Three Excellent Triceps Exercises

The triceps brachii is a major upper, posterior arm muscle that creates elbow extension and because of its attachment to the scapula, it may also assist in arm extension and adduction.  The triceps create movement and stabilization of the elbow/shoulder joint and should be an integral part of your training regimen.  Highlighted this week are three excellent triceps exercises that target these muscles effectively.  Consider adding these three to your repertoire and experience an improvement in upper arm strength and appearance.  As always, prior to beginning any exercise program, please consult your physician.

For all three exercises:

Rotate the shoulders back/down, rib cage lifted, navel pulled toward your spine, and pelvic floor muscles pulled up and in, knees relaxed and when standing, the weight predominately in the mid-foot to heel.

Head/neck and shoulders should be a natural extension of your spine, shoulders/hips/knees/toes facing the same direction.

Choose one of these exercises per week and perform one-three sets of 8-12 repetitions, two to three non-consecutive days each week.

Triceps Press Outs – TRX Suspension System – set the straps approximately 18 inches from the floor; holding the handles and facing AWAY from the anchor point, place the body into a 15-30 degree plank position, place the arms at a 90 degree angle at the elbow joint with the palms facing away from you.  You should rise up onto the balls of your feet to create the fulcrum, then engaging the triceps (back of the upper arm), press the arms out until the elbows are fully extended, then return to 90 degrees.  This exercise is challenging and requires excellent core stability, particularly in the lumbar spine.  Consequently, you must be strong enough to control and maintain a neutral lumbar spine throughout.  To modify to a lesser intensity level, stagger the legs front to back; however, do not use the legs to move the body.  The body weight must load the triceps.  *Trains the triceps and nose to toes core.

Supine Incline Skull Crushers – Bench – moderate d/b – lying supine on a slightly inclined bench, holding moderate d/b, bring the arms up until you have placed the elbows over the shoulders and the elbows face the ceiling.  The arms should be positioned 90 degrees at the elbow joint.  Engaging the triceps (i.e. back of the upper arm), extend the arms toward the ceiling until the elbow joint is FULLY extended.  Then, lower back to the 90-degree position.  There should be no movement at the shoulder joint at all.  The only movement should be from the elbow to the hand. *Trains the triceps and nose to toes core.

Triceps Pushdowns – rope – Matrix Functional Trainer (i.e. cable/pulley multi-gym) – place the cable/pulley at the highest setting on the column, set the weight at a moderate increment on the stack, then place the rope into the carabineer.  Standing facing the column, with the legs staggered front to back, hold the rope ends and bring it to the front of the body with the arms flexed 90 degrees at the elbow joint and the arm pits closed.  Engaging the triceps (back of the upper arms), extend the arms straight down until fully extended at the elbow joint, then return to the 90-degree position.  *Trains the triceps and nose to toes core.

Jackie Wright is the owner/manager of Mountain Life Fitness, LLC located in Granby, Colorado.  She may be reached at her website at and her email at

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