Tricep Push-Ups - How To Do Them for Optimal Muscle Growth

Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Published by Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: December 28, 2023
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With over a decade of experience as a fitness coach, I consistently advise my clients to incorporate tricep push-ups into their routines for optimal muscle growth.

Recognizing that this exercise takes push-up sessions to another level by engaging hard-to-reach triceps and sculpting a killer set of upper arm muscles, I delved into extensive research.

I also consulted with experts to provide comprehensive insights on performing it for optimal results. Here's everything you need to know about executing this exercise with proper form.

Quick Summary

  • For optimal muscle growth, ensure you maintain a narrow hand position and keep your elbows close to the body when performing tricep push-ups.
  • The chest, core muscles, chest, and triceps are the muscles worked on when you perform tricep push-ups.
  • Research from the National Institute of Health indicates that maintaining a narrow hand position and ensuring elbows stay close to the body during exercise maximizes tricep engagement.
  • In my opinion, incorporating tricep push-ups with a balanced diet and high-quality protein supplements can significantly enhance upper-body strength.

How To Do a Proper Tricep Push-Up?

Tricep Push-Up

Executing tricep push-ups correctly is crucial for preventing injuries and building strength.

Follow this step-by-step guide:

  1. Begin in a high plank position with your palms under your shoulders, ensuring your body forms a straight line, engaging your core, and keeping your neck neutral.
  2. Move your palms under your chest, ensuring your thumbs and index fingers touch, creating a diamond shape.
  3. Inhale as you slowly lower your upper body until your chest is a few inches from the floor. Maintain body alignment with your elbows pointing backward.
  4. Push against the floor with your palms, feeling the squeeze in your tricep muscles as you lift your body back to the starting position.
  5. Repeat the movement for the recommended number of reps.

For my clients, I recommend doing at least two to three sets of 10-12 reps for this exercise, taking a 30-second to a minute rest between sets.

What Are Tricep Push-Ups?

A man doing a diamond push-ups in his garage

Tricep push-ups, also known as diamond or triangle push-ups, represent an advanced variation of the standard push-up, emphasizing triceps development.

Unlike the conventional push-up with palms at shoulder width, in tricep push-ups, your palms go directly under your chest, forming a diamond or triangle.

According to the National Institute of Health, this variation significantly engages the triceps, contributing to a larger and more toned upper arm [1].

Tricep Push-Ups Variations To Try

A man in orange shirt doing a push-up on a bosu

1. Starting from your knees

If the standard exercises pose a challenge, begin with a modified version on your knees. Practice this variation consistently, and you'll progress to the full exercise on your toes in no time!

2. On an incline

If regular push-ups are challenging, try the same motion from a standing position, leaning over at a 30 to 45-degree angle, with your hands on an elevated surface like a bench or kitchen counter.

When I guide my clients through tricep push-ups on an incline, it's like giving their elbows a break and lightening the lifting load.

Related article: Tricep Killer Workout 

Muscles Worked

A person flexing his right arm

The tricep push-up, also known as the diamond push-up, was identified as the most effective exercise for tricep muscle activation in a study published in IOPScience [2].

This challenging yet highly effective exercise not only targets and strengthens the triceps for enhanced stability in the arms and shoulders but also engages the chest, shoulders, and core.

Related: 10 Best Push-Ups For Chest

What Are The Benefits?

A man showing his both arm muscles

Tricep push-ups offer several benefits, including:

Activates Arm Muscles 

To achieve impressive upper arms, it's crucial to prioritize both biceps and triceps. Instead of excluding regular push-ups entirely, incorporate this exercise into your routine to activate your triceps effectively.

Boosts Arm and Upper-Body Strength 

Focusing on your triceps not only enhances the appearance of your arms but also elevates your upper-body strength, providing stability to your arms and shoulders. A robust upper body improves posture, enhances athletic performance, and facilitates efficient movement in daily tasks.

Ideal for Home Workouts

The tricep push-up stands out as a versatile, equipment-free full-body exercise. Its convenience allows you to perform it anytime, anywhere, and you can customize the push-up variations to match your fitness level.

"Most people often consider push-ups as a strength exercise, but they can be great cardio workouts, too. Push-ups engage different muscle groups, causing the heart to work harder, and this improves cardiovascular health."
— Dannah Bollig, Certified Personal Trainer & Founder of the DE Method

Related: Decline Push-Ups 101 Guide


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About The Author

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
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Sport & Exercise Science from University of Hertfordshire. He's a Health & Performance Coach from London that brings a unique blend of academic knowledge of health supplements and practical exercise experience to the table for his readers.
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

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