Experts reckon these tricep exercises are the only 6 *actually* worth your time

Try from at home or the gym.

Two women performing an arm workout, one of the best tricep exercises
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Are you looking for the best tricep exercises for stronger arms? Of course you are - arm exercises that target your biceps and triceps are some of the most well-known and accessible forms of weight training. After all, most of us have heard of bicep curls and tricep dips, haven't we?

While you'll likely know how to do bodyweight exercises, ab exercises, and resistance band exercises, - even dumbbell exercises and kettlebell exercises might be on your radar - but things like shoulder exercises and bicep exercises might feel more alien.

The good news is that tricep exercises are super easy to do, and also a really great way to support and balance out the rest of your upper body training.

According to a 2022 paper from the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine, our triceps are used to contract and extend our elbows and stabilise our shoulder blades. They are used in any form of pushing movement, whether that's press ups, pushing doors open, or pulling a suitcase, so performing tricep exercises that strengthen the back of the arms is really important for day-to-day comfort, improved posture and overall strength in the gym. 

As well as doing compound pushing exercises like those press ups we mentioned or chest press exercises that target multiple pushing muscles in your body, you can isolate your triceps for arm strength. Tricep exercises can be performed with bodyweight or weights, like dumbbells and barbells. 

While you're here, don't miss our guides to the best back exercises, and if you're new to the gym, check out our explainers on how much weight should you start lifting, strength training for beginners and how best to avoid gym anxiety

For now, keep scrolling for top picks for tricep moves from our panel of pros. The qualified experts include:

The best tricep exercises, according to expert PTs

What are your triceps?

Let's just break this down quickly, because people often refer to our "arms" as one whole muscle when that's not correct. We have our biceps, at the front of our upper arms, and the triceps at the back of our upper arms. 

The triceps actually make up about two-thirds of the muscle in that area, so their strength is super important. 

So, what are the best tricep exercises? Well, as with all muscle groups, there's no one best exercise. Instead, the best tricep exercise for you is one that you can execute with brilliant form and feel the triceps working. 

It is best to work with a medium to high rep range when it comes to smaller muscles, so aim for around eight to 20 reps of each of the following exercises. You could pair these tricep exercises together in a superset or add them to your upper body day along with shoulder exercises and bicep exercises. 

1. Cable tricep push down

The cable machine is a favourite for targeting the triceps because it provides constant tension while you lift and lower the weights. "I think this is the best exercise for strengthening the back of your arms and helping increase your strength in other exercises that incorporate your upper body, like chest moves," Molly says. 

How to: Set up the cable machine with the rope or straight bar attachment. Place it so the attachment is around chin height and set it to your preferred weight. 

Grab the attachment (place your hands over the top of the straight bar or, if using a rope, have your knuckles facing inwards) and take a slight step back. Brace your core and hinge at your hips so you are slightly leaning forward. 

Push down to straighten the arms so that the bar or rope comes towards your hips, then slowly bend the elbows to raise the attachment back up. Don't swing your arms - your elbows should be the only thing moving. 

No cable machine? Jess recommends performing this with a resistance band. "Hook a light band around a pull up bar or high surface. Hold onto the band with both hands and keep your elbows glued into your side while pressing the band down to your hips. Do not let the elbows move from your side during this exercise," she says.

How long? Aim for 12 reps.

2. Tricep kickback

"We’re so spoilt for choice when it comes to tricep exercises, but the tricep kickback is key when it comes to isolating the muscle," says Eleanor. In a small study from the American Council on Exercise, kickbacks were actually found to be the second best tricep isolating exercise there is, beaten only by triangle push ups (we'll get to those later). 

"To fire up your arms even more, I like to add a hold as your arm extends," explains Eleanor. 

How to: Grab a dumbbell in each hand and stand tall. With a slight bend in the knee, hinge at the hips so your upper body folds forwards. Engage your core by pulling your belly button to your spine the whole way through the movement. 

Draw your elbows into your ribs and have them bent at right angles. Squeeze your shoulder blades together to draw the arms backwards. Then straighten your arm so that the dumbbells kick backwards behind you. Pause when the arms are fully extended, then lower back down. Again, the only movement should come from the elbows, so try not to swing or bounce the arms back to really target the triceps. 

How long: Aim for 12 reps.

3. Triangle press up

This is the exercise that took the crown for the exercise with the most tricep activation in the American Council on Exercise study. By placing the hands close together rather than far apart, the triceps are used more than the chest, which makes it the perfect way to mix up your upper body workouts for variety and tricep strength. 

How to: Begin on your knees. Place your hands down on the floor with your thumbs and index fingers touching in a triangle position. Keep the other fingers close together. 

Kick your feet back into a high plank position (alternatively, you can perform these from your knees if you are still building up to a full press up). Brace your core and squeeze your glutes as you bend the elbows to lower your upper body to the floor. When you are a few centimetres away, squeeze your arms and extend your elbows to come back to the top of the exercise. 

How long: Aim for 12 reps.

4. Military press up

This is another press up variation that's going to get the triceps working. "The military press, although technically a compound exercise that works multiple muscles, is the perfect equipment-less move to get your triceps working hard," says Eleanor. 

The military press up has more traditional hand placement but works in the same way as a triangle press up to target the triceps: by keeping the elbows close to the body. 

How to: Begin on your knees and place your hands on the floor on either side of your chest. Keep them narrower than you would in a traditional press up, with the thumbs able to touch your chest when it is on the floor. 

Kick your feet back to come into a high plank position (again, you can do these from the knees if you prefer). Brace the core as you lower down, keeping your elbows pinched into your ribs. Press back up to the high plank position. 

How long: Aim for 12 reps.

5. Lying tricep extension

"For me, this is a great exercise that targets the entire tricep with minimal injury risk," says Georgey. "I keep the weight low enough that I can perform it with a controlled tempo." 

This exercise is otherwise known as a 'skull crusher', but if you keep the dumbbells at a manageable weight you won't need to worry about doing any damage. 

How to: For this move, you can lie on a bench with your feet flat on the floor or on an exercise mat with your knees bent and feet flat. Take a dumbbell in each hand and hold them up towards the ceiling over your chest, palms facing in towards each other. 

Bend your elbows so that the dumbbells come towards your head. Then extend the arms back to the starting position. 

How long: Aim for 12 reps.

6. Tricep dips

Again, Eleanor recommends that we "never ever forget body weight exercises", and the most infamous bodyweight tricep exercise has to be the tricep dip. 

There are loads of ways to do this, but the best way is using a raised surface to press your bodyweight off of using the strength of your triceps. 

How to: Sit with your back against a bench, sofa, box or coffee table - any sturdy surface that is around shoulder height. Place your hands onto the edge of the surface so your wrists are on the top and your fingers pointing down. Extending your legs out straight makes the move harder and having your knees bent and feet closer towards you, makes it a little easier so choose your best suited position.

Roll your shoulders back and down and engage the core, then lift your glutes away from the floor. Straighten your arms and then bend the elbows to lower back down. Keep your body close to the bench or box so your triceps, rather than your shoulders, do the work. 

How long: Aim for 12 reps.

What is the number 1 tricep exercise?

As you'll have probably guessed from this article, all five experts are fans of push ups for building that all-important tricep strength - plus, the beauty of the move is that you can do it from anywhere with no kit or gym membership necessary.

One study from the American Council on Exercise actually found a specific form of push ups, known as triangle push ups, to be the most effective tricep-isolating move you can do, concluding that they offer the most bang for buck. Kickbacks came in a close second.

It's worth pointing out, though, that as with all moves, there's no one "best" move - rather, the best one will be the move that you enjoy the most and can execute with the best form.

How can women build triceps at home?

Simple - with a resistance band or using your own bodyweight. Some of the moves above, such as a push up, triangle press up, and tricep dip, can be done from the comfort of your living room with no kit necessary.

If you're not sure where to start, there are a number of great resources on YouTube, including whole workouts you can follow along from the likes of Krissy Cela and more.

Chloe Gray
Contributing Health Writer

Chloe Gray is a freelance journalist who writes and talks about health, fitness, and wellbeing through a feminist lens. She was part of the launch team for Stylist magazine's fitness brand, Strong Women, and has written for i news, Women's Health, Red magazine, Good Housekeeping, Refinery29, and more. She's all about building mental and physical strength, eating delicious food that fuels you well, and making the fitness industry more accessible and enjoyable. She's also a qualified fitness trainer and research nerd, so you can be sure everything you read is backed by proper science.