by Collin Stark May 18, 2022 6 min read
When you go to the gym, you’ll typically see all sorts of people working on different things.
One area that many people focus significantly on though ... is their arms.
Having strong, muscular arms is something commonly sought after by many gym goers, and they often put quite a bit of focus on their biceps to help get that "bodybuilder" look.
Don’t get me wrong, I like working on and building my biceps as much as the next guy or girl...
But if my goal is to build bigger arms, then putting most of my focus on my biceps would be the wrong approach.
If we exclude some of the smaller muscles in the upper arm, the biceps make up about one third of the upper arm. The triceps, on the other hand, make up about two thirds of the upper arm.
Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t be working out your biceps to grow your arms...
But if bigger arms is the goal, then you should make sure to put plenty of focus on the biggest muscle group your arms have: the triceps.
The triceps get their name for a simple reason. The name triceps comes from latin, meaning three-headed muscle.
Those three heads are the long head, medial head, and lateral head of the triceps. The long head is the largest of the three, and is on the innermost part of the back of the upper arm, closest to the torso.
The lateral head is the second largest head generally, and is on the outermost part of the back of the upper arm. The medial head is the smallest of the three, and is actually deep between the other two heads of the tricep.
Together, these three heads help extend your elbow, and to a lesser extent, they help to pull your arm behind you too.
Well it’s important to work every muscle in the gym so that you don’t end up with muscle imbalances. Although, there are some reasons it will benefit you to work the triceps specifically.
I already covered this, but they are the largest muscle group in the arm.
So, if you want to grow your arms and make them look good, they should absolutely be in your training regimen.
Training your triceps can also help increase your strength on upper body pressing movements. For example, this includes the bench press, shoulder press, push-ups, etc.
It can help keep the balance of strength between your triceps and biceps. When you train one side of a joint more than the other you can end up with a muscle imbalance which can cause issues.
If you're not sure where to start when it comes to training your triceps, don't worry. Here are 10 great exercises you can do with just dumbbells!
Lie flat on a bench with your feet on the floor. Pull your shoulders back and down to put them in a safer position for the exercise. Your chest should feel puffed out a bit.
We’ll call this the "set" position for a bench exercise.
*Hold both dumbbells at your chest
Press them together, and begin pressing them up over your chest, but focus on extending your elbows.
Lie flat on a bench with your feet on the floor. Hold the dumbbells directly over your chest.
*Keep your upper arms and elbows from moving
Bend the elbow to lower the weight toward your forehead until your arms wont bend any further.
Then, use your triceps to extend your elbow, pushing the weight back up above your chest.
*Holding dumbbells in your hand with a slight bend in your knees, bend at the waist until your torso is parallel with the floor.
From this position, row the weights up until your upper arms are parallel with your torso.
Hold this position as you extend your elbows backward using your triceps. Make sure to squeeze at the top position before lowering the weight back down to your side.
*Upper arm stays parallel with your torso throughout movement.
This is a hybrid of the close grip bench press with a skull crusher.
From the same "set" position outlined under close-grip bench press above...
*Start with the weights held out and above your chest.
Lower the weight in a straight line while allowing your elbow to maximally bend.
Your upper arm should end up being parallel with your torso at the bottom of the movement with the elbow fully bent.
The dumbbells should be within a couple inches from the chest. From here, use your triceps to extend your elbows and press the weight back up over your chest.
*Sit on a bench holding one dumbbell overhead
Make sure your shoulders are pulled down and back for the seated set position.
Keeping your upper arm stable and in the upright position, allow the weight to lower behind the head as your elbow bends.
Then squeeze the triceps to push the weight back overhead.
Start in the exact same "set" position as outlined under close-grip bench press above.
With the weights held out and over your chest, turn your arms so that the elbows point directly outward.
Lower the dumbbells toward each other allowing them to come together above the chest while the elbows flare out laterally.
Use the triceps and chest to extend the elbows and push the weights back up to the starting position.
Start in a similar "set" position as outlined under close-grip bench press above. The only difference is that you'll be on the floor with your knees bent.
The elbows should be bent at about 90 degrees with the upper arms resting flat on the ground and close to the sides of the body.
Use the triceps to extend the elbows and press the weight straight up over the chest. Slowly lower the weight back to the starting position.
*This is only safe if the dumbbells have a flat surface on the end that can safely be rested on to support your body weight.
Sit on the floor with straight legs, and have your foot pulled back toward the leg, so you can balance on your heels.
Flip the dumbbells upright so that they are resting on one side of the dumbbell, and the handle perpendicular to the floor. Place them right next to each hip, but slightly behind the body.
Place your hands on the top surface of the dumbbells.
Carefully and controlled, press your body up by extending your elbows and balancing on the heels to get to the starting position.
Allow your elbows to bend as your body lowers until you feel you’re at a comfortable range of motion. Press yourself back up to the starting position.
Place the dumbbells on the ground and together with both sides of each dumbbell touching the other dumbbell.
Lift yourself up into a pushup position while holding the dumbbells.
From here, perform a push-up, keeping the elbows close to your sides. Focus on allowing the elbows to reach full range of motion, and squeeze the triceps throughout the movement.
This is very similar to the single-arm overhead tricep extension, but for this movement ... both hands will be on one dumbbell.
*Start in a seated set position with the shoulders pulled back and down
Hold one dumbbell overhead with the palms pressed against the inside face of one end of the dumbbell. The lower half of the dumbbell should be dangling beneath your hands overhead.
From here, keep the upper arm stable as you lower the weight behind your head until your elbows are fully bent.
Then, squeeze the triceps to push the weight back overhead to the starting position.
At the end of the day, to have a healthy body, you should work every muscle group. This helps to keep the body balanced and functioning properly.
The triceps are one area that can be easily overshadowed by the biceps in many training plans.
Keep them in your upper body workouts and it will improve your physique, your strength in the gym, and keep your arms more balanced.
If you want access to many more awesome workouts to build bigger arms, check out the 1st Phorm App!
It has tons of benefits outside of those workouts to get you looking and performing your best every day!
NASM Certified Personal Trainer NASM Fitness Nutrition Specialist NASM Certified Nutrition Coach