The triceps actually make up the bulk of your upper arm. Triceps are the big, primary movers for upper-body ‘push’ motion, meaning extension of the arms. The most common mistake beginners make is ignoring their triceps.
The second most common mistake? Overworking your triceps—that is, not recognising the work triceps do while you’re bench pressing. Do this beginner-focused triceps workout once or twice a week, but make sure you don’t to it the day after you focus on a chest-heavy workout.
Aim for four sets of 12–15 reps, with just 15 to 30 seconds of rest between sets. (Increasing muscle mass requires volume.) Use a load heavy enough so it’ll be challenging to complete your reps, but not so heavy that you can’t maintain good form.
For the sake of clarity: “Upper arm” refers to the part that’s closer to your shoulder. Looking to boost the size of your arms without doing a ton of biceps curls? This is the perfect workout routine to start.
1. Seated Overhead Triceps Extension
- While seated on bench, raise either dumbbells or a barbell overhead, with elbows bent so your hands are behind you.
- Making sure your upper arms stay vertical, straighten your forearms to raise the weight completely overhead.
- Control the weight as you slowly return to the start.
2. Standing Cable Rope Press-down
- Raise the cable to the top, with the double-handle rope attached.
- Grasp the handles and pull the cable so your elbows are at your sides and your hands are perpendicular.
- Press the handles down, so your arms are straight.
- Re-bend your elbows with control, making sure your upper arms hold steady.
3. Skull Crusher
- Load up an EZ-bar or grab dumbbells.
- Lie on your back on a bench.
- Raise your weight up so your upper arms are perpendicular to the ceiling, elbows bent—the weight will be at or near your forehead.
- Straighten your arms, keeping your upper arms in the same position.
- Re-bend, taking care not to crush your skull.
4. Bench Dip
- Ditch your weights and sit on your bench sideways, hands holding the edge next to your hips.
- Keep your knees bent (which is easier) or extend your legs (which is more difficult).
- Move your hips up and forward off the bench, so your body is largely supported by your arms.
- Bend your elbows back, aiming for right angles; press up to straighten.
5. Plyo Inclined Push=up
- Place your hands on a locked Smith machine bar or some foam boxes, in a long-arm plank position.
- Bend your elbows back close alongside your body, then explosively power up and briefly into the air; land your hands with elbows soft to go right into your next rep.
6. Single-Arm Band Overhead Tricep Extension
- Stand on a band or tube, holding the other side with one hand.
- Raise your arm up, so your upper arm is perpendicular to the ceiling, elbow bent, hand back.
- Extend your arm straight up, the control to release back to the start.
- Do 3 sets of 20 reps as a finisher.