The Top 5 Exercises For Increasing Triceps Mass

Alex Stewart
Written By: Alex Stewart
December 30th, 2010
Updated: March 18th, 2021
Categories: Articles Training
732.7K Reads
Muscular, shirtless man doing cable tricep pushdowns.
Build your arms the fast way: weighted dips, close grip bench press, seated tricep extension, clapping diamond pushups and rope pushdowns.

One of the most common goals for many weightlifters is to gain mass in the arms. The reasons will vary, but it’s often the experience and more properly balanced trainers that are doing it for the right reasons. Knowing why and how to increase the mass in the arms is superficial by itself, but it’s still an important lesson for anyone to learn whom is interested in weight training.

If you’re looking for bigger arms, it’s important to train your triceps. While most people believe that the biceps are the most important factor, they are not – as they only make up 1/3 of the total upper arm muscle. The triceps make up the other 2/3 of upper arm muscle tissue. Want bigger arms? Do the top 5 exercises to increase your triceps.

Want to press more weight? Stop training your biceps (at least by themselves). Despite making up 2/3 of the muscle tissue in the upper arm, the triceps are the weakest for people on average in that muscle group. Work your triceps with the top 5 exercises to build more mass in the right areas.

The Anatomy of the Tricep

Before you jump into a workout routine and start throwing weights around like a gorilla, you need to understand the nature of the human body and how the muscles work in conjunction with one another. A basic understanding of anatomy and physiology will help you make sense of the workout and keep you on track for form, posture and performance.

The triceps are made up three heads that run between the scapula (shoulder blade) and one of the forearm bones (the ulna). These heads are known as the Lateral, the Medial and the Long.

Lateral Head

Located on the outward side of the humerus (long bone of the upper arm) and is responsible for movements requiring high-intensity force.

Medial Head

Located on the inline of the body, mostly covered by the long and lateral heads. It is primarily responsible for slow, more low-intensity movements.

Long Head

Largest of the 3 heads, running predominantly along the bottom side of the humerus. The long is employed when sustained force is necessary or where there is a need for synergistic control of the shoulder and/or elbow joints.

Top 5 Exercises for Increasing Tricep Mass

There are a number of exercises that will work the triceps, with many focusing on a broad range of muscles in the arm. There are however a number of specific exercises that will target primarily the triceps and deliver the best results.

While this article focuses primarily on using free-weights in the top 5 exercises for increasing triceps, there is some use of a machine within.  Keep in mind that you can alter your own exercises to use the appropriate machines and weights, provided you understand the form and function of the muscle groups within the triceps.

1. Weighted Dips

Muscle is improved by providing resistance. The primary source of resistance is by adding weight. Weighted dips rely primarily on your own body weight, though additional weight can be added in your lap to increase the resistance on the muscles.

Use two benches, placed approximately 3-5 feet apart. Sit on one bench with your heels resting on the other; you may need to adjust the distance between the benches depending on your height. Place your palms on the bench you’re sitting on and slide forward, using your arms to support your weight. Now, slowly lower yourself until the bend of your elbows reaches a 90 degree angle. Maintain tension and push yourself back up until your arms are completed extended.

2. Close Grip Bench Press

This press keeps the elbows close to the body, with the hands no more than a foot apart – they should not extend out beyond your shoulders. The focus of the close grip bench press is on the muscle groups of the triceps however the mechanics of the bench press will supply some additional workout to the pectoral muscles as well the muscle groups of the biceps.

As you un-rack the weight bar, begin with arms fully extended and lower the weight toward the lower part of the chest slowly while keeping the elbows tucked in. Bring the weight back just before you touch the bar to your chest and return your arms to a fully-extended position.

3. Seated Triceps Extension

This position places a great deal of emphasis on the triceps equally. For this exercise, it’s important to use a seat or weight bench of some kind with an adjustable seat to aid in back support. Choose an appropriate dumbbell weight and hold it with both hands. Raise the weight up and behind the head.

While holding the dumbbell, carefully lower it behind your head. Lower the weight behind your head so that it is even with the lower part of the back of your head – try not to let the weight fall too far to avoid over-exertion of the triceps during this exercise. Raise the dumbbell back overhead so that arms are fully extended and repeat.

4. Clapping Diamond Pushups

We talk a lot about how resistance will bring on muscle gain. If you want your muscles to increase in mass then you have to use them. You need to use them a lot, from different angles and in different ways. This may seem a little unorthodox but this method will definitely push triceps to the limit.

Position your hands under chest like a push up but bring your hands together so that your index fingers and your thumbs are touching, forming a diamond shape. Perform 10 pushups like this. In order to get the clap in between each push up, you’ll need to push yourself with enough force to leave the floor, gaining enough height to insert the clap and still bring your hands back to a diamond form.

5. Rope Pushdowns

This can be easily done with a number of machines. When using a machine, try to balance the weight so you can fit it a set of approximately 10 reps easily while still feeling the proper burn in the triceps. This top triceps exercise requires a bit more form than others. When pulling the weight with the rope, it’s important to keep your upper arms locked at your sides while keeping your back straight.

If you release your arms, twist or bend your back you’ll start using your shoulders and back to take the brunt of the weight, giving little gain to your triceps.

Beginner Workout

Exercise Sets Reps
Close Grip Bench Press 3 10
Weighted Dips 2 12
Rope Pushdowns 2 15

Intermediate Workout

Exercise Sets Reps
Close Grip Bench Press 3 8
Weighted Dips 3 12, 10, 8
Seated Tricep Extensions 2 12
Rope Pushdowns 2 12

Advanced Workout

Exercise Sets Reps
Rope Extensions 2 15
Close Grip Bench Press 3 6
Seated Triceps Extensions 3 8
Weighted Dips 2 Drop Sets 8-failure
Clapping Diamond Push Up 2 Failure

You’ll see the best results by adding the top exercises to build your triceps to your usual workout routine. When working on increasing muscle mass in triceps, remember that it’s important to take in the proper amount of nutrients and protein to sustain your exercises.

As always if you have any question regarding this article or fitness in general please don’t hesitate to sending me your questions:

Alex Stewart is the Sales Manager for Betancourt Nutrition Supplements. For more information on Betancourt Nutrition supplements, click here.

Ryan Wolf
Posted on: Wed, 06/01/2016 - 21:13

Pòsting for later finding.

Posted on: Mon, 09/01/2014 - 05:49

i am 52 years old. i am going to gym every it any problem

James Sallee
Posted on: Tue, 03/31/2015 - 13:27

You have to let each muscle group rest, if you over work the same muscle every day your muscle growth with slow down significantly so as long as you mix up your workouts each day (arms and back then the next day legs and so on) and feed your body the lean protein and vitamins you need to workout every day you'll be fine!

debajit das
Posted on: Sun, 02/16/2014 - 02:34

I am very skinny and want to increase my body physical fitness so that it looks good and I am 38 years of age, so I want to know whether I should go to gym for heavy exercise or I should do simple exercise.

kiran dhakal
Posted on: Thu, 06/27/2013 - 00:51

Better u can post thek picture of the work outs with tips

Posted on: Tue, 05/14/2013 - 10:13

thats so fine

arnold shwardze...
Posted on: Thu, 04/18/2013 - 15:50

If you really want to get pumped up, try bench pressing a volkswagen bug for 3 sets of 8 reps every morning, right after you pound a gallon or two of superweightgainproteinblastpowerder50000.

Posted on: Wed, 12/19/2012 - 05:16

What are weighted drops? Is that weighted dips and just a typo? Just checking.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 12/19/2012 - 11:18

Yes - weighted dips with drop sets.

Posted on: Thu, 12/13/2012 - 13:07

you are mentioning the triceps workputs routine its daily are weekly once

Posted on: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 15:39

I read online that working out to failure drains cns levels but its probly not gunna matter tht much..

Posted on: Sat, 11/10/2012 - 05:24

will u send all the workout from chest to triceps sequence

Robert Wilson
Posted on: Mon, 08/06/2012 - 22:48

Eh Alex, Rob here. I've been trying to build up that under belly triceps look that so many of the champions have. I spoke with Larry Scott, the first Mr. Olympia and he told me that cable extensions with various bars facing away from the machine are great for the triceps long head. It is imperative to have the elbows placed high (on stretch). Alex, I'm a large bodybuilder. My left arm is 19" cold while the other one is a little over 18". When I do a front double biceps pose, like I said I have no under belly. The triceps are flat -

If you have any suggestions to remedy this I would really appreciate it!

Thank you

Robert Wilson

mark j
Posted on: Fri, 06/22/2012 - 15:14

Even tho I tryed these workouts I feel like ma biceps aint grownin fully like ma triceps what else could I do to increase mass on ma biceps

Posted on: Tue, 11/06/2012 - 10:10

try different excersses and switch the order u perform them in. also try doing couple weeks light wieght high reps then go back to heavy weight, this method really increased for me and it confuses ur muscles.

Posted on: Sun, 01/09/2011 - 10:56

Ey, nice article !, but 1 thing, you say the anatomy of the bicep, but it is the anatomy of the trice. I know it's just a typ mistake, but still, just to eh.. 'warn' you.

Goodluck with your training and everything !