For some gym bros, every day is poor day. These guys spend ungodly amounts of time creating and tweaking (then re-creating and re-tweaking) new routine to get bigger and better pumps, with a list of exercises longer than a dictionary.
And yet all that time spent on coming up with the new perfect triceps exercises, the majority of gymgoers eventually come back to the realization that basic and boring still work best. You know, those time-tested, tried-and-true moves that still blast your arms the same way today as they did when we first picked up a fitness magazine back in the day.
Confirming this is Men’s Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, CSCS and celebrity trainer and MH Advisory Board member Don Saladino. As they break down their five top triceps exercises, you’ll find there’s no fads or overly flashy moves in their choices—just the typical meat and potatoes of traditional triceps training. The pair of top trainers also share their takes on why these moves work best and what to watch for when performing these in your workout.
5 Must-Do Triceps Training Exercises
Overhead Triceps Cable Extension
This move may be one of the best isolation moves for your triceps, one that you’ll feel a definite burn as you continue pumping out reps. However, Saladino states that it’s one of those exercises that you have to have a decent amount of shoulder external rotation and thoracic mobility to pull off right. He advises to keep aware of any type of low back arch, which could lead to issues down the road. Keep the reps high, in the 10 or more range.
Triceps Cable Pressdown
Good luck finding one person who hasn’t incorporated arguably the most popular triceps exercise going into their arms arsenal. And there’s a reason for that—the movement is easy to perform and relatively safe. One of the cool benefits of the pressdown is that you can utilize different attachments—rope, straight bar, V bar—for hitting different areas of the muscle. It’s also versatile enough in which you can either rep out with a lighter weight (think 15 or more) or cut down the reps and pile on a little more weight than usual. “You can load this up a little bit, get a little bit of momentum and get that really good squeeze with a heavy weight, which I think is key,” Samuel says.
Here’s another old-school exercise that hits the triceps hard—but at the same time can be problematic for those lacking shoulder mobility. If you have no shoulder issues, then these are an essential exercise for torching the triceps, whether you choose to just use your body weight or add additional weight.
Close grip bench press
Now come the heavy hitters, starting with this best bang for your buck exercise, according to Saladino. Not only are your triceps being worked but so are the shoulders and pecs. Explode on the press while you maintain a slow and controlled tempo when lowering as you add use heavier weight for less reps.
An isolation movement in which you can push heavy weight is what makes the skull crusher the top triceps exercise, according to both. Using an EZ bar takes stress off the wrists, however these can be done with a straight bar or dumbbells. Keeping it in the four to six rep range works best if you’re adding heavier weight.
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