12 Best Tricep Exercises; Home & Gym Exercises (w/ Cooldown)

The best tricep exercises, like dips, extensions and kickbacks, can be done at home to achieve different goals. These exercises can help with toning, reducing sagging, increasing muscle volume and improving elbow support. They also improve flexibility and arm strength should be added to your exercise routine weekly.

Triceps exercises can be done with or without the use of weights. It is important to consider your physical conditions and limitations to avoid injuries like a tricep rupture or tendinitis, for example. You should warm up before exercising by lifting and lowering arms  at a fast pace or by doing jumping jacks, for example.

You should ideally have a medical evaluation before starting any physical activity and should be guided by a personal trainer to determine the appropriate weight and intensity when working out. 

Home tricep exercises 

Triceps training at home can be done 2 to 3 times a week, in 2 to 3 sets of 10 to 12 repetitions, depending on the exercise. Ideally, you should choose 3 to 4 exercises per workout.

Some exercise options for doing a triceps workout at home are:

1. Tricep dips

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Triceps dips help to work the strength and endurance of your triceps, as well as your shoulder, back, and core muscles. This can contribute to overall balance and posture. This exercise does not require any weights, just a chair or bench.

How to do: Sit on the bench and place your palms on the seat at your sides, close to your thighs. Keep your arms on the seat and lift your bottom from the chair, inching your body forward so that you are hovering in front of the seat. Keep your legs straight, then bend your elbows, lowering your body as far as possible to the ground until your elbows form a 90-degree angle. Your body weight should be supported by your arms.  Push your body upwards to restart the movement. Do 3 sets of 10 to 12 repetitions. If the exercise is very difficult, you can perform it with your knees bent and bring your feet closer to your body.

2. Standing triceps extension

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The standing triceps extension works the strength of the triceps, deltoids and trapezius and is done using weight such as a dumbbell. If you don't have one, you can place one or more 1kg packages of rice or beans inside a backpack, or use a plastic bottle with sand inside, for example.

How to do: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, hold the weight with both hands behind your head, with your elbows bent, forming a 90-degree angle. Lift the weight, stretching your arms upwards and slowly lower your arms back again behind your head. It is important to keep your abdomen contracted and your back straight.

Be sure to time the movement with your breathing - exhale when lifting the weight and inhale when lowering. If it is difficult to do the exercise while standing, you can also complete it while sitting, being sure to keep your spine straight. Another variant of this exercise is to use a weight in each hand. This exercise can be done in 2 to 3 sets of 10 to 12 repetitions.

3. Skull crusher

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The skull crusher, or lying triceps extension is another good option for the triceps. It improves strength and resistance, while also contributing to muscle gains. This exercise is done using weights such as dumbbells, a barbell or even plastic bottle filled with sand.

How to do: Lie on the floor and bend your legs slightly, so that your feet are flat on the floor. Holding a weight in each hand or one weight weight both hands, hold the weight above your head, pointing towards the ceiling. Then bend your elbows and lower the weight above your forehead. Return to starting position. Repeat this movement 10 to 12 times doing 2 to 3 sets.

4. Triceps kickback

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The triceps kickback is an exercise that helps to gain strength and muscle mass. It is done using weights such as a dumbbell or plastic bottle filled with sand.

How to do: Stand with your knees slightly bent and lean forward with your back straight. Hold the weight with one hand, position your arm straight in line with your body. Bend the arm to bring the weight forward, making a 90-degree angle at the elbow. Another way to do this exercise is to hold a weight in each hand and perform the movement with both arms at the same time. If it is difficult to do the movement while standing, you can rest one of your knees on a bench or chair, for example. Repeat this movement 8 to 12 times and repeat with the other arm. This exercise can be done for 3 to 4 sets.

5. Lateral arm raise

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The lateral raise works the strength and endurance of the triceps, in addition to the shoulder muscles. It can contribute to the improvement of overall posture and balance. This exercise must be done using weights such as dumbbells, although you can make your own weights, like a plastic bottle with water or sand or backpacks with 1 or 2 kg of rice or beans in each one.

How to do: Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart and slightly bend your knees. Hold a weight in each hand, with your arms aligned with your body. Slowly raise your arms to shoulder height and slowly return to the starting position. It is important to contract your abdomen, and to inhale when lowering your arms and exhale when you raise your arms. Do 2 to 3 sets of 10 to 12 repetitions.

6. Incline push-up

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The incline push-up is an exercise that helps work the strength and endurance of the triceps, biceps and deltoids.

How to do: Pick a surface that will create an incline for your body, such as a stool, chair, beanbag, gym ball or a step exercise platform. Rest your hands on the inclined surface, with your arms under your shoulders, at a distance slightly greater than shoulder width. and your feet on the floor. The body should be kept straight throughout the movement. Contract your abdomen, flex your elbows until your chest touches the surface and return to the starting position. You can do 2 to 3 sets of 8 to 10 repetitions each, resting for 60 to 90 seconds between sets.

7. Forearm plank

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The forearm plank is considered a complete exercise, as it works the triceps, abdomen, core and other muscles in the body such as the biceps and shoulders. There is no need to use weights or dumbbells for this exercise.

How to do: Lie on your stomach and then raise your body, holding your body weight on your forearms and toes on the floor. Be sure to keep your abdomen and glutes contracted and your neck aligned with your spine while holding this position. Remain still in this position for as long as possible. You can start with 30 seconds and gradually increase the time. This exercise is not done in sets.

Gym tricep exercises

Some triceps exercises you can do at the gym are:

1. Rope cable tricep extension

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The rope cable tricep extension is done using the double-rope accessory on a cable machine. It isolates the triceps, which can increase strength and muscle definition.

How to do: Select your weight on the cable machine and attach the double-rope accessory to the pulley. Hold the ends of the rope and lean your torso forward. Contract your abdomen and tuck your elbows at your sides, keeping them stuck in this position throughout the movement. Slowly pull the rope down to your thighs until your arms are full extended, then slowly raise the rope back up to the starting position. Repeat this movement 8 to 16 times for 1 to 3 sets.

2. Parallel bar dips

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The triceps dip on parallel bars can be done with your own body weight or by adding more weights on your ankles or a plate attached to a belt around your waist.  

How to do: Standing between the bars, place one hand on each bar and contract your abdomen. Lift your body from the floor until your arms are straight. Then bend your elbows and lower your body slowly, without placing feet on the floor. Complete 6 to 8 repetitions for 2 to 3 sets. The reps and sets can be increased over time.

3. Seated machine tricep extension

This is a great exercise for strengthening and increasing muscle mass in the triceps, as well as strengthening the shoulder and chest muscles.

How to do: Select your weight on the machine and sit in the bench. Rest the back of your arms on the padded support and grip the accessory with your palms facing in or up (this accessory could be handles, a single bar or a double-rope). Keep your abdomen contracted and bend your elbows to lift the accessory, ensuring the back of your upper arms remain planted in the support. Straighten your arms to lower the accessory back to the starting position. Perform 3 sets of 8 to 10 repetitions.

4. Overhead cable tricep extension

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This exercise is great for strengthening and toning the triceps.

How to do: Select your desired weight on the cable machine. Attach the double rope or single rope accessory to the pulley and hold onto the ends. Without letting go, turn away from the machine, so that your back is facing the pulley. Raise the rope over your head, keeping your elbows slightly bend. Then straighten your arms to pull the rope upwards, being sure to keep your arms at the side of your head. Then bend your elbows again to the starting position. 

The exercise should be done by only moving your foreheads while your upper arms remain stationary next to your head. You can do 3 sets of 12 to 15 repetitions.

5. Triceps cable kickback

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The triceps cable kickback is a variation of the triceps kickback done with dumbbells. It aims to strengthen the triceps and increase muscle mass.

How to do: Select your desired weight on the cable machine. Adjust the pulley to about knee height. Position yourself facing the pulley, leaning forward toward the machine with a bend in your knees. Contract your abdomen and position your feet hip-width apart. Tuck your arm to the side of your body and keep it glued there. Use this hand to grab the end of the pulley, and then straighten your arm to pull the cable down. Slowly bend the elbow to the starting position and complete this movement 12 to 15 times in 2 to 3 sets. Repeat this exercise with the other arm.

Triceps cooldown

After working out your triceps, you should do stretches to help relax your muscles. These will help to tone your muscles, improve flexibility, increase circulation and prevent injuries.

1. Horizontal stretch

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Horizontal stretching should be done standing up to allow for a full stretch of the triceps. It can increase flexibility and range of motion in the arm.

How to do: Standing with your legs shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent, place your right arm across the front of your body, at shoulder height. With your left arm, hold your right arm in this position, pressing your right arm into your chest. Hold this position for 30 seconds and repeat with the left arm. You can do 3 to 4 repetitions for each arm.

2. Overhead stretch

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This stretch allows you to stretch the triceps, chest and spine, and should be done standing or sitting.

How to do: raise one arm and bend the elbow, placing the hand towards the back or back of the neck. With your other arm, push your elbow back toward your head to stretch your triceps. Hold this stretch for 20 to 30 seconds. Repeat with the other arm. This exercise is not done in sets.