Best Tricep Exercises for Mass and Power

These tricep workouts are confirmed to be among the best for your upper arms.

We’re not going to insult your intelligence. If you have any experience with training or knowledge of the muscular system, then you know the majority of the upper arms is made up of the three heads of the triceps. That said, any lifter that is committed to the process is looking for the best ways to get bigger and stronger triceps. What is the most effective triceps exercise, or how can we hit all three heads (long, lateral, and medial)?

Whether you’re new to the iron game or you’ve been at it for a while, going to the basics can be best. The triceps may have three heads, but we have the four best movements that can help you train the back of the arms so the entire arm will get bigger. We also want you to get stronger, so these tried and true movements will help you with that pushing power.

We got all the training bases covered for this too. We’re going to share exercises that involve all the major forms of resistance - bodyweight, barbell, dumbbell, and cable/machines or resistance bands if necessary.


This movement may be considered the best pushing exercise of them all, and not just because of how simple it is to perform. You can hit the chest, shoulders, and triceps all at the same time with this one, and you’re not restricted to your bodyweight, either. You can add extra resistance in the form of plates on a belt, chains around the shoulders, or even with a weighted vest. You’re only limited by the amount of weight you can hold and lift.

How to Perform: Stand next to parallel bars or a dip station like the Iron Bull Strength Dip Station and place your hands so your palms are facing each other. Lock your arms out so you are off the floor and the handles are supporting your bodyweight. Lean your upper body forward slightly and bend your knees so your feet don’t touch the floor.

Slowly bend the elbows and lower yourself until your shoulders are below your elbows. Pause slightly, then push your hands into the handles to push yourself back up. Continue that upward trajectory until your arms are straight and your triceps are flexed. You should feel a hard contraction at the top of the movement. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

Bonus Tip: Some gyms have dip machines that allow you to perform the exercise with extra assistance if you are not strong enough to hold your bodyweight. This will be suitable starting out, but you should make it a goal to be able to use your bodyweight without assistance.

Close Grip Bench Press

If you’re a powerlifter, strongman, or beginning a bodybuilding program, then you have had experience with the flat barbell bench press. This version is very similar, except the triceps are more active, and the chest isn’t recruited as much. It will be a great asset for pressing that will transfer to the bench as well as anything overhead. Unfortunately, some lifters and trainers don’t execute it properly and place themselves at risk of injury by keeping the hands too close. This is the correct version that is both safe and beneficial.

How to Perform: Lie flat on a bench press station so your back is flat on the pad and your eyes are directly in line with the barbell on the rack. Take a shoulder-width grip of the barbell, or one finger closer, but do not place your hands any closer than this because it will place unnecessary strain on the elbows and wrists. If you are using weight that may be challenging, recruit a spotter to be prepared to assist in unracking and re-racking the barbell as well as help lift the bar if you get stuck.

Stick your chest up, keep the feet flat on the floor, and unrack the barbell so it is over your chest at arms’ length. Slowly lower the barbell to your chest and pause briefly. While keeping your elbows tucked in, press the barbell back up until your arms are straight and the triceps are supporting the weight. Repeat for the desired reps and return the barbell to the rack when you finish.

Bonus Tip: This exercise can also be performed on a Smith Machine if needed. There are also bench blocks that you can place on the barbell that will restrict the range of motion if you have shoulder issues while benching. These can be very helpful in maximizing the effects of the exercise.

Overhead Dumbbell Extension

You don’t want to work both arms simultaneously all the time. Each arm needs its own attention so you can develop each side and help maximize balance and symmetry. This is why single arm movements are great.

The overhead dumbbell extension will help you do just that, and you can focus on the long head of the tricep, which is most active when the arms are up vertically. There is a two-arm version of this movement, but the single arm version is your best bet.

How to Perform: Take a dumbbell and hold it at arms’ length over your head. Your palm should be facing in front of you at the starting position. Slowly bend the elbow and lower the dumbbell behind your head as far as you safely can without moving the upper arm. Once you reach the lowest point, you should feel a stretch in the back of the arm.

Slowly reverse the motion and use your triceps to lift the weight back up to the starting position. Once your arm is straight, flex the tricep as hard as you can. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

Bonus Tip: This can also be done with a kettlebell, cable or with a resistance band with one end under your foot and the other in the hand. Some gyms will also have tricep extension machines you could consider.

Triceps Pushdown

This is a very versatile exercise because you can use a variety of handles. You can use a rope to focus on the horseshoe look of the triceps, or you can use an angled bar to support your wrists. A straight bar is also a great option as an assistance exercise for pressing.

Furthermore, you can use pushdowns at the beginning of the workout to warm up your elbows or at the end to pump a lot of blood into the back of the arms and maximize that pump. The workout we share at the end actually includes both.

How to Perform: Place the desired attachment to the end of the cable and choose your weight on the stack. Secure the handle in the hands and step away from the stack so the pinned weight can not touch the rest of the stack. Keep the upper arms close to the body with the elbows bent.

Using force in your triceps, push the handle down towards the floor until your arms are straight. Squeeze the triceps hard at this point before reversing the motion to the starting position. Release the tension slowly to allow the handle to return to the top. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

Bonus Tip: If you don’t have access to cables, you can also use resistance bands like the Iron Bull Strength Monster Bands for this one. Wrap the band around a high bar or object that will allow the band to stay in place, secure the ends of the band in your hands and perform the similar motion. You could even place handles on the ends of the band to give you more options for holding it.

Sample Triceps Workout for Mass and Power

This workout can be performed once a week if you’re a beginner or even twice a week if you’re advanced in training. Three to five days in between workouts are recommended, however. This five-exercise workout should take you around 45 minutes if you keep rest periods under 90 seconds.

Exercise Sets Reps
Rope Pushdown 3 12-15
Dips 3 8-10 reps with bodyweight or with resistance
Close Grip Bench Press 2 10-12
Overhead Dumbbell Extension  2 10-12
Angled Bar Triceps Pushdown 3 20


Training triceps should be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. You can use the basic movements and push yourself each workout to see progress in both size and strength. These five movements are the best triceps exercises that will help you have the best workouts so you can feel more confident when you rock those sleeveless shirts.