Top Tricep Exercises (The 4 Most Effective Exercise for Strength And Size)

Triceps make up a huge portion of the upper arm.  If you have an impressive set of triceps, then your arms will still look big regardless of how good your biceps are.  Triceps are used in all pressing movements as secondary muscles, but there are some brilliantly effective exercises you can do to target them as a primary muscle.  Here are the top tricep exercises.

The 4 Top Tricep Exercises

  1. Tricep Dips
  2. Close Grip Bench Press
  3. Lying Overhead Extensions
  4. Power Cable Pushdowns

Tricep Dips

tricep dips diagram

Probably the best tricep exercise there is for creating the maximum overload.  The big issue here is that the bars found on some

dipping platforms in many gyms are just too far apart, moving the emphasis onto the chest.

The bars should be no more than shoulder-width apart really, and you should be able to keep your elbows tucked into your side.

Primary muscles involved


Secondary muscles involved

Chest and shoulders mainly shoulders

Most efficient technique 

Similar to pull-ups, some people will struggle to even lift their own body weight and others will be able to smash out 20 + reps at a time.

If you are able to do this then you will want to use a dipping chain to attach more weight, until you are training within the BFG training rep range.

Grip the bars and make sure you keep your elbows in tight throughout the whole movement.  If they are spread too wide then you will be shifting more and more emphasis onto the chest.

Starting from the top of the movement bend your legs to 90 degrees behind you and slowly lower yourself down until the angle goes just past 90 degrees at your elbows.  This will produce a maximum stretch through the triceps.

From the bottom of the movement explode up with as much force as possible, making sure you do not lock out your elbows at the top.

Close Grip Bench Pressdiagram of a man doing a close grip bench press

Looking for an exercise to build some serious mass on your triceps.  Then you will love this one.

Primary muscles involved


Secondary muscles involved

Shoulders, Chest and Forearms

Most efficient technique 

Take the same lying position as when doing a regular bench press.  However, this time take a close grip on the bar.  Your thumbs should be around 7 to 8 inches apart.

Unrack the bar and slowly take it down to the middle of your chest.  Let the bar slightly touch your chest then drive up with a powerful movement flexing your triceps at the top.

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Lying Overhead Extensions (skull crushers)diagram of a man doing skull crushers

One of my personal favourites.  However usual technique I see people undertaking on this exercise is wrong and really reduces the overload and stretch put through the triceps.

Most people will bring the bar down to their forehead.  This is a horrible way to perform this movement.  The main reasons being by stopping at this point you have reduced the amount of stretch under tension there could be, and two it’s such a rigid technique that the work the secondary muscles are having to do is minimal.  All this means reduced weight and reduced overload

Perform this technique the BFG way and watch your triceps grow.

Primary muscles involved


Secondary muscles involved

Chest, back, shoulders, forearms and traps

Most efficient technique 

Use an EZ bar if possible, as this will reduce any stress put on the wrists.

Lying back on a bench, make sure your head is slightly overhanging off the edge.  Keep your feet flat on the ground, or if the bench you are using has pads you can hook your feet under, then this is even better as it creates a lot more support

Starting with the weight over your chest, slowly lower the weight down by bending at your elbows.   As you lower the weight you want to slowly move your upper arms backwards at the same time, allowing the bar to go past your head.

By doing this you now have an increased stretch and more secondary muscles involved.

Explode back up with as much force as you can until the bar is back above your chest.

Power Cable Pushdowns

cable pushdown diagram

Another great exercise for overloading the triceps.  However again most people perform these in an extremely upright position and rigid form.

Primary muscles involved


Secondary muscles involved

Chest, back, shoulders, forearms and traps

Most efficient technique 

Use a straight bar that allows you to have a grip slightly in from shoulder width.

Keep your elbows tucked in to your sides at all times.

Now, this is how you should perform them.  Have one foot forward and one foot back creating a really solid base from the floor up.

With as much force as possible pull the cable down, and at the same time lean forward from the hips to at least a 45-degree angle.  Your elbows should now be just in front of your body in a bent position at this point.

Now with as much force as possible push the cable down until your arms are fully extended.

From this point bring the cable back up at a moderate speed into the start position.

A little tip on this one is when back into the start position if you allow your upper arms to come forwards a slight bit before pushing back down, you will be able to increase the weight used even more.

Try to do the weight you have just done in the usual strict upright position that is taught in most magazines, and see if you can even move it an inch.

Top Tricep Exercises – Final Words

Without a doubt, these are the top tricep exercises for creating maximum overload.  There are a couple of variations which are also great.  For example, using a dipping machine is another great way to create an overload.

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top tricep exercises. Most effective exercises for strength and muscle

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