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Because the triceps brachii comprise two-thirds of your arm, strengthening these muscles contributes to overall upper body strength and enhanced aesthetics. In untrained individuals, biceps tend to be stronger than triceps as a result of daily activities, but ideally, you want these muscles to be equally strong. If you have an existing shoulder or elbow injury, consult with a qualified health or fitness professional who can advise you about modifications or alternatives before you attempt triceps exercises.

Understanding the triceps

The triceps brachii is the muscle at the back of the upper arm. It lies opposite the bicep, between the shoulder and elbow joints. The muscle's name indicates three heads, and they are the long, medial, and lateral heads.

The long head begins in the shoulder blade and facilitates extending and adducting the arm at the shoulder joint. The medial and lateral heads start in the upper arm bone and assist with forearm extension at the elbow joint, or straightening the arm. The three parts meet in a tendon at the elbow joint.

Anatomy of the Triceps Muscles 3D illustration

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Benefits of triceps strengthening

Stronger triceps mean more power for enhanced sports performance and ease in functional movements such as pushing, lifting, and holding. If you want to increase your pushup count, this is one of the muscles to focus on.

The triceps stabilize the shoulders, which have more range of motion than any other joint, and triceps exercises can improve flexibility and mobility of the shoulders and elbows. In addition, conditioning this muscle can improve posture.

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Top triceps exercises

Tricep dips, overhead extensions, and diamond push-ups are three of the most popular triceps exercises in workout routines. Here's how to do a diamond push-up, a bodyweight exercise that requires no equipment, targets all three tricep heads and the delts and traps too, and is seen as a progression from a standard push-up.

Get on all fours and form a diamond on the ground underneath your chest by making your index fingers and thumbs meet each other. If you're just starting with arm workouts, you can choose to keep your knees on the floor. Bend your elbows to lower your body until your chest gets close to touching your hands, and your body forms a straight line from your head to your heels. Your elbows should be close to your sides when you lower. Now, push with your palms to straighten your elbows and lift back into a plank position. Repeat until you do at least eight reps, and aim for 12 in a set.

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Bodyweight and minimal equipment exercises

Diamond push-ups aren't the only zero-equipment triceps exercises you can do in the comfort of your home. You can perform the tricep dip with a sturdy chair or bench or even on the floor.

Stand in front of the chair, bend your knees a little, and reach out behind you to clasp the edge of the chair with your fingers facing forward. If you're new to upper body exercises, keep your knees bent, but if you want to make it more challenging, extend your legs straight out. Now, bend the elbows and lower your hips until your upper arms are parallel to the floor before pushing to straighten the arms and lift your body back up.

Beginners can start with 8 reps in a set and work up to 15 reps.

Ultimate Triceps Exercises for Sculpted Arms

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Incorporating weights and equipment

Level up your strength training by incorporating resistance bands and weights like dumbbells and barbells or heading to the gym to use cable machines. You can do another commonly deployed triceps exercise, tricep kickbacks, at home with a pair of cans from your pantry or light to moderate dumbbells.

Focus on one arm at a time while resting your other arm on a level surface, or do both arms simultaneously. For the latter, hold a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing each other and bend your knees slightly. Maintain a neutral spine and hinge at the waist to move your torso close to parallel to the floor. Keep your upper arms close to your body, with your elbows at your torso like you're about to do a row, then straighten your elbows and extend your arms behind you.

Your upper arms should be still, and your forearms should be moving. Return the weights to the starting position and do at least one set of about 8 to 15 reps.

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Designing a triceps workout

Wondering how to structure a triceps workout? Begin with tricep dips or tricep extensions, and move on to skull crushers with dumbbells or kettlebells.

You can then use light weights to do high reps of kickbacks before finishing with diamond push-ups. Do diamond push-ups toward the end of your upper body workouts after pulling exercises like rows and lat pulldowns for effective antagonistic training, which is the training of opposing muscle groups together. More than one set of each exercise can form a dedicated arm workout or include some of these movements as part of a balanced full-body workout.

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Safety and form tips

Maintaining proper form is crucial to avoid injury and maximize the effectiveness of each exercise. If you're using weights, start light, and don't increase the load too quickly. The reps at the end of a set should bring the muscle to fatigue or a point at which you're giving your maximum effort to complete the movement correctly.

Research the correct form for the exercise you'd like to do. For example, for tricep dips, avoid shrugging your shoulders toward your ears, don't lock your elbows at the top of the movement, and don't dip too low, or you may end up hurting your shoulder. Focus on slow, controlled movements unless otherwise advised, and never push through pain.

Portrait of young fitness woman stretching her arms, warm-up before training session, sport event in park, jogging and excercising.

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Advanced variations and progressions

If you've mastered the basic forms and are looking to increase the intensity of your workouts, adaptations abound. Here are just two ways you can make your routines more challenging. During diamond push-ups, try slowing down for a five-second count while you lower before going up for no more than one second.

For tricep dips, place two chairs 3 feet apart and facing each other. Place your heels on the edge of the second chair and complete the dip by lifting more body weight than you usually would.

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Recovery and maintenance

Rest and recovery are also essential to ensure your workouts are productive rather than harm-inducing. Always warm up with dynamic stretching or aerobic exercises such as 5 to 10 minutes of jogging, skipping, or jumping jacks before you launch into a routine.

Follow upper body workouts with a day of rest or focus on another area of the body to avoid overuse injuries. You'll also want to switch up your triceps exercises to keep your routines fresh and support muscle repair and growth with adequate protein intake as part of a balanced diet.

Ultimate Triceps Exercises for Sculpted Arms

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To sum up

So, there you have it. With dips, overhead extensions, tricep kickbacks, skull crushers, and diamond push-ups in the mix, you have a range of basic to advanced zero-equipment and weighted exercises to target your triceps and a foundation to explore more movements.

Consistent effort should reward you with noticeably improved muscle tone and strength within 6 weeks of giving these underrated muscles some attention. Listen to your body and keep the golden rule in mind: stick to a lighter weight if a heavier one makes you compromise your form.

Fitness girl doing triceps exercise with dumbbell on a dark background, side view

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Disclaimer

This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.