Tricep Pushups and Exercises

Triceps pushups are a very challenging exercise for the back of the arms. Like traditional pushups, they challenge a variety of muscles in the body (not just the triceps)...what makes them different is your hand position on the floor. By using a narrow hand-placement, you can really target the triceps muscles. This variation is shown on a ball, though you can do them on the floor as well.

  1. Kneel in front of the ball and roll forward until the ball is under the mid-upper thighs (the further out you are, the harder this move is).
  2. Place the hands shoulder-width apart and place them just below the chest.
  3. Bend the elbows and keep them close to the body and facing the back of the room as you lower down into a pushup in a see-saw motion (i.e., don't bend at the hips)
  4. Push back to start and repeat for 1-3 sets of 10-16 reps.


  • Take care when doing this exercise for the first time. By using the see-saw motion mentioned above, you may find it hard to control your body during the lowering part of the other words, don't hit your head on the floor. :-)
  • Keep the elbows facing the back of the room to target the triceps.

Triceps Extensions - Lying

Lying triceps extensions
Lying triceps extensions. Paige Waehner

Triceps extensions are another great way to work the back of the arms. This version is a bit more challenging since you're lying down and have to work against gravity to control the weight during the downward motion. For this reason, you may want to start with light dumbbells to get your form down before attempting to go heavier.

  1. Lie on the floor or a bench/ball and extend the arms straight up over the chest, palms face in. Use light-medium weights.
  2. Bend the elbows and lower the hands until they're next to the ears, elbows at about 90-degree angles.
  3. Squeeze the triceps to straighten the arms without locking the joints.
  4. Keep the elbows steady throughout the movement, only moving the forearms.
  5. Repeat for 1-3 sets of 10-16 reps.

Skull Crushers

Skull Crushers
Skull crushers. Paige Waehner

Skull crushers are similar to triceps extensions because you're in the same position and you're extending the elbows. The difference is, first, you use a barbell for this exercise which allows you to lift heavier weight. You also keep the palms facing out, instead of facing each other, which changes how you feel the movement.

  1. Lie on the floor or a bench and hold a light-medium barbell with the hands close together, about shoulder-width apart.
  2. Extend the arms straight up over the chest, palms face out and thumbs wrapped around so that they're next to the fingers.
  3. Bend the elbows and lower the weight down to a few inches above the forehead or until the elbows at about 90-degree angles.
  4. Squeeze the triceps to straighten the arms without locking the joints.
  5. Repeat for 1-3 sets of 10-16 reps.


Triceps dips
Triceps dips. Paige Waehner

Dips are an advanced exercise targeting the triceps. This is a compound move, involving both the elbow and the shoulder joint and it doesn't require any equipment, making it a great travel exercise. You can add intensity by walking the feet out or by propping the feet on a bench or chair.

  1. Sit on a bench or chair.
  2. Begin with the hands next to or slightly under the hips.
  3. Lift up onto the hands and bring the hips forward.
  4. Bend the elbows (no lower than 90 degrees) and lower the hips down, keeping them very close to the chair. Keep the shoulders down.
  5. Push back up without locking the elbows and repeat for 10-16 reps.


  • Keep the shoulders down and away from the ears to protect them from injury.
  • Keep the hips close to the bench or chair to keep the focus on the triceps and not the shoulders.
  • To make it easier, move the feet closer in. To make it harder, walk the feet out or elevate them on another chair or bench.


Triceps kickbacks
Triceps kickbacks. Paige Waehner

The kickback is a common triceps exercise which involves extending the arm while the torso is in a bent position. For this exercise, you can do one arm at a time and use heavier weights or you can extend both arms at the same time, which will involve more lower back stabilization.

  1. Hold a medium weight in both hands and bend over until your torso is at a 45-degree angle or parallel to the floor (more advanced). Bend the knees if needed and keep the abs engaged to protect the lower back.
  2. Begin the movement by bending the arms and pulling the elbows up to torso level.
  3. Holding that position, straighten the arms out behind you, squeezing the triceps muscles.
  4. Bend the arms back to starting position and repeat for 10-16 reps.


  • Do this exercise one arm at a time if you're using heavier weights or need more support for the lower back.
  • Keep the abs engaged and the back flat throughout the movement.
  • At the end of the movement, your arms should extend along the body, palms facing each other.
  • Try not to swing the arms to get the weight up.

One-Arm Triceps Pushups

One-Arm Triceps Pushup
One-arm triceps pushup. Paige Waehner

This challenging version of the traditional triceps pushup will surprise you with it's intensity. By lifting and lowering your own body weight with one arm, you really challenge the triceps muscle. This is for experienced exercisers, but skip it if you have any elbow or shoulder problems.

  1. Lie on your right side with the knees bent and the hips stacked.
  2. Wrap the bottom arm around the waist and place the left hand on the floor in front of you.
  3. The fingers should point towards the right.
  4. Contract the triceps to push the body up and off the floor, straightening the left arm as much as you can without locking the elbow.
  5. Lower a few inches and continue pushing up and down for 8-12 reps before switching sides.

Seated Triceps Extension

Triceps extensions
Triceps extensions. Paige Waehner

The seated triceps extension involves holding one weight in both hands and extending the arms over the head. For this exercise, keep the abs engaged to avoid arching the back and start with light weights so you have control of the movement. Use a chair with back support if you're using heavy weights. You can also do this one arm at a time with lighter weights.

  1. Sit on a bench or ball (more challenging) and hold a medium weight at one end with both hands overlapping one another.
  2. Take the weight straight up overhead with the arms next to the ears.
  3. Lower the weight behind the head until elbows are at about 90 degree angles.
  4. Squeeze the triceps to straighten the arms without locking the joints.
  5. Repeat for 1-3 sets of 10-16 reps.

Close-Grip Bench Press

Close grip bench press
Close grip bench press. Paige Waehner

The close-grip bench press is a great way to work the triceps along with the chest and the shoulders. It's like a chest press but, because your hands are closer together and you keep the bar further down towards the ribcage, you keep the emphasis on the triceps. With the chest there to help, you can usually lift more weight than with other triceps exercises. You can do this move with a barbell, as shown, or with dumbbells (the palms face each other when using dumbbells).

  1. Lie on a bench or ball (more advanced) and hold a barbell in a narrow grip, hands about shoulder-width apart.
  2. Begin the movement by bending the elbows and lowering the bar towards the ribcage, elbows pulled in and close to the body.
  3. Concentrate on squeezing the triceps to push the weight back up.
  4. Avoid locking the elbows at the top of the movement.

Triceps Extensions with Bands

Triceps extension with bands
Triceps extension with bands. Paige Waehner

A resistance band is a great tool for working the smaller muscles of the arms, especially the triceps. The key to this exercise is to find a hand position that allows you keep tension on the band throughout the exercise. The closer your hands are, the harder this exercise is.

  1. Sit tall on a ball or chair and hold a medium-tension resistance band in both hands.
  2. Begin the move with the elbows bent and at shoulder level, hands in front of the chest and palms facing the floor.
  3. Keep the hands close together in the middle of the band to keep tension on it.
  4. While keeping the left hand in place, straighten the right arm out to the side until it's parallel to the floor, squeezing the back of the arm.
  5. Bring the right arm back in and repeat all reps before switching arms.
  6. Repeat for 1-3 sets of 10-16 reps.

Front Raise with Triceps Extensions

Front Raise Triceps Extensions
Front raise triceps extensions. Paige Waehner

This compound exercise is a great way to work the front of the shoulders as well as the triceps in one sweeping move. Because the anterior deltoids and the triceps are smaller muscles, they can typically handle the same amount of weight, making this a great way to save time by working multiple muscles. The key to this move is to keep it slow and controlled and take your time.

  1. Sit with the abs engaged and hold light-medium weights down with the palms facing in.
  2. Lift the arms straight up to shoulder level, elbows ​slightly bent.
  3. Pause for a moment and then sweep the arms overhead until the arms are next to the ears.
  4. Pause for a moment and then bend the elbows, lowering the weights behind the head until the arms are at 90 degrees.
  5. Straighten the arms and sweep them back down, repeating for 1-3 sets of 8-16 reps.