If you want to work your triceps – the muscles on the back of your arms – you have come to the right place. These push-up variations are all you need to get moving.
Plus, we will show you how to perfect your form, what other exercises for triceps you can try, and more. Pushups can do a lot to develop your upper body
Warm up and stretch
Before doing this exercise with your own body weight, it is important that you warm up properly. This exercise puts a lot of strain on your wrists and elbows, so you should make sure that your body is prepared for it.
As you approach middle age (40+) and beyond, always be aware of injuries when exercising. Injuries become more likely as you age, such as stressing your wrists and elbows during triceps push-ups. The tendons and small muscles are vulnerable.
Warm up quickly
Do 2-3 minutes of light endurance exercise to get the blood pumping. An easy way to do this is 20 jumping jacks or 30 seconds of jogging in place.
How to do a push-up
First things first: to get all the benefits of the push-up, you need to do it with proper form.
To do this, assume a plank position. Your palms should be on the floor, stacked under your shoulders, and your feet should be together. Make sure your neck is neutral, your back is straight and your core is tense and engaged.
As you lower, your elbows should be bent at a 45-degree angle. Lower yourself as far as you can (or until your chest touches the floor), then push yourself back up to begin.
When you feel your lower back begin to sink, sit back down. You may need to do a modified push-up until you have the strength to maintain proper form. This means getting down on your knees or doing the push-up from an elevated surface, such as a bench.
Another pitfall to watch out for is spreading your palms and elbows too wide. This will put more stress on your shoulders, which can lead to pain.
How to train your triceps
Many triceps exercises are isolation exercises, meaning they focus on that one muscle.
Standard push-ups and triceps-focused push-ups are compound exercises, meaning they use multiple muscles in the body. This requires more work and burns more calories.
These are some of the best triceps exercises that will help you improve your form:
Pushdowns on the rope
Pushdowns with a rope, usually performed on a cable machine with a rope attachment, rank fifth and produce about 74% muscle activation. The idea is to spread the rope at the bottom of the movement to really activate the triceps muscle. If you do not have access to a cable pulley machine, you can also use a resistance band. Attach it to the top of a door and tie a loose knot in the band about halfway up.
How to do a Rope Pushdown
Hold onto a cable machine with a rope attachment near the knotted ends on the rope and begin the exercise with your elbows bent at about 90 degrees, elbows next to your torso.
Extend the arms by bringing the hands down to the floor and slightly spreading the rope on both sides while tensing the triceps.
Return the forearms to the starting position and repeat for 1 to 3 sets of 8 to 16 repetitions.
Pushdowns on the bar are similar to pushdowns on the rope, but slightly less effective at about 67%. This exercise is usually performed on a cable machine at the gym with a small bar attachment. However, you can also perform this exercise at home with an exercise band and a small bar or rod threaded through the handles.
The most important thing in this exercise is to keep your elbows still while you press the weight down. If you raise the bar too high (for example, higher than neck level), your elbows may come forward, making the exercise less effective.
How to perform a Bar Pushdown
Stand in front of a cable pulley machine and hold onto the bar with your elbows bent at about 90 degrees.
Keeping your elbows still, push the bar down, tensing your triceps as you extend your arms.
Bring the barbell back up to about chest height without moving the elbows, and repeat for 1 to 3 sets of 8 to 16 repetitions.
There’s a reason why the traditional push-up is a staple in the fitness industry: it improves compressive strength and increases the muscles involved.
Diamond push-ups or triangle push-ups
Diamond push-ups challenge your triceps a lot. If you are a beginner, bend your knees during this exercise so as not to compromise your form.
To get started:
Assume a plank position with your palms under your shoulders, your neck and spine neutral, and your feet together.
Move your palms toward your midline so that the thumb and index finger of each hand touch, forming the shape of a diamond.
Keeping your elbows bent, slowly lower your body to the floor until your chest reaches the floor.
Return to the start. Perform three sets until “failure” (meaning you no longer have the strength to continue).
The triceps push-up is another variation of the standard push-up and an exercise that you may need to perform on your knees or on an elevated surface.
To get started:
Get into a plank position with your hands directly under your shoulders, your neck and spine neutral, and your feet together.
As you descend, keep your elbows at your sides and your upper arms straight back.
Lower yourself until your chest reaches the floor and return to the starting point.
Perform as many repetitions as you can in three sets.
Triceps push-up with feet up
Performing a triceps push-up with your feet up on a bench or medicine ball will put even more strain on your triceps and challenge them more.
From the knees – If you find the regular exercise too difficult, perform the same exercise but from the knees rather than the toes. Practice this way first, and you’ll be on your toes in no time!
Incline Tricep Push ups
Perform the regular exercise, except bend forward at a 30-45 degree angle while standing and place your hands on a stable, waist-high anchor point (such as your kitchen counter at home). This provides less resistance when you are tired.
To get moving:
- Start in the plank position.
- Move your feet so that they are planted with your toes on a bench or medicine ball.
- Keeping your arms and elbows firmly at your sides, lower yourself as far as you can before returning to the starting point.
- Perform as many repetitions as possible in three sets.
Push-up with dumbbells in close stance
You can increase your range of motion by performing a close-stand push-up with two stationary dumbbells. This allows for deeper engagement.
To get moving:
- Position the dumbbells vertically under your upper chest. The outside edges of the dumbbells should line up with the outside edges of your chest.
- Get into a push-up position with your hands on each dumbbell.
- Lower yourself as far as you can, keeping your elbows bent, then return to the starting point.
- Perform three sets until failure.
Medicine Ball Push-Up
Replacing your dumbbells with a medicine ball will put your hands in an even more compact position, emphasizing your triceps even more.
To get started:
- Similar to the neutral grip push-up above, place a medicine ball under your upper chest.
- Assume a push-up position and support yourself with both hands on the medicine ball.
- Lower yourself as far as possible, keeping your elbows bent at a 45-degree angle.
- Return to the starting point and perform three sets to failure.
Dumbbell Triceps Kickback
To get moving:
- For this exercise, take two 5-10 pound dumbbells.
- Holding one in each hand, bend your torso at a 45-degree angle and bend your elbows so they form a 90-degree angle.
- Then extend your arm directly behind you while tensing your triceps.
To get moving:
- Sit on a bench or step and place your hands next to your thighs.
- Walk your feet out until your knees form a 90-degree angle, then lower yourself to the floor by bending your elbows.
- Be sure to tighten your core and rely on your arms – especially your triceps – to move you.
Dips and triangle push-ups – both of these exercises use your body weight as resistance rather than weights.
Overhead triceps extensions
To get moving:
- Pick up a 10-15 pound dumbbell for this exercise.
- Take a staggered stance; your feet should be hip-width apart with the toes of one foot in line behind the heel of the other foot.
- Move the weight over and behind your head with your elbows bent.
- Then extend your arms straight up, feeling your triceps tighten.
- Make sure your neck stays neutral and your elbows do not swing wide.
Things to keep in mind
Do not be discouraged if these exercises are difficult at first – most are suitable for advanced exercisers. Use modifications to reap the benefits.
Performing any of these push-up variations at least once a week will help your triceps grow in size and strength – especially if you combine them with some of the other triceps-focused exercises!
Workout Routine for Home
A good at- home workout routine consists of performing the following exercises with the indicated repetitions and no rest between exercises:
- Triceps push-ups – 5 reps.
- Triceps push-up from kneeling position – 5 repetitions
- Inclined triceps push-up (kitchen counter) – 5 repetitions
Perform 3 sets, with 90 seconds rest between sets. Each exercise gets progressively easier as you train your triceps, and if you do them in quick succession (tri-set), it’s a really good workout.