A personal trainer reckons these 5 tricep workouts are the best you can do for strong and toned arms

Strong arms, FTW.

Tricep workouts: A woman stretching her arms after a workout
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Hands up if tricep workouts are fairly low down your list of priorities at the moment? In the general melee of things that take top priority in your workout routine, it's no surprise that your triceps are often forgotten in favour of robust leg days or full body sessions. 

That said, we'd like to make the case for adding more tricep-focused moves into your routine. Why? Well, while they certainly don’t have to make up the bulk of your programme, tricep exercises should be present in some form, according to the experts we spoke to for this piece. As this 2018 study highlights, exercise programmes or workout routines that use free weights and resistance training helped to improve tricep strength in adults by up to 111%. Plus, exercising with weights can help to improve bone density, build muscle tissue and prevent injury – all of which are important for our overall health.

Still on the fence? Tricep-specific moves are essential for building strong, toned arms that not only help you carry heavy bags or furniture but also look great, too. Plus, you don't need to head to the gym to get a session in - there are plenty of at home arm workouts that make building a strong upper body as easy as rolling out your workout mat (home arm workouts for beginners never looked so easy). 

Let’s start with the basics first, though. What are the tricep muscles? What are the benefits of tricep workouts and tricep exercises? And, most importantly, what’s the best tricep workout to do at home or in the gym? Tricep exercises at the ready  - keep scrolling. Do scroll our guides to the best arm workouts for women, arm workouts for women with weights, and arm workouts without weights, while you're here.

What are the three tricep muscles?

It might surprise you to find out that the tricep is actually made up of three muscles, not one. 

“The triceps brachii, commonly referred to as the "triceps", is a three-headed muscle located on the back of the upper arm," explains celebrity personal trainer, pilates instructor and founder of Omni-Wellness, Aimee Victoria Long. "It consists of the long head, lateral head, and medial head."

Why are tricep workouts and tricep exercises important?

Good question. While part of the motivation to workout your arms might be aesthetically focused, it's important to acknowledge the other pros of working them out regularly, too. 

“The triceps play an important role in arm extension and stabilisation of the elbow joint," explains  Long. "They're involved in various pushing movements such as pushing open a door, performing a push-up, or lifting weights overhead. Strong triceps are essential for overall upper body strength, as well as functional movements."

Building strength for life, not just the 45 minutes you spend in the gym, is crucial. Regular arm workouts, bicep exercises and tricep exercises can help with carrying heavy objects, improving your swim stroke and preventing injury, among other things.

5 best tricep workouts to try, according to a PT

You need never Google the best tricep workout again - we've got you covered. These tricep workouts can be done at home or the gym, depending on the equipment you have, and don’t require lots of time or space, either. They can also be tacked onto the end or beginning of another workout, if you'd prefer. 

So without further ado - let’s dive in.

1. 8-minute Pilates tricep workout

What? A Pilates-inspired tricep workout that uses light weights (but can also be done with water bottles or no weight) to tone the tricep muscles.

Why? One to keep in your back pocket, this workout is perfect for fans of Pilates who want a little extra burn. “Pilates can be beneficial for building strength in the triceps, as it focuses on core stability and controlled movements,” explains Long. “Pilates exercises like tricep dips, tricep push-ups, and tricep kickbacks can help to tone and strengthen the tricep muscles.”

How long? 8 minutes.

2. 10-minute dumbbell tricep workout

What? A follow-along dumbbell workout that focuses on the tricep muscles with a range of movements.

Why? Each exercise is performed for 45 seconds with 15 seconds of rest afterwards. Count how many reps of each exercise you can complete in the 45 seconds and see if week-on-week this number doesn’t improve right before your eyes.

How long? 10 minutes.

3. 10-minute tricep bodyweight and dumbbell workout

What? A challenging 10-minute tricep workout that uses bodyweight and dumbbell exercises to push your triceps to fatigue.

Why? Pushing your muscles to fatigue (in other words, where you can’t perform another rep) can be difficult at home but it’s crucial if you want to build new muscle tissue and strength. This tricep workout gets you to that point without the need for big machines or hefty equipment.

How long? 10 minutes.

4. Home tricep circuit workout

What? A bodyweight circuit workout designed to target the tricep muscles, designed by Aroosha Nekonam, a senior certified personal trainer at Ultimate Performance.

Why? Perfect for when you’re travelling or exercising at home, this bodyweight workout requires zero equipment and can be adjusted based on your fitness levels. Ideal, no?

How long? Varies by fitness level and how many circuit rounds you choose.

Perform the following four exercises back to back. When you finish your last wall press-up, rest for two to three minutes then begin again. Repeat the circuit until you’ve completed four to eight rounds. 

  • Diamond Press-Ups (12 reps)
  • Chair Dips (12 reps)
  • Plank to Push-Up (12 reps)
  • Wall Press-Ups (12 reps)

5. Gym tricep workout

What? If you have access to a gym, this tricep workout designed by Nekonam effectively targets the tricep muscles. 

Why? For more experienced exercisers, this equipment workout is designed to actively fatigue your tricep muscles and help build strength and new muscle tissue. Nekonam’s best advice is to slow the reps down. “If you want to feel the burn in your triceps, do this: firstly, lower the volume of weight you would normally lift. Secondly, for each rep, count to three during the eccentric portion of the exercise (e.g., as you’re lowering the weight). Don’t rush and make sure the eccentric part of the move takes three seconds. Then, pause for a second, and then finally, return to your start position.”

How long? Will depend on fitness levels and how quickly you complete each exercise.

  • Exercise 1: Close Grip Bench Press (6 reps x 4 sets)
  • Exercise 2a: Tricep Dips (10 reps x 10 sets, superset with exercise 2b)
  • Exercise 2b: Seated Dumbbell Curls (10 reps x 10 sets, superset with exercise 2a)
  • Exercise 3: Tricep Pushdowns (12 reps x 2 sets)
  • Exercise 4: Lying Tricep Extension (10 reps x 4 sets)
  • Exercise 5: Diamond Press-Ups (1 set to failure)

What tricep exercises build muscle and strength?

Want to make up your own workout with PT-approved tricep exercises

The below will get the job done and are all Nekonam-approved.

  1. Skull crushers
  2. Standing Cable/rope triceps extensions
  3. Reverse barbell and dumbbell curls
  4. Parallel bars triceps dips
  5. Bench dips 
  6. Unilateral seated cable/rope overhead triceps press
  7. Seated Barbell French press 
  8. Cable with bar triceps pushdown
  9. Single dumbbell kickbacks
  10. Diamond press-up.

Shop MC UK's go-to workout kit now:

What is the best workout for triceps?

According to both qualified personal trainers we spoke to for this piece, the "best" workout will depend on your current fitness level, ability, and lifestyle.

That said, any workout which works all three of your tricep muscles will guarantee the most bang for buck. Aroosha Nekonam, a senior certified personal trainer at Ultimate Performance, recommends a workout combining bench press, tricep dips, seated dumbbell curls, tricep pushdowns, lying tricep extension and diamond press-ups.

Still not feeling it? Slow your reps down and practice time under tension, forcing your muscles to work harder and in turn, grow in strength. Got it?

Morgan Fargo

Morgan Fargo is a freelance beauty editor and wellness journalist who has worked extensively on creating beauty and lifestyle content for titles such as Stylist Magazine, Women's Health Magazine, Harper's Bazaar, Elle and more.