People tend to focus on the biceps and neglect the triceps, which is a shame, because while the biceps are glamor muscles that offer little functionally, the triceps make up two-thirds of the upper arm and are a big component in compound exercises like bench press and pushups.

The typical triceps exercises are dips and overhead extensions, but because the elbow joint is prone to inflammation and injury and the shoulder joint is so complex that any imbalance or tightness can cause more pain, the more triceps exercises you have in your repertoire, the better you can work around any troublesome movements. It’s always best to perform warm up sets for this same reason, too.

To really make those triceps pop, try these exercises that will hit them from all angles, with both push and pull movements.

Lying Tricep pushups: These look like you're struggling to get off the floor, but they are a great bodyweight exercise that will burn out your triceps fast. Plus, because they are unilateral, meaning you work one side at a time, you even out any strength imbalances.

Skullcrushers: Form is always key, but it’s even more important here to make sure the triceps are doing the work and not your shoulder joint. Keep your elbows directly over your shoulders at all times and aim to bring the weight directly to your forehead (without literally crushing your skull, of course.)

 

Rope pushdowns: Give the straight bar a break and use the rope attachment for your pulldowns. By twisting and pronating the wrist while splaying the rope outward, the contraction is even more accentuated. You can do these overhead as well to change the angle of the pull.

Close Grip Bench Press: The bench press works your triceps but specifically targets the chest and core. Switching to a close grip, however, puts more stress on the triceps leading to new growth and more strength. You can also do close grip pushups (diamond pushups) and get the same effect.

by Kelly Turner

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