Triceps workout: What are the triceps?
Since we are talking about a triceps workout, it’s important to know what the triceps muscle are and do.
The triceps brachii muscle is the larger of the upper arm muscles. It takes up 2/3 of the upper arm, which is double the size of its antagonist, the bicep and brachialis muscles. The triceps brachii is three headed muscles consisting of the long, medial, and lateral heads. The Long head begins in the scapula, between the teres major and minor and stretches down to the elbow joint, connecting to the ulna (larger of the forearm bones). The lateral also begins posterior of the shoulder and wraps around the lateral side of the arm, meeting the rest of the triceps at the ulna. Finally, the medial head connects at the elbow and runs beneath the lateral and long head, typically seen close to the elbow joint.
Not only is the triceps brachii largest muscle in the upper arm, but it plays a huge role in functionality. Its responsible for straightening your arm and instigating shoulder rotation. The primary function is being a extensor muscle at the elbow joint which is the ability to contract and straighten the arm. The secondary function is performed by the long head of the triceps, which is supporting the adduction (bringing arm closer to the body) movement, shared with the latissimus dorsi.
Now that you have a better idea of what the triceps brachii muscles are, let’s go over a solid triceps workout. The best workout for your triceps will involve you targeting all heads of the triceps. This can be done using dumbbells, barbells, eazy bars, cables, and even your body weight.
Skull crushers are always an excellent choice to begin a triceps workout because it engages both your long head and lateral head. This will allow good circulation of blood into the triceps.
The lateral head is the outer triceps muscle that’s know for the familiar horseshoe shape that pops out when your flex. It’s the smaller of the heads but is favored based off its look. There are two exercises that focus primarily on the outer or lateral head:
- Push downs
Using a strait or eazy bar attached to a cable machine and place it at head height. Extend your arms down and away from the body, making sure to keep the elbows tight and only bend at the elbow hinge
set a cable machine at hip height with no attachment or use a dumbbell. Grab the selected weight and bend forward. Keeping your back strait, bring your elbow up to your side, keeping a 90-degree bend in the arm. Once in position, kick back the hand so that you are “throwing” the weight behind you, making sure to keep the movement strictly at the elbow hinge
The long head is the bigger of the heads that gives you the “good” under scoop when performing a flex. A well-developed long head will almost give you a reverse bicep bump look. Here are some good exercises to target the long head during your triceps workout.
- Overhead extensions
This can be performed with many pieces of equipment, from cables, dumbbells, eazy bars, and barbells. Grab a easy bar with a over hand grip, then place the bar behind your head. From here, begin to extend your arms up, making sure to keep your elbows tight and the only point of movement.
Using either a dip machine or body weight, begin your standard dips. Once again making sure to keep your elbows tight and focus on the contraction of the triceps and only bending at the elbow hinge. Careful not to lean to far forward as you will start to recruit your anterior delts and chest.
Almost every exercise in a triceps workout that you will do will target the medial head. Its most predominant in in the elbow region, so any movement that focuses on the lower triceps will work for this head. Here are a few options.
- Push downs (V bar)
Attach the V bar to a cable attachment, at about head height. Keeping it close to your body, begin your extensions. To maximize the medial head, do not fully extend or release tension so that you cause more strain around the elbow. This will cause you to burn out faster than normal.
- Reverse grip push downs
This movement will put stress on the forearm and connector point of the triceps. Place a bar on a cable machine at head height. With a under grip (palms up) grab the bar and begin. As you come up, you should stop at 90-degrees, keeping the tension on the medial head. From there, extend your arms, fully contracting the triceps muscles.
BONUS: If you’re serious about the best arm workouts, then this is your next step
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