Tricep Workouts You Can Do at Home

As the name implies, Triceps are composed of three muscles. Although the main functions of the triceps are supporting the shoulder joint and elbow extension, each of the muscles plays a distinct role. And understanding their distinct roles will show why certain exercises target singular heads of the triceps muscle. 

Several lifters and bodybuilders neglect their triceps. If you desire to have huge arms and real, utilitarian strength, your tricep has to be well-developed.

Some portions of the triceps are noticeable from different directions. So hitting different areas of the triceps can also get your arms to their max size and strength. 

Read this post to find out everything you need to know about how the triceps are built, their purpose, and how you can develop them through workouts you can do at home. 

Basic Anatomy of the Triceps

The triceps brachii covers the length of the upper arm from the scapula in your shoulder down to your elbow joint. Although it is just one muscle, there are three different muscles (also called heads) of the triceps: the long head, medial head, and lateral head

The long head of the triceps is on the interior of your arm while the lateral head is on the surface. The medial head, on the other hand, is in the middle between the other two. Although many lifters hit their biceps when they want to get bigger arms, the triceps brachii covers about ⅔ of the total muscle mass of your upper arm. 

What Do the Triceps Muscles Do?

The triceps are composed of three heads and are held for extension of the elbow joint which straightens your arm.

This is essential during pressing actions like bench pressing or doing dips and push-ups. In sports, the triceps are used in activities like driving into a lineman during football or shooting a basketball.

Building the Triceps Muscle

If you aspire to possess huge arms, you have to supply the different heads of the triceps brachii with a workout.

The lateral head of the triceps is most evident from the side. Meanwhile, the long head makes up the bulk of the size and mass of the triceps. The medial head is only noticeable on the rear of the arm near the elbow since the other two heads cover it. Nonetheless it’s essential for stability.

Hitting each of the three heads of the triceps needs a slight difference in exercises. The long head of the triceps uses more strength when the shoulder joint is at 0°, while the medial and lateral heads move in when the shoulder is opened above a 90° angle. Moreover, the medial head requires more work than the lateral head at higher angles.

When we talk about the angle of the shoulder, we’re speaking about the angle formed in your armpit. Put both hands up to a 12 o’clock position above your head placing your shoulders at 180 degrees. 

What Muscles Work With the Triceps?

Nearby muscles and muscle groups that usually help the triceps comprise the biceps, pecs, the brachialis in your forearm, the latissimus dorsi in your armpits, and the trapezius muscles on the heads of your shoulders. Working out these muscles along with the triceps will develop more functional upper body strength compared to triceps isolation exercises alone. 

Luckily, most triceps exercises already include the activation of these muscles. Some excellent compound exercises will provide all these muscles a tough workout.

Warm-Up and Stretch

Warmups and stretching are an essential part of any workout.

Try doing 5 to 10 minutes of cardio to get the blood flow going. Then, do some triceps warmup exercises, like 20 triceps extensions or kickbacks without applying any weight.

Attach an overhead stretch on your routine by raising one arm toward the ceiling and then bending it at the elbow so your hand goes behind your head. Use your other arm to lightly tug on your bent elbow to extend your triceps.

At-Home Triceps Workouts

If you’ve been doing overhead extensions on repeat when arm day comes around, we wouldn’t criticize you for wanting to overlook those triceps.

After all, without access to a gym and its lavish equipment, it’s pretty much difficult to work those tricky underarm muscles, right?

That’s why we made this list of workouts you can perform with dumbbells, a resistance band, or a good old-fashioned bodyweight. Mix and match whatever routine you like and scroll to the bottom for a foolproof workout recipe.

Close-grip (narrow-grip) push-up

  1. Begin in a strong plank position with your abs tight and your body in a straight line from your heels to the top of your head. 
  2. Position your hands closer than shoulder-width apart but not touching, or in a diamond shape (we’ll get to diamond push-ups in a minute).
  3. Keep your elbows close to the torso as you lower yourself to the floor and as you push back up to the starting position.

PRO TIP: You’ll gain a good ab workout if you keep them firm for the entirety of this exercise. Tight abs also keep your hips from sagging, which can distort your lower back.

Diamond (or triangle) push-up

  1. Begin in a plank position, keeping your spine in a straight line and your abs tight. 
  2. Put your hands directly beneath your chest with pointer fingers and thumbs touching, creating a diamond shape.
  3. Keep your elbows close to your torso as you lower yourself to the floor and as you push back up to the starting position.

PRO TIP: Try not to widen your elbows out. Keep them as close as possible to your torso to activate your triceps.

Pike push-up

  1. Begin in a Downward-Facing Dog
  2. Press your hands and feet into the floor and raise your glutes toward the ceiling, forming a triangle with your body. (This is probably the only push-up stance in which you want your glutes and hips higher than your torso.)
  3. Keeping your hips up, bend your elbows and lower your body until your elbows are almost touching the floor. Gently push yourself back up to the starting position.

PRO TIP: You can raise the difficulty by elevating your feet.

Bodyweight triceps extension

  1. Begin in a forearm plank position with your elbows under your shoulders and hands out in front of your body. 
  2. Pressing through your hands, raise your body into a high plank position, and then gently lower until your elbows touch the floor again.

PRO TIP: Your hands should be in front of your body rather than below your shoulders. Otherwise, you’d be in a standard push-up or plank. Go slow and have your elbows tucked into your torso to hit your triceps.

High-low plank (or walking plank)

  1. Begin in a plank position with your hands right below your shoulders. 
  2. Lower your right forearm to the floor, with your elbow right below your shoulder. 
  3. Lower your left forearm to the floor. You should now be in a forearm plank pose.
  4. Place your right hand under your right shoulder and then your left hand under your left shoulder, pressing back into a high plank position.

Perform 1 set leading with your right hand and another set leading with your left hand.

PRO TIP: Keep your hips balanced (no swaying) and your abs tight throughout the exercise.

Bench triceps dip

You will be needing a couch, bench, or sturdy chair for this exercise.

  1. Sit on the bench. 
  2. Put your hands on the bench, with thumbs next to your hips and fingers pointing toward the floor. 
  3. Extend your legs straight in front of you and move your glutes in front of the bench so your body weight leans on your hands.
  4. Slowly lower your body until your elbows reach a 90-degree angle, then press back up into the starting position.

PRO TIP: You can execute this exercise easier by bending your knees or harder by putting your feet on a chair so both your upper and lower body are raised.

Triceps bow (aka dive bomber)

  1. Set your hands shoulder-width apart holding a bar or the edge of a counter or table to get into a plank position.
  2. With your elbows at the sides of your torso, keep your back and head straight as you bend your elbows to bring your head under the bar, counter, or table.
  3. Raise your body back up into the starting position.

PRO TIP: The farther your feet are from the bar, the more challenging this exercise will be.

Triceps kickback

  1. Holding a dumbbell in both of your hands in a neutral grip (with palms facing each other), slightly bend your knees and lean forward at your hips. (Keep abs firm and head in line with your spine. Your body should almost be parallel to the floor.)
  2. Tuck your upper arms close to your body and hold the dumbbells at a 90-degree angle. 
  3. Straighten your arms while isolating your triceps. Then place your hands back to the starting position.

PRO TIP: Your upper arms along with your elbows should remain still to completely contract your triceps.

Double dumbbell skull crusher (Lying overhead triceps extension)

  1. Lie on the floor or a bench, holding a dumbbell on both hands in a neutral grip. 
  2. Extend your arms straight toward the ceiling.
  3. Keeping your upper arms and elbows steady (you should only move them as little as possible), bend at your elbows, gently lowering the dumbbells to a 90-degree angle.
  4. Slowly set your arms back (and the dumbbells) to the starting position.

PRO TIP: Keep your knees bent to limit uncomfortable tension on your lower back.

Overhead triceps extension

This exercise can be performed standing or seated.

  1. Hold the dumbbells overhead in a neutral grip with your arms straight and your feet hip-width apart. 
  2. With your upper arms by ears and the dumbbells touching, bend your elbows, dropping the weights behind your head.
  3. Drive the weights back up to the starting position.

PRO TIP: Keep your upper arms as still and steady as possible to fully isolate your triceps.

Dumbbell floor press

  1. Lie on the floor with your knees bent. 
  2. Holding the dumbbells in an overhand grip, place your triceps on the floor so your arms are at 90-degree angles.
  3. Press the dumbbells toward the ceiling, carefully touching them as your arms are fully extended. 
  4. Gently bring them back to the starting position.

PRO TIP: This exercise takes the pressure off your shoulders while working your chest and arms.

Close-grip dumbbell press

  1. Lie on the floor with your knees bent. 
  2. Take a single dumbbell with both hands over your chest.
  3. Press the weight toward the ceiling until your arms are completely extended. 
  4. Gently take the dumbbell back to the starting position.

PRO TIP: This exercise also works your chest.

Triceps kickback with resistance band

Yes, we did this one with dumbbells, but resistance bands raise the challenge as you approach the apex of the kickback.

  1. Stand on the center of the band, holding one end or handle in each hand. Bend your knees. Bend at your waist while keeping your spine, neck, and head straight.
  2. Keeping your upper body steady, put your upper arms against the torso and your hands near to your chest or at a 90-degree angle.
  3. Drive your hands behind you until your arms are straight. 
  4. Bring your hands back to the starting position.

PRO TIP: Your upper arms must be stationary throughout this exercise. You can also increase the resistance by gripping the resistance bands closer to your feet.

Resistance band triceps pushdown

Resistance bands are used as a perfect alternative to the high cable pulley you’d use at the gym.

Install the resistance band at the midpoint to an overhead object like a pull-up bar, a clothes rod, or at any sturdy door anchor (like the one that swings over the top of your bathroom door for some extra towels).

  1. Facing the anchor point and holding one end of the resistance band on both hands, tuck your elbows in close to the torso. Bend at your elbows so your hands are at your chest.
  2. Adjust your grip so there’s a lot of tension created in the band. 
  3. Press your hands down, retaining your elbows firmly in one place at your sides. Gently return to the starting position.

PRO TIP Keep your abs firm, back straight, and your elbows close to your body to isolate your triceps.

Overhead press in a resistance band

  1. With your left foot, stand on one end of the resistance band. 
  2. Hold the other end with your left hand, and with your hand behind your head. You should sense a slight pressure in the band.
  3. Aim your left elbow toward the ceiling as you completely extend your left arm. 
  4. Slowly lower your left hand back to the starting position. 

After performing reps on one side, repeat the same process on the other side.

PRO TIP: You can adjust the resistance of the band by shortening or lengthening your grip on the resistance band.

Reverse resistance plank with triceps dip

  1. Sit on the floor having your legs extended in front of you. 
  2. Set the resistance band over your thighs, with the ends on the floor. 
  3. Lay your hands on top of the ends of the band, with your fingers pointed forward.
  4. Bend your elbows and use your glutes and legs to elevate your hips until your body forms a straight line heel to head. Your pelvis should push into the band.
  5. At the top of the plank, perform 10 small triceps dips by bending and straightening your arms at your elbows.

PRO TIP: If completing this exercise hurts your wrists, take it down to your forearms.

Plank triceps kickback

Secure the resistance band to a chair, couch, or any sturdy object in front of you.

  1. Begin in a single-arm forearm plank position. 
  2. Hold the resistance band with one hand, holding your elbow tight to the torso. 
  3. Keep your shoulder and elbow still as you align your arm in a kickback motion.
  4. Repeat the process on the other side.

PRO TIP: Keep your elbow close to your torso at all times to isolate your triceps.

What Happens When You Overuse Your Triceps?

Overusing your triceps can produce muscle strain and inflammation in the tendons. This can result in injury and tenderness that can prolong if you keep on bending your arm.

Also, you may feel some pain with muscle contraction while aligning your arm. Placing ice on the injured area for 10 to 15 minutes can help lessen pain and swelling.

Triceps Tendon Injury

Your triceps muscle doesn’t receive as much attention as it’s relative, the biceps.

While both are in the upper arm, the triceps muscle sets in the back of your arm. It contracts, enabling you to extend your arm. It also helps keep your shoulder joint in place.

The muscle is made of three heads; hence, the name “triceps.”

These three heads meet together and form a tendon that connects the muscle to your elbow. Other tendons connect the three heads to the shoulder blade (scapula) and upper arm bone.

Triceps tendon injuries most often include injury at the elbow attachment site. Triceps tendinitis, also known as the inflammation and irritation of the tendon, is a more familiar triceps injury than a triceps tendon tear (a.k.a. rupture or avulsion). Such tears are not normal, but they do affect more men than women.

Having specific chronic illnesses (like diabetes) can raise your risk of sustaining an injury to the triceps tendon.

If you sustained a mild injury, you may not see any signs right away or they may develop progressively. The signs and symptoms of a mild or severe injury, like elbow pain and swelling, will resemble right away.

A triceps tendon injury may heal on its own but it’s not impossible that you will need surgery to repair it.

How Can You Tell if You Have Injured Triceps?

The most prevalent symptom of a triceps tendon injury is pain in the elbow. If the injury is small, it may only feel like an ache. But the more serious the injury is, the more rigid the pain will be.

With a full rupture of the tendon, X-ray imaging may also show signs of elbow fracture with a torn triceps tendon. Clinicians describe it as the flake sign, a tiny bone fragment off the tip (olecranon) of the elbow. MRI may be required to diagnose partial triceps tears.

Other symptoms of a triceps tendon injury may cover:

  • Aching in the elbow that develops when you use your arm and eases when you rest
  • Immediate, sharp tearing sensation in the elbow
  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Muscle spasms in the arm
  • Difficulty to fully extend the arm

A triceps tendon injury is not considered a medical emergency. However, early diagnosis enables you to start treatment more quickly and increases your chances of a successful improvement.

How is a Triceps Tendon Injury Treated?

Orthopedic specialists normally treat triceps tendonitis and partial tears conservatively, which means no surgery. You and your doctor may choose what surgical procedure to take if you are an elite athlete or you have a labor-intensive job that requires lifting.

Nonsurgical treatment involves resting your elbow and restricting the number of repetitive motions. Ice is applied every 20 minutes every few hours, reducing triceps irritation and pain. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen also work to lessen inflammation and pain.

Your doctor may prescribe a splint to have your elbow stable for a week or two. Another option is orthopedic rehabilitation or physical therapy activities after the initial inflammation and pain subside.

If you have a partial tear, you may require yourself to immobilize your elbow for up to six weeks, supported by physical therapy. Full tendon tears normally require surgical repair. Surgery should be done within a month of the injury for optimal healing. An orthopedic surgeon fixes the tendon or reattaches it to the bone, while physical therapy can help with recovery.

Final Thoughts

It doesn’t take much to grow a small muscle group like your triceps. Persistence and switching up your routine every 3 to 4 weeks should be adequate for a noticeable difference.

A steady routine that involves a warmup, stretching, and a series of triceps exercises will have those underarms firm and lean.

Plus, your triceps aren’t the only single muscle group that will get more solid. Your shoulders, biceps, and pectoral muscles usually activate when you’re working your triceps.