A man doing triceps workout

10 Best Tricep Exercises for Men

The best tricep exercises for men are a surefire way to help get you to the nearest gun show (figuratively speaking, of course). And while bulging triceps aren’t as visible as bulging biceps, don’t take that to mean they’re any less important.

On the contrary, hardcore tricep workouts will build the necessary strength you need to keep pushing yourself in the gym. That’s because your triceps take up nearly 60 per cent of your upper arm mass, thereby providing a literal foundation for your continuing muscle growth, definition, and improvement.

To put it another way: your overall upper arm strength is only as good as the strength of your triceps. Furthermore, no fitness freak would really argue with horseshoe triceps, a veritable sign of modern fortitude. If all this isn’t enough to pivot your focus toward this oft-overlooked muscle group, then you just keep on with bicep workouts and see how far it takes you. Go ahead. We dare you…

You’ll also like:
10 Best Shoulder Exercises for Men
10 Best Core Exercises for Men
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Tricep Workout Pointers

Before we dive into the best tricep workouts and exercises for men, allow us to dispense with a few pointers:

  • Don’t forget to warm-up those muscles before you start in on the harder exercises.
  • If you’re a beginner, stick with machines before moving onto free weights.
  • If you’re trying to build mass, start with multi-joint exercises and don’t be afraid to go to failure. Also, be sure to include both arm-overhead and lateral exercises in your tricep workout.
  • If muscle definition is your goal, start with multi-joint exercises and then work your way toward targeted supersets. Move quickly and don’t be afraid to go to failure.
  • The lateral head—which is located on the top of your tricep—is the largest of the three heads in your upper arm. If you’re focusing on this area, incorporate exercises during which your arms stay by your sides, such as an overhead grip.
  • If any of these tricep exercises cause persistent pain, particularly sharp pain in your shoulder or elbow joints, stop and seek guidance from a physiotherapist or other health professional.

Here are the 10 Best Tricep Exercises for Men

Welcome to muscle country. Population: you. That is, of course, presuming you pick up one or more of the following tricep exercises for men. Combine 6 or 7 to complete a full-blown tricep workout.

Like we said above, beginners should start on the machine before graduating to the bench. Also, maxing out your triceps isn’t necessarily frowned upon so keep pushing yourself once you feel the burn (but stop if you feel pain in your joints). Here we go:

1. Close-Grip Bench Press

Not only does this tricep exercise work on the targeted area, but it will also improve upon your chest and core. To execute, perform the following steps:

  • Grab a barbell with an overhand grip, keeping your index fingers on the inside edge of the knurling (i.e. the rough and textural part of the bar)
  • Slightly arch your back to create minor space between your lower back and the bench.
  • Life the bar off the rack and hold it above your sternum, keeping your arms completely straight and your elbows tucked at 45-degree angles on either side.
  • Lower the bar until it lightly touches your body, pause, and then drive through at your feet as you press the bar upward.
  • For the last set, consider reducing the weight and then increasing the number of reps, pushing yourself to failure.

Sets: 3-4
Reps: 6-8
Rest: 60 seconds between each set

2. Cable Rope Tricep Pushdown

If you’re targeting the triceps, don’t overdo it on the weights when performing this exercise. Here’s how:

  • Attach a rope to the cable station’s high pulley.
  • Grab the handle with an overhand grip, keeping your arms bent and your hands shoulder-width apart.
  • Tuck your upper arms toward your sides.
  • Keeping your upper arms fixed in place, push the bar down until your elbows are locked.
  • Return to the starting position and repeat.

Sets: 3
Reps: 10
Rest: 60 seconds between each set

3. Lying Triceps Extension

This exercise is sometimes known as the skullcrusher and that alone should tell you it’s not for beginners. And while there’s more than one way to perform it (over-the-head vs behind-the-head, for instance), elbow extension remains constant.

After you’ve mastered other tricep workouts and exercises, bring this one into the fold. When you’ve become a true master of your upper domain, perform this tricep exercise and a dumbbell chest press as a superset.

Here’s one variant:

  • Grabbing the inner grip, press an EZ bar over your chest in the overhand grip position.
  • Extend your arms straight up.
  • Keeping your elbows tucked in and your arms perpendicular to the floor, gradually lower the bar until it’s just above your forehead by about an inch.
  • Slowly bring your arms back to the starting position without locking your elbows.
  • Repeat.

Sets: 3
Reps: 10-12
Rest: 60 seconds between each set

4. Tricep Dips

Here’s another tricep exercise for men who have more experience under their respective belts. It involves using your entire body weight and should be avoided by those with shoulder issues. Start with just 2 sets of 8-10 reps and increase the number of sets and reps as you improve over time. Here we go:

  • Prop yourself up on the parallel bars (if needed, use a machine where you can rest your knees on a pad for assistance), keeping your torso perpendicular to the floor.
  • Maintaining your original position throughout, bend your knees and cross your ankles if preferred.
  • Lower your body until your shoulder joints are below your elbows or just before you reach that position.
  • Push down through your hands to come back up to the starting position, until your elbows are just short of locked.
  • Repeat.

Sets: 2
Reps: 8-10
Rest: 60 seconds between each set

5. Diamond Push-Ups

A semi-strenuous alternative to your standard push-up, you can perform this tricep exercise from the comfort of your own home.  Here’s how:

  • Assume the push-up position (with either toes or knees on the floor, depending on your strength level), but with your hands together in a diamond-like formation (i.e. index fingers and thumbs touching).
  • Keeping your back straight and your core engaged, lower your chest until it almost touches the floor.
  • Rise and repeat.

Sets: 3
Reps: 15-20
Rest: 60 seconds between each set

6. Bench Dip

Unlike the tricep dip, this basic workout doesn’t require copious amounts of muscle or experience — however, it’s an easy exercise for beginners to get wrong, so ask a personal trainer or coach for pointers to get it right. Grab a standard workout bench and perform the following steps:

  • Stand up and face away from the bench, grabbing it with both hands at shoulder-width.
  • Keeping your legs straight and extended in front of you, slowly lower your body until your arms and forearms are at 90-degree angles. Avoid going lower than this. Keep your back close to the bench as you lower.
  • Push down through your hands to engage the triceps as you lift back to the starting position.
  • Repeat.

Sets: 3
Reps: 10-12
Rest: 60 seconds between each set

7. One-Arm Overhead Extension

Odds are you’re already doing something like this, making it a fairly simple and approachable tricep exercise you can either do standing or seated on a bench. Here’s how to execute:

  • Stand or sit perfectly upright on a workout bench and grab a dumbbell with one hand (avoid going too heavy, especially when starting out).
  • Holding the dumbbell, lift your arm slightly behind your head with your elbow bent.
  • Extend your elbow until your arm is straight overhead.
  • Perform 10 reps with one arm before switching to the other to round out the set.
  • Keep your core engaged to protect the lower back when the weight is overhead, especially if you’re performing this exercise standing.

Sets: 3
Reps: 10-12
Rest: 60 seconds between each set

8. Standard Push-Up

An oldie but goodie, the classic push-up builds strength in your core, chest, and triceps. To crank up that intensity dial, consider bringing in a weight vest or slowing the tempo of this exercise right down. Pardon us while we tell you how to perform an exercise you know all too well:

  • Keeping your hands beneath your shoulders, your core locked, and your body in a straight line, prop yourself above the floor on your hands and toes (or knees, depending on your strength level).
  • Lower your body until your chest is just above the ground.
  • Thrust upward.
  • Repeat.

Sets: 3
Reps: 15-20
Rest: 60 seconds between each set

9. Standing Overhead Cable Triceps Extension + Straight Arm Cable Pull-Down

In case the title’s not a dead giveaway, you’ll need a cable machine for this tricep exercise, which forms a superset. Let’s get into it:

  • Attach a rope to the high pulley of the cable station.
  • Grab the handle and face away from the machine, keeping your hands even with your shoulders.
  • Fully extend your arm forward in front of your head.
  • Return to the starting position.
  • Repeat for 10-12 reps.
  • Move directly into a straight arm cable pull-down, which involves grabbing the handle from the top pulley, palms facing one another.
  • Bend 30 degrees forward at the waist, keeping your arms fully extended.
  • Pull the bar down into your hips until your hands are even with your thighs.
  • Return to the starting position and repeat.

Sets: 3
Reps: 10-12
Rest: Superset

10. 45-Degree Incline Dumbbell Chest Press

Here’s another tricep exercise you might already be performing. This is how to get it done:

  • Position your workout bench at a 45-degree angle.
  • Lie back on the bench and lift the dumbbells to shoulder height, palms facing outward.
  • Exhale as you simultaneously press up with both arms.
  • Lock out your arms and contract your chest before slowly returning to the start position.
  • Repeat.

Sets: 3
Reps: 10-12
Rest: 60 seconds between each set

General FAQ

What exercises work the tricep?

Some of the following exercises are the best for your triceps: Close-Grip Bench Press, Cable Triceps Extension, Lying Triceps Extension, Diamond Push-Up, and more.

How can I strengthen my triceps at home?

Some tricep exercises you can perform at home are as follows: Bench Dip, Standard Push-Up, Diamond Push-Up, Dumbbell Triceps Extension, and more.

You’ll also like:
10 Best Shoulder Exercises for Men
10 Best Core Exercises for Men
34 Best Bodyweight Exercises for Men

Last medically reviewed on 19 June 2022


Jacob Osborn

Jacob Osborn is an accomplished author and journalist with over 10 years of experience in the media industry. Jacob holds a Bachelor's degree in English and Communication Arts from the University of Wisconsin--Madison and has previously written for Stacker alongside co-authoring a Young Adult novel through Simon & Schuster. Now based in Portland, Oregon, Jacob specialises in entertainment, technology and alcohol reporting. You might find him crate-digging at the nearest record store or sampling whisky at the nearest bar. He daydreams of travelling around the world, but for now, the world will have to come to him by way of lifestyle products, gear, gadgetry, and entertainment. Let's call it a happy compromise while he saves up for the next big trip.