post 8 Best Compound Tricep Exercises (For Maximum Muscle Growth)

8 Best Compound Tricep Exercises (For Maximum Muscle Growth)

Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Published by Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: January 8, 2024
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If you want to have firmer, good-looking, bigger upper arms, you should train your triceps.

As a certified fitness trainer, I've seen most people train their triceps with isolation exercises.

While this is not entirely bad, you will not have stronger tricep muscles than when you do compound exercises.

And with isolation workouts, you may end up with an elbow joint injury.

In this article, I will provide my findings and experiences on the best compound exercises you should execute to build your triceps.

Quick Summary

  • Compound tricep exercises allow lifting heavy weights, exposing your tricep muscles to more muscle-building and strength tension.
  • Compound triceps workouts increase muscle growth and strength by engaging over one muscle group.
  • According to a study from Frontiers, compound movements are better for building strength than isolation movements.
  • To develop your triceps efficiently, I recommend doing compound exercises that will train all three heads of the tricep.

Triceps Compound Exercises

Performing the skull crusher with tricep compound exercises

As a huge proponent of compound exercises, I've put together a list of eight effective tricep compound movements that'll get you massive arms.

1. Close Grip Bench Press

The close-grip bench press is an excellent workout for your triceps.

It has helped me increase my tricep muscle size and strength.

Here's how you do this exercise with good form:

  1. Lying down on a bench-press bench, have your feet flat on the ground. Grip the bar with an overhand hold, your hands shoulder-width apart.
  2. Slowly lower the bar to the lower chest, keeping your elbows near your sides as feasible.
  3. Your elbows should be lower than the shoulders at the bottom of the motion.
  4. Return the bar to its starting position.
  5. Repeat for reps.

2. Diamond Push-ups

A man doing compound triceps exercises with diamond push-ups indoors

Among the finest workouts for triceps activation are the diamond push-ups.

The diamond push-up is a bodyweight workout considered an intensive push-up variation.

By bringing your hands together, you can transform chest-dominant push-ups into triceps developers that you can do practically anywhere and anytime.

Here's how you do this exercise with good form:

  1. Do a push-up stance with your torso straight, elbows outstretched, and arms together, forming a diamond shape between the index fingers and thumbs.
  2. Inhale and lower your body, bracing your core and keeping your elbows closer to your sides.
  3. Drop until the chest is a few inches off the floor, then push yourself back to the starting position while inhaling at the top.
  4. Repeat for reps.

3. Flat Bench Press

The flat bench press is a great upper-body complex exercise that targets the pectoralis major and triceps.

This exercise also works the back muscles, exercising the anterior deltoids and traps.

"The bench press is essentially a more weighted variation of the push-up. On a push-up, you would never arch your back. Instead, you'd aim for a tight core and glutes. To obtain the best total-body results, you should mimic that on the bench press."

- Ebenezer Samuel, Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist

Here's how you do this exercise with good form:

  1. Lay down on a bench with your hands slightly outside, shoulder-width apart.
  2. Pull your shoulder blades together and drive them into the bench to set them.
  3. Breathe deeply and allow the spotter to assist you with the lift-off to keep your upper back tight.
  4. Let the weight settle and maintain a tight upper back after lifting off.
  5. Inhale and slowly lower the bar by releasing the elbows.
  6. Drop the bar horizontally to the bottom of the sternum (breastbone) and contact the chest.
  7. Press yourself into the bench, push your legs into the ground for leg drive, and extend your elbows to bring the bar back to the starting position in a straight line.
  8. Repeat for reps.

4. Close Grip Dumbbell Bench Press

Woman doing dumbbell bench press

The close-grip dumbbell bench press has helped my clients improve tricep muscle and strength.

Here's how you do this exercise with good form:

  1. Lay back on a flat bench with a neutral grip on a pair of dumbbells at your chest.
  2. Push the dumbbells straight above until your arms are completely stretched.
  3. Flex your triceps for a moment at the top before lowering the weights to your chest.
  4. Repeat for reps and sets.

Related: Best Upper Body Compound Exercises

5. Barbell Overhead Press

As the father of shoulder exercises, the barbell overhead press is ideal for building shoulder and tricep muscle mass.

Doing the exercise when seated is a stricter version than standing and avoids moving the load upward using the momentum created by the legs.

Here's how you do this exercise with good form:

  1. Sit on a workout bench and use an overhand grip to hold the bar.
  2. Bring the barbell over your head, beneath your chin, and slightly over your upper chest.
  3. Push the barbell straight up overhead until the arms are entirely stretched but not locked.
  4. Lower the bar slowly back to the starting position.
  5. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

6. Bench Dip

Performing bench dip outdoors

Bench dips are one of the most incredible tricep complex workouts you can do without equipment at home or in the gym.

You only need a solid object to prop yourself on while performing the activity, like a chair and a flat gym bench.

Here's how you do this exercise with good form:

  1. Face away from the item and rest your arms on edge, wrists turned back. Your arms should be wider apart than shoulder width.
  2. Extend your torso forward, inhale, and sink with your arms bent. Maintain a solid grip on your elbows and lower until you feel stretching in your triceps. Press through the hands to carry yourself to the starting position.
  3. Repeat for reps.
  4. You may make the action more challenging by placing your foot on an object of the same height.

Also Read: How To Do Dips With Proper Form

7. Incline Bench Press

The incline bench press is a basic workout that may benefit any lifter.

Proper technique is essential for reaping the various advantages of this multi-joint, upper-body free-weight exercise while avoiding the risk of injury.

Here's how you do this exercise with good form:

  1. Lie on an incline bench with your hands slightly outside of shoulder width.
  2. Pull your shoulder blades together and drive them into the bench to set them.
  3. Breathe deeply and allow the spotter to assist you with the lift-off to keep your upper back firm.
  4. Let the weight settle and maintain a stiff upper back after lifting off.
  5. Inhale and slowly lower the bar by releasing the elbows.
  6. Drop the bar to the bottom of the sternum (breastbone) and contact the chest.
  7. Press back into the bench, push your legs into the ground for leg drive, and stretch your elbows to bring the bar up straight.
  8. Repeat for reps.

8. Triceps Dips

Doing triceps dips in gym

Tricep dips are ideal for anybody looking to improve their shoulder and upper arm strength while stretching the back of their arms.

Plus, there are many variations.

Many individuals are unaware that dips can be performed in two ways: focusing on your triceps or chest.

This variation of the dip targets the triceps the most.

Here's how you do this exercise with good form:

  1. Take an inner grip on the parallel dip bars.
  2. Adjust the bars to about shoulder width apart if they are adjustable.
  3. Lift your feet off the floor and place your body weight on the bars.
  4. The key to targeting the triceps on this dip variation is to maintain your torso upright and not slouch forward. This may imply not crossing the legs and keeping them straight.
  5. Gently lower yourself down while maintaining your gaze forward.
  6. Descend until your elbow is approximately the same height as the shoulder, then bring your body back up, avoiding locking the arms at the peak of the exercise.
  7. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

The Anatomy of Triceps

Woman showing triceps

The tricep (triceps brachii) is a three-headed muscle in the back of the upper arms. Its primary function is to stretch the elbow (straightening the arm) [1].

The triceps are made of three sections: the lateral, medial, and long heads.

The triceps brachii lateral head is located on the outside edge of the humerus. It's the horseshoe form that appears on the back of the upper arm [2].

The triceps brachii medial head is in the midpoint of the upper arm's back. It runs opposite the long head, starting at the humerus and ending at the elbow [3].

The triceps brachii long head is the biggest section of the triceps and runs along the back of the arm.

The long head differs from the lateral and medial heads in that it spans the shoulder joint and aids in shoulder extension [4].

Benefits of Triceps Compound Exercises

Compound tricep exercises using dumbbell and kettlebell

I've found that compound exercises for the triceps help in muscular development, flexibility, and injury prevention by enhancing stability, particularly in activities that trigger elbow injuries, like baseball pitching and golfing.

Here are five benefits of doing compound exercises for your triceps.

1. Increased Stability

The majority of complex workouts mirror everyday motions.

Compound tricep movements train the muscles to function as a single unit to manage the output force and execute an activity.

Balance and stability are enhanced by strengthening and conditioning the muscles to create motions during regular tasks.

2. More Calories Burned

Exercising for calorie burn

Activities that involve more muscle tissue and hence need more oxygen might cause the body to burn more calories overall.

Since they enhance net energy expenditure, workouts that use many muscle groups, such as the diamond push-up, result in more significant calorie burn than triceps isolation exercises, such as triceps extensions.

3. Increasing Strength

Since tricep compound exercises engage many muscles, they're better for strength development.

According to a study from Frontiers, compound movements are better for building strength than isolation movements [5].

"Compound exercises allow you to lift greater weight since they rely on many muscle groups. But, it is still critical that you maintain proper form with the load you are utilizing."

- Josh Davies, Personal Trainer at Aimee Victoria Long Training

4. Increases Heart Rate

Showing heart rate on watch

Compound activities may raise heart rate more efficiently than isolation exercises.

By using more muscle groups than single-joint movements, compound exercises put the heart in a position to pump blood more efficiently to deliver oxygen to the working muscles.

5. Increases Mobility

Compound exercises demand a variety of movements, which may help develop muscle flexibility and mobility.

For example, the bench press uses multiple muscles that contribute to better posture, and it may have a carryover effect on your back mobility.

Safety Tips

As someone who prioritizes the importance of form and safety, I wouldn't find this article complete without adding a couple of safety tips:

  • Use a spotter: For techniques like forced reps, having a spotter is crucial for safety and effectiveness, especially for the bench press.
  • Focus on form: Even when pushing beyond failure, maintaining proper form is essential to prevent injury and target the triceps effectively.

FAQs

Are Compound Exercises Enough for Triceps?

Yes, compound exercises are enough for the triceps. You can adequately exercise your triceps and biceps with standard push/pull split compound workouts.

How Do You Hit All 3 Muscles in Your Tricep?

You hit all three muscles in your tricep by performing tricep pulldowns, diamond push-ups, overhead tricep extensions, and dumbbell floor presses.

What Is the Best Combination With Triceps?

The best combination with triceps is chest, shoulders, forearms, and triceps exercises on the same day.


References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK536996/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5827912/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20976453/
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10979531/
  5. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphys.2017.01105/full
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