Working the Triceps Brachii

The Triceps Brachii is a muscle located in the back of the arm and makes up about two thirds of an arm’s volume. Many people who want big arms make a mistake of working their triceps exclusively.  The triceps are made up of three heads; long, medial, and lateral.  You should always include an overhead triceps movement in your training program to target the long head, it’s the only way to work that head.  In doing triceps exercises one must always remember not to let any part of the arm above the elbow move.  Shoulder joint remains stationary at all times.

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In order to work the Tricpes Brachii, here’s how we advise you perform the following exercises;


This can be done weighted or regular.  To hit your triceps and not your chest with this exercise, elbow position is crucial.  Elbows should not be close to your body but instead pointing outwardly.  You should go as low as possible and the slower you go the more effective it becomes

Skull Crushers (French Press)

French Press are a good exercise for triceps.  Lying supine on a flat bench, take a cambered bar with your hands about 10 inches apart (overhand of course).  Lower the bar all the way down until the back of your hand touches your forehead and push it back up.  This is a very difficult exercise and your triceps can easily give out so you should try to do this with a spotter.

Triceps Pushdown (sometimes called press down)

This is a favorite exercise for the triceps.  Use as close a grip as you want.  Never stand more than two feet away from the weight stack when you do it.  Leverage is important in this exercise, so you should take a shoulder-width stance and bend your knees.  You can lean forward a little bit.  This is a 90-degree range of motion exercise.  Your forearms should be parallel to the ground at the top of the movement, don’t let the weight pull you higher.  At the bottom, your arms should be perpendicular to the floor.  Its ok to lock out.  You can do this with legs parallel to each other or have one leg in front for more leverage (that’s the way to do it).

Overhead Cable Extensions

A free weight exercise is always superior to an equivalent machine exercise. You can use a rope or a bar.  A rope can be too uncomfortable and you waste more energy trying to stay balanced than you do performing the exercise.  You should keep one leg back for stability.  Push the weight with only your triceps, don’t let shoulders or lats do it.  Go as far back as you can without moving your arm at the shoulder.  Your elbows are the only joints involved in this exercise.  Push forward to lockout.


Lie on a bench but perpendicular to it. Only the upper part of your back and your shoulders should touch it. Legs on the floor with a dumbbell standing upright on the opposing side. For the first rep, your spotter could help you get the dumbbell up, or he could just hand it to you. Arching your back slightly, lower the weight as far as it will go, trying to reach the floor. With arms as straight as possible (almost at lockout). Bring the weight up above your head. Don’t go much further in that direction, this will lower intensity since no muscle work is done if you move the weight back and forth above your chest. It works both, chest and triceps at the same time.  To put more emphasis on the triceps, point your elbows slightly more outward.

One-Arm Cable Extensions

This exercise tones your muscle more than grows it.  Unused hand on the hip, feet in a shoulder-width stance, knees bent for stability.  Try to keep your trunk stationary, as with all cable movements.  Keep your upper arm locked against your side.  Use full range of motion.  Once again, your forearm should not go higher than parallel to the ground.  Lockout at the bottom.

Overhead Dumbbell Extensions

Finally a heavy triceps exercise with free weights.  You can also do this with a cambered bar, but you might find a dumbbell more comfortable.  From the position of having your arms extended over your head, slowly bring the weight down, all the way behind your head, remembering not to move your upper arm at the shoulder.  Your upper arm stays vertical always, while the rest of your arm is moving.

Close Grip Bench Press

Once again, do this the same way as it is described to be done for chest, with one difference; bring the bar to your upper pectorals not to your lower chest/ upper abs area.


Now, you don’t see many people do this for one simple reason; you can’t use heavy weights.  And you know how guys’ egos are: if it’s not heavy, they will not be seen lifting it. However, if you choose to swallow your pride, here is how to do this great exercise.  Standing in the same position as if you were doing bent over dumbbell rows, bring the arm holding the dumbbell back so that its parallel to the ground and just a smidgen higher than your back.  Bending the arm at the elbow, lower the weight so that your arm makes a right angle.  Then kick the arm back to its original position.

Links for Reference

If you are looking for even more information on how to work your triceps. You take a look at this triceps workouts advice from Bill Geiger.