Most of those wanting to build massive arms reach for the dumbbells and bust out curl after curl after curl. It’s an OK strategy as building your biceps will definitely help towards filling out you sleeves. But it would be a mistake to focus most of your attention here, as its not even half of the getting big guns equation.
Triceps you see actually make up much more of the muscle in the upper arms, nearly two thirds to put a number on it. It therefore makes far more sense to focus the majority of your efforts here. Another bonus to showing your triceps the love is that for the majority of people, they respond much better to training than their bicep counterparts. This means you are more likely to see bigger and faster gains.
The tricep is actually really the triceps with an ‘s’. Not because you have two arms, but because as the ‘tri’ in the name suggests, the muscle is really made up of three muscles. These are often referred to as ‘heads’ and consist of the medial, lateral and long heads.
We are big fans of compound exercises and recommend to anyone wanting bigger arms to include a compound pressing exercise such as a barbell or dumbbell press. This is because in addition to your chest and shoulders, these pressing movements also heavily engage all three heads of your triceps.
These can be enough to get some good gains, however if you have been training for some time or have reached a plateau, adding some more targeted or isolating exercises can be a good course of action.
We understand that your time is precious and you want results as fast as possible, so we have you covered with the best tricep exercises we know of. These are proven to have the highest muscle activation and should trigger some nice growth.
The Best Tricep Exercises for Mass
Anything with a name as cool as this has to be good right? Seriously though, skull crushers are one of the best tricep exercises and they are great at isolating the long and medial heads and building some mass.
It’s very important that you keep you elbows tucked in during the movement and are only moving your forearms throughout. Failing to do this will take the emphasis off of your triceps and it will end up working an array of other muscles.
The only downside to this exercise is that for some, it can be a bit sore on the elbows. If you find this to be the case, make sure you are only using an EZ bar and never a straight bar.
The bend in the EZ bar makes for a far more comfortable position for both your elbows and your wrists. If pain persists, see your doctor. Just kidding, but if your elbows are still sore even when using an EZ bar, you may be best to move on. Don’t worry though, we have some more excellent choices that will give the same results.
If you are really wanting to overload your triceps, you really can’t get much better than dips. Leaning forward puts the focus more on to your chest so for your triceps, you are going to want to stay and move in a more upright position.
The great thing with dips is you are working all three of the triceps heads at the same time. If you were short on time this is one of the better go-to exercises for blasting your triceps.
Body weighted dips are usually more than enough for beginner and intermediate lifters, but once you find yourself being able to complete more than 12 repetitions for multiple sets, you can look to add weight. Most gyms should have a weight belt of sorts that will allow you to attach extra poundage, but simply holding a dumbbell between you legs achieves the same result.
Close-grip Bench Press
Another great exercise that targets all three of your tricep heads at once, putting it right up there with dips. As the name suggests, you use a closer grip than the conventional bench press, but how close is close and is there such thing as too close?
Aim for about 10-12 inches between you hands. Any closer than this and its going to put too much pressure on your wrists, not only making it painful, but stopping you from loading up the bar as much as you could. A grip that is too close has been shown to not target your triceps any better, so there is absolutely no benefit whatsoever in trying this.
Elbows are once again also key in the movement and need to be kept tucked in throughout.
Overhead Tricep Extension
This is a great free weight isolation exercise. We recommend using a chair or a weight bench with back support. They can be done standing, but this puts a lot more strain on the back so you will need to reduce the weight considerably.
Again with the elbows – Try and keep these as close together throughout and avoid flaring them out. Do not rest at the top of the movement by locking the elbows. Instead, you want to keep constant tension on the muscles by not going to a full lock.
One of the hardest parts to this exercise is getting the weight to and from the starting position. Having a training partner makes it much easier as they can hand it to, and take it from you, when you are ready.
If you don’t have a training partner, it is best to practice getting the dumbbell into position with a much lighter weight first. Move it from your lap up onto the top of your shoulder where you can then adjust your hand position for the press.
You Do The Math
With your triceps making up the majority of the muscle mass in your arms, it makes sense to dedicate some time to making sure you are working them out as best you can.
If you have been working out for a while now and are looking to complement your existing compound exercises of barbell and dumbbell presses, than look no further than these 4 exercises. They really are the best tricep exercises for triggering growth and will get you to Hulk-like shirt tearing arms, much faster than just focusing on your biceps alone.