Tricep Workout Tips
“The best overall triceps exercise is the close-grip bench press,” says body composition expert Tom MacCormick (flatwhitesfreeweights.com). “This creates high levels of muscle activity in the triceps, and also targets the often-neglected long head: muscle activity in this area is greatest when the shoulder is flexed to roughly 90° – the exact position you’re in during close-grip bench presses.”
Fix your hands
“Muscle activation in the triceps varies with hand position,” says MacCormick. “Having your elbows further apart than your hands – for instance, in a close-grip bench – stresses the lateral head to a greater degree. If the hands are closer, more stress is placed on the long and medial heads.” Do moves that use a variety of hand positions.
Move your shoulders
“Changing your shoulder position during isolation exercises like extensions can also influence triceps muscle activation,” says MacCormick. “Having your arms overhead – like in a French press – puts more tension on the long head, while conventional cable press-downs shift the tension predominantly onto the medial head.”
1 Close-grip bench press
Sets 4 Reps 6-8 Rest 90sec
Lying flat on your back on a bench, take a shoulder-width grip on the bar. Keep your elbows close to your sides as you lower the weight to touch your chest. Drive the weight back up explosively until your arms are fully extended.
Sets 4 Reps 6-8 Rest 10sec
Use dip bars just wider than shoulder width. Jump up to the top position with fully extended arms and balance yourself. Bend your elbows to lower yourself until your biceps touch your forearms. Lift yourself back to the top by extending your arms. Keep your core braced throughout.
2B Rope cable French press
Sets 4 Reps 6-8 Rest 2min
Set the cable to the lowest setting. Grab the rope attachment and raise it over your head with your palms facing each other. Tuck your elbows in tight overhead, keep your upper arms stationary and bend your elbows so your hands travel behind your head until your forearm and biceps make contact. From this fully stretched position, flex your triceps to return to the start position.
3 Reverse-grip straight bar press-down
Sets 3 Reps 6-8 Rest 90sec
Set the cable pulley to the top setting and grab the bar with your palms facing up. Keep your elbows by your sides and extend your elbow using your triceps. Flex hard for one second at the bottom, then return to the start position.
Get the Coach Newsletter
Sign up for workout ideas, training advice, reviews of the latest gear and more.
From 2008 to 2018, Joel worked for Men's Fitness, which predated, and then shared a website with, Coach. Though he spent years running the hills of Bath, he’s since ditched his trainers for a succession of Converse high-tops, since they’re better suited to his love of pulling vans, lifting cars, and hefting logs in a succession of strongman competitions.