These 8 easy exercises target the body area many of you told us you're most conscious of

·9-min read

Tricep exercises are a fundamental part of arm day. Fact. Did you know that the tricep muscle makes up 60% of your upper arm? Yep, really. That said, we know that moving from blanket 'upper body workouts' to more muscle-specific sessions like tricep exercises and tricep workouts can be confusing – so let's get some basics squared away before we dive into the best tricep exercises to build serious strength, including dumbbell tricep exercises, bodyweight tricep exercises and kettlebell tricep exercises.

Where are the tricep muscles that tricep exercises work?

The tricep muscle that you work in tricep exercises lies along the back of your upper arm and, as mentioned, is a major muscle. It's twice the size of the bicep muscles and has more muscle fibres per square inch, so targeting the triceps with tricep exercises is crucial for building a strong upper body. As the name 'tricep' suggests, the muscle is formed of three heads: the lateral, medial and long head. These are all put to work with tricep exercises.

Like every part of your body, to build a universally strong upper body you need all your arm muscles working in tandem, so if up until this point tricep exercises haven't made your weekly workout cut, you're probably doing yourself a disservice when it comes to increasing strength.

Why are tricep exercises important?

Granted, the tricep muscle is only one muscle (in comparison the bicep muscle is three different muscles), but due to its large surface size and function, it's essential to performing movements such as press-ups, overhead extensions and dips (all some of the best and most effective tricep exercises, FYI) correctly, and with proper form and without injuring yourself. If you're new to tricep exercises, you'll feel a difference almost straight away - your press-ups, for example, will feel easier, since you'll be aware of what it feels like for the tricep muscle to engage, and so you can put it to work.

What's more, according to the WH annual Naked Survey back in 2018, many women reported the tricep area as the one they're most self-conscious about, so if we can help with that, you bet we will.

Aesthetics aside, the tricep muscle is important in everyday activity – you'll use it in all sorts of tasks, from picking things up off the floor (your latest Argos haul, maybe..?), to reaching for something overhead (like the top shelf, where you know your housemate stashes the good biscuits), so making an upper-body workout even more specific and targeting your triceps only to make a tricep workout could be beneficial.

What are the benefits of doing tricep exercises?

There are so many benefits to including tricep exercises in regular rotation, but these are the main ones to keep in mind:

  • Build and sculpt upper body muscle

  • Increased upper body strength

  • Improved range of motion

  • Increased flexibility

  • Improves stability of other upper body muscles

Can you do tricep exercises and bicep exercises together?

It makes sense that most people train their triceps and biceps in one, and there's nothing wrong with that. In fact, personal trainer and founder of Body Beautiful Method, Aimee Victoria Long, advises against doing tricep exercises in isolation.

'I wouldn't train triceps on their own. Instead, incorporate some tricep exercises into an upper body session,' she explains. 'Or if you split your upper body sessions into push and pull sessions, perform them on a push day.'

Learn everything you need to know about workout splits with our handy guide. It'll teach you how to split up your weekly workout routine in a way that works towards your goals.

8 best tricep exercises to do at home or in the gym

So, whether you’re after stronger arms or more obvious muscle definition these are the best tricep exercises, dumbbell tricep exercises and kettlebell tricep exercises to perform. STAT.

Dumbbell tricep exercises

1. Tricep kickbacks

a) Start standing with a dumbbell in each hand, arms bent at 90 degrees and palms facing each other. Keep a slight bend in your knees.

b) Engage your core and hinge at the waist to tilt your torso slightly forwards. Focus on keeping your spine neutral – that's no arching or rounding of the back, and tucking your chin slightly.

c) Keeping your arms close to your body, straighten your arms to push the weight back behind you. Bare careful not to flare your elbows or move your upper arm. No swinging!

d) Pause for a moment before reversing the move to bring the weights back to your starting point.

2. Tricep extensions

a) Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold one dumbbell with both hands above your head.

b) Slowly lower the weight behind your head, flexing at the elbows and keeping your upper arms still.

c) Extend your arms back to the starting position.

3. Tricep floor press

a) Lying flat on the floor, place your knees upwards and feet flat on the floor.

b) Holding a dumbbell in each hand, hold your weights by your shoulders. Slowly extend your arms towards the ceiling and hold, then extend the weights back down towards your shoulders. Repeat.

4. Single tricep kickback

a) Start standing with a dumbbell in one hand, weighted arm bent at 90 degrees and palm facing each inwards. Keep a slight bend in your knees.

b) Engage your core and hinge at the waist to tilt your torso slightly forwards. Focus on keeping your spine neutral – that's no arching or rounding of the back, and tucking your chin slightly.

c) Keeping your arm close to your body, straighten your arm to push the weight back behind you. Be careful not to flare your elbows or move your upper arm. No swinging!

d) Pause for a moment before reversing the move to bring the weight back to your starting point.

Kettlebell tricep exercises

5. Kettlebell tricep floor press

a) Lying flat on the floor, place your knees upwards and feet flat on the floor.

b) Holding a kettlebell by the handle in one hand, hold the weight by your shoulders. Slowly extend your arm towards the ceiling and hold, then extend the weight back down towards your shoulder. Repeat.

Bodyweight tricep exercises

6. Push up

a) Get into a plank position, with your hands under but slightly outside of your shoulders. Lower your body until your chest nearly touches the floor.

b) As you lower yourself, tuck your elbows, pulling them close to your body so that your upper arms form a 45-degree angle when your torso is in the bottom position of the move. Pause, then push back to the starting position as quickly as possible. Keep your core braced the entire time.

c) If your hips sag at any point during the exercise, your form has been broken. When this happens, consider that your last repetition and end the set.

7. Diamond push up

a) Get into a high plank position with your hands directly under your shoulders.

b) Bring each hand directly under your chest with thumbs and forefingers touching to create a diamond shape.

c) From here, lower your body until your chest almost touches the floor, keeping your elbows tucked into the sides of your body.

d) Pause, then push directly up to starting position.

8. Push up on bent knees

a) Get into a plank position, with your hands under but slightly outside of your shoulders. Drop your knees to the floor so that your body forms a high diagonal from shoulders to hips.

b) Keeping your elbows tucked close to your body, lower down until your chest nearly touches the floor. Your upper arms should form a 45-degree angle when your torso is in the bottom position of the move. Pause, then push back to the starting position as quickly as possible. Keep your core braced the entire time.

If your hips sag at any point during the exercise, your form has been broken. When this happens, consider that your last repetition and end the set.

How to do a tricep workout

Choose six of the above tricep exercises to form a tricep workout. Do each tricep exercise for 12 reps, then move onto the next tricep exercise without resting. Take a 30-second rest, then repeat from the top, and do the whole thing again with another 30-second rest after your second round to make three rounds.

How to do tricep exercises at home

Training your triceps at home doesn't have to be second fiddle to your gym-based arm workouts. In fact, every single one of the moves listed above can be performed at home.

(No weights bench? Use the edge of your sofa. No dumbbells? Focus on the bodyweight moves such as tricep dips or reverse plank dips.)

However, one thing to note is that varying the exercises you're doing will help target the muscle from a number of angles and prevent your body from becoming too used to the movement patterns.

'There are many variations you can play around with’, says Georgia Legg, Trainer at Equilibrium Total Balance. 'Changing your tricep exercises up keeps your training programme fresh and achieves muscle even tone'.

Do you need to use weights for tricep exercises?

Not at all, says Long. 'I love bodyweight training – you can play around with the speed of your lifts to make the exercise harder or easier.'

Is there anyone who shouldn't do tricep exercises?

'Unless you suffer from a tricep issue or rotator cuff injury it is always a good idea to train your triceps in some form,' says Long. 'If you have a shoulder injury I’d suggest visiting a physiotherapist who can provide a correct rehab programme to follow before looking to progress into tricep specific exercises.'

How often should I do tricep exercises?

TBH, it varies entirely. Most of whether you should stick to a workout split (i.e. doing upper body on a particular day, lower body on another and full body on another) comes down to your goal.

'There are many benefits to using a workout split,' says Maira Miranda, personal trainer at national gym chain, Fitness First. 'One key benefit is that specific areas can be trained more accurately, which can lead to an increase of training intensity for that area. As a result, the person is likely to see greater improvements depending on what they are training for.

'A person training to build muscle will be able to train each different area, on different days, which will give the ideal stimulus to promote hypertrophy (break down of muscle tissue) whilst still allowing for recovery and adaptation (the new muscle tissue grown from the hypertrophy process). In addition, using a workout split can help to prevent overtraining issues such as muscular injury, stress and feelings of being over fatigued.'

If you're new to tricep exercises but already follow a workout split, start incorporating them in your upper body (or push workout) days. This might be more than once a week, depending on how often you already train upper body.

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