Top 5 Triceps Strengthening Exercises

The triceps muscle is a three-headed muscle located in the back of the upper arm. It is an important muscle for upper body strength, stability, and power. It is responsible for extending the elbow, allowing us to push and pull objects, as well as to stabilise the shoulder joint.

The triceps consists of three distinct heads: the long head, the medial head, and the lateral head. The long head originates from the shoulder blade and extends along the humerus bone of the upper arm. The medial head originates from the humerus bone, while the lateral head originates from the ulna bone. All three heads then converge onto a common tendon that inserts onto the elbow joint.

The main function of the triceps is to extend the elbow joint. This is accomplished by contracting the muscle, which pulls the forearm away from the upper arm. This movement is key for activities such as pushing and pulling objects, as well as for sports such as rowing and swimming. Luckily the triceps muscle is rarely injured. We sometimes see overuse type pain patterns in the tricep, and we find massage therapy and electrotherapy to the tripces works well. However, it's incredibly rare to tear a tricep muscle, and much more commonly we see biceps tears.

The triceps also slightly help to stabilise the shoulder joint. When the shoulder moves, the triceps contracts to keep the shoulder joint in a stable position. This helps to prevent shoulder injuries caused by overuse or instability.

Strong triceps can be developed through specific triceps strengthening exercises like dips, and overhead cable pushes. But they can also be strengthened during pec loading, using weight training exercises such as push-ups, and bench presses. As with any muscle group, it is important to use correct form and exercise safely to avoid injury. If you have any doubts, you should speak to our team at Surrey Physio who provide online consultations for overseas clients, and face-to-face for London-based patients.

Our Top 5 Triceps Strengthening Exercises

1. Triceps Curl Extension with Barbell: Sit upright, and hold a barbell straight above your head with your elbows locked out. Bend your elbows allowing the bar to drop behind your head. Straighten your elbows bringing the bar back up above your head. This exercise strengthens the triceps muscle. Repeat for 10-12 repetitions, for three sets.

2. Tricep Dips: Holding on to a bench with your fingers facing backwards, bend your elbows to drop your body weight down below the bench. This exercise predominantly strengthens the triceps muscle at the back and side of your upper arm. It also strengthens the posterior shoulder and scapular muscles. Repeat for 10-12 repetitions, for three sets.

3. Band Triceps Extension: Stand with your feet shoulder width apart with a band going underneath your foot, holding the band above your head with your elbow bent at a 45-degree angle. Keep your elbow locked in position and raise your arm straight above your head without locking your elbows. Keep tension on your triceps muscles while slowly lowering the band. Repeat for 10-12 reps for three sets.

4. Triceps Pull Down: Stand with your feet in a narrow stance and your hands in a narrow position on the handle, keep your elbows in a locked position while you push down until your arms are locked and triceps are squeezed. Pause for two seconds and then slowly bring the handle back to the starting position and repeat the movement for 10-12 reps for three sets.

5. Overhead Triceps Push: Stand facing away from the cable machine with one foot in front of the other to create a stable base, with your elbows beside your face and forearms behind your head at an angle. Raise your forearms above your head until at an angle in front of you, with your elbows stationary throughout. Squeeze the triceps and release slowly back to the starting position.

(Therapists: these videos are provided by Rehab My Patient – the best exercise prescription software for therapists to prescribe exercises Patients: if you are a patient needing advice, call Surrey Physio to book a telephone/video consultation with one of our expert physios or osteopaths, or book in face-to-face for an appointment. You can call us on 0208 685 6930 or book online by clicking the link at the top of the page).