Best Triceps Workout for Mass and Size

The Best Triceps Workout for Mass and Size

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Anyone who has ever gone to the gym for, say, an HIIT workout, has seen a nearly endless sea of guys doing nothing but bicep work.

Curls for the gurls, they might say. Bringing that dumbbell up then back down. Pick up heavy things and put them back down.

Sure, big biceps are nice.

But there are more than just biceps in your arm.

The opposite muscles to the biceps are the triceps.

If you want the best looking arms, you need to focus on your triceps as well!

Triceps and You

Triceps are an antagonist of the bicep muscles.

This basically means that they counterbalance the biceps and do the opposite type of movement.

So, while biceps help you bring your forearm toward you, triceps are responsible for extending the forearm.

Your triceps are actually three muscle groups that act together and all attach to the elbow; the Long Head, Medial Head, and Lateral Head.

So, you can’t get huge triceps with just one movement. You need to work out all three bundles!

You can read more about the anatomy of your triceps here.


First, you gotta warm yourself up.

Start with some stretches then do some light cardio to get the blood flowing through your body.

Once that’s done you can move on to the exercises.

The Exercises

This routine involves dumbbells, a barbell, and potentially some parallel bars or a dip station.

So, it might be easiest to do this routine at the gym.

For those of you stuck in your dorm room, you can get it done with dumbbells.

If you do this, however, skip the Military Press and just add another set to the Overhead Triceps Extension and Close-Grip Bench Press.

Pay attention to how you feel. You want a burn, not pain.

If you feel pain at the elbow or shoulder, especially after a popping sensation, stop and take care of your body.

We want you to be healthy!

The Program

cap barbell empty bar pyramid workout

Start light to get strong

You want big, strong triceps, right?

For maximum effect and hypertrophy, I recommend pyramid sets.

Pyramids combine heavy weights, warm-ups, and large volumes for bigger muscles in less time!

Set 1: No weight on the bar or use your lightest dumbbell, 15 reps.

Set 2: Light weight, 12 reps.

Set 3: More weight, 10 reps.

Set 4: Even more weight, 8 reps.

Set 5: Maximum weight! 6 reps.

Each time you should have enough weight on there that you can finish the set but wouldn’t be able to do a few more reps.

Overhead Triceps Extension

You can do this exercise while seated or standing.

Grab a dumbbell and bring it behind your head.

Hold it with both hands and keep your elbows next to your head (but not crowding it).

Breathe out while lifting the dumbbell above your head.

Pause at the top then breathe in while lowering it back behind your head.

Keep those elbows still as you perform this exercise and maintain a straight back!

You can also do this exercise with a cable machine.

Close-Grip Bench Press

With most exercises, you can hit different muscles by changing the form slightly.Close grip barbell bench press tricep workout big muscles

A closer grip tends to work the triceps more.

So, let’s do close-grip bench presses!

It’s like a normal bench press but you want your hands as close in together as you can comfortably bring them.

With dumbbells, touch them together (well, almost together. Don’t be the ‘clinking’ guy).

With a barbell, keep a little distance between your hands. Otherwise, you may lose the bar’s balance and send it flying!

Bring the weight to your chest (a spotter may be helpful). Push it away from you while breathing out then control its descent while breathing in.

Military Press

The overhead shoulder press is a great exercise for shoulders.

This variant, which has historically been used to measure the strength of soldiers, is a variant that hits the triceps harder.

You can’t do this one with a dumbbell.

Well, you can, but it won’t focus on the triceps as well. So, grab that barbell.

Stand straight up.

Some people say that your heels need to be touching, others say that feet shoulder width is okay.

Seated military overhead shoulder press tricep exercise

You can try it sitting down as well

Start with the bar on your upper chest and your hands just wider than shoulder width.

Press the bar straight up while breathing out. Your elbows should be slightly bent at the top of the movement.

Go slow and use no momentum whatsoever. Your form needs to be very tight!

Pause at the top then slowly drop the bar back to your chest while breathing in.

Repeat until you’ve finished the set.

With a heavier weight on the bar, it can be helpful to start with the bar on a squat rack.

Tricep Dips

You can do these on a dip machine, with parallel bars, or on the edge of a chair.

Whatever you use, it should be stable. No rolling chairs!

Face away from the object and put your hands on it, shoulder-width apart.

Keep your legs bent and your heels on the ground.

Your arms should start straight, with a slight bend in the elbows. Also, keep your shoulders down!

Bend your elbows until they reach a 90-degree angle. Breathe in at the same time.

Pause, then press through your arms to raise yourself again while breathing out. That’s one rep.

For a slightly harder variation, don’t bend your knees. Remember not to push using your legs, though.

Once these are easy, you can add either a weighted vest or a dip belt to make them harder.

Diamond Push-Ups

Because this isn’t a weighted exercise, don’t worry about doing pyramids with this one.

It’s like a normal push-up, except with your hands together, under your chest.

Get on the ground, on your hands and toes.

The best hand position is with both hands forming an L. Your forefingers should touch each other’s tips.

Same with the thumbs.

Some people find it more comfortable to not extend the thumbs, but the hands should still be in the same position.

Keep your elbows at your sides and keep your head, back, and legs all in a straight line.

Then, lower yourself until you almost hit the ground while breathing out.

triceps diamond triangle push press up

Staff Sgt. Chris Moore demonstrating a diamond push up

If you have trouble getting low enough, have someone place their fist under your chest. You should touch it.

Pause at the bottom, then raise yourself while breathing in.

Not too quickly now!

Stop at the top. That’s one rep.

Perform 3-5 sets of 8-12 reps each.

If you have trouble getting in one set of 8 reps, use your knees instead of your toes.

However, if it gets too easy, you can add weight.

A weighted vest works, or you can wear your backpack.

The more textbooks, the harder the exercise!


Now that you’re done with the hard part, let’s cool ourselves off.

Do some light cardio, some stretches, then hit the shower.


Not all of these exercises isolated the triceps, but they all hit them. So, your triceps will be nice and sore!

Be sure to consume some protein and maybe some other supplements to maximize your muscle growth.

Keep at it and you’ll get large, well-balanced arms before you know it!