9 Best Barbell Tricep Workouts (Get Explosive Arm Strength)

Tyler Sellers
Published by Tyler Sellers | Senior Coach
Last updated: December 28, 2023
FACT CHECKED by Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Our content is meticulously researched and reviewed by an expert team of fact checkers and medical professionals. They ensure accuracy, relevance, and timeliness using the latest reputable sources, which are cited within the text and listed at the end of the article. Before publication and upon significant updates, we confirm factual accuracy, committed to providing readers with well-informed content. Learn more.

There are some barbell triceps exercises to implement in your daily workout to boost the muscle-building effect.

I tested over 20 barbell exercises and singled out the best ones for growing all three triceps heads.

They are compound and isolation because that is the most functional and effective way to train your triceps.

After reading the article, you will be ready to implement triceps exercises into your workout routines.

Quick Summary

  • To effectively build strength and explosive power in the triceps, incorporate specific barbell exercises like barbell close grip bench press, single-arm landmine press, floor press, JM press, skull crusher, side-to-side landmine press, lying barbell triceps extension, overhead barbell triceps extension, and incline barbell tricep extension.
  • The most effective barbell triceps exercise for inducing maximal hypertrophy is the overhead triceps extension, targeting all three triceps heads.
  • Regular tricep workouts can improve joint health, with the National Institute of Health noting that strengthening triceps can lead to healthier shoulders and elbows.
  • In my opinion, incorporating a variety of barbell triceps exercises in a workout routine is essential for balanced upper arm development and preventing muscle imbalances.

9 Barbell Triceps Exercises for Size and Strength

A person doing a triceps workout in the gym

My team and I tested all triceps exercises on the list.

We made sure to make appropriate instructions for each of them so that you don't injure yourself.

After the list of barbell exercises for the triceps, I will cover a simple triceps workout and how to warm up for it.

1. Barbell Close Grip Bench Press

Barbell close grip bench press is a horizontal push exercise, which is excellent for building your upper body strength. It activates your pectoralis major, anterior deltoid, and triceps.

How to perform a barbell close grip bench press

  1. Lie on the bench and load the barbell with the appropriate weight on the rack.
  2. Grip the barbell narrower than usual, approximately a couple of inches thinner than shoulder-width.
  3. Take the barbell out of the squat rack and place it right in the projection of your middle chest.
  4. Slowly lower the barbell towards your chest until it reaches 1 inch above it.
  5. In the bottom position, hold for 1 second and reverse the motion by extending your elbows and flexing your shoulder.

2. Single-Arm Landmine Press

A person doing a single arm landmine press

The single-arm landmine press is an athletic push exercise that will challenge your shoulder and triceps.

It requires work from the anterior deltoid, pectoralis major, triceps, core musculature, gluteus maximus, and others.

How to perform a single-arm landmine press:

  1. Start in a split stance where your opposite leg from the working arm is back, and your working arm is holding the barbell.
  2. Place the barbell close to your armpit, take a deep breath, and brace the abdominal muscles.
  3. Push the barbell in front and above you, slightly rotating your torso to extend the movement of the barbell.
  4. Hold the top position for 1 second, then reverse the motion by flexing your elbows and extending the shoulder joint.

3. Floor Press

I often recommend the floor press as a modified, more accessible alternative to the flat bench press, mainly because it requires a reduced range of motion, making it easier to perform.

It will target your pectoralis major and anterior deltoid, but the triceps will work more due to the lesser range of motion and the lack of sufficient shoulder abduction.

How to perform a floor press:

  1. Start by lying on the floor below the rack where the barbell is loaded with the appropriate weight.
  2. The rack should be the same height as a regular flat bench press.
  3. Take a pronated grip shoulder-width apart and push the barbell out of the rack with your upper arms extended.
  4. Slowly lower the barbell towards your chest until your elbows reach the floor.
  5. Hold the bottom position for 1 second, then reverse the motions by pressing the barbell until your elbows are fully extended.

4. JM Press

A person doing a JM press

JM press combines a close grip bench press, triceps extension, and skull crushers.

This is the exercise that will challenge your triceps.

It works the same muscles as a close grip bench press, but the end range of motion will require more effort from your upper arm muscle, such as the triceps.

How to perform a JM press:

  1. Lie on the bench right below the rack where the barbell is loaded with weights.
  2. Grasp the barbell with the pronated grip approximately shoulder-width apart. Keep your thumbs wrapped around the bar.
  3. Unrack the bar and bring it to the projection of your middle chest with elbows fully extended.
  4. Slowly bend the elbows and lower the bar to the top of your upper chest and chin.
  5. When your forearms and biceps touch each other, that is the bottom position of the exercise.
  6. Hold the bottom position for 1 second and reverse the entire movement, so you come to the starting position.

5. Skull Crusher

Skull crushers are one of the most challenging barbell triceps exercises.

They will isolate your triceps muscle and put it through the full range of motion.

How to perform skull crushers:

  1. Start by lying on the bench and your barbell on your chest, loaded with light weights.
  2. Push the barbell in the top position right above your chest with your elbows (upper arm) fully extended.
  3. Inhale, brace your core musculature, and fix your shoulder joint. There shouldn't be any motion in the shoulder joint during the exercise.
  4. Slowly start bending your elbows until the bar reaches your forehead/eyes.

Just before the bar reaches the bottom position, reverse the motion by extending your elbows without moving your shoulder joint.

6. Side-to-Side Landmine Press

A person doing a side to side landmine press

The side-to-side landmine press is one of the land press variations that work for multiple muscle groups at the same time.

Some include deltoids, pectoralis major, pectoralis minor, scapular stabilizers, glutes, obliques, and triceps.

How to perform a side-to-side landmine press:

  1. Load the barbell with the appropriate weight and take a wider-than-shoulder-width stance.
  2. Pick the loaded barbell up and place it on the right side of your chest, so your elbows are flexed and your shoulder is almost neutral.
  3. Push the barbell in front of you by extending your elbows and flexing your shoulder.
  4. Slowly reverse the motion when your elbows are fully extended, but take the weight on the other side (left).

7. Lying Barbell Triceps Extension

Lying barbell tricep extension is similar to skull crushers but also works additional muscles, like the triceps and latissimus dorsi.

They are the prime movers.

How to perform a lying barbell triceps extension:

  1. Lie on the bench and place the loaded barbell on your chest.
  2. Push the barbell by extending your elbows and stop in the top position above your chest.
  3. Initiate the movement by flexing your shoulder to 90 degrees and your elbows as much as possible. Your hands and the barbell should finish behind and below your head.
  4. Slowly reverse the motion by extending your elbows and shoulder to return to the starting position.

8. Overhead Barbell Triceps Extension

A person doing an overhead barbell triceps extension

The overhead barbell triceps extension works out all three triceps heads.

The extended shoulder position will lengthen your longest triceps head and allow a greater range of motion.

How to perform a barbell triceps extension:

  1. Assume a standing position with the loaded barbell in the overhead position, meaning your elbows are fully extended and the shoulder flexed or abducted for 180 degrees.
  2. Without moving your shoulder, bend your elbows behind your head and towards the floor to stretch your triceps muscles.
  3. When you reach the bottom position, initiate a counter-movement by extending your elbows to return to the starting position.

9. Incline Barbell Tricep Extension

Incline barbell tricep extension is a variation of a skull crusher but in an inclined position.

It will target and challenge your triceps muscles, requiring shoulder stabilizers to stabilize the joint.

How to perform an incline barbell triceps extension:

  1. Assume a lying position on an inclined bench and place the loaded barbell on your thighs.
  2. Push the loaded bar above your chest with your elbows fully extended.
  3. Slowly bend your elbows without moving your shoulder joint until the bar reaches your eyes or forehead.
  4. Just before the bar reaches your head, reverse the motion by extending your elbows to come to the starting position.

Benefits of Training the Triceps

A person training his triceps in the gym

I've seen numerous benefits from regular triceps workouts, which I've outlined below based on my experience and expertise.

1. Improved Elbow Health

The triceps tendon attaches to the olecranon, the small bone on your elbow's back.

Strengthening your elbow extensors, or triceps, will secure the joint and make it healthier.

You will also need to exercise the muscles on the other side of the elbow so it is secured in all directions.

2. Better Shoulder Health

When you injure a joint, it is usually the joint up or down causing problems in the first place.

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), this means that strengthening your triceps will make your shoulder healthier because it won't need to compensate for the lack of strength in your elbow [1].

3. Improved Lockout Strength

A woman with good triceps working out in the gym

Strengthening your triceps will help you lock your elbows more easily.

This is handy when doing heavy pushing exercises such as overhead and bench presses.

They require significant strength from elbow extensors to push the end range of motion of the exercise.

Also, the tighter the grip during pushing exercises, the more your triceps will activate.

4. Better Sports Performance

Any sport that requires a significant elbow extension will benefit from triceps exercises.

According to NIH, if you need to push in your sports frequently, you will experience enormous advantages from strengthening your triceps [2].

"And even in the rear, the triceps actually make up about two-thirds of the muscle mass in your upper arms—so they're well worth your time and effort, even before you consider how important the three-headed muscles are for common movements like pressing, elbow extension, and more."

- Ebenezer Samuel, Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist

Recovery and Nutrition Tips for Tricep Development

For optimal tricep growth and recovery, focus on these key areas:

  1. Protein Intake: Consume protein-rich foods or supplements within 30 minutes post-workout to aid muscle repair. Aim for 20-30 grams of high-quality protein like whey, chicken, or plant-based options.
  2. Hydration: Stay well-hydrated before, during, and after workouts. Water aids in nutrient transport and muscle recovery.
  3. Rest and Sleep: Prioritize quality sleep and rest days. Muscles grow during rest periods, not just during workouts.
  4. Stretching and Mobility: Incorporate stretching and mobility exercises for the arms and shoulders to enhance blood flow and reduce soreness.
  5. Balanced Diet: Ensure your diet includes a mix of proteins, healthy fats, and carbohydrates for overall muscle health and energy.
  6. Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Include omega-3 rich foods like fish or supplements to reduce inflammation and support muscle recovery.

How to Warm up for Triceps Training

A person warming up his triceps for workout

Here is how to warm up for tricep workouts:

  1. Raise your body’s temperature - Three minutes of rope jumping or a treadmill will be enough to raise your body temperature.
    This will prepare our muscles to achieve a greater range of motion.
  2. Warm up your shoulder - A couple of sets of external rotation, tricep stretches and mobility work will prepare your shoulder to act as a stabilizer while performing extension in your elbows.

This is important to prevent injury and make your triceps exercises more effective.

Banded external rotations and arm circles will be enough.

Barbell Triceps Workout Samples

A person holding up a barbell to workout triceps

Here is a sample barbell triceps workout:

  • Overhead Press - 4x6
  • Close-grip Bench Press - 4x6
  • Bench Press - 4x6
  • Floor Press - 4x4
  • Skull Crushers - 3x12
  • JM Press - 3x8
  • Overhead Barbell Triceps Extension - 3x10

The order of the exercises is set from compound multi-joint to isolated single-joint.

You can adjust the number of sets and repetitions according to your fitness level.

Also, vary the tempo of the exercise to boost the muscle-building benefits.

"Changing the angle of your arm relative to your torso can place different levels of stretch on the triceps muscle, and adding pauses, both at the top of reps and halfway through reps, can emphasize different phases of the contraction."

- Brett Williams, NASM-CPT Certified Trainer

FAQs

What Tricep Exercise Is Most Effective?

The most effective triceps exercise is overhead barbell triceps extension. This is because the fully abducted or flexed shoulder position allows the greater work of the long triceps head.

Do Skullcrushers Work All 3 Heads?

Yes, skullcrushers work all 3 heads. The most effective barbell triceps exercise is overhead triceps extension because a more flexed shoulder position allows for greater ROM of the long triceps head.

How to Build Triceps Fast?

To build triceps fast, you must complete at least 2-3 triceps workouts a week. Choosing isolated triceps exercises will decrease the time for hypertrophy to take over since you will have more energy to complete exercises and reps due to lesser body fatigue.


References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6855346/
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27669189/
Was this article helpful?
YesNo

About The Author

Senior Coach
Tyler Sellers is a trained athlete and author with contributions to publications like Men’s Health, The Healthy, Fox Business, NerdWallet, Weight Watchers, and MSN. His unique approach extends beyond physical techniques, emphasizing the significance of mental techniques like the flow state and mind-muscle connection.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC is an ex-National Soccer player turned MMA and Kickboxing champion, with ACE CPT and PN1-NC certifications. His advice is rooted in education and experience, ensuring that readers receive scientific and battle-tested insights. His mission is to empower his clients and readers to realize their potential and become the best versions of themselves.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
Learn more about our editorial policy

You May Also Like

your guide to a linebacker's body care routine
By James Cunningham, BSc, CPT 2 days ago
NFL Von Miller Linebacker Workout for Speed & Explosiveness
The Calisthenics Diet Plan How to Get the Best Results Featured Image
By Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT 3 days ago
The Calisthenics Diet Plan: How to Get the Best Results
Bowflex vs PowerBlocks Dumbbells
By James Cunningham, BSc, CPT 3 days ago
Bowflex vs Powerblocks Dumbbells (2024) Which Is Better?
A person who is about to eat a paleo meal from best paleo meal delivery service
By Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT 4 days ago
8 Best Paleo Meal Delivery Services (2024 Updated)

Write a Reply or Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Our scoring system is the result of objective testing data and subjective expert analysis by a team of fitness coaches and medical experts. Our scoring factors are weighted based on importance. For more information, see our product review guidelines.