Everyone wants to build bigger arms, but most of us go about it the wrong way. In particular, many guys bomb and blitz their biceps while treating triceps exercises like an afterthought. The truth is, though, that triceps make up about 60% of your upper arm mass, and they have the potential to grow big and strong if you train them the right way.
To help you get the tris you need for your biggest possible arms, make sure to include these 3 best big triceps workout somewhere in your routine.
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Lying Triceps Extensions
Also often called “skull crushers,” the lying triceps extension is a major mass builder that can really fill out your sleeves.
To perform these, grab a heavy (for you barbell) and lie flat on your back on a bench. Take an overhand grip on the bar with your hands a little closer than shoulder width, then extend the bar straight up so that your upper arms form a 90-degree angle with the bench. Now, simple lower the weight toward your forehead by bending your elbows.
On the way down, resist the weight with your triceps so that the bar moves slowly, then smoothly reverse the movement at the bottom by flexing your tris and pushing the bar back in front of you. You can experiment with lowering the bar to your head, above your head, or maybe even your chin, but pay attention to any pain you feel in your elbows and adjust accordingly.
Throughout the movement, it’s important to keep your elbows pulled in, roughly in line with your hands. Don’t let your elbows flare out, or you risk taking tension off your triceps.
Overhead Triceps Extensions
Overhead triceps extensions hit your tris in their stretch position, which is important for overall growth and for hitting the “long” triceps head.
To perform these, grab a barbell with a narrow, overhand grip and extend it over your head. Keeping your elbows pinched close to your head and pointed toward the ceiling, slowly lower the bar until you feel an intense stretch in your triceps, usually when the bar is at about ear level.
Flex your triceps to smoothly turn the movement around from this bottom position and return to the starting point.
Triceps pushdowns train your tris in their fully contracted position, where your arms are in or behind the plane of your torso.
To perform this movement, load up a lat pulldown or triceps pushdown machine with a weight that will allow you to get about 10 reps. Reach up and grab the bar with an overhand, shoulder-width (or slightly narrower grip), and pull it down until it’s under your chin and your elbows are tucked at your sides.
Now, using the power of your triceps, push the bar down slowly until your hands are around your thighs and your elbows are nearly locked out. As with the other exercises on this list, keep your elbows pulled in tight and only move your forearms during the exercise. Contract hard for a second, then smoothly reverse direction and resist the negative movement with your triceps to return to the starting position.
These three moves cover the basic functions of your triceps, but you can of course substitute other exercises to suit your tastes, available equipment, and physical limitations. Most of these exercises can be done with barbells or dumbbells, and you might also consider full-on compound movements for your triceps once in a while. These include dips, close-grip bench presses, and reverse-grip bench presses.
Especially when learning a new movement, you should always get instruction from a qualified trainer, and it’s vital that you see your doctor before beginning any new training program.
If you want to build big triceps — and arms in general — it’s hard to beat this triumvirate of mass-builders, though.