Best Tricep Workouts: Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced

Building strong, sculpted triceps is a key goal for many fitness enthusiasts, from beginners to advanced.

The best tricep workouts vary by experience level, incorporating exercises like barbell bench presses for beginners and advanced techniques such as supersets for the experienced – keep reading to dive into the specifics for each stage.

Starting Off Right: Beginner Tricep Workouts

Embarking on a fitness journey with a focus on tricep development sets the stage for not only enhancing arm aesthetics but also building a foundation for overall upper body strength.

For beginners, the key to success lies in mastering basic exercises with a strong emphasis on form and foundational strength.

Importance of Mastering the Basics: Focusing on Form and Foundational Strength

Starting with the basics is crucial for several reasons.

Initially, it helps in minimizing the risk of injury by teaching the body the correct way to perform exercises.

Moreover, it lays down a solid foundation of strength, which is essential for more complex and heavier lifts in the future.

Proper form ensures that the right muscles are being targeted, leading to more efficient workouts and better results over time.

Detailed Breakdown of Beginner Exercises

Barbell Bench Press

  • How to Perform: Lie on a bench, grip the barbell with hands just wider than shoulder-width. Lower the bar towards the chest with elbows slightly tucked, then press back up.
  • Focus: Ensure elbows don't flare out to keep the triceps engaged.

Dumbbell Skull Crushers

  • How to Perform: Lying on a bench, extend arms above with a dumbbell in each hand. Bend elbows to lower the weights beside your head, then extend back up.
  • Focus: Keep upper arms stationary; move only your forearms.

Diamond Push-Ups

  • How to Perform: Place hands under chest with fingers forming a diamond shape. Lower your body until chest nearly touches the floor, then push back up.
  • Focus: Keep body straight and engage core throughout the movement.

Bench Dips

  • How to Perform: With your back to a bench, place hands on the edge, legs extended forward. Lower your body by bending elbows, then push back up.
  • Focus: Keep elbows pointed back and move in a controlled manner.

Cable Overhead Extension

  • How to Perform: Stand facing away from a cable machine, holding a rope attachment overhead. Bend elbows to lower the rope behind your head, then extend.
  • Focus: Keep elbows close to your head and the movement fluid.

Tricep Pushdown

  • How to Perform: Stand in front of a cable machine, grasp the handle or rope, and push down until your elbows are fully extended.
  • Focus: Keep elbows pinned to your sides, and avoid using momentum.

Tricep Kickbacks

  • How to Perform: Bend over slightly with a dumbbell in hand, elbow at 90 degrees. Extend your arm back until it's straight, then return.
  • Focus: Keep your back straight and move only your forearm.

Sample Weekly Routine for Beginners

Monday & Thursday:

  • Barbell Bench Press: 3 sets x 8 reps
  • Dumbbell Skull Crushers: 3 sets x 10 reps
  • Diamond Push-Ups: 3 sets to failure

Tuesday & Friday:

  • Bench Dips: 3 sets x 12 reps
  • Cable Overhead Extension: 3 sets x 10 reps
  • Tricep Pushdown: 3 sets x 10 reps

Wednesday & Saturday:

  • Tricep Kickbacks: 3 sets x 12 reps
  • Light Cardio or Rest

Tips for Avoiding Common Mistakes and Preventing Injuries

  • Warm-Up: Always start with a warm-up to prepare your muscles for the workout.
  • Form First: Prioritize maintaining proper form over lifting heavier weights.
  • Progress Gradually: Increase weights and complexity of exercises gradually to avoid overloading your muscles.
  • Listen to Your Body: If you feel pain (not to be confused with the normal discomfort of muscle fatigue), stop and reassess your form or the weight you're using.
  • Rest and Recover: Allow your muscles time to recover between workouts to prevent overuse injuries.

Leveling Up: Intermediate Tricep Workouts

As you transition from a beginner to an intermediate fitness enthusiast, your tricep workouts should evolve to reflect your improved strength, endurance, and skill.

This progression is vital for continued muscle growth and strength gains.

The Transition from Beginner to Intermediate: What Changes and Why?

The leap from beginner to intermediate level involves several key changes:

  • Increased Resistance: Your muscles adapt to the stresses placed on them, necessitating increased weights or resistance to continue making gains.
  • More Complex Movements: Incorporating exercises that challenge your muscles from different angles and involve more compound movements.
  • Greater Workout Volume: Adding more sets and reps to your routines to push your muscles harder.
  • Reduced Rest Periods: Shortening rest times between sets to increase intensity and improve muscle endurance.

Key Principles for Intermediate Training: Increasing Volume, Complexity, and Intensity

  1. Progressive Overload: Gradually increase the weight and complexity of exercises to challenge your muscles continually.
  2. Variety: Introduce new exercises and variations to target the triceps from different angles and prevent plateau.
  3. Compound Movements: Incorporate exercises that engage multiple muscle groups, enhancing overall strength and efficiency.
  4. Intensity Modifiers: Utilize techniques like supersets or drop sets to increase the intensity of your workouts without necessarily increasing the weight lifted.

Examples of Intermediate Exercises (Incorporate Variations and Increased Resistance)

  • Overhead Tricep Extension with EZ Bar: Stand or sit with an EZ bar. Extend arms overhead, bend elbows to lower the bar behind your head, and then extend back up. Increase the weight from the beginner level.
  • Weighted Bench Dips: Add weight (like a plate on your lap) while performing bench dips to increase resistance.
  • Narrow-Grip Bench Press: Use a narrower grip on the barbell to focus more on the triceps when performing the bench press. Increase the weight gradually.
  • Feet-Elevated Diamond Push-Ups: Place your feet on a raised surface to increase the difficulty of diamond push-ups.
  • Superset: Tricep Pushdowns with Reverse Grip Pushdowns: Perform a set of tricep pushdowns immediately followed by a set of reverse grip pushdowns to work the muscles from different angles.
  • Dumbbell Overhead Tricep Extension (Single Arm): Perform overhead extensions with a dumbbell, focusing on one arm at a time for increased isolation.

Structuring Your Intermediate Workout Week


  • Overhead Tricep Extension with EZ Bar: 4 sets x 10 reps
  • Weighted Bench Dips: 4 sets x 12 reps


  • Narrow-Grip Bench Press: 4 sets x 8 reps
  • Feet-Elevated Diamond Push-Ups: 3 sets to failure


  • Superset: Tricep Pushdowns (4 sets x 12 reps) immediately followed by Reverse Grip Pushdowns (4 sets x 12 reps)
  • Dumbbell Overhead Tricep Extension (Single Arm): 3 sets x 10 reps per arm

Tips for Intermediate Level Training

  • Focus on Form: Even as you increase weight and complexity, maintaining proper form is crucial to avoid injury.
  • Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to signs of overtraining or fatigue, and allow adequate rest and recovery.
  • Stay Hydrated and Nutritionally Supported: Proper hydration and nutrition are even more critical as workout intensity increases.
  • Continual Learning: Stay open to learning new exercises, techniques, and principles to incorporate into your routine.

Pushing the Limits: Advanced Tricep Workouts

Reaching an advanced stage in your tricep training means you're ready to push the limits of strength, endurance, and muscle development.

Advanced workouts incorporate techniques designed to exhaust the muscles, promote hypertrophy, and break through plateaus.

Characteristics of Advanced Workouts: Focusing on Supersets, Drop Sets, and Pyramid Sets

Advanced workouts are characterized by their intensity and strategic structuring to maximize muscle fatigue and growth:

  • Supersets involve performing two exercises back-to-back with no rest in between, typically targeting opposing muscle groups or the same muscle group for an intense pump.
  • Drop Sets start with a heavier weight and, once fatigue sets in, drop to a lighter weight without rest to continue working the muscle beyond its usual capacity.
  • Pyramid Sets increase the weight with each set until a peak is reached, then decrease the weight, allowing for both high-intensity and volume training.

Advanced Exercise Techniques to Challenge the Triceps Further

  1. Close-Grip Bench Press with Bands: Adding resistance bands to the barbell increases tension at the top of the movement, challenging the lockout and promoting explosive strength.
  2. Dips with Weighted Belt: Performing dips with added weight significantly increases the challenge, encouraging deeper muscle engagement and growth.
  3. Overhead Cable Extension with Drop Set: Use a cable machine for overhead extensions, starting with the heaviest weight you can manage for 8-10 reps, then dropping the weight and continuing to failure.
  4. Tricep Pushdown Superset with Overhead Tricep Extension: This superset exhausts the triceps by combining a pushdown movement with an overhead extension, hitting the muscle from different angles.
  5. Diamond Push-Ups with Feet Elevated: Increasing the elevation of your feet during diamond push-ups adds a greater challenge to your triceps and core.
  6. Single-Arm Dumbbell Kickback with Twist: Adding a twist at the end of the kickback movement engages the tricep more deeply and promotes a full range of motion.

Sample Advanced Workout Routines


  • Close-Grip Bench Press with Bands: 4 sets x 6-8 reps
  • Dips with Weighted Belt: 4 sets x 8-10 reps


  • Overhead Cable Extension with Drop Set: 3 sets, starting with max weight and dropping twice
  • Tricep Pushdown Superset with Overhead Tricep Extension: 4 sets x 10 reps each


  • Diamond Push-Ups with Feet Elevated: 3 sets to failure
  • Single-Arm Dumbbell Kickback with Twist: 4 sets x 12 reps per arm

Importance of Recovery and Avoiding Overtraining

With the intensity of advanced workouts, recovery becomes paramount:

  • Adequate Rest: Ensure you're getting enough sleep and allowing at least 48 hours of rest for your triceps before targeting them again.
  • Nutrition: Focus on a protein-rich diet to aid in muscle repair and growth. Consider supplements like BCAAs to support recovery.
  • Active Recovery: Incorporate light activities on rest days to promote blood flow without straining your muscles.
  • Listen to Your Body: Be vigilant about signs of overtraining, such as prolonged soreness, fatigue, or diminished performance, and adjust your routine accordingly.

Incorporating Variety for Continuous Progress

Incorporating variety into your workout routine is not just about keeping things interesting—it's a strategic approach to ensure continuous progress and prevent hitting a plateau.

When you consistently challenge your muscles in new ways, you avoid adaptation, which is when the body gets used to a certain level of stress and stops making gains.

The Role of Exercise Variation in Preventing Plateaus

The human body is remarkably adept at adapting to physical stress, which means that over time, it becomes more efficient at performing the same exercises, leading to a plateau in muscle growth and strength gains.

To counter this, introducing new exercises, modifying existing ones, or changing your workout's intensity can shock your muscles back into growth mode.

This approach ensures your triceps are always being challenged, encouraging adaptation in size, strength, and endurance.

Ideas for Mixing Up Your Tricep Workouts

Mixing up your tricep workouts can be achieved in several ways.

First, consider changing the exercises themselves.

If you've been focusing on pushdowns and bench presses, try incorporating dips, overhead extensions, or close-grip push-ups.

These movements target the triceps from different angles and utilize different ranges of motion, which can stimulate growth in areas that may have been underemphasized by your standard routine.

Another way to introduce variety is by changing the equipment used.

If you typically use dumbbells for overhead extensions, switch to a barbell or a cable machine.

Each piece of equipment provides a slightly different resistance curve, which can lead to new growth.

Similarly, adding resistance bands to bodyweight exercises or free weights can alter the resistance profile, making the exercise more challenging at different points of the movement.

Changing your technique can also provide new challenges.

For instance, varying your grip width on presses and pushdowns alters the emphasis on the tricep heads, as does changing your body position during dips and push-ups.

Incorporating advanced techniques such as supersets, drop sets, or tempo changes can further intensify your workouts, pushing your triceps to adapt and grow.

When to Consider Incorporating Professional Guidance into Your Routine

While experimenting with different exercises and techniques can be beneficial, there comes a point when professional guidance can take your training to the next level.

A certified personal trainer or experienced coach can provide personalized advice tailored to your specific goals, strengths, and weaknesses.

They can also introduce you to new exercises and training methodologies, ensure you're performing movements correctly to avoid injury, and help you navigate past plateaus with advanced strategies.

If you find your progress stalling despite incorporating variety, or if you're unsure how to safely introduce new exercises into your routine, seeking professional guidance could be the key to unlocking further growth.

Additional Tips for Tricep Training Success

To achieve the best results from your tricep training, paying attention to more than just your workouts is crucial.

Nutrition, supplementation, rest, recovery, and the ability to measure progress all play significant roles in your overall success.

These elements ensure you’re not only getting the most out of your time in the gym but also supporting your body’s needs to grow stronger and more resilient.

Nutrition and Supplementation for Muscle Growth and Recovery

Nutrition is the cornerstone of muscle growth and recovery.

A diet rich in protein is essential, as proteins are the building blocks of muscle.

Incorporating a variety of protein sources like lean meats, fish, dairy, and plant-based proteins can help ensure you're getting all the essential amino acids your body needs.

Carbohydrates are also important, providing the energy required for intense training sessions, while healthy fats support hormone production, which is crucial for muscle growth.

Supplementation can further enhance muscle growth and recovery.

Protein supplements, such as whey or plant-based protein powders, are convenient for meeting your daily protein needs, especially around workouts.

Creatine monohydrate is well-researched and proven to support increases in strength and muscle mass by enhancing energy production during short bursts of intense exercise.

Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) can be beneficial during workouts to reduce muscle breakdown and support recovery.

The Importance of Rest and Recovery in Your Tricep Workout Routine

Rest and recovery are as vital as the workouts themselves.

Overtraining can lead to fatigue, decreased performance, and even injuries, stalling your progress.

Ensuring you have at least one full rest day a week is crucial to allow your muscles, including your triceps, to recover and grow.

Additionally, incorporating active recovery days, where you engage in light exercise such as walking or yoga, can help promote blood flow and aid muscle repair without placing additional strain on your muscles.

Sleep is another critical component of recovery.

During sleep, your body produces growth hormone, which is essential for muscle repair and growth.

Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night to support optimal recovery and performance.

How to Measure Progress and Adjust Your Workouts Accordingly

Measuring progress in your tricep development is key to ensuring your workouts are effective and adjusting them as needed to continue making gains.

Tracking your workouts, including the exercises, weights, sets, and reps, can help you see improvements over time and identify when it’s time to increase the challenge.

Taking regular measurements of your arms can also provide a direct indication of muscle growth.

Paying attention to how your body feels and performs is equally important.

If you find your progress stalling, it might be time to increase the intensity of your workouts, either by adding weight, incorporating more advanced techniques, or adjusting your nutrition and recovery strategies.

Regularly reviewing and adjusting your workout routine based on these measurements and feedback is essential for continuous improvement.

Don’t hesitate to seek advice from fitness professionals if you’re unsure how to proceed.

They can offer personalized recommendations based on your specific goals, performance, and body response.


In conclusion, effective tricep training encompasses a blend of carefully selected exercises, nutritional support, and sufficient rest and recovery to fuel muscle growth and strength gains.

By incorporating variety and progressively challenging your muscles, you can avoid plateaus and continue making significant progress.

Remember, consistency, attention to form, and listening to your body are key to achieving your tricep training goals and enhancing your overall fitness journey.