This Home Triceps Workout Builds Your Upper Arms

Woman does triceps dips off sofa
(Image credit: Studio Romantic / Shutterstock)

You don’t need a rack of dumbbells or cable machine to strengthen your triceps. Whenever you do any bodyweight pushing movements, like press-ups, you’re working these muscles – and cheap, readily-available resistance bands are a worthy stand-in for dumbbells.

This six-move triceps workout comes from Alex Gildea, PT and owner of London boutique gym G:Fit. For half of the exercises you will need a long resistance band. Alternatively, you can use dumbbells if you have them, or just perform the three bodyweight exercises – they will still do the trick.

The workout is made up of three pairs of exercises, called supersets. In this format you complete all the reps of exercise A, and then move immediately to exercise B with minimal rest. Once you complete exercise A and B, rest for 30-45 seconds, then go back to exercise A to start the second set. Follow this sequence until all the sets have been performed, then move on to the next superset.

This approach will keep your heart rate up to help you burn extra calories, as well as giving your muscles less time to recover. As a result, they’ll grow back stronger to handle the overtime.

Gildea has provided a range for sets, reps and rest so you can adjust the difficulty to suit your ability, and gradually increase the difficulty over time.

Home Triceps Workout

1A Close-grip push-up

Sets 2-4 Reps 10-15 Rest 0sec

Start with your hands on the floor, directly under your shoulders. The closer your hands are together, the more work your triceps are required to do. Engage your core and glutes to stop your hips from sagging during the move. Keep your elbows tucked in as you lower your chest until it’s just off the floor, then push back up powerfully.

1B Overhead triceps extension

Sets 2-4 Reps 10-15 Rest 30-45sec

Kneel on the floor with the band looped under your knees. Extend your arms to hold the band overhead with your hands together and elbows pointing forwards. Bend your elbows to slowly lower your hands behind your head. Make sure there’s still tension in the band at the lowest point. Extend your arms to bring your hands above your head again.

2A Chair dip

Sets 2-4 Reps 10-15 Rest 0sec

Stand facing away from a sturdy chair or bench. Place your palms on the seat and walk your feet away. Keep your bum close to the chair throughout to protect your shoulders. Slowly lower your body until your elbows are at 90°, then use your triceps to extend your arms and push your body back up. The straighter your legs, the more weight you will lift, so if you’re struggling, bend your knees and walk your feet closer.

2B Single-arm kick-back

Sets 2-4 Reps 10-15 each side Rest 30-45sec

Start in a split stance, with one foot behind your body and one foot in front. Loop one end of the band under your front foot and hold it in your opposite hand. Hinge forwards slightly at your hips, tuck your elbow in to your body and ensure there’s tension in the band. Move your hand behind you by extending your arm, keeping your elbow locked in to your body. Your triceps should be on fire by the end of the set.

3A Kneeling sphinx press-up

Sets 2-4 Reps 10-15 Rest 0sec

This move can be tricky to execute at first, but it works wonders once you’ve cracked it. Get into a plank position on your knees, with your elbows under your shoulders and your forearms on the floor taking your weight. Press hard into the floor with your palms so you straighten your arms and raise your body, then slowly lower to the start. If it feels easy, move from your knees to your toes.

3B Single-arm overhead triceps extension

Sets 2-4 Reps 10-15 each side Rest 30-45sec

This one’s similar to the earlier overhead triceps extension, but it targets one arm at a time. Hold the band in one hand by your lower back, and extend it overhead with the other. Lock the elbow of the arm you’re targeting in place, and slowly lower so your hand comes behind your head.

Triceps Workout Tips

Take your time

Remember: go slow to grow. “When working on muscles like your triceps in isolation, there’s no need to rush,” says Gildea. “To make the most of these exercises, you want your muscle to be under tension for as long as possible, so take your time.”

Make it easier

Arms ready to fall off after just one set? You won’t be the only one. “Supersets, where you perform moves back to back, are never easy,” Gildea says. “Give yourself an extra 30- to 45-second breather between exercises if need be so you don’t have to tap out mid-session.”

Make it harder

Finding this a breeze? Props to you. “Make it tougher by trying one-and-a-half reps with each move,” suggests Gildea. “For example, with the press-ups, lower all the way to the bottom of the rep, drive up halfway, back down, then all the way up. That’s one rep.” Enjoy the burn.

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Sam Rider

Sam Rider is an experienced freelance journalist, specialising in health, fitness and wellness. For over a decade he's reported on Olympic Games, CrossFit Games and World Cups, and quizzed luminaries of elite sport, nutrition and strength and conditioning. Sam is also a REPS level 3 qualified personal trainer, online coach and founder of Your Daily Fix. Sam is also Coach’s designated reviewer of massage guns and fitness mirrors.