your arms perpendicular to the floor and lower the bar slowly until it nearly reaches the top of your forehead
  • Push the bar back up to the starting position in a controlled manner without locking elbows
  • Repeat 

How to Place in Workout

Skull crusher can be placed after or before any tricep exercise.

Since you’ll need to do at least 2-3 tricep exercises, these can be placed either at the end of your tricep workout or at the beginning. 

Try different positions in your workout but stick with it for a few weeks before changing it. 

Perform 2-3 sets of 8-10 reps and take 60-90 seconds between sets. 

Floor Press

This is the same as a normal bench press movement except you’re pressing from the floor and your triceps will be more emphasized. 

Floor press are also popular among bodybuilders and powerlifters as it focuses on one portion of the bench press, the first half of it. 

Benefits of Floor Press 

  • You can press more weight as you’re limiting the range of motion
  • Strengthens and overloads triceps 

How to do Floor Press

  • Using a power rack, lay down under a barbell while assuming the bench press position. 
  • Make sure the barbell position is at a good position where you can derack and rack the barbell easily. 
  • Load the barbell with minimal weights and practice the form before loading it.
  • Use your normal bench press grip, derack the barbell and lower the barbell to your sternum while keeping your elbows tucked at your sides.
  • Press back up and repeat.

How to Place in Workout

Floor press can be used as a warm up or as a replacement for your bench press for a few weeks as a way to work on the top portion of the bench press. 

However it’s important to do full range bench press after you do these to make sure you’re getting the full stretch and benefits of bench press. 

Decline Bench Cable Extension

The positioning of this exercise makes it less convenient because you need both a bench and a pulley system, though you can do this with a free weight as well like a dumbbell or barbell.

The decline allows you to have a greater range of motion as your arms have more travel to execute the exercise.

Benefits of Bench Cable Extension

  • Greater range of motion allows for greater overload of the triceps
  • Allows for more of a stretch

How to do Bench Cable Extension

  • Either grab dumbbells, barbell or a cable pulley to perform this exercise with a decline bench 

How to Place in Workout

As with any isolation exercise, they can be used as a warm up, pre exhaust or post exhaust movement to further overload the triceps. 

They are best performed with high reps and volume, like 3 sets of 10-12 reps. 

Focus on the contraction and on the stretch of the movement. 

Diamond Push Ups

Regular push ups work triceps and chest pretty well but with diamond pushups, you put more emphasis on triceps.

Benefits of Diamond Push Ups

  • Start with a very light weight to get used to the form before trying this.
  • Grab a EZ bar or barbell, assume the bench press position on a flat bench
  • Place the bar over your head while placing your arms perpendicular to the floor and lower the bar slowly until it nearly reaches the top of your forehead
  • Push the bar back up to the starting position in a controlled manner without locking elbows
  • Repeat 

How To Do Diamond Push Ups 

  • Assume the push up position, but instead of putting your hands at shoulder width apart, put them close together as if you were forming a diamond shape with your hands
  • While keeping your back neutral, lower yourself until you can almost touch the floor with your chest. 
  • Push back up and repeat

How to Place in Workout

You can do diamond push ups as a compliment to your tricep exercises or after your bench press movements. 

Perform 2-3 sets of 15-20 reps with 45-60 seconds between sets. 

You can also perform these as a superset to your tricep exercises or even bench press. 

Bodyweight Skull Crusher 

Despite using only your bodyweight, this exercise is hard to do. It puts all your bodyweight into an isolated exercise. 

Benefits of Bodyweight Skull Crusher

  • Overloads triceps with only bodyweight
  • Uses core to stabilize the body

How to do Bodyweight Skull Crusher

  • Set a barbell at hip height in a power rack or a smith machine 
  • Using an overhand grip, hold the barbell as your bend your arms to lower your torso towards the bar. 
  • Feel the stretch of the movement and push back up and repeat. 
  • You can increase the difficulty by moving your feet further away from the barbell. 

How to Place in Workout

Place these at the end of your tricep workout as a finisher. 

You can alternatively have these earlier in your tricep workout but it’s easier to overload the triceps and measure your progress when you are working them through weights. Try 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps or more. 

Putting It All Together 

Big arms means you need to have well developed triceps. 

Now you know what exercises are the best for thick triceps, here's a workout you can use to maximize your growth without spending too much time in the gym:

Ideal Triceps Workout:

  • Close Grip Bench Press: 4 sets 6-10 reps
  • Lying Skull Crushers: 3 sets of 6-8 reps
  • Cable Push Downs: 3 sets of 10-12 reps
  • Bench dips: 2 sets until failure 

Workout notes

Start with a higher number of reps for your first set, then add weight and decrease reps on each set. 

Your last set should be the hardest with perfect form, on the lowest number of reps and heaviest weight you can perform with. 

Go to absolute failure on the last exercise and leave nothing behind. 

Tricep isolation exercises alone won't maximize your growth, they need to be combined with compound exercises. 

Now you've learned to master your understanding of tricep exercises and workouts, it's time to put it to the test. 

Consistency and focus is what will help maximize your development. 

You need to be dedicated and confident in order to make the most gains.

Leave a comment below on what you'd like to see next and if you've tried this, let me know…

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